The Sound Transit Board is poised to finalize the ST3 Priority Project List (PPL) on Thursday. When creating a ballot measure in 2016, the Board will draw from the PPL, and only from the PPL. While alignment and station details are not final at this stage, the importance of this list is obvious.

The Seattle Transit Blog Board recommends that Sound Transit make the following changes to the draft PPL. We understand that many tough choices are ahead, but Sound Transit should work from the best project list it can. We believe the changes below will help get there.

  • Add BRT along the ERC from Totem Lake to Bellevue/Seattle: The PPL includes a range of investment for most corridors, including at-grade, elevated, or tunneled alignments. Oddly, BRT along the Eastside Rail Corridor (ERC) is not in the PPL despite clear requests for its addition by the City of Kirkland. ST’s study shows that BRT has the same ridership as Link in the same corridor for less cost. Moreover, buses will have an easier time leaving the ERC where it misses key population centers. This project should include both the purple and blue lines from BRISK.
  • Add Bellevue College Connector and NE 6th Street Projects: These projects provide critical building blocks for a more efficient and integrated transit system. Sound Transit shouldn’t be the sole financier of these projects — the City of Bellevue and Metro need to share responsibility — but Sound Transit has a role in access to HCT, and ought to contribute.
  • Add a Center Platform at International District-Chinatown Station: Adding a center platform will allow for easy “cross-platform” transfers between Central Link and East Link. It may even increase the LRT system’s eventual maximum peak throughput capacity. Now is the time to fix this issue. ST engineers insist they need a turnback track there. We believe that is the poorest use of that valuable space, and that wyes would be both faster and avoid single points of failure for the system.
  • Expand the Scope of the Northern Lake HCT Study: While this study will provide valuable information for a possible ST4/5, we believe it should expand to look at near- and mid-term improvements to cross-lake travel. This would include UW Station bus-rail integration, SR 520 HOV improvements, and an SR 520-to-SLU transit pathway. These additions will go a long way to ensure this study provides near-term benefits.
  • Add BRT from UW to Redmond: Route 545 is Sound Transit’s second-highest-ridership express route, yet there are no improvements to it in the PPL. The PPL includes improvements to other high ridership routes like routes 512, 522 and 554. Sound Transit needs to do right by the riders that pack route 545 (542 in the future) and identify BRT-level improvements, especially since route 542 will continue to be time competitive with East Link during non-peak periods.
  • Remove LRT from Lynnwood TC to Everett Station via Southwest Everett Industrial Center: While the Board has different priorities than us when it comes to Link’s routing, and the City of Everett’s input is not helpful, the Paine Field alignment has self-evident critical flaws. Paine Field produces no net gain in riders over an I-5/SR99 alignment, for $200m-300m in added cost, while even the SR99 alignment will challenge Snohomish County’s fiscal capacity. Although there are many jobs at Paine Field both today and in the future, for many different employers, they will be scattered over a wide area and will require connecting buses to serve them anyway. Those connecting buses may as well come from an SR99 station as one on- site. We believe that Swift II would be an appropriate alternate investment, with CT participation, for a quality connection between Paine Field employers and the Link system.

The STB Editorial Board currently consists of Martin H. Duke, Frank Chiachiere, and Brent White.

71 Replies to “Editorial: Our Recommended Changes to the ST3 PPL”

  1. In general I like the recommendations except for #1. IMHO there are 2 plans we should consider for Krikland:

    1. LRT routing mostly on the ERC, but *with a deviation into downtown Kirkland*. A few extra blocks here would make all of the difference. To save money this could run at-grade up 6th -> Kirkland Way -> 3rd -> Central Way (probably south of central way, currently there’s just parking there, then it would return to the ERC).

    2. BRT routing on the ERC to 6th, but *with the 255’s routing north of Kirkland*. Market street is wide enough that there could easy be BAT lanes (which would just require eliminating some on-street parking). More importantly, that will actually serve one of the fastest-growing parts of Krikland (Juanita).

    BRT on ERC to Totem lake is basically the worst of both worlds — it misses a key ridership generator for the existing 255, and, doesn’t have the speed and convenience of light rail.

    1. From North Kirkland most express routes make a total of 3 stops before ariving in Downtown Seattle with a usual trip time to downtown often barely over 30 minutes. The purple line would have 8 to 9 stops and a transfer added in. BRISKs purple line even with a new crossing at Montlake would not offer appreciable improvement in service level to much of North Kirkland other than on the absolute worst traffic days. We will be paying for what is IMO a marginal reliability increase. The least we could do is improve the situation over the status quo.

      BRT is not from my POV very compelling on ERC, then again LRT without a connection over the SR-520 bridge is not particularly compelling either. However looking long term at something like the Sand Point Crossing or LRT on SR-520 I clearly see LRT as the better choice. This ROW will always be tight but in 30 years replacing it with LRT when warranted will be all but impossible as the area will grow up around it, it will not be able to managed a multi-year disruption to the BRT system. By placing BRT on the ERC today you are likely committing that corridor to *always* be BRT and at a reduced commute time over what is in place today.

      1. correction: By placing BRT on the ERC today you are likely committing that corridor to *always* be BRT and *not* at a reduced commute time over what is in place today. :-)

        addendum: One thing that many have been advocating is the need for cohesive and long range planning for the future to build an truly integrated system, this whole idea kinda flies in the face of that.

      2. There is no reason existing express buses to Seattle couldn’t continue to operation as express buses on the ERC or I-405.

      3. Of course I’d concur with that too, but I would hope one of the keys here would be to consolidate service where possible to better utilize resources. This would basically result in a restructure of service north of SR520 that would largely cannibalize existing ridership with little improvement for the bulk travel pattern which still is *to* downtown. It would vastly improve service and travel times within the area which might someday be valuable but is not.

    2. I’m glad to see that the editorial board recognizes the critical importance of circulation at the International District station. This is designed to be the major transfer point and its circulation must be impeccable.

      I would anticipate that the proposed tunnel capacity studies will note that the current International District platforms will be a major constraint in improving DSTT frequeenies.

      As much as a center platform is attractive, I think a double center platform design may ultimately be required if we are going to have a second Downtown tunnel that integrates with Link here. That will require cross=track pedestrian connectivity; that may have to be even relegated to walkways underneath the tracks. Because of the light rail catenaries, going above the tracks requires a much more significant elevation change than going below them.

    3. There isn’t much room on the surface streets for an at-grade deviation to downtown Kirkland that isn’t in mixed traffic. A stop along the ERC, unlike a stop at 85th/405, actually has stuff in its walkshed, and is walkable from “proper” downtown Kirkland (85th/405 is a lot harder because there aren’t sidewalks on much of 85th). It’s a bit of a hike from Marina park but not too far from Parkplace or the offices east of it.

      I’d actually run buses but not deviate. I’d run buses and tie it in with 405 BRT, because 405 isn’t any worse than the ERC outside of Kirkland. I’d run straight down the ERC, improve pedestrian connections from every direction around the station (wherever exactly it ends up), invite growth near the station, and cap car parking at current levels.

  2. As to;

    Remove LRT from Lynnwood TC to Everett Station via Southwest Everett Industrial Center: While the Board has different priorities than us when it comes to Link’s routing, and the City of Everett’s input is not helpful, the Paine Field alignment has self-evident critical flaws. Paine Field produces no net gain in riders over an I-5/SR99 alignment, for $200m-300m in added cost, while even the SR99 alignment will challenge Snohomish County’s fiscal capacity. Although there are many jobs at Paine Field both today and in the future, for many different employers, they will be scattered over a wide area and will require connecting buses to serve them anyway. Those connecting buses may as well come from an SR99 station as one on- site. We believe that Swift II would be an appropriate alternate investment, with CT participation, for a quality connection between Paine Field employers and the Link system.

    Absolute agreement. We do need a bus feeder net for Paine Field – support PROP ONE for Community Transit please!

    1. I am glad STB has decided to take this position as the additional costs simply do not add up.

      I think most people along the spine see is Link being frequent which is why they want it rather than Sounder which is commuter oriented. You shift the focus to Sounder being all day with at least 4 trains per hour (if they can actually support that kind of demand) then Sounder becomes preferred from less travel time at least on the ends.

      1. I agree. The additional costs for minimal benefit when a bigger, better bus and maybe streetcar net would work.

        We need to be cost-effective here… there’s a lot of sprawl as I’ve seen from the air and the ground around Paine Field.

  3. There is no way a turnback track will get added at International District.

    A 4 car link train consumes the entire length of the platform. They would have to demolish the ends of the station to extend this supposed center track to the new switches in the tunnel.

    This would be like building an underground junction on an existing tunnel, with considerable station end structure modifications added.

    If they aren’t willing to consider modifying any of the existing tunnels to have junctions for such lines as UW-Ballard, I don’t see how they can possibly think that they will add a third track in an underground station like that which would require even more modification to the existing tunnel structure.

    1. TBH, I’d support a total redesign of the IDStation. It shouldn’t be open air during the cold of winter and should support mixed income housing, which the ID desperately needs, over the station.

      1. As the first transfer point between E Link and C Link the ID Station is going to see a lot of transfers. As such, it really should be a center platform station.

        I haven’t thought about it much, but is seem that you could put the platform in the center breakdown lane and convert the existing platforms into dual holding tracks. If that had the functionality that ST requires, then it shouldn’t be too expensive compared to some of the more elaborate options. You’d have to move stairs and escalators, but that isn’t that big of a deal.

        But blame Metro for this one. They approached DSTT design from a pure bus perspective. So they thought they really needed a breakdown lane, and the idea of crossing over at each end to allow center platform access with standard bus configurations never occurred to them. And it would have been cheaper to build with center platforms to. Errr….

      2. I seem to recall that one of the purposes of the plaza over IDS was for there to be frequent outdoor events. Well…pergola is still outdoors.

        More reasonably-priced housing in the neighborhood is definitely a good idea. But I suspect utilities would be a problem for an apartment building on the “lid”.

        I think that the roofed structure on the Fifth Avenue side was supposed to shelter a permanent outdoor market. Far from the only feature of the Downtown Seattle Project purchased and never used.

        The waterfall fountain at Convention Place worked for, I think, less than a month before the sub-standard pump gave out.

        Repurposing the facility to its permanent function over the last 25 years to a vertical outdoor garbage chute.

        But sadly, the fountain takes distant second place to the fate of the fortune in signaling and communications equipment designed to use the “Traffic Ahead We Apologize” disk space for classical music.

        I’d seriously like to see a column on every public balance sheet for useful capital bought and installed but never used. Black and red are already spoken for. So feedlot-floor brown would be good.

        Mark Dublin

    2. IDS has a huge bus staging area just south of the platform area. At worst, the tunnel control and bathrooms below would have to go away, along with re-configuring the platform and for the new track alignments. I’m not sure about the crossovers, but we used to pack a ton of buses in there in the good ole days.

      1. Yes. Once the tunnel is light rail only, a lot of that crap should go away.

        I mean, Chicago, New York, and Toronto don’t seem to need to stop trains at the entrance to each tunnel and have a security guard verify that it is, in fact, a train.

        That’s one possible space.

        Then, there’s all the space taken up by Metro layover yards south of that’s probably the best place for it since there would be space for regular layover as well as emergency use.

    3. Blaming Metro engineers of 30 years ago for the shortcomings of International Station today is a bit harsh. They were building a bus tunnel. The breakdown lanes were not wasted space. Not only would they keep the tunnel fluid in case of a broken bus, they could also be used as bypasses so following busses could get around a bus doing a wheelchair lift. Lifts can easily become a three or four minute process with the high-floor Bredas.

      Sound Transit, with its penchant for doing the cheap and stupid, now plans to waste that space with a turnback track they couldn’t seem to find a place for elsewhere. Why can’t the International turnback be installed at Pioneer Square? Whatever operational reasons they have for putting it at International pale in comparison to the usefulness of a center platform there.

      1. +1 +1 +1

        Even IF a center platform is never installed, a train coming from Overlake to SODO can serve IDS, rather than forcing everybody off at Judkins park. Right?

        Also, how hard can it be to just lay down some concrete and put in two escalators during the two weekend shutdown they plan on having in 2019?

      2. Aubergine, the engineers on the DSTT indeed did a fine job on a tunnel for an untried form of transit in very hard conditions.

        In three years,a squeak-tight corridor under CBD Seattle had to bored, curved, and graded to light rail specs.

        And be operable with standard buses whose only steering guidance was the operators’ hands on the wheel.

        The engineers gave us a tunnel the worst of us could have driven comfortably at forty or fifty. If lanes were empty and stations closed.

        And that Demi Moore-Michael Douglas movie had had the chase scene that could have made it not suck.

        Chair lifts definitely caused long boarding times, making passing an operating necessity. Which it still is, for which KC Metro should still allow and train, but doesn’t.

        However main reason subway buses need passing lanes and trains don’t is that disabled railcars can be coupled to be pulled or pushed by other trains.
        Buses aren’t structured out to allow either.

        Also: center platforms need wider right-of-way than side ones. Stadium, Tukwila International, and Sea-Tac are all on railroad property. Rainier Beach is well past the business district.

        But Aubergine, IDS has a staging area, and Pioneer Square doesn’t. Spend half an hour at PM rush at each one. Turnback question answers itself.

        Mark Dublin

        But chief influence on platform placement was our squeak-tight subterranean path under CBD Seattle.

    4. Glenn, question on never-mentioned light rail practices- which I’m not sure whether MAX has or not. System-wide:

      1. Express track past stations between major centers. Might fix some negative comparisons between light rail and express buses.

      2. “Tail track”, meaning tracks away from platform area for storing and turning back trains. Which LINK drivers tell me will definitely eliminate schedule delays at times they’re least welcome.

      Measures like these definitely make for faster and more reliable regional rail system wide. Might be best to get such things into the plan now, so no one can later claim nobody mentioned them.

      Mark Dublin

      1. Express tracks can be done, but not with TriMet’s current operating methods.

        Tail tracks: TriMet has one. This is at Porand Union Station. Everything else is accessed from both ends. See emergency siding just west of the West Hills Tunnel or just east of Hollywood Transit Center, or a few other places.

        It is quite important, I would think, to have a full siding when possible. If a MAX train has inoperative brakes, they like to have at least as many operable brakes as inoperable ones. That means pulling an inoperable two car train with another two car train, or one car at each end.

        In short, they best have a siding with access at each end since they now have to deal with a train twice as long as standard practice.

        Express tracks were once very useful as interurban trains and locals shared lines. Most places in the USA have given up on that.

        For the most part,ink is infrequent enough they could have express trains pass locals by shifting between the existing tracks. Outer fringes are a train every 10 minutes? Isn’t the line already signaled in both directions south of International District? Give the thing some high speed crossovers and a well written scedule and you’ve got your express track already there.

  4. As a north end resident who commutes to Seattle, I would support reducing scope to remove the Paine Field extension (and maybe the downtown Everett trunk for this round) if a few things are done instead.

    First, like you mention, good interconnection with Swift II would be important. Second, improvements to Northline Sounder so that Everett Residents can reliably use it in the winter time. Its time savings really shines when I-5 suffers from rain induced slowdowns (the 510 route exceeded 2 hours several times last winter Everett Station to Westlake), but it just so happens that that is when rain induced slides shut down Sounder as well.

    1. Zach,

      This is why I keep saying, build regional express rail (RER) along the Seattle-Everett corridor that can carry high speed passenger trains as well. Yes the view gets ruined but the 25-30 minute time savings from Seattle-Everett (15 for local stops) would go a long way. Given Everett-Seattle from around 6:30 am-10 am and then 11:30 am – 7 pm is usually an hour for travel time, I see this corridor having the ridership needed even if along I-5.

      1. Dan, reason I generally answer your comments is that we agree that Regional Express Rail now is as necessary as metropolitan-area segments of the Interstate Highway system were thought to be in the 1950’s.

        I can’t see any reason why these lines couldn’t elevate over and cut along large stretches of I-5 and I-90 right of way.

        But I think we’ll need tunnels and stations under population centers. And the faster the train, the shallower the grades have to be- meaning that last possible I-5 inbound stop can’t be south of Northgate.

        On the way under the Ship Canal to the single Downtown station. Structure aside, the I-5 bridge puts trains too far east, and much too high.

        Also, while our out-state fellow Washingtonians think Seattle is as big as it is sinful, for a US region we’re not very far across. Meaning the faster the train, the more stops there are, the harsher the acceleration and braking.

        For regional rail you’re thinking about, go to: Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P%C3%A5gat%C3%A5gen

        You might also contact the Swedish consulate office at Carillon Point about the “Pågatåg”

        (Poge-a-tog), for “Little Boy Train”, though making LINK and Sounder look diapered by comparison.

        But for max high-speed regional stops, little-known absolute must-read:

        https://en.wikipedia.org /wiki/Norristown_High_Speed_Line

        Would not only always be faster than bus to Sea-Tac, but would also let LINK have Graham Street stop.

        But we both need to realize: however much our region needs the trains we both want, that’s how much they’re going to cost.

        Mark Dublin

      2. Mark,

        That is part of the issue if you built a line is do you build another tunnel underneath the Ship Canal via UW to connect it? Or do you have people transfer at Northgate? My thinking would be is to have stops at Westlake, U-District, Northgate, Montlake Terrace, Lynnwood TC, Ash Way, Everett Mall, Everett Station then go north to Marysville and end right around the outlet mall area with a bus connection.

        Yes the cost would be astronomical but if we can get true HSR funding along with federal funds, my belief is this would have a higher utility and larger geographical coverage than Lynnwood-Everett Link.

        The cost comes down to tunnels and electric rails can do a 3-4% grade although it is not preferred. I would rather run this down the SR 99 corridor but then we might as well start ripping up Aurora and then making it the RER corridor but again, that cost would be astronomical and no one would want a 4 track railway all the way down the 99.

        It becomes a question of what is the primary goal? Will a Link extension to Everett be a good service for the Seattle-Everett corridor? If via the I-5 alignment, I would say so. However if I am commuting from Everett, a faster travel time would have appeal especially given the current 60 minute regular travel time from Everett to Seattle and the heavy desire to use other modes in downtown. I think most want Link specifically for the frequency and the time of service but otherwise the fastest trip has a winning hand IMO.

        I do think a Westlake stop is needed in the area so folks can transfer to Link going South or other means but I do see it becoming the Chatet Les-Halles (minus the exorberant number of people).

  5. All good thoughts and thanks to STB ED’s for really digging in on this. Did the list come out in any priority order, and if not, could you rank them by ‘most bang for the buck’?
    Having walked the ERC from one end to the other, noting numerous backyard encroachments, it might be too big a battle to get buses running down there. DMU’s are a good fit for that corridor, but the buses are likely to stay on I-405 forever.
    Anyway, all my jabs aside, keep up the good work unraveling a 100 years of road spaghetti.

  6. Only freeway BRT projects should be in ST3.

    BRT projects solely on arterials are great — but it’s a slippery slope to include them in ST3 because any arterial BRT project in the region would be arguably eligible for ST3 money. Also, Seattle will need every dime from ST3 to go to rail or freeway BRT (West Seattle).

    Madison BRT should be off the ST priority list.

  7. Amen to connecting service to Paine Field and a more direct routing to Everett. The destinations at Boeing, etc. are much easier to serve with a bus service that connects both to the light rail spine and a lot of their employment base to the east. I.E., Swift II.

  8. I have a compromise proposal. We say the “Spine” goes direct to Everett. *However* money is included in ST3 to make SWIFT II LRT-convertible BRT (e.g. mostly meaning that it has dedicated ROW instead of shared lanes). Thus, in the future, if the ridership on SWIFT II turns out to be worthwhile, we can always add a LR spur from the spine to Boeing in ST4.

  9. Count me as disappointed that no version of a WSTT, including possibilities for serving SR-99 corridor and First Hill, was included in PPL.

      1. Not exactly for two reasons:

        1. I think a tunnel between Belltown/South Lake Union, Westlake and First Hill is preferable to a second downtown tunnel. I believe this because the second downtown tunnel would duplicate existing service at the opportunity cost of serving very dense neighborhood just east of downtown with HCT.

        2. I am concerned that the rail convertible bus tunnel serving South Lake Union/Belltown won’t be on the table in the event that Ballard to Downtown rail isn’t in the ST3 package.

  10. A center platform at ID/Chinatown station would have to have a connection to the surface, meaning another elevator and stairs, and possibly an up escalator. Rider makes a mistake and gets off on the wrong side of the train (and there would be *lots* of such mistakes) — you can’t leave her stranded

    1. If a center platform is ever built, there should be no stairs and up escalators only. ST cited the potential for stadium crowds to overwhelm the center platform as a reason they don’t want to do it, which is reasonable to an extent

      1. A center platform there would be twice the width of the platforms MAX has at the Rose Quarter, which are used with considerable efficiency in moving crowds after events at the stadium now called Moda Center.

      2. TG, since passengers with luggage don’t generally also have baggy pants and skateboards, you know you’re going to need elevators.

        Luckily, you’ve got a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. While Donald Trump’s got center stage, get with him to give really bad elevator company CEO’s priority for being deported to Palermo.

        Especially if they’re not Italian. Move could actually give these perpetrators the break that liberal bleeding hearts think perpetrators need.

        Since Breda always gets the low bid even for European companies that know better, nobody of LINK-elevator caliber will miss ever miss a day’s work in their life.

        Mark

    2. Elevators and escalators are two of the cheaper elements of a center platform. The larger expense is a flyover wye from East Link to Central Link. I assume it will cost at least eight figures, but it will be worth it.

      If the center platform is the exit-end of a Spanish solution, the huge sportsball crowds won’t be a problem. Indeed, the center platform will help the outer platforms be able to hold those crowds without lots of pushing.

      The center platform costs more in capital, but it will save a bundle in operational costs over the life of the system, and it is safer than the turnback plan in every aspect.

      1. Not sure if the entire wye would need to be flying. If it is only used for the occasional out of service train or deadhead moves at the start and end of the day, you could have that segment be at ground level.

  11. Mostly sounds good, except for the part about ripping the cross-Kirkland trail for a BRT line. Better to just use the HOT lanes on I-405, and focus capital spending on new ramps to get the buses on and off I-405 quickly without getting stuck in traffic. And, of course, the service hours to keep the buses running frequently all day.

    1. Nobody is ripping the trail out. Whether bus or rail is considered for ST3, the trail has the support of all of the cities and agencies.

      1. “Nobody is ripping the trail out.”

        Unless of course, there’s a reason the tracks have to go back in.

      2. No, a busway would tecnically rip out the trail. It would just reduce it from a wide trail surrounded by trees to a skinny trail surrounded by concrete. A busway wide enough for 2-way traffic is very wide, compared to a trail.

        Nor is it even necessary, as parallel roads are not congested. I can see using the ERC for a short stretch in immediate vacinity of Totem Lake, but once you get past 405, you may as well just use regular streets.

      3. Existing surface buses waste a lot of time right in the vicinity of 520 (where they’re not exactly dropping off passengers), sometimes in significant traffic backups. The ERC goes under it all. It would be ridiculous to send Bellevue-Lynnwood (405 BRT) buses through that surface traffic. My support for ERC BRT is only as a portion of 405 BRT. If they do 405 BRT without an ERC deviation, I don’t think I buy another route along the ERC with the wide stop spacing that implies… but that leaves very difficult challenges for arterial Totem Lake/Juanita-Kirkland-Bellevue transit: the downtown Kirkland and Market/Forbes Creek bottlenecks, and awkward South Kirkland P&R access. None of these can be solved with just paint… or even by simply laying down asphalt, because of roadside grades and existing buildings.

  12. Am I misreading the data? You say BRT and LR have the same ridership on the ERC, but when I follow your link it actually appears to say that LR garners between 28% and 38% higher ridership (Issaquah to Totem Lake).

    That is a very significant difference and certainly not “the same” as you assert.

    1. The second column from the left is a BRT option with 9-11k riders (via S Bellevue). The highest-ridership LRT option is also 9-11k. It’s true that we’re not comparing the closest LRT and BRT analogues, but we should hardly penalize BRT for using an alignment below downtown Bellevue that ST thinks the trains can’t do.

      1. Ah, no, that is incorrect. You should always try to compare as closely as possible apples-to-apples, because when you start picking and choosing unrelated things to make your comparisons you start introducing additional variables that you aren’t addressing.

        For example, the BRT route you select for your comparison has increased running in mixed traffic (is it really BRT then?) and the travel times increase to 20% longer than for LR.

        And I hardly disagree that LR couldn’t do that route.

      2. Sound Transit’s been quite consistent that they can’t run LRT from Kirkland into downtown Bellevue; they need to connect at Wilburton/Hospital.

        I’d love to hear about an interlined rail proposal too. It would solve one of the major access issues. Lots of people here have reasonably asked why it’s so hard. But until somebody at the agency goes on record to say it’s feasible, I have to assume it ain’t.

      3. Considering Sound Transit’s repeatedly stated incompetence, their repeated denials mean absolutely nothing to me without solid evidence. The line is completely unbuilt, so denials basically mean that any interlining anywhere is impossible – which is obviously false, as the planned interline in downtown Seattle proves.

    2. The best BRT ridership via the ERC, and the best LRT ridership via the ERC, all have the same numbers. You can get different numbers depending on how one extends the line to Issaquah, but the suggestion is to include only the Kirkland-Bellevue segment.

      Also, not on this chart, but there’s also additional ridership between Kirkland and Seattle. Those riders could use a busway, but can’t really be served with LRT.

      1. Not true. LR from Kirkland to Seattle would actually be faster and more reliable via interlining on East Link over I-90 than would buses stuck on 520/I-5 with no dedicated bus lanes. At least during congested times of day (seems like most of the time nowadays).

      2. Interlined trains through Bellevue, we’ve been told consistently, aren’t feasible. Even if they were, nobody at the agency has ever suggested sending Kirkland trains directly to Seattle. Not happening. I’d rather keep this discussion in the world of the possible.

      3. Interlined trains through Bellevue must be possible, since interlined trains through Seattle are possible. If we limit this discussion to what incompetent hyperconservative Sound Transit absence-of-planners deem possible, we won’t get anywhere at all.

      4. ST’s adversion doesn’t seem to be about sharing the East Link track, but about crossing Mercer Slough to get to South Bellevue Station. ST seems to be afraid of lawsuits on environmental grounds.

      5. @William C,

        You are bang on correct, of course interlining Wilburton to S Bellevue is possible. As you state, just look at Seattle. If Seattle can do these things, then surely the Eastside can to, right? All it takes is the will (which seems a little lacking in the land of KF and his minions)

        @Mike Orr,

        You are correct, crossing the slough is the issue. ST would be better off crossing at I-90, which is where they need to get to eventually anyhow to continue out to Issaquah.

      6. They may be “concerned” about crossing Mercer Slough, but it’s clearly a viable option because it was strongly considered for East Link in the first place (remember “B7”?). B7 was not defeated on environmental grounds, but on ridership (e.g. the location of stations is much better with the final East Link routing. Ultimately, it’s obviously possible to cross the slough because I-90 does. You can imagine they could just lay the tracks at the left side of the I-90 bridge and remove a SOV lane. Not saying that they WOULD do that, but it’s clearly feasible from an engineering POV.

      7. @Steven,

        Whenever someone through so their hands up in the air and says, “it’s impossible!,” you should translate that as, “that person has an agenda.”

        Clearly these things are possible from an engineering POB

      8. The fastest way from Kirkland to downtown Seattle is not going through Bellevue by any means and connecting to EastLink. It’s taking a bus across 520 and connecting to U-link. It’s on the way, and 520’s existing HOV lanes bypass most of the traffic. When the new 520 bridge and HOV exit ramp to Montlake opens (which will happen long before any ST 3-funded projects get built), buses will be able to bypass nearly all of the traffic.

        What Kirkland needs and should be pushing for is better bus access around Husky Stadium, plus more service hours to fund more buses. Not rail to Bellevue.

  13. How about a heritage LRV line spur from a Link station anywhere on the I-5 corridor to Paine Field? They could bring back the few remaining buzzy orange LRVs surviving at assorted trolley museums, and Boeing could fix them whenever they break down.

  14. Correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t the PPL explicitly call out LRT as an project for the ERC (project E-03)? I don’t think that we should be complaining that they think that LRT is the preferred option for this corridor and that BRT is a better choice. If they have the money to do, why not? It’s going to be a system that will be effective a lot longer than BRT. And, if we’re only going to get one crack to build this in the next three decades, why not do it big the first time? (especially considering the current style of BRT that really isn’t anything more than an express bus with “stations”)

    1. You speak truth. And of course LR is a better option over the long run than BRT. Any cooridor that has the ridership to support properly designed and built LR will save money over the long run by building LR instead of BRT. And the ridership will be higher with more development.

      And watered down this BRT will be. If you try to match LR ridership by building “BRT” via the South Bellevue line then you are just running in general traffic on I-90 and Bellevue Way with a bit of the ERC on the northern end. And if you are willing to sacrifice that much performance just to have BRT-Lite, then why not skip the ERC all together and just run on Bellevue Way all the way to Kirkland.

      I mean, who really needs the ERC if you are satisfied just with a milk run? The #48 in Seattle is a milk run, and it has very high ridership. It sucks, but it has high ridership.

  15. “Add BRT from UW to Redmond: Route 545 is Sound Transit’s second-highest-ridership express route, yet there are no improvements to it in the PPL….especially since route 542 will continue to be time competitive with East Link during non-peak periods.”

    I suspect you’re absolutely right – Neither U-Link nor an off-peak ST 542 currently exists, so yes, they are time competitive. ;-)

    In the meantime, getting a 271 realignment so that UW riders can transfer somewhere other than Downtown Bellevue is a CURRENT need. The new 520 stations are lovely, but inaccessible from mid-day UW service, unless you make the big walk to Montlake Freeway Station. If you are in a wheelchair…forget it.

  16. I am delighted to see the last point: Remove LRT from Lynnwood TC to Everett Station via Southwest Everett Industrial Center; here’s why.

    Just after the start of this decade, multiple frequent, nearly door-to-door bus routes that had the added benefit of local (not commuter) fares from south Snohomish County to Boeing/Everett were eliminated. It has never been restored, and times were good up until 2007-08; i.e. there was plenty of opportunity to add them back. Then, a few years ago, frequent, nearly door-to-door bus service, also with local (not commuter) fares from multiple places in north and east Snohomish County to Boeing/Everett was pared back to ~2 trips/day. It has not been restored. In both cases, the service would have been restored if the demand was there, but it’s not, except in the politicians’ minds. Proof positive: Boeing/Everett even have leased lots for parking, as their employees continue to prefer to drive, the growing congestion on SR-526, the Boeing freeway, is not a deterrent.

    Sound Transit’s board seems to prefer to operate independently of the other transit agencies vs. thinking regionally and practically. That’s why they continue to propose routes that duplicate other high-capacity routes. The southwest Everett routing is yet another, as a Swift line is proposed from Bothell to Boeing/Everett that would cross I-5 at 128th. Why does the region need to spend public dollars so that both light rail and BRT to go from 128th to Boeing/Everett when no demand has been proven, and if anything, the lack of demand has been? Everett’s mayor said at yesterday’s board meeting that employees need light rail, suggesting that BRT or that, gasp, having to transfer, will prevent employees from taking transit to work. Meanwhile, it’s perfectly okay for anybody not going to southwest Everett, such as people who live around downtown Everett and points north to take an expensive – both in terms of building, but also in terms of their time – detour every day to and from points south, for their time is apparently of less value than those employees who work in southwest Everett: 24/7/365.

    It is far more practical to save precious public sub-area resources to take the direct (I-5) route to Everett and use the extra billion or so that the politicians want for the convenience of southwest Everett for connecting other communities and employers within the county to the light rail spine.

    1. This one went the other way. At the Exec Committee meeting earlier this month, both BRT and LRT spurs to Paine Field were still on the draft list. But Paul Roberts was vocally unhappy, and neither appeared in the list for yesterday’s meeting.

      So now, the alignments on the table either take everybody around Paine Field. Or nobody.

      Heightening the contradictions …

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