There’s a lot of uproar in Kirkland against buses on the trail. But the uproar is a red herring that distracts us from the real question: what locations in our city should be connected by rapid transit? Only after identifying those points should we consider which routes best connect them.
To identify those points, first consider that rapid transit stations are best supported by a large number of residents, employees, and customers; likewise, these urban villages need rapid transit to thrive. The key a thriving city–and a successful rapid transit system–is to identify and connect the areas which are (or are well positioned to become) urban villages. In Kirkland, this likely would include (from north to south, based on the Kirkland Zoning Map):
- Evergreen Hospital & Totem Lake Malls
- Totem Lake Business District
- Rose Hill Business District
- Downtown Kirkland
- Carillon Point
- Yarrow Bay Business District
405 only connects Totem Lake and Rose Hill, but is an inadequate corridor for rapid transit on its own. Likewise, the Cross Kirkland Corridor (CKC) fails to connect Downtown Kirkland, the Rose Hill Commercial District, and Evergreen Hospital (being at least a 15 minute walk from all of these). Neither 405 nor CKC adequately connects Kirkland’s urban villages on its own.
Instead, we should identify a primary line that connects most of Kirkland’s urban villages, and which opportunistically uses existing rights-of-way such as I-405, the CKC, or other streets, as appropriate.
Urban villages that are not easily served by the primary line–such as Lake Washington Institute of Technology and the Juanita Commercial District–should be connected with high frequency transit service such that transfers are reasonably easy. This could be done with busways, streetcars, or automated elevated people movers of various sorts.
I’ve drafted an alternative which blends the CKC and 405 BRT routing (https://goo.gl/sQ8JzP) into a single line which connects most of our urban villages, as well as a connector for those away from the main line, and some routing alternatives. This ‘hybrid alternative’ brings together the best of both options, giving us a chance to build a rapid transit system that best serves all of Kirkland’s urban villages.