One possible ST3 scenario (map by the author)
One possible ST3 scenario (map by the author)

Among the dozens of projects and corridor studies presented at the ST3 Board Workshop yesterday, perhaps the most interesting new concept was an operational idea to effectively split the spine into more manageable corridors. Though unspoken by regional leaders, the light rail spine has always been more of a political conception than an operational one, as running a pure Everett-Tacoma line was always going to be a stretch (at best). Such a line would be over 2 hours end to end, require additional maintenance facilities, restrict scheduling options, and likely require operator changes on every single train.

At the same time, Sound Transit has recognized something that advocacy groups such as Seattle Subway have long noted, namely that a new downtown tunnel for a Ballard-West Seattle line would waste that tunnel’s capacity, hence Seattle Subway’s idea for a bus-rail tunnel instead. Not at all keen on that idea but cognizant of the operational realities, Sound Transit has come back with an exceedingly ambitious and exciting proposal (see my unofficial map above):

  • Blue Line: Everett to Redmond (6 Minute headways)
  • Red Line: Everett to West Seattle (6 Minute headways)
  • Green Line: Ballard to Tacoma (6 Minute headways)
  • 3 minute headways between Everett and International District/Chinatown

South from International District Station (IDS), the Red Line would serve Stadium and Sodo in new tracks west of the current stations before running elevated to West Seattle, terminating either at Alaska Junction or White Center. The current station at Stadium would be demolished and rebuilt as part of Green Line construction. The Blue Line, meanwhile, would head east as planned to Mercer Island, Bellevue, and Redmond.

The Green Line would serve Tacoma, Federal Way, SeaTac, the Rainier Valley, Downtown Seattle, South Lake Union, Queen Anne, Interbay, and Ballard. From a rebuilt Stadium station, the line would enter an expanded International District Station via cut-and-cover construction on 5th Avenue South. IDS would essentially be a 4-track station, potentially with  cross-platform transfers between southbound Green Line and northbound Red and Blue line trains. North of IDS, the Green Line would run in a new deep bore tunnel through Downtown to Queen Anne, with stations at 5th/Madison, at Westlake (beneath the current station), at Westlake/Denny, and at Queen Anne/Mercer. There the tunnel would emerge and run elevated through Interbay to Ballard.

Sound Transit’s Ric Ilgenfritz walked the Board through this idea, and it was clear from the presentation that Sound Transit prefers this concept to a standalone Ballard-West Seattle line. Though there are drawbacks, such as permanently leaving out Belltown and requiring Snohomish and North Seattle riders to transfer to reach the Rainier Valley and Sea-Tac, etc, the operational benefits are immense:

  • By freeing the Northgate-IDS core from the Rainier Valley line, you could potentially increase frequency beyond 3 minutes and improve reliability to near 100%.
  • Transfers would be world class at both Westlake and IDS, both contained within their respective stations.
  • Travel between South Lake Union and Capitol Hill (the “8 subway”) would be effectively solved with a simple underground transfer between a 6-minute line and a combined 3-minute line.
  • The new Madison station would connect with Madison BRT for additional eastbound options. It might be even better a couple blocks east as a true First Hill station, but that’s a post for another day.
  • The new tunnel would rebalance passenger loads, taking pressure off the current tunnel while better utilizing the new tunnel.
  • This option allows ST3 to be built out with 4 maintenance bases instead of 5.
  • Operations are much simpler, and labor much more reasonable, when no single line exceeds 90 minutes end-to-end running time.

What do you think?

324 Replies to “Ballard to Tacoma? Sound Transit Looks to Split the Spine”

  1. If you live in the Rainier Vly and want to go anywhere north of Mt Baker Station, then the message is, “Don’t take Link – Take a bus’.
    One station for each area, plus a new transfer from the green to a red or blue train, through a pedestrian tunnel is a non-starter for me. It may pencil out to be a tad quicker but the hassle is a huge turn-off.
    Now, East Link going to Ballard. That may actually make some sense, because most of the east-side is better off to take a bus across 520 if you’re heading to UW.

      1. It probably isn’t a big deal if your trip is MLK via Link to walking distance to Cap Hill or UW.
        But, any other trip pairs to Central District require 2 transfers, maybe 3, so if getting on a bus that stays east of I5, I would trade the extra travel minutes on the bus for going bus-walk/wait-train-walk/wait-bus for the same trip

      2. If the 8 and 48 from Mt Baker remain popular, is that a bad thing? The 48 is being upgraded to a priority trolleybus corridor.

    1. When I lived in Boston my preference for rail was so high that for years I would travel clear to the downtown core to transfer rather than take a bus around the circumfence. My impression is that this is not uncommon in many systems where rail competes with busses. People trade speed for the simplicity and comfort of rail.

      Which is to say, I don’t think a transfer will result in significant problems for the rail line. Getting people to use the more convenient, faster bus is going to be the challenge.

      1. This is EXTREMELY common. People will do rail-to-rail transfers. People will do multiple rail-to-rail transfers. I’ve done three rail-to-rail transfers on a trip just to avoid buses.

      2. I’ve also made trips in Boston that chose a rail->rail transfer over a 1-seat bus ride, even though, on the map, the rail->rail route went a mile or two out of the way, while the bus was a straight line. The train was faster and more frequent, while the bus was a local that stopped everywhere, so I think the total travel time would have been a wash between the two modes. Ultimately, it was the lack of OneBusAway, familiarity with the rail system, the need to carry luggage, and the need for a reliable trip (I had an Amtrak train to catch on the other end) that led me to choose the train.

      3. I did the same when I lived in Boston, but I had my limits. When I lived at BU I’d often take the Green to Red to go from BU to Harvard, but when I moved out to Brighton I reverted to taking the 86 bus instead.

      4. Yes! I’ve lived in Boston (when did Brighton get a T stop?), NYC, and London as well as extended travel in other European cities with light rail as my mode of transport. LIGHT RAIL ALL THE WAY, NO DOUBT! I hate the bus. It does little to alleviate car traffic and is slower than transferring, even walking across a foot bridge is worth it over taking a bus. Only take a bus if my home is too far from the train stop and the bus stop is near enough to my home…or if the train is down and it is the only reasonable alternative. The East Side NEEDS light rail AND a light rail connection to the West Side.
        This is one of the best maps I’ve seen. I’m not sure I understand why the blue and red lines run along the exact same corridor for so long and why the 522 corridor isn’t represented on the blue instead with a transfer downtown or at UW.

      5. MSK09,

        This map represents the ST2 system along with the most likely components of ST3 (spine completion to Everett, Tacoma, and downtown Redmond, Ballard-Downtown, Downtown-Alaska Junction, and Totem Lake-Issaquah). If 522 happens in ST3 it will most likely be a BRT line.

      6. “I’m not sure I understand why the blue and red lines run along the exact same corridor for so long”

        For more capacity. UW has enormous all-day demand from all directions, and it will grow if the transit is more reliable and frequent. Northgate is a designated urban growth center with above-average ridership. Lynnwood is also a designated urban growth center, although more people wonder how that will play out. The Lynnwood-Everett segment could revert to one-line operation off-peak.

        “and why the 522 corridor isn’t represented on the blue instead with a transfer downtown or at UW.”

        Capacity in the central tunnel. The central tunnel already has to accommodate UW, Lynnwood, and Eastside riders, and those transfering to Wallingford and Greenlake and Maple Leaf and Sand Point.

      7. There’s a huge difference here between a local bus that stops everywhere and takes forever vs. an express bus that travels down the freeway with decent priority treatment to avoid traffic snarls. From Queen Anne to Capitol Hill, I would choose a subway->subway transfer over the 8 any day. But from, say, Kirkland to the U-district, rail that detours all the way to I-90 is just not worth it. Much faster to just ride an express bus over 520.

      8. Priority treatment, yes. A bus travelling in exclusive lanes isn’t quite so awful as a bus which gets caught in traffic. (And a train which gets caught in traffic has its own problems.)

        *Still*, even with exclusive lanes and so on, people don’t like bus-to-bus transfers, even if they’re at bus “transfer centers”. Rail-to-rail transfers don’t seem to bother anyone. Not sure exactly why there’s such a difference, but maybe the diesel fumes from the buses make it impossible to make a really nice transfer environment.

    2. My understanding is there will be multiple platforms at international district station and it will be a vertical connection at westlake no pedestrian tunnels.

    3. @mic

      You are thinking from a bus perspective, but this will not be a bus system.

      Bus transfers within the current Metro bus system can indeed be very painful, but the proposed Green to Red/Blue transfers will be anything but. The 2-seat Link ride will be hugely preferable to the one seat bus ride, and the one seat bus ride will probably go away anyhow as redundant.

      1. Given transits track record around here for transferring between vehicles and modes, I doubt it will be anything close to a European transfer between multiple tracks and a cross tunnel between them.

      2. It wouldn’t have to be a “European transfer” (whatever that means). There are plenty of examples of seamless transfer stations in the U.S. and Canada. It’s not rocket science.

        I do agree that Sound Transit isn’t the best example of logical system planning. Hopefully they don’t screw this up.

      3. Nobody is ever going to propose removing the 48 (or whatever it’s called after it’s “RapidRided”) between Mt. Baker and Husky Stadium. There are like, people, living between those two stations; you know, with legs and all. Some of them just might like to ride a bus north or south from their homes once in a blue moon.

      4. +1. The 48+45 corridor might be the most important in the city after Link is fully built out. It’ll be the fastest way between Mt Baker and the east entrance of Judkins Park Station, the fastest way between Judkins Park-UW for anyone not living immediately adjacent to a station, provide the local service overlay between UW-UDistrict-Roosevelt, and be the primary feeder between the 85th St corridor and Link. And that’s on top of all the growing neighborhoods in between, such as Green Lake and C.D.

      5. @mic,

        This will not be a transfer between modes, it will in fact be transfer within the same mode. And by eliminating the Metro/bus element the reliability goes way up. Additionally the headway sa really either 3 mins or at worse 6 mins. Much better than a traditional bus,

      6. Even cities with extensive subways have more bus routes than rail lines. Often the bus routes form triangles with pairs of train lines, or a bus route follows a train line for a mile or two and then turns in a different direction. Routes like the 8 and 48 and perhaps even the 9 are typical for what such cities have, only they would be twice as frequent.

    4. mic,
      You make no sense, the 7, 8, and 48 may offer one seat rides, but they are slow and unreliable. While there may be cases when using feeder buses on both ends of a trip where an all-bus trip might make more sense I doubt that will be the case for most people.

      Rail to rail transfers are the norm in cities with more than one rail transit line. ST frequencies are enough that the wait will be minimal. Grade separated trains are both fast and reliable compared to busses slogging through traffic on surface streets.

      1. Not everybody lives right next to stations, especially with Link’s wide stop spacing, and they go to places Link doesn’t like Goodwill at Rainier & Dearborn, or from Mt Baker to Madison Valley.

      2. I understand people will still use buses. They do in cities like NYC and London. Mic is suggesting that say for Othello to Roosevelt riders will prefer to transfer to a 48 at Mt. Baker rather than do a rail-rail transfer downtown. There are cases a particular trip may be faster by bus alone but for many if not most trips taking a bus to the nearest Link station, transferring between lines, then transferring to another bus should be faster.

      3. @ Chris: The 48 will far outpace Link for most destinations closer to 23rd than Broadway.
        A typical trip on Link Gr,xfer to> Link R or B and catch the 8 at CapHill will take about 40 minutes from Mt Baker to 23rd/Madison +/-.
        That same trip on the 48 can be there in 16 min, or 25 going to Montlake, or 35 going to 15th/45th.
        It’s a no brainer to stay on the buses we have for most trips locally, rather than on a split Link + bus ride unless you’re actually going to Broadway & John.
        Rail would have to serve up free lattes to make it pencil out..

      4. Mic is suggesting that say for Othello to Roosevelt riders will prefer to transfer to a 48 at Mt. Baker rather than do a rail-rail transfer downtown.

        Riders who want to go from Othello to Roosevelt won’t be able to get off at Mt Baker and go to Roosevelt solely on the 48 after March. Metro, in its infinite wisdom, flatly refuses to extend the 48 to Roosevelt until Roosevelt station opens. Those riders will want to go all the way to UW station and then get on the 45. CD->Roosevelt riders, the few of us there apparently are, can simply pound sand and transfer to go 10 more blocks.

        (Yes, I get the whole “electrify the 48 now” thing but I still think not going to Roosevelt for a few more years and using the old 48X layover or laying over at Green Lake is shortsighted.)

      5. The city project is just putting in hooks for future electrification. The trolley wires and vehicles are as yet unfunded.

  2. Might the red and blue lines shown here potentially be fully grade-separated and “driverless”?

    Could the new tunnel be built with the Spanish solution, and the red/blue line moved into the new tunnel?

    Could the purple line also be fully grade-separated and “driverless”?

    Could one line go to Paine Field and the other to Everett?

    1. My understanding is that Sound Transit does not want any of the future systems to be driverless. Operationally speaking, it doesn’t make that big of a time difference as long as the operators all run more or less the same.

      1. Eventually all the lines will probably go driverless, but that decision has nothing to do with ST3. It has more to do with the development of driverless car technology and economics.

      2. But the cost of the operators is a big chunk of the operating expense. At the very least, the possibility of getting to driverless-able might deter cheap-outs on grade separation and the accompanying increase in expected fatalities.

      3. @Brent

        Skytrain type driverless technology really is an antique. It is much more likely that future driverless systems will be built more around driverless car tech than the “separate and control” type tech used for Skytrain.

        Such driverless car type tech could be used equally on any of the Link lines including through the RV.

      4. Stay with that thought, Brian. I think you might be only one here with experience to discuss this one. What are the reasons you think a train should have a human hand on the throttle- aside from the fact I like driving transit?

        Mark Dublin

      5. There is no “driverless car tech” which actually works right, regardless of Tesla and Google advertising. Skytrain / DLR tech actually works, and is incredibly easy to implement.

      6. (I should explain the acronym. “DLR” is “Docklands Light Rail”, in London, with a genuinely large automated metro system.)

      7. We already have prototypes of driverless cars, and driverless Link trains along a fixed guideway are much simpler than that.

        The real problem with going driverless is unions. If Sound Transit ever tried to fire all its train operators, they would likely find their bus drivers and mechanics going on strike.

      8. Sound Transit doesn’t employ light rail operators. Metro does. If the number of train operators is reduced, they will get to pick bus routes.

        I don’t think ATU would oppose ST3 over driverless proposals when a lot of new ST Express service and work for mechanics is likely to be involved.

      9. Bluntly, the public demands a “driver” when there are grade crossings. Even if the driver doesn’t actually *do* anything. This is the revealed psychological behavior of typical humans. It’s a bit weird, but there it is.

      1. The Spanish solution adds a center platform between trains in addition to existing side platforms to ease transfers between lines.

      2. In the Spanish solution, riders exit onto one platform on one side of the train, while riders enter from a different platform on the opposite side of the train, cutting dwell time by as much as half.

        Even without a pure Spanish solution, being able to use all the train doors at once can cut dwell time by as much as half, which reduces overall travel time and, due to the decrease in minimum headway, increases the maximum throughput capacity of the line.

        It boggles my mind that so many train lines hobble themselves by only using half the doors at once.

      3. Thanks everyone. That sounds like it would have been a good thing to add to Pioneer Square to facilitate Bellevue-Airport travel (I know it was discussed for IDS but ST said “we can’t do it”, presumably because of the support columns). But in this new plan that will be mooted. Anywhere except Ballard to Airport travel will require a transfer between tunnels. It will probably be easiest for North End (and UW) riders at Westlake, but Eastsiders will have to go down and then up at IDS.

        I do think that not providing UW-Airport direct travel is a definite drawback to this plan, but it does add SLU-Airport.

      4. ST has been unacceptably vague about why it won’t convert Intl Dist to center platform, and why it has to put a non-revenue turnback track in the middle that will forever preclude a center platform, and why it can’t put the turnback away from the platforms. It mentions low ridership on Eastside – SeaTac, but that’s a likely underestimation and shortsighted. We should build maximally usable transfer stations to maximize ridership on the transfers, and to prepare for an unknown future that may be more populous and urban (i.e., higher ridership) than we expect.

      5. the rebuild of IDS will have all 4 tracks on the same level. It wasn’t clear to me what the platform layout would be but assuming there is enough room it is possible to have a platform on either side of each track allowing use of all doors and cross-platform transfers.

    2. @Brent,

      No, driverless car technology won’t prevent someone intent on committing suicide by train from accomplishing their goal, but Skytrain technology won’t either.

      Since Skytrain went into operation in 1985 there has been something like 75 deaths on the system, most of them suicides. This is more than on Link, although it is hard to make comparisons because Skytrain is so much larger and carries so many more people.

      Bottom line is that suicide is a problem that won’t be solved by technology. It takes healthcare and some very human hands on intervention.

  3. First of all, you’re awesome at making maps, Zach!

    So with this configuration, are we ever able to extend the west Seattle and Ballard branches? There seems to be a limit to the # of different stops north and south in the city that we’re able to build.

    1. Really is a great map, Zach. Matter of fact, best one I’ve ever seen for transit in Seattle. I really do like the concept here. For simple reason that in system with neither bathrooms or snacks, most Everett to Tacoma passengers will generally make a “pit stop” in Seattle. Especially when headways are so short that they can easily continue their ride five trains later.

      My fastest ride from Olympia to Seattle is theoretically the 592. Bypassing Tacoma, it’s a non-stop ride to Seattle. But: with two stops each ten minutes way from I-5, it still takes a (disgraceful) hour ’til it goes non-stop. Except for every stop on an also disgracefully jammed freeway.

      So two preferred choices. 1.592 to Lakewood, Sounder to Seattle. Longer by the clock, but also freeway-free, and much legroom and restrooms aboard train. 2. Intercity Transit for also one hour ride to Tacoma. Delicious coffee at Anthem Cafe in Historical Museum building, streetcar to Tacoma Dome, Sounder north.

      We’re not shipping freight here. We’re carrying people. With our present equipment, people need a break, more ways than one. Only thing that would change this are the purple trains in southern Sweden I keep talking about- best for Everett-Tacoma, mandatory for Everett Olympia.

      ‘Til then: Thanks for finally adding an enjoyable experience to our system. People will now actually start to prefer LINK to being stuck on the freeway in their cars.

      Mark Dublin

    2. Ballard could be extended because the new tunnel should have 2-3 times the capacity of the existing service (limited by Rainier Valley’s street crossings). If there’s a turnback in SODO like the existing line has, the Ballard side could be more frequent than the RV side. I think ST has a concept extending the Ballard line north to Northgate and the 522 line.

      West Seattle would be more constrained because the UW/Everett tunnel would reach capacity in the 2040s.

  4. What possible reason is there to think there’s anywhere near enough demand for 3 minute headways off-peak north of Northgate?

    1. I believe the 3 minute headways is targeting 2040 ridership. I doubt the complete Everett extension will be even remotely that full… maybe the segment from Lynnwood to Downtown might see heavy enough use. More likely though the Lake City transfer point through Downtown segment is what will really need 3 minute headways by 2040. Combined 41 and 71-74 ridership could easily need 3 minute headways by 2040.

    2. For what possible reason would anybody think that a district like South Lake Union used to be could ever turn into, well, what it is, but at least including exponentially increasing population. Which is also driving a movement which is doing the same thing to Ballard and similar places.

      And also, incidentally, making I-5 someplace where you can bicycle across car roofs for miles precisely because so many working people have been priced out of their lifetime homes and forced to commute from Kent for work they used to be able to access by transit or walking?

      That’s why.

      Mark

    3. I , like many other people, think 3 minute service to Everett is excessive. Every other terminus is getting 6 minute service, what’s so special about Everett. I would like to see 3 minute service end at Northgate. Perhaps one of the lines (probably the blue?) could fork off and serve the 522 corridor.

      1. This is exactly what I was thinking. Turn the blue line trains back at Northgate to save some service hours and promote the 522 corridor as a future extension of the blue line.

    4. 3 min headways north of Northgate will only be implemented if demand warrants it.

      However, anyone who has seen the morning rush on I-5 might be tempted to speculate that by 2040 3 min headways will indeed be required.

      1. However, anyone who has seen the morning rush on I-5 might be tempted to speculate that by 2040 3 min headways will indeed be required

        Well, yes, I asked about off-peak for a reason.

      2. Oh right, everyone driving on I-5 SB into Seattle in the morning lives within a few blocks of one of the handful of stops Link will have up there, so they’ll all switch to Link once it’s running.

        But more realistically, there’s only a few hundred such people now, but at least those people, and Shoreline, sensibly embrace sufficiently dense TOD to fill those trains. Oh wait. .

        Well, at least each station will someday get a couple hundred park & riders, each of whom probably only drove 30 miles on I-5 in its more northern uncongested sections.

  5. I like the idea in general, especially if we find a way to add back a first hill station.

    The loss of Belltown is still pretty painful though. At a minimum (as discussed elsewhere) they would need to look into extending the CCC (exclusive ROW) through Belltown.

    There will still be wasted excess capacity in the new tunnel though (only 6 minutes?), seems like splitting the line at both ends would be worthwhile..

    The north end could either split downtown (add an Aurora Line or Seattle Subway’s yellow line?) or perhaps In Ballard to allow Ballard to UW and Ballard to Crown Hill (and eventually Lake City?).

    The south end could split between the existing RV line and a Georgetown/South Park extension that could rejoin the main line somewhere south of TIBS…

    1. The First Hill soils would come up again. Although maybe a station closer to downtown could avoid them. But on the other hand a station closer to downtown may be less useful for First Hill.

      1. sorry … what complete bullshit.

        we can build 35 story buildings on First Hill with ZERO trouble … there is NO reason why there can’t be a tunnel / subway stations.

    2. Just a minor suggestion on the map for Zach: SDOT proposed two South Lake Union Stations. Maybe add the second one as Denny Park?

    1. If you are riding Everett to Tacoma, Amtrak would probably be a faster option by the time this line will be done.

      1. Indeed, nearly half an hour faster. Everett-Seattle is 94 minutes on current Amtrak trains, plus dwell time at King Street. Future Cascades trains will be faster and more frequent, especially if ST triple-tracks the mainline between Seattle-Tacoma.

      2. Triple tracking is something that already seems to be taking place, or at least preparations for it are well underway. I come through Tukwila sounder station daily, and bridge construction is already happening to handle a third track over Longacres Way, just north of the east platform.

      3. The Cascades long term plan includes more direct trains from Vancouver BC to Eugene OR… so Everett-Tacoma will become common.

        It’ll be important to improve the transfer experience between International District Station and Seattle King St. Station, though!

      4. The Cascades long term plan includes more direct trains from Vancouver BC to Eugene OR… so Everett-Tacoma will become common.

        Nit: Currently there are no direct passenger trains from Vancouver BC to Eugene. Not even any direct Bellingham to Eugene trains. One train each way is fully Portland to Vancouver BC.

        So, any improvement at all with through trains at Portland or Seattle would be nice.

        It would be nice if regional transit planning such as this Link map also included a bigger picture, such as what could happen with Sounder or Cascades trains as other pieces of the regional transportation picture.

      5. Don’t be so certain that Cascades will be improved. Oregon is wavering over support already, and the Washington State Legislature is sliding toward Republican control. Who is going to pay for more Cascades trainsets, not to mention the not-inconsiderable cost of running them?

      6. If they get the Portland-Seattle time down reliably below 3 hours (hard, but currently funded projects should get near 3 hrs. 15 min), operating costs will be paid for by tickets.

      7. Nathaniel, in your dreams. Trains run full now those times when there is the sort of single-person ity-core to city-core travel demand that unsubsidized trains can provide. Families will never be a major contributor to Cascades revenue because they’ll always be nosebleed expensive compared to the family car, especially if you set fares high enough to meet all operating costs.

      8. “… nosebleed expensive compared to the family car,”

        Just a wee bit of hyperbole there, eh?

        Must be using the same accountants as the I-405 toll whiners.

      9. Jim,

        Look, I love riding Cascades and am very grateful to the Legislature for funding it. But my wife and I never ride it together: even with two senior discounts it’s roughly twice the cost of driving. Add two kids and it would be four times.

        Yes, perhaps “nosebleed expensive” is hyperbole as you say, but given the need to get to and from the train station at either end with at least one suitcase each — functionally it needs to be by cab or Uber — it’s not far from the reality for most people.

    2. Good lord, as if building LRT from Tacoma to Everett wasn’t overkill enough, you seriously think a single transfer is inconvenient?

    3. Joe, I know that Skagit Valley residents have to do a “Pledge of Allegiance” to never set foot in Seattle. But with present LINK cars… please do us favor, seriously, why you’d prefer to avoid a stop in Seattle that in a good station complex will only be pleasant, and cost you no more than a few minutes ’til your next train? Promise, we won’t tell the sheriff!

      Mark Dublin

    4. The Everett-Tacoma commute via Sounder works just fine. There’s no reason to take light rail between them unless you’re making tons of extra stops along the way.

      1. Except that currently, there is only *one* possible connection betwen Everett and Tacoma on the Sounder in each direction per day. If you’re not leaving Everett at 5:45am and Tacoma at 4:30pm, you’re out of luck. Of course, if South Sounder is expanded substantially, this will improve, but frequency will always be poor compared to even existing bus service.

        Having to make a single convenient transfer to get from Tacoma to Everett isn’t really a big deal though, considering how long that trip is and the small number of people making that trip. Incidentally, even if there was a one-seat ride between Everett and Tacoma between light rail, it might even still be faster to transfer to an express bus between Seattle and Tacoma (if traffic isn’t heavy), given how slow Seattle-Tacoma light rail will be.

  6. Some of the cited advantages of the split spline will go away if here ever is an ST4. The most likely course for ST4 would not be to build Ballard-UW but instead to simply extend the line to Shoreline and/or Lake City. As you increase the length of the new spine some of the operator and maintanence issues will come back.

    1. IMO, without changing the RTA law for differential subarea taxation, there will be no ST4. Period. This is it.

      1. Zach, maybe it’s because when I was your age ( I swore I’d never say that!) the future in popular imagine held that the Space Needle was a perfect symbol for the future. But I really hate current outlook that all transit will be decrepit vehicles- more or less the Breda fleet- ridden by rotting zombies.

        We all have rough days at work so only occasionally look like that. But where’s it written that we’ll never ever have enough money to do ST 4 Squared? Of course we’ll change the law re: subarea taxation, because the subareas of today, which are rapidly obsolescing, will make our own whole region the regional subarea that Ballard used to be in relation to Seattle.

        But one favor, Zach. I was at yesterday’s meeting- but still can’t get it clear which routes will use the DSTT. Any help here? Many thanks.

        Mark

      2. The Sound Transit CFO already has more or less declared sub-area equity as we know it dead. Expect East King and possibly Pierce funds to be shifted to other areas in ST3.

        There seems to be support on the board for the “go long” concept where ST3 is a 20 or 25 year measure rather than the 15 of ST2 (I can’t remember the initial term of Sound Move but it has become a 20 year measure with the final elements opening in 2016).

        Indeed what I’d like to see in ST3 is all ST taxes made perpetual with no further voter approval required for ST build out regional transit as needed. We could then have a true long range system plan built a piece at a time.

      3. ST could make the taxes perpetual right now. It’s basically voluntarily promising to roll them back whenever it decides to stop building lines or they don’t meet voter approval.

      4. Not so, Mike Orr. The ST2 Plans says clearly that once those projects are done, ST must roll back taxes to O&M levels or seek voter approval for more projects.

      5. That’s what the board said in the December 2014 workshop. ST may have constrained itself by putting it in ST2, but if so that was ST’s choice.

      6. I would support differential taxation. Or conversely, I would support allowing each sub-area to implement a follow on tax increment above what is implemented in a regional package. The key is to find a way to allow accelerated deployment of transit services within a sub-area without completely blowing up the overall structure of ST.

        BUut these are tweaks, we just need to find a path that the legislature will allow without to much interference. With the current legislature that might be a stretch, but the legislature will change and at some point in the next 20 years it will be more transit and urban friendly

      7. @Chris S,

        We will see what happens. The easiest monkey wrench the Republicans in the legislature can throw into the ST3 gears would be to force a strict interpretation of sub-area equity on ST.

        That said, creative interpretations of sub-area equity will cost ST3 votes. We’ve already had the conversation in my work area and many of my suburban coworkers are pissed and voting “no”. How many of these more right wing individuals would have voted “no” anyhow I can’t say, but I do know relaxing sub area equity will cost votes.

        However ST has been good at the electoral tea leaves, so maybe they will find a way to get this passed regardless of what they do with subarea equity.

      8. Lazarus,

        “Relaxing sub-area equity” essentially means that North and East King (once again) will be paying for Snohomish County’s Quixotic fantasies. South King doesn’t have enough to do what it would really like but it’s not terribly sort, especially since Link is going I-5 instead of SR99.

        Pierce might get cheated unless ST can get Warren and Matt Rose to allow more scoots on their railroad. If they agree then most of Pierce’s excess over Link will go to third tracking the BNSF to allow 6 AM to 10 PM service.

      9. IMO, without changing the RTA law for differential subarea taxation, there will be no ST4. Period. This is it.”

        Yep. And “this” is already in trouble because of the high cost of SnoHoCo’s absurd demands.

      10. I think the intent of relaxing subarea equity is to funnel money into N King to pay for the new tunnel. This would sort of be the countywide funding model that gave us the DSTT.

        Not also, this is playing with anti Seattle stereotypes and had a lot to do with why the first RTID vote failed

      11. “The easiest monkey wrench the Republicans in the legislature can throw into the ST3 gears would be to force a strict interpretation of sub-area equity on ST.”

        I don’t think the legislature will micromanage ST3. It has already spoken, and forced ST to compromise with other legislative priorities. The reason the legislature created Sound Transit was to avoid becoming directly involved in Puget Sound regional transit (e.g., voting for specific lines and modes). It saw that Puget Sound transit was an increasingly an unavoidable necessity, but micromanaging it would be a political lose-lose for most legislators. So the legislature just focuses on the bottom-line tax rate and a few political principles.

    2. That what happens when we build lines out to the hinterlands for the sole purpose of connecting dots on a map.

      1. Each of those dots has a mayor and residents who care about it and are voters. It’s not just dots on a map.

      2. Each of those dots has a mayor and residents, but not very many of them. They’re given a veto over the system disproportionate to their tax or their numbers.

        I mean, Duvall has a mayor and residents, too – why not connect them? Because having a mayor and residents isn’t all these is to this equation, perhaps?

    3. Extending Ballard to Shoreline was viewed skeptically in the December 2014 workshop, with the Edmonds-area boardmember wanting more information on what the benefits of such a line would be. So it will most likely go to 522 or UW if anywhere.

    4. I appreciate your consistency. So what is next after we build one of the longest and lowest ridership rail systems in North America? Ballard to the UW? A Metro 8 subway? No, silly, send another rail line out to Shoreline.

  7. If a Ballard – Tacoma line reaches east for a Madison station, why not run it to say MLK then south to Jackson and then west back to IDS? Running it south from a first hill station just duplicates the Broadway trolley instead of another north south segment to finally give Madison valley and the Central District some stations. Then you would have the CCC, the existing tunnel at third, the Broadway trolley, and then the new line at MLK covering the core of the city.

    1. Well, because MOST of the people riding it in any given 24 hour period would like to go to jobs in downtown Seattle and would therefore be using the Madison Street station. That might not be true during midday and the evening, but it most certainly and emphatically will be during the commuting peaks.

      Which means that Madison Street will need to be VERY well designed to handle the loads.

    2. I assumed it would poke east to First Hill and then back west to Westlake. The all-line transfers at Westlake and Intl Dist are a significant feature that won’t be discarded so easily.

      1. Looking at the map, the Madison station is after the major Westlake one. The central district segment would connect at both Westlake and at IDS so I don’t see an issue there. Those two stations give riders coming in from the ends of the line plenty of direct access to downtown and transfers to the other lines. Where is the downside?

      2. The line is not going to cross I-5 twice between Westlake and IDS. Remember what U-Link had to go though to cross it once?

        ‘East’ might be in the vicinity of 6th Ave.

      3. No mishaps or anything, but there was a work item to harden the ground around I-5 at the undercrossing. Lots of holes were drilled and filled with grout. IIRC, the Olive Way entrance ramp was closed at times.

        Imagine the panic if there was any subsidence of I-5 due to the tunneling. The construction cost may only be tens of millions of $ per crossing, but it’s a big, fat risk factor.

      4. The “downside” is that you’d be forcing a transfer from the green to the red/blue lines at exactly the point at which they are maximally loaded. True, lots of people will deboard at Westlake from thje red/blue, mostly to head for SLU on the green line or SLUT, but IDS is a completely different story. Relatively few people deboard there and there isn’t likely to be huge development in the neighborhood because of the International District and Pioneer Square historical districts.

        So you’d be forcing at least half the load of the northbound green line onto the already full (presumably) red and blue lines.

        The green line must have the Madison Station placed west of I-5. There is no other option.

      5. “The “downside” is that you’d be forcing a transfer from the green to the red/blue lines at exactly the point at which they are maximally loaded.”

        Doesn’t every city with downtown transfers have that?

      6. Not really in the same way. Swinging up to First Hill instead of serving the urban core is not like the 7 line in New York, which is the best example of a line to and from which a majority of riders must transfer.

        In the first place, the 7 connects with the 4, 5,and 6 lines at Lexington Avenue, then the B, D F and M lines at Sixth Avenue, and then both the four track line 1, 2, and 3 line and the N Q and R lines at Times Square. At any of the three transfer points the riders leaving the 7 are a small fraction of the ridership on the trains serving that station.

        Other downtown transfers are made at one of a couple of dozen transfer stations spread over Manhattan and only comprise a small fraction of the ridership on either thr incoming or departing train.

        Removing the Green Line’s Office station is entirely different.

  8. What does “new tracks west of the current stations” mean? Will the busway lanes be taken and the new line also be at-grade? If so, how will that make the “Northgate to IDS core” reliable enough to allow sub-three minute headways?

    Or, if it will be new elevated trackage (there’s a problem with that at Royal Brougham, but see below), then why not run the green line on it as well and get more value from the cost of the separation? True, that means a “flying junction” just west of the existing MF, but that’s a “higher and better” use of the busway than another set of at-grade tracks. I’m assuming there will already be some sort of vertical separation and that could be the start of a “flying junction” for the north end. The green line tracks leaving the new platforms at IDS will have to dip down some to pass under the rising blue line tracks headed to Bellevue, so the southbound track from the new platforms could pass under a slightly raised northbound track headed into the existing platforms and join a moved-to-the-west southbound track from the existing platform.

    However to avoid all that construction, would ST be willing to pay for road overcrossings at Holgate and Lander and an undercrossing for the ground level street at Royal Brougham? If such bridges were built, having the tracks themselves on the surface would be perfectly acceptable. They could be fenced to allow higher speeds.

    Brent asked if the new tunnel could take the blue and red lines through downtown in order to allow them to be “driverless”. In short, “No”. The new alignment will have north-south platforms either directly beneath or just to the south of the east-west Westlake platforms. There will be a thirty foot minimum difference between track elevations.

    MrZ mentioned that there will be “no underground tunnels” at Westlake. If that is true (e.g. transfers will have to go through the mezzanine), the planners are potentially ruining transfers there. Look at the stair layouts in Washington Metro’s three big crossing stations (L’Enfant Plaza, Metro Center and Gallery Place) for examples of how to connect two lines each with side platforms. It’s easily done and the resulting transfers take about a minute between platforms.

    1. We were told it would likely be a new center platform beneath the current Westlake platform, with direct access between them without the mezzanine.

      1. Zach, GREAT! Thank you.

        We can hope that there will be both up and down escalators between each existing platform at the new center platform.

      2. Specifically, the presenter said you would “just go downstairs” to transfer. That clearly evokes a BART-Muni transfer in SF or BART-BART transfer in Oakland.

      3. Mike, BART-Muni IS via the Mezzanine because their fair-paid areas are independent. BART-BART in Oakland is between platforms as this should be.

    2. I’m guessing Holgate and Lander will be elevated and the surface street at Royal Brougham will be closed. What I can’t figure out is where the West Seattle line will turn west and how it will cross the Amtrak tracks. (Or the rest of the infrastructure there.)

      1. One of the advantages of this system is that the West Seattle end can be truncated as appropriate for budget reasons — First? Delridge? 35th? Fauntleroy? At some point, the incremental value of tunneling to reach California/Alaska will be questioned, especially when the single-family zoning west of Californis is factored in.

      2. Rail to West Seattle will be elevated. Freight and passenger rail tracks will br crossed somewhere between Lander and Spokane. If the Junction is chosen over Delridge (quite likely) it will be elevated as well.

      3. Chris,

        If you deviate to the west north of Spokane you have to cross the elevated structure west of the Duwamish crossing, and that makes the transfer to and from Delridge, Admiral and Alki bloody awful. For a decent transfer experience the line should round the point of the ridge between West Marginal and Delridge and have the station at least a block south of Spokane.

  9. Ballard to Tacoma doesn’t make much sense. Tacoma to Seattle via Rainier Valley is too slow to ever be attractive enough to gain good ridership. I would suggest eventually making the West Seattle line the main line to the airport and Tacoma. But the West Seattle/Airport/Tacoma line should be optimized for higher speeds by designing better track geometry (more tangent track) and a grade separated ROW (no middle of the street running). The slower RV line could then be re-routed to the airport via Southcenter and most of the Tacoma to Seattle or Airport to Downtown Seattle (or Tacoma) traffic would be routed via West Seattle.

    1. Guy,

      The Alaska Junction is much more “out of the way” to Sea-Tac than is Rainier Beach. Yes, you could make it all grade separated which would certainly help. But miles and station stops still mean something, and if anything, there would be as many stops between SoDo and Sea-Tac via West Seattle and Burien than via MLK. Burien downtown for sure, somewhere near 128th, White Center, Gatewood or High Point, Alaska Junction, what Zach calls “Youngstown” and Delridge totals seven. There are currently six via RBS and Graham will make a seventh. True, Tukwila is agitating for something around BAR, but it’s not a done deal. So really, the at-grade on MLK is largely offset by the greater distance via Alaska Junction.

      Now if ST chooses Delridge but NOT at-grade, that routing might well be quicker to the airport. But that’s not currently a listed option.

    2. Also getting from Southcenter to Sea-Tac would require a tunnel or a tortuous routing up the canyon below the existing elevated trackage. Would you simply abandon that? It was quite expensive to build.

    3. And, finally, if you extend the red line to Sea-Tac via White Center and Burien you have the same “it’s too long for the operator” problem unless you truncate it at Northgate and overlay the blue line from Everett with extra peak hour service to IDS or somewhere just south of downtown. There will never be a need for sub-ten minute midday service north of Northgate unless Puget Sound grows to be Bay Area North.

    4. ST has shown no interest in a Rainier Valley bypass for Tacoma. The Georgetown bypass was deleted from the Long-Range Plan last year. The Pierce boardmembers are surely smart enough to recognize the travel time implications when Westlake-SeaTac is 40 minutes (same time as Westlake-320th on the 577), and if not the future corridor sheets will have it explicity published for all to see. Tacoma seems more interested in attracting companies and workers to downtown Tacoma, and shoppers from south King County to Tacoma, and airport businessmen to Tacoma, than in a fast line to Seattle.

  10. If we are expanding IDS, maybe there is a way to get an underground connection to Sounder. Those stairs (or the line at the elevator) are a huge impediment for many people.

    Also, to get people to vote for this, there are always those that “it doesn’t help me”. While I don’t agree with that thinking, it would include Belltown, Shoreline, Lake City, Kenmore, Bothell, Woodinville, Burien, and Renton. Most of those would be placated a bit by putting those on the voting brochure map as possible extensions.

    1. Yes. A direct connection from IDS to Sounder and Amtrak would be very valuable — the current situation is positively designed to prevent easy connections.

      1. Agreed, something like LA Union Station pedestrian tunnel would be ideal, linking Amtrak, Commuter Rail, 1990 Transit Tunnel Light Rail, ST’s Union Station and 2035 Transit Tunnel Light Rail in a straight shot. Hopefully the foot tunnel shouldn’t be too complex and expensive to line up roughly along King Street between 3rd & 5th, it would probably have to jog slightly around KSS to avoid the building itself but could be right outside the waiting room at the south side of the station building.

      2. There’s a problem with anything further underground than platform-level at IDS. Look at maps from around 1900, when Jackson Street was the north shore of a lagoon. Now, what’s generally called “soil” under the station area is really water with some dirt in it.

        Just north of Jackson, the DSTT project had to pump “grout”- a sticky waterproof cement into the ground for months to get the ground solid enough to bore through. Also, the concrete floor of IDS staging rests on several dozed cement pads, at the peaks of pilings a hundred feet long, driven into the mud at an angle.

        But I think this kind of elevated structure would more than compensate: a glassed in bridge from the international district to Pioneer Square, also serving King Street Station, with shops and stands most of its length.

        Creating a new semi-neighborhood with great views of the CBD and everything south of it. Only one stipulation that should be written into state law: the firm that gave us the escalators and elevators for LINK can’t even be allowed to ride on vertical transport there.

        Mark Dublin

      3. +1 Poncho. The LA Union Station walkway example is a great layout to emulate.

        A single tunnel under everything with ramps to each platform is optimal. I’m not sure about water table issues but it’s a more elegant and cost-effective solution than a massive track reconstruction project.

      4. Hmm. Looking at it, all the tracks (Amtrak, Sounder, Link, busway) are on the same level. One level above that would be the right place for the pedestrian pathways, except that, annoyingly, 4th Ave. is there.

        Is there some way to get 4th Avenue out of the way south of Jackson Street?

        Could it fly up over the pedestrian level? Dive down to the track level (or are there tracks directly under it — I think there aren’t, south of Jackson)? Maybe this could be done if it were given a road diet? Maybe traffic could be shifted to 5th Avenue to enable 4th Avenue to be narrowed?

        OK, here’s an idea. Eliminate the 2nd Avenue Extension south of Main Street, redirecting traffic to Main St. Make 4th Avenue two-way south of Main Street. Start diving to track level at Jackson, or if necessary, Main. Rise again to meet Seattle Blvd. It’s a bit of a rollercoaster, but it would allow for a direct level pedestrian bridge over all the tracks and the road at Weller St or (better) further north.

        Alternatively, 4th St. could jump over the pedestrian pathway at Weller St — it only needs to rise up about 10 feet to do that. Still a rollercoaster, but it works.

      5. Anyway, my point is that given the layout, a single street-level overpass with connections to everything is clearly correct, but 4th Avenue is sitting nastily in the middle of it. Move 4th Avenue out of the way, and it becomes obvious how to connect everything.

      6. What *are* the traffic flows on that part of 4th Avenue, anyway? Where are people going from and to? Is it possible to simply reroute them to other streets with improvements elsewhere, and close 4th Avenue from Jackson to Weller? (Along with closing the 2nd Avenue Extension?) This would seem ideal.

      7. 4th Ave. S is also the access point to the I-90 interchange. That’s where a lot of the traffic comes from. And there’s a garage entrance right at Weller St.

        How about this: Someday the Jackson St. viaduct will need to be replaced. At that time, lower the roadway and have it cross under Weller, Jackson, Main and maybe Washington. Then it would have a fair distance to rise to the surface as it passes under Yesler Way. Weller and Jackson would then have conflict-free pedestrian pathways between IDS and KSS. The garage entrance I mentioned will be easy to fix because the ramp goes down a level from 4th. The Dearborn intersection might be a problem though.

      8. AW,
        4th and second are already bridges over the BNSF tracks
        It might be technically doable to raise the 4th roadbed up and over a ped crossing at weller.

        The tricky part would be the dangerous garage entrance/exit that drops down right at weller.
        https://www.google.com/maps/@47.5975271,-122.329053,3a,75y,72.47h,77.42t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sw6Ucy4V2tjwri-5Aj7sKsA!2e0!7i13312!8i6656 n

        Pedestrians use current walkway, but cars & buses go up and over the pedestrian walkway?

        I’ll point out that connectivity to amtrak/sounder become more a nice to have as Link goes further north and south.

    2. “Belltown, Shoreline, Lake City, Kenmore, Bothell, Woodinville, Burien, and Renton” and also Sandpoint-Kirkland, Wedgewood, Lake Forest Park and etc not being mentioned in a long range plan is disheartening and could cause voter disapproval. ST has to ensure an ST4 of some sort otherwise voters from these areas combined with the anti-LR groups will bring ST3 down.

      1. I don’t think we have to build every line we can think of to satisfy riders – in fact, failing to reject lines that don’t make sense is a terrible choice, because you’ve got to spend the money to build them, and then you’re stuck paying the debt and running them, when they aren’t sized appropriately to the tax base. Inevitably the thing that gets cut is the thing that can get cut – service on those very expensive lines (or on the necessary feeder buses).

        I’m a transit advocate and a transit maximalist, but we don’t need to be worrying about getting a line to Wedgewood on the calendar, even given the absurd lead times of the transit calendar.

      2. I just don’t think people are that parochial. My parents, who still live in Wedgewood, are thrilled about the coming Roosevelt station and u-link restructure (even as they are against serious upzones there, much to my chagrin). Buses go from 30 minutes only headed, very slowly and unreliably, to the u-district and downtown, to 15 minutes, connecting to traffic-free, real-city rail.

        They’ll be thrilled to add destinations they go to to the system that will soon be relatively accessbile – so anything serving Ballard and Fremont gets a vote, and West Seattle because they believe it is fair.

        The point is – they don’t expect light rail to serve them in wedgewood. They’re very typical Seattle voters, but despite living in one of the supposedly unserved places, they’ll be big supporters of ST3 in its current form, and not pushing for ST4.

    3. Shoreline has two stations on ST2 Link, and plans for east-west feeders on them. Lake City, Bothell, Woodinville, Burien, and Renton are in the long-range plan, and by implication Lake Forest Park. They aren’t specifically scheduled yet but at least one boardmember has expressed interest in “ST Complete” (Seattle Subway) or something similar, so that would give them a definite schedule and certainty. It’s debatable whether Sand Point – Kirkland is worthwhile. What would a Wedgwood line even be? Belltown is close to Westlake Station. The long-range plan has a segment from Bothell to Kirkland, presumably a branch of the 522 line. If the board and Kirkland find that acceptable and good enough travel time, then maybe Sand Point – Kirkland isn’t needed.

      1. I can’t see Ballard to UW as being viable with its anemic ridership numbers vs cost. The only way this line makes sense is if it continues on to U-ville, Childrens and Kirkland and/or a line up from U-ville to Lake City via Wedgewood. No way this line makes sense otherwise.

  11. Not shown: The crosstown line from Ballard to UW. Lots of possibilities, though ST’s materials explicitly said no interlining at UW between the two. Seems to be a separate line, which isn’t my favorite choice given interlining options at both terminals, but I’m still encouraged for further possibilities. Ballard to UW….to the CD and Mount Baker? To Lake City?

    1. I like the idea of a “48 replacement” light rail line, eventually. We’ll have to see how the 23rd ave road diet turns out for buses. I’m not convinced that there’s the demand quite yet, at least until significantly more multifamily housing goes up in that corridor (it’s currently dominated by single family homes).

      1. A stretch indeed. Take another look at just how big that Madison Park loop is – if we turn it the other way, it’d go as far east as Eastlake! I’d rather take that turn east, serve the Capitol Hill Station, and then head north along 10th for a crossing near the University Bridge.

      2. That would be too far west to join up with a Ballard-UW line and that was the original Link alignment (under 10th) before ST discovered that Portage Bay would be a nightmare to tunnel under.

        Something more sensible than Madison Park would be to hook the Mt Baker-CD-CHS segment to Frank’s or Seattle Subway’s concept of serving SLU. That second downtown tunnel is begging for another line.

      3. Agreed. I saw something similar to your map Oran, but not as pronounced to the east or south. Turn south into the Portage Bay tunnel, then down 23rd. Suspending disbelief for a moment, I see stations at McGraw (Montlake), Madison Valley (MLK), 23rd and Union, 23rd and Jackson, and onto the main Blue Line at Judkins Park

  12. While I understand why ST wants to do this, I can’t say I am not disappointed about what this does to airport access if you are north of DT. It just seems crazy to me that a random park and ride in Snohomish County gets three minute frequency while SeaTac gets six and only serves a couple of stations north of the Ship Canal directly.

    This really highlights how biased towards the suburbs this entire process/system is and it is a shame. Seattle deserves better.

    1. What about Ballard to Beacon Hill? Or West Seattle to UW? Some will benefit, others won’t. But seriously… it’s a very simple transfer between the two lines. It just don’t understand why people can’t grasp this.

      Frankly nothing beyond Lynwood to the north or SeaTac to the south matters. It’s going to be a long slow ride no matter where it splits.

      1. The difference between those other places and SeaTac is that there is no other realistic way to get to SeaTac on transit besides Link. So you have the awful walk to the station, a slow train downtown, a transfer to another train and then likely a bus to get you the rest of the way home. A three seat ride for most people. My flight back from Thanksgiving got in late so I ended up taking a taxi home. From getting in the car to walking in the door was 15 minutes. While I don’t expect transit to compete with that kind of time the idea of a three seat ride just seems horrible in comparison.

        After downtown and UW, I don’t think it is a stretch to say that SeaTac is the most important destination we have. This serves it horribly from most of the city.

      2. After downtown and UW, I don’t think it is a stretch to say that SeaTac is the most important destination we have. This serves it horribly from most of the city.

        I don’t see it that way. Southbound to the airport from Red/Blue this adds 3 minutes on average for the transfer, but remember a rail-only tunnel cuts up to 6 minutes off the running time by 2020. So you could think of UW->Airport in 2035 being “only 3 minutes faster” than UW->Airport in 2016, but that’s not “serving it horribly.” And coming north, your transfer to UW/Northgate etc would average 90 seconds.

      3. Even in the best case scenario, dragging bags on transit is a PITA. When you factor in the walk to the terminal and the slow train downtown, getting to SeaTac is already unpleasant. Adding another transfer just makes it worse, even if it is just cross platform. If it isn’t and requires you to lug your bags up (or down) and over to another track? You give back any time savings from having a rail only tunnel.

        While I would always take a somewhat slower route that has fewer transfers, this is especially true when I have luggage.

      4. If people with luggage do just fine with Sea-Tac’s internal train system (every 2 minutes, cross platform transfers) then the new IDS transfer will be second nature.

      5. Link and Sea-Tac’s shuttle trains are apples and oranges. When you’re traveling to the airport, you have all your luggage. When you’re traveling within the airport, you’ve already given your largest suitcases to the airline and just have carry-ons..

        Airport travel is much easier by train the bus. I live in Ravenna. My current trip to the airport is 71–>Link. 1 transfer, but riding the crowded 71 with large suitcases is painful. Next year it will be 372–>Link. 1 transfer, but a smaller bus portion. Though walking my suitcases from Stevens Way – Husky Stadium isn’t ideal. With the new system it would be 372–>Red Line–>Green Line. As long as the downtown transfer isn’t painful it’s fine. But if the political process somehow creates a street level transfer that requires leaving Westlake station, that would be painful. While individually none of these would be dealbreakers, the combination of the long transfer at UW, multiple staircases downtown, and having to walk through the SeaTac parking garage might be enough for me to just take a taxi.

      6. By the time the second downtown tunnel opens you likely will have a better transfer point than UW station for reaching link. Rosevelt station opens in 2021 and there will likely be a bus on 65th to take you right to the station entrance.

      7. There will be a bus on 65th in March, The 62 will run from Magnuson Park past Roosevelt Station to Greenlake, then southwest to Fremont, Dexter, and downtown, every 15 minutes. It’s an early-opening feeder for Roosevelt Station.

      8. I see the point about a three-seat transfer being a nuisance, but I’ll tell you, when I came home from Thanksgiving, I’d have much rather transferred in Westlake Station to a second train, arriving within 6 minutes, than waited 30 minutes outside in the cold night on 3rd and Pine for a bus that was running at least 10 minutes late but OBA wasn’t updating correctly to say so.

      9. A lot of the PITA factor of taking luggage on transit is lack of a good place to put it. This is not just a Seattle problem. About a year ago, I was surprised to learn that the NJTransit trains from Newark to Manhatten contain no luggage racks. This in spite of the fact that this train is the primary transit option for getting between Manhatten and Newark Airport.

        While it’s tempting for transit planners to ignore airport travelers in the name of allowing a couple more rush hour commuters to get seats, this philosophy doesn’t even really achieve its intended goal, since what happens in practice is that people put their large suitcases on the seat next to them and you end up with fewer seats than if the trains had actual luggage racks.

        By contrast, the Boston Silver Line bus actually does have decent-sized luggage racks. While the bus is still extremely packed, it is the space saved by having the suitcases piled on top of each other on the luggage rack that makes the experience somewhat bearable.

  13. This just highlights the obvious benefit of building the Ballard Spur. Everett doesn’t need three-minute headways. It just doesn’t. Make either the blue or red line take a left turn after stopping in the U-District and serve Wallingford, North Fremont, and Ballard instead of providing completely unnecessary levels of service to Lynnwood and Everett.

    1. This is an incorrect read of the market. The corridor from downtown through Lynnwood is the highest ridership portion of the whole system. It cannot be served without the combined blue & red lines operating at three minute intervals or better.

      There is a good debate to be had, on the other hand, about where the Ballard line goes from the point shown on this map. East to UW, or north up the Greenwood/99 corridors? Or even NE to 522?

      1. Citation needed.

        Per Sound Transit’s most recent quarterly ridership report, the Everett/Lynnwood-Seattle routes 510-513 had roughly 9,200 weekday boardings. Throw in the Everett/Lynnwood-Eastside routes and you get another 3,300, give or take. That’s a total of 12,500 weekday boardings on ST Express buses out of Everett and Lynnwood, or 6,250 round trips.

        Even assuming nobody makes these trips outside of a three-hour peak window, you could serve almost quadruple Sound Transit’s current Everett/Lynnwood ridership with six-minute Link headways.

      2. This is assuming four-car link trains with a per-car capacity of 200 riders, so 800 riders per train. Six-minute headway means 10 trains per hour, or 8,000 riders.

    2. ST believes Lynnwood needs 3-minute headways, no matter what you think. Maybe not today but in the 2040s.

      1. In the short term, ST could truncate the blue line at Northgate, until ridership to Lynnwood and Everett justifies 3-minute headways. Another longer-term option would be to connect a line from Northgate west to Greenwood and south to Ballard.

      2. Everywhere north of Seattle is growing at a TREMENDOUS rate bc there is loads of actual land left to build on. And that is exactly what is happening, especially with the addition at Paine Field. It really does need the additional carriage they’ve put in. It’s evident this map’s creators have looked to the near future.

      3. That’s a ridiculous assumption, though. In what universe would 10 trains an hour from Lynnwood not be enough?

        Even accepting that premise, you could still add a Ballard to U District line. Interline it to allow for splitting trains at those stations for direct trips downtown on either side, but the main operations could go west from Ballard station and east from U District (before turning north to Lake City). Connections to downtown would only add three minutes on average.

        I’m wondering if what needs to happen is ST3 split-line as shown here, and then a North King supplemental Sound Transit plan decoupled from the other taxing districts to build east-west connections (“ribs”) that connect to Link stations on the spine (via BRT in most places, and Link from Ballard to UW).

        If you did this, though, the green line tunnel would still be underused at 6-minute headways. It really seems like there must be a way of adding another line that hits areas like Belltown and the CD and Aurrora that are missed by the system as it is currently planned, that somehow uses that capacity. But I don’t know if the geometry makes anything like that possible.

      4. Cascadian,

        IF ST can be convinced to “plan for the future” this time and “separates” the curve north of Westlake [e.g. the northbound track dips and the southbound track humps like Muni Metro at Duboce] then the Seattle Subway version of the Metro 8 is possible. It could swing to about Second and Wall for a station then curve to platforms under the Harrison Station and on east to a station in northeast SLU (Harrison and Fairview-ish), underrun Capitol Hill and then head off TBD southeast via the CD or extreme east First Hill to Judkins Park and separate platforms at Mt. Baker.

        The Rainier corridor between Mt. Baker and Jackson has tremendous possibilities for high-density development that nobody would dislike: there are very few “view properties” on North Beacon Hill or in the Judkins Park neighborhood. Such a line could have “urban spacing” stations so there could be one between Mt. Baker and Judkins Park, one north of JP — both elevated hence pretty inexpensive — then Jackson, Cherry, and Madison.

        My personal preference would be so build it somewhere near 12th where there is ample opportunity for development and Seattle U for all-day ridership. But it might make sense to have it follow Broadway because of the hospitals. Either one would be a good bus-intercept “curtain” because all the CD lines run quickly east of Broadway.

        But maybe the community would rather have such a line along 23rd or 19th to extend the subway zone farther east. That can be determined by public process. But the general idea of the “fishhook” Yellow Line in the latest SS plans is basically a good one and need not be proscribed if ST does makes this simple adjustment to the plans for the Green Line tunnel.

        No, it’s not “free”; it costs money to deviate a TBM vertically, but they do it all the time and would be a small cost for future expansion.

        Also, if such a separation were built into the curve between Belltown and Harrison Street, an extension to the North Westlake, Fremont and Greenwood could be added later. They’re not needed now, but may in some global warming catastrophe when millions may want to migrate to the Pacific Northwest.

      5. P.S. The tunnels for the Green Line will be quite deep at Westlake, because they have to underrun the existing DSTT station box. That makes it relatively easy to accommodate the vertical displacements needed for such a diverging track separation. However, the DBT will have started rising after it passes under the BNSF tunnel about University so there could be some conflict between sufficiently deep tunnels for such a “Yellow Line” connection if it reaches Second Avenue.

        If that is found to be a problem, then the station would have to be at Third which is less desirable. The closer it can be to Western the better.

      6. P.P.S.

        It’s important to remember that “using the capacity of the new tunnel fully” by adding such a fishhook Metro 8 will require them to turn back at IDS or, if all the grade crossings on the busway are removed, perhaps at SoDo. South King County will certainly be able to fill a train every six minutes at the peaks once it reaches Federal Way, even if there are no Tacoma-Seattle riders on it.

        To get the best use from such a Yellow Line it would be useful to extend it to the south somewhere. Renton via SR900 would be great, but there will be no capacity available on MLK, so to get to Renton would require a new path from SoDo southward. That is not in the cards so a “Metro 8” and any long-future Aurora line would probably turn back at IDS or SoDo permanently.

    3. I agree on Ballard spur, Does the horde think that a one seat ride from Ballard to the airport a tradeoff for not building/delaying the Spur?

      1. Sound transit has declared any notion of a ‘Ballard spur’ branching off of the ‘spine’ in the U-district dead.

        With Ballard-Downtown a near certainty the line could branch in Ballard at Market Street with one branch going to the U District and the other going to Crown Hill, Greenwood, Northgate, Lake City, etc.

      2. I hope you’re right, in part because that’ll mean >6min frequency on the core segment. (But which would be the core segment, really?)

    4. You could turn the green line east from Ballard and the blue line west from the U District, ending up with 3-minute frequency between them. Both lines could be extended to serve west or north of Ballard (blue line) and east of U-District (green line) at half frequency (every 6 minutes). You could even hook the green line north from U-Village to serve Lake City. Everything from Roosevelt north would still have 6-minute frequencies, which is still plenty (and excessive north of Northgate).

      Drawbacks? You’d have to add some service hours to maintain the same frequency, and it would add to the length of the lines (though still not enough to make any line too long overall). People north/west of Ballard or east of U District would have to transfer to get directly downtown (but with only three-minute waits on average). Maybe turning the trains back would be a bit more complicated at those ends? I don’t know. But it seems like overall it would be much better than what they’ve proposed for the blue and green lines past U District and Ballard here.

    1. Or, roughly equivalent to the total amount of time you’d waste commuting from Tacoma to Seattle via Link.

  14. I’ve been saying for some time that Ballard and West Seattle could be different lines. I’ve also been saying the we need to look at operations over just drawing the same colored line across the entire region. I feel vindicated by the discussion and by Zach’s map.

  15. As I mentioned in the last thread, permanently leaving out Belltown from the system seems like a major mistake. It’s one of the densest residential neighborhoods in the state and a major entertainment destination and employment center. In other words, it is exceptionally strong as an origin and a destination around the clock. I bet a stop at 5th and Bell would be one of the busiest in the entire system. It’s hard to overlook that this setup completely locks out Belltown forever,

    1. There is still plenty of time to work out where exactly the Ballard line has stops. The current map is conceptual. Personally I like the idea of splitting the difference between Belltown and SLU. 5th and Bell would be dang close to that.

      Another thought would be to serve the Westlake & Denny area then swing west to a station near 1st & Denny before heading to Queen Anne & Mercer.

    2. If the green line can go east between ID and Westlake to stop at Madison, why can’t it also go southwest between SLU and QA to an additional stop in belltown?

      1. Zach mentions that the “Madison” station could be put further east to serve First Hill, but I think that’s his hypothesis, and not part of the actual plan. The second tunnel would run down either 2nd or 5th, and the station would be at either 2nd & Madison or 5th & Madison.

    3. Have to agree there. Going through the trouble of putting in a brand new tunnel and serving Westlake/Denny (which I think is a great stop) but completely skipping Belltown in any way is crazy.

      Even curving south just a bit to hit an area like 3rd & Wall would be a huge stop for Belltown. Any further south and you can realistically expect folks to walk to Westlake. Any further north and things start to get redundant (though less so considering the hill) with a QA Ave & Mercer stop on the same line.

  16. Ok, I always see the blue line always going to Everett with no real explanation or justification. It just does. What I have heard is that there is no turnback track at UW (That’s some great planning right there. It is soon-to-be a new terminus of the line, and there won’t even be a permanent turnback track), so it would have to go to at least Northgate. That makes sense. I think even up to Northgate one wouldn’t need much justification for doubling frequency. But if the line goes all the way to Everett, the whole Link system will be extremely one-sided, with the Seattle-Lynnwood-Everett portion getting double the frequency of the Seattle-Airport-Tacoma portion. So what’s going on? Is there not going to be a turnback from Northgate to Everett either??? Because if that’s the case, then that’s just stupid.

    1. There are hundreds of buses coming down from Lynnwood peak hours that will be truncated. Off-peak the 512 runs every 15 minutes and is standing room only and on the verge of overcrowding. Snohomish County will grow: ST is targeting 2040 demand, not 2015 demand. We want more people in Snoho to take transit that aren’t currently doing so, and we want more frequent feeders to come to Link, so there needs to be capacity for them. Maybe 3 minutes to Everett is unnecessary, but ST believes 3 minutes to Lynnwood is. That may be an overestimate but ST wants to err on the side of overcapacity rather than undercapacity. Maybe one line will go to Everett and the other won’t in the off-hours. Earlier ST planned to run East Link to Lynnwood peak only, but it made it full time because it thought it would need a 2-line capacity.

    2. Alex the existing ST2 plans put turnback tracks at Northgate and Lynnwood so service can be truncated or at least be relieved at either of these points.

      1. There’s also a turnback at Stadium. Metro uses that early morning when the DSTT is closed, and when the DSTT has a blockage, and it can use it for stadium relief runs to the south side although I’m not sure if it does. If it can also turn back to the north side which I believe it does, then you could have Northgate-Stadium runs as much as necessary.

  17. This basically makes the second downtown tunnel a core project in ST3. I had also wondered how Ballard line tracks would connect to the rest of the system and this resolves that gap. Without the tunnel, light rail cars would be unable to connect from the two lines.

  18. I would hope that a new downtown transit tunnel might be double decked like the Market Street Subway in SF and route a number of bus lines above the light rail lines. Street capacity is getting scarce in downtown, this would solve this for transit with a speedier trip and easier transfers.

  19. Hurray for thinking of a comprehensive train system!! Please extend it to Tacoma – that will clear up traffic on i5. The ability for people to pick up a train from Tacoma to Olympia would complete this.

    This reminds me of the spatial plan of the Elevated in Chicago. I lived there for a few years and, like everyone, used whatever lines were available. But the bus was a poor substitute for the El most of the time because it had more stops. The blue/red lines north of the Int’l district look over-crowded with stops…and why do they replicate so many stops? Why can’t someone just make a transfer to one line or the other?

    I applaud these architects for getting people out of cars and buses. We need something that moves many more people much more quickly away from the streets. Do it.

    1. “that will clear up traffic on i5.”

      Nope, grade-separated transit does not reduce traffic, it just gives a way for riders to bypass it. Any space freed up by drivers switching to transit will soon be filled by other drivers making more trips. Chicago has a much more extensive rapid-transit system and Metra commuter rail, but its highways and streets are still filled with traffic.

      1. There are places in Europe that have actually had a measurable reduction in congestion with significant transit investment. Los Angeles has even had a bit of measurable reduction in congestion after their massive investment.

        However, this particular plan for Link will not achieve this.

  20. I like this. It’s an intriguing idea to connect Ballard to Tacoma and likewise West Seattle to Everett. I would also like ST to examine the potential of splitting frequencies at Wilburton giving Totem Lake/Kirkland riders a train connecting to Downtown Bellevue and Seattle. Issaquah and Redmond perhaps doesn’t fare as well in this scenario but I would argue it would make this system more dynamic overall.

  21. One strategy of the Boston T is to not have many local buses running through the core, with bus lines feeding other stations just outside of Downtown. I don’t think Boston has any buses that are through-routed serving two opposite corridors on city streets.

    Is this approaching that scenario? What corridors are remaining? Where would we propose bus-rail transit centers to truncate Downtown Seattle through-routed buses?

  22. If they’re gonna build a line from Issaquah to Kirkland, there really needs to be a stop at Kirkland TC/downtown Kirkland.

  23. >>Such a line would be over 2 hours end to end, require additional maintenance facilities, restrict scheduling options, and likely require operator changes on every single train.<<

    I don't understand any of these three "problems". With the require operator changes, why? Can the operators not work two hours straight without taking a break?

    Maybe someone can explain them to me.

    1. Some drivers could go two hours but some have medical conditions and can’t. And it’s just good insurance for the future in case two hours turns out to be excessive.

      Although the NYC subway has lines close to two hours long. How do they manage it?

      1. True, but browsing SoundTransit2.org, there’s info on Graham St. and Boeing Access Road, but nothing on 130th.

      2. It’s project N-04 on the “Additional North” page. You may be looking at the Additional Central page.

  24. >>South from International District Station (IDS), the Red Line would serve Stadium and Sodo in new tracks west of the current stations before running elevated to West Seattle, terminating either at Alaska Junction or White Center.<<

    If the arena gets built in Soho, they should relocate the Sodo stop further north to be as close to the arena as possible. Preferably no more than a 4-5 minute walk.

  25. Nice plan on paper, but will it be done before 2050? By then I will be 66 years old. Sound Transit is simply disturbingly slow.

    1. Lord, talk about having to take my turn as the Ghost of Transit- I mean Christmas- yet to come! Depending on conditions in one’s own life, age 66 in 2050 may or may not be preferable to being dead for five years after dying of transit related impatience at 100.

      I’m not sure what world record is for putting a transit tunnel through a place like the Central Puget Sound region. Like I keep on saying- which will get worse as you speed past age 66- it’s not just local politics and taxes.

      Much worse is an urban terrain duplicated for compaction only by hill-towns in Portugal. Exactly through our most heavily space-compressed and- populated area. And absolute worst: every natural transit corridor is a north-south valley. Much like San Francisco.

      So east-west means either cable cars, or cog railways, or counterbalances, or trolleybuses. Or digging very deep tunnels. There were plans about a hundred years old for a transit system that looked like large Benson streetcars- so I guess it would classify as light rail now. Though track layers of the day would’ve called that a square circle.

      One of the plans was a subway from the foot of Madison to Kirkland. But planners discovered that as a former “fjord”, meaning very long, deep, and belonging in Ballard, a grade shallow enough for a transit tunnel would have to head downward at Queen Anne Hill. Hence the floating bridges, thought up after WWI, and built after WWII.

      Also when Portland and Vancouver laugh at us: we inherit almost zero rail right of way from years past. Cascadian through New Westminster (I think): Sky Train pillars beside your train, room for both. Also an old railroad tunnel right through the CBD, vented for steam locomotives and therefore tall enough for direction changes by elevator.

      But one counter-expectation: we’ll be able to dig faster, and cheaper, and safer. Depending on your own trade, you could steer the machine. So here’s some reading for you:

      Re: The Channel Tunnel, read: http://www.amazon.com/The-Chunnel-Amazing-Undersea-Crossing/dp/0812921984/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top?ie=UTF8

      And for tunneling under the Alps,or Snoqualmie pass:http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2008/09/15/the-long-dig.

      So in 2050, you’ll be able to straighten out the transit-speed-infuriated at a pretty good clip.

      Mark Dublin

    2. If it’s approved in 2016 and it takes 15-25 years, it will be done 2031-2041, and some projects will open before that. Luckily, the most critical pieces are in ST2 so we’ll be able to get around somewhat better until ST3 is done. ST2 won’t help if you only go from Ballard to downtown, but I for instance travel everywhere and live in the east half of town, and even ignoring work commutes I can find several trips a week that ST2 Link will help. Those living in Wallingford and a few even in Ballard will be tempted to take even the existing 44 to Link for some destinations.

  26. >>One station for each area, plus a new transfer from the green to a red or blue train, through a pedestrian tunnel is a non-starter for me.<<

    Is there a reason the tracks couldn't just be above/below each other? I live in Toronto now, and that's how they subway here works. If you want to change from the Bloor-Danforth line to the Yonge-University line at either St. George or Yonge/Bloor, you just go up stairs/escalator.

    1. Again, CC, the answer to this one varies with literally real-world conditions. Some soils will permit this, some won’t. Same with sewer pipes and building foundations. When the one of our northbound DSTT boring machines was going past the basement of Century Square, the crew on duty found out how Spring Street got its name.

      Remember also that Downtown Seattle has two tunnels running under it, DSTT and BN. So I don’t doubt that this approach will be used if it suits needs and conditions. But the decision won’t be made arbitrarily.

      Mark Dublin

    2. CC, apparently the center of the new Green Line center platform at Westlake will be directly below the existing red/blue side platforms, and there will be direct platform-to-platform transfers. However, as Mark has reported, the soils around Union Station are mucky fill. It’s not a good place to dig tunnels, so the platforms there will be side-by-side.

      1. The ID station transfer is really critical.
        It needs to be as painless as possible, as its got to take the load of all Airport transfers from East, WS, and Ballard.
        It’s also got to take the load of everyone (West Seattle, Ballard, and RV) East during peak.

        If ST can devise a sane transfer solution (spanish or otherwise), then great.
        Until we see the drawings, I’m not confident.

        Otherwise, the proposed lines in Seattle look pretty good.

        Sad to see BAR back in the mix. Graham ST and N130th look like slam dunks relatively speaking.

  27. Now this is what I’m talking about. This looks like a manageable, intelligent plan to make the changes and compromises required to create a manageable, intelligent system.

  28. I have a serious issue with the Purple line. How does a suburb like Totem Lake and Issaquah get a light rail line versus Renton and Kent(which both have nearly 100,000 residents versus 84,000 and 34,000 respectively.) I understand Renton and Kent are larger geographically and spread out with population centers but that does not disqualify them to be important connections for a regional system.

    I would like to see a line proposed that includes a split off from the Green Line to Downtown Renton/Renton Landing and elevated on SR 167 to Kent Station. Nobody wants to go to West Seattle from Renton, we want to go to Seattle or Bellevue.

    Cut and cover could work along Rainier Ave. all the way from Renton to Mt. Baker Station. I understand it might be pricey, but I would like to see some analysis in terms of numbers because it covers important routes in the Rainer Valley(7 & 9) as well as important freeway routes from the Renton & Kent(101,102 and 106). We are seriously leaving out some important population centers and it needs to be noted before we waste money on a line to the middle of Issaquah.

    Renton is in East King and Kent is in South King… can’t money be split between the two for a line like this? I just think Renton and Kent have lost a voice in terms of wants and needs and it needs to be acknowledged/ something needs to be done besides a half-assed BRT.

    ALSO BRT on Talbot Hill/East Hill please? Landing-DT Renton- East Hill – DT Kent would be a perfect candidate but again no one is looking at the lesser privileged areas that heavily depend on public transportation. Be the voice of the unheard please!!

    1. Another idea would be to extend this idea of the Kent-Renton-Rainier Valley line from Mt. Baker to Judkins Park/I90 Station allowing another connection to the East side.

      1. I’ve asked about this before, SEADC. A line between Judkins Park and the 167 corridor would allow for single-tra fee rail service to offload the ERC/405 demand so it would have regional utility.

        The problem is that six minute frequency on MLK.

        The other option is to have short feeder lines (live the purple line here). They are not a bad systems component but I would propose evaluating a lower-cost technology than light rail (DMU, EMU, cable-powered systems).

      2. How would you fit the junction into the tight confines of MLK and Rainier around Mt. Baker? You mentioned “cut and covering”. Are you proposing grade separating the Green Line through the Rainier Valley?

      3. Yes, I am absolutely proposing grade separated through the rainier valley but not for the GREEN line, this would be a different line (YELLOW i’ll say). The yellow line would be an express from Kent – Renton- Rainier Valley-Mt. Baker – Judkins Park. Also not opposed to seeing it continue past Judkins Park into the Central District. If it isn’t it will not be much faster than an express bus. There doesn’t need to be a junction at Mt. Baker, but no reason we can not do an underground transfer to the Yellow Line.

      4. SEADC,

        SoundTransit would never agree to dig a subway through the Rainier Valley and not include the Green Line in it, nor would the public, especially for the relatively small ridership such a line would attract from Kent and Renton.

        That’s not to say that digging such a subway and including the Green Line in it is a bad idea though. It would help significantly with the reliability issues and at least some with the travel time of the deviation east from which airport and south riders will suffer.

        But it certainly doesn’t need to be an “express”. Kent already has express service to the Seattle core area via Sounder and it’s likely to be significantly better over the next two decades.

    2. I’ve resisted the temptation to say this until somebody else did too, but, yes the Purple Line has serious issues. Not only will it not have the ridership to justify rail, but it also asks people coming from Eastgate or Issaquah to detour all the way north to downtown Bellevue – plus a transfer – to reach Seattle. Even just reaching downtown Bellevue would require a transfer to EastLink at Hospital Station.

      The only rail that really makes sense for EastKing in ST 3 is an extension of EastLink to downtown Redmond, and even that makes sense only because EastLink to Overlake TC will already be there. For the rest of the eastside, what the need is lots of buses, plus a few targeted infrastructure improvements to allow buses to move more efficiently. In case of the I-405 corridor, I would do something like the following:
      1) Frequency improvements on the 535 and 566, including seven-day-a-week service.
      2) New, peak-only express route running nonstop from Kirkland TC to Bellevue TC via 85th St. the I-405 express toll lanes
      3) (Once the Montlake lid is finished) Replace the 255 with a much-more-frequent route 540.

      1. Yeah its nuts that it only has a transfer point at Wilburton with no direct access to Downtown Bellevue or Seattle. I just don’t get how we can only have one route run on a track, ideally the line to Issaquah and Kirkland would be branches off of East Link from Seattle, if not that then at least run Kirkland-Issaquah interlining with East Link between Wilburton and South Bellevue!!!

      2. Yeah, the “proposal” for Issaquah light rail is ridiculous. If that was built, then there would still need to be tons of express buses from Issaquah and Sammamish to at least Mercer Island Station, since the detour to Wilburton/Downtown Bellevue is way too long for anyone going to Seattle.

        The thing with Issaquah light rail though, is that the express buses are already very fast and frequent along the corridor, and frankly no realistic rail line would provide any improvement over them. I would argue that the main issue with transit in the Issaquah/Sammamish is the extremely skeletal to non-existent local bus service. Huge neighborhoods have no transit service whatsoever, such as the area south of Issaquah TC, the Talus neighborhood, the upper part of Issaquah Highlands, many areas of Sammamish, etc. Many other areas are served only by peak-only or very infrequent bus service (the entire city of Sammamish only has peak-only service).

        While local transit isn’t part of ST’s mandate, I wonder if as part of ST3, Sound Transit could take over all express service to Issaquah, including Metro routes 214, 216, 218, 219. This would free a lot of service hours for Metro to massively improve all-day local transit service throughout Issaquah and Sammamish. This would be a MUCH larger mobility improvement than any form of Issaquah LRT, but I wonder if it’s politically feasible.

      3. ST won’t “impact” the wetlands along I-90. They’re obviously already massively “impacted” by that ten lane freeway, but it’s a highway so it get’s a pass.

      4. And that is fundamentally the problem with environmental review, its the hurdle that kills the projects that help the environment and uphold the dominance of NIMBYs and their sprawl lifestyle.

        That’s also the problem with transit projects today… built to the path of least resistance to the point, in many cases, to be of no use to riders… here we are in this transit starved area and only 3000 riders/day for Kirkland-Issaquah!!!!

    3. “I have a serious issue with the Purple line.”

      One line on that map is not like the others.

      I think the Kirkland-Issaquah line will be the most difficult for the board to approve. It doesn’t serve Eastside travel patterns very well, and ST’s study says it has the worst cost/benefit ratio of any corridor. Hopefully it’s just a placeholder for the board to consider something more useful and cost-effective by June. They really need to get over transfering at Wilburton. The overwhelming Eastside destination is downtown Bellevue.

      1. So from what I’m gathering, ST will *never* consider an Issaquah line that connects at South Bellevue Light Rail Station and then split to either Seattle or Bellevue? I feel like that is the most logical option for Issaquah! But the wetlands is an issue??

  29. Rapid transit is horribly expensive, but a perpetual gift to the next generations. Perhaps one of the most generous and useful legacy we can give our children and grandchildren.

    I love the map, but really wish there were a way to overlay it on a street grid as an alternative view.

    Buses, or Uber, bicycle storage, and self driving cars filling in the gaps could make for near seamless transportation.

    The technology is nearly available now, but the great improvement commuters are waiting for is mass transit that provides a reserved seat and fairly decent internet connections. This converts commute time from wasted time to productive time.

  30. No one should probably care what some doofus in Portland thinks, but to me it seems like it is going to be hard to justify trains every 3 minutes between Everett and the Internatioal District. Maybe as far north as Northgate, but north of the UW the number of destinations and residential density is pretty sparse.

    A train every 3 minutes is what you see on the Chicago Transit Authority L. There are places MAX does this, but at the ends of the line it is only when it has to due to scheduling and transfer ability. I don’t know of any system where the frequency on the very edge of the network is the same as the end.

    It’s one of the nice things about the Ballard to UW line: assumin it is interlined with the core line it would really help balance the flow of trains through the core of doentown with where the service is actually needed.

    1. sure, we don’t know necessarily that everett will get 3 min headways in 2040. maybe they can turn around some of the train after northgate.

      1. I would agree that Everett is too far for three minute trains. It’s also important to understand that if deman ever gets that high, riders boarding south of Lynnwood or Shoreline would be facing trains so crowded that there would be a public outcry for a short line anyway.

      2. The only North American land use planning I can think of where suburbs an hour away from the urban core demand the same level of service as the urban core is 1960s era modernism sprawl.

        In São Paulo I can see this happening, but Brazilian cities tend to develop very high density with very sharp transitions to countryside from high density areas.

    2. Here in Toronto every train runs all the way from one end of the line to the other. And there is no interlining. Which means that the frequency at the end of each line is the same as in the middle.

      Lots of systems operate this way actually.

      1. …but crazy people keep trying to extend it that far. Subway mania is actually a problem in Toronto, with outlying low-density low-demand suburbs wanting a SUBWAY!!! when a surface rail line with grade crossings (like Link on MLK) would serve them quite nicely. Follow Steve Munro’s blog if you want to know more…

    3. Very good point, Glenn, and well said. What is true of Everett is true of Tacoma. Short urban lines, like those found in Vancouver and Toronto run very frequently because they are short and urban. Running trains is expensive. The more people who use it per minute or per mile the more you can justify the expense.

      It is unrealistic to expect train service to Tacoma to run every six minutes. Tacoma express bus service runs about that frequently during rush hour, but the bus is not one of our big performers (scroll way down on this list and you can find the 590 and 594). It is unrealistic to assume that a train (that will be slower than the bus) will carry enough people to justify that kind of service. It gets worse in the middle of the day. Right now the buses run every half hour. The bus is of course much faster than the new train (because there is less traffic) but still not that popular. BART and DART run every 15 to 20 minutes. This will be similar, and carry fewer people (thus be more expensive to operate).

      One option would be to add a bunch of turn back areas. So, for example, you have trains turn around at SeaTac. Every six minutes during rush hour the train goes there — half the trains keep going and half of them stop. In the middle of the day this stretches to 8 or 10 minutes, which means that folks in Tacoma get 20 minute frequency in the middle of the day (similar to BART and DART).

      That could work, but there is little discussion of that. This is more important than how these lines are mixed. It really doesn’t matter which trains are paired with other trains as long as they run often. But there is little discussion as to where exactly these turn back points should be, and how often trains will operate. Once again they are focused on potential (capacity and maximum headways) as opposed to what matters (how easy it is to get from one place to another). It is quite likely that they have no interest in building an effective urban system, but are misleading the public as to what type of system is going to be built (e. g. frequent trains to Everett and Tacoma).

      It is quite possible that they expect to run trains from Ballard to downtown about every 15 minutes in the middle of the day (following the BART and DART model). These are trains, after all, so capacity will not be a problem. If Ballard to Tacoma runs every fifteen minutes it is fine for Tacoma and reasonably cost effective, but practically useless as means of getting around the city. The exception is where these lines overlap (e. g. downtown). Pairing of lines is important information in such a system. If you happen to be in Rainier Valley then knowing what your line does after it goes downtown is essential. If you are headed to Ballard, then take the train. But if you are headed to Capitol Hill, a bus will probably be faster (assuming they run like they do today).

      The fact that Sound Transit emphasizes how these lines are paired, or that Seattle Transit Blog (and their commenters) emphasizes it is not a good sign. Look at Vancouver. Their Millennium line literally crosses on top of itself! No one would take it end to end. But it doesn’t matter, because the trains run very frequently. Unless there is a major change in operations (not discussed here) then that simply won’t happen. Sound Transit seems to be building another DART but paying ten times as much for it.

      1. SkyTrain splits off into less frequent branches as it gets into the suburbs.

        Even in New York City, 33 miles from the urban core you are looking at the Long Island Rail Road, not the subway.

        If development patterns along I-5 get to the point that the outer end demand the same level of service as the urban core, Link will need many more stations due to the density there.

        If that happens, you’ll need something else to use as an express route, due to the very long travel times that will happen.

      2. @Glenn:

        What does the fact that Toronto’s lines don’t end 33 miles from the core have to do with anything? You said you don’t know of any systems where the frequency at the end is just as strong. I pointed out that there are many such systems, including Toronto.

        You didn’t add a qualifier to your initial statement.

      3. We need to push S-08, increasing Sounder South, and put a major investment into triple-tracking and hourly service, which may also shorten the travel time. That would serve the parts of south King and Pierce that a Link extension leaves out, and give the best travel time from Tacoma. It would also be a step toward half-hourly service in the farther future. Then we can talk about what to do between Federal Way and Tacoma in lieu of a Link extension.

      4. “On the very edge of the network” is what I wrote.

        Toronto’s subway is in the core of the urban area. It forms a central piece of the core of the network, forming a linkage lime an airport hub transfer train between a number of streetcar lines and bus routes.

        33 miles from Toronto gets you somewhere just short of Hamilton. That’s definitely not part of the core TTC network. That’s closer to the edge of the network. The subway doesn’t go there.

  31. >> Travel between South Lake Union and Capitol Hill (the “8 subway”) would be effectively solved with a simple underground transfer between a 6-minute line and a combined 3-minute line.

    You should be aware that the 8 goes quite a bit farther than Capitol Hill. Plans for a “Metro 8 subway” do so as well. It would end at either Judkins Park if not Mount Baker. Along the way it would serve First Hill and the Central Area, providing much better bus connections than most of Link (although that ain’t saying much).

    1. i’d imagine the biggest trip pair is cap hill slu today. not sure if there’s any data on it, but my anecdotal experience is that ridership drops after the bus goes into what I consider the CD past the scary QFC.

      1. Right. No one works or lives on First Hill. No one works or lives in the Central District.

        Holy cow, I wonder if Sound Transit can read a census map or if they just don’t care.

      2. WTF is the “scary QFC”?

        For all that developers and marketers have screwed around with the CD, the neigborhood’s boundaries are pretty simple – 12th Avenue down to Rainier on the West, and Madison on the north, the lake on the east, and the extension between MLK and Rainier south of 90 (otherwise 90 is the southern boundary). 8 ridership is higher between SLU and Cap Hill today, but there are plenty of folks who would take a subway with predictable travel times who won’t take the 8.

    2. I would sure hope that anything replacing the 8 would actually have enough stations built to resolve service issues. We just spent the last few days of postings here pissed off at Metro for not being able to reconfigure everything around the one station they were given.

      Make the 8 subway an actual subway with maybe 4 stations to the current one and the whole thing may be easier to stomach.

      1. My point exactly, Glenn. A Metro 8 subway could do a lot to correct the obvious failings with the previous line, but only if done with lots of stops. One on 23rd for sure (Jackson or Yesler). Another on Jefferson (around 15th). Another on Madison. Those are all before it connects into the Capitol Hill Station. After that it would go to the heart of South Lake Union (unlike the proposed Ballard line) and continue. All of this would of course fit easily with existing bus service, to say the least of a restructure. Such a line would save more people more time than anything Sound Transit is proposing, and cost less than most of the proposals.

      2. Hell, drop the Ballard to UW line a bit further south and have it provide joint service on the 8 subway going south. You could put in an SR 520 station then.

        Four tracks under the Hudson! Why should the ship canal have any less?

  32. So where exactly is the turn back station for the green line? Would would be the midday (if not peak) frequency for each section? You can’t possibly pair Ballard to downtown with Tacoma all day.

    1. I’m much less concerned about greenline turnback than the other two lines – but it’s a good question. I hope ST says “right where we predict a big dropoff in ridership, and maybe also another place with a big drop off, and maybe another place where it’s just cheap to do. Because turnbacks give you flexibility, and with an uncertain future (what neighborhoods will be cool? What neighborhoods will be rezoned?), flexibility is a hugely valuable asset.

      1. OK, just as I thought. This is kind of important. A trip that Zach believes is the only important part of a Metro 8 subway is not that speedy if the trains don’t come that often. They won’t come that often if they are paired with a suburb. It is hard to see how you are going to send trains every six minutes to Tacoma. Without that, you might as well ride the 8.

        The pairing is absurd unless you really don’t care about urban mobility and are only interested in long haul, marginally successful suburban rail. If that doesn’t describe Sound Transit, I don’t know what does.

      2. Ross,

        If there is too little ridership to justify six minutes to Tacoma, simply use the RBS turnback. Run every other train Ballard-RBS. Maybe extend the turnbacks on to Renton? Though there isn’t much “there” there today there is along SR 900

  33. Hurrah! So many birds killed with so few stones. I love the high frequency through downtown, the integration of the stations, the isolation of Rainier Valley delays from the UW track, and most of all, that rather than being grumpy about ST’s unwillingness to embrace something like the “peanut butter plan” based on WSTT and Ballard-UW rail, I get to be thrilled that they are clever enough to go for a 25 year plan with all kinds of goodies and a really well-thought out improvement to operations via the line split.

    Way to go Sound Transit!

    Another benefit that I’m surprised hasn’t been mentioned is that moving the new tunnel to the East of the existing DSTT results in a better distribution of downtown service once the CCC is up and running:

    1st ave: CCC with short headways and dedicated ROW. With link to Ballard serving SLU instead of Belltown, there should be more than enough political pressure (especially because the cost is a drop in the bucket compared to ST3), to get a branch added to the streetcar going through Belltown up to the LQA link station. Hopefully we can manage to get exclusive ROW for that.

    3rd ave: Existing DSTT, and buses. Core, highest quality transit running down the middle of downtown.

    5th ave: New tunnel.

    So basically, there will be a LOT of downtown trips that will be extremely fast and convenient. Coverage for downtown will be exceptional.

    1. Hurrah! Getting from Lake City to Ballard will be no faster than today! Hurrah! Getting from Ballard to the UW will still require an extremely slow bus! Getting to First Hill or the Central Area from anywhere will still require a bus! Other than effectively and efficiently connecting the most densely populated and popular areas in the area, this is wonderful. Hurrah!

      1. We need to do some work in Snohomish County to help them understand how an east-west subway in Seattle will help them get places faster.

        Anyone who lives in Snohomish up for the task?

  34. While I love frequency and think it is hard to go wrong with too much frequency, I really hope ST builds turn backs somewhere between the U-District and Shoreline. It’s all good and well to argue that maybe things will be booming and we will need 3 minute headways between Lynwood and Everett. Exceedingly optimistic, but you can just look further into the future and argue for it if you like. But arguing that Lynwood to Everett will need the same frequency as U-district to Cap hill to downtown – that’s just ridiculous. The core, purely by virtue of geography, requires more transit (more people coming from either side) and has higher land values (it’s closer to more people, b/c more people coming from both sides), which leads to more density.

    It’s all good and well to draw the line up to Everett, and even plan on running that – but please build for the contingency that reality goes as we expect it to. It would be insane, but scarily not that surprising, if we built a system where you had to take a Westlake departing train all the way to Everett if you just want to turn it around.

    1. Everett and Tacoma get 3-6 min all day light metro rail, inner Seattle neighborhoods get 20-30 min peak buses stuck in traffic.

    2. I saw your comment about having a turnback at Lynnwood. I think having so few turnbacks is stupid because it makes the system inflexible. UW Station and Northgate Station will each be termini stations at some point, and will have a de facto turnback. Why not put in a permanent turnback at these stations as you go along? And although there will be a turnback at Lynnwood, for some odd reason, every map without exception shows the blue line ending at Everett. So they say they CAN end the blue line at Lynnwood (already excessive IMHO), but based on the map, it looks as if they can but won’t, which is freaking insane.

      It’s not just about regular service, either. It’s also about operational flexibility. I could see a lot of merit in having the blue line end at UW, but having every other train end at Northgate, with a different destination on the sign. On a UW blue line but want to go to Northgate? Just get off at UW, and there is probably a red line train less than 5 away; frequent train transfers are really quick. You can also send blue line trips to Lynnwood during commute times, when all of the Community Transit 400 and 800 series routes will both be truncated (the 402 and 855 would actually both be replaced in their entirety by light rail), and the extra capacity is needed. There would of course be a little confusion with multiple variations of the blue line, but if there is an automated announcement at the end of a UW blue line that says “transfer to a red line to go farther north,” then that makes it easy for even people who don’t know about the different line variations to know how to get where they are going.

      Operational flexibility isn’t just about service, either. It’s also about reliability. God forbid there is a problem on the tracks anywhere south of Northgate, because that means trains cannot serve Capital Hill, UW, and U-District stations. If there is no turnback at Westlake either, then that problem knocks out downtown through Sodo as well. Having a single track as it is makes this quite literally a system in series, and having next to no operational flexibility just exacerbates the problem.

      Dang that was quite the rant. Maybe after finals I’ll do a Page 2 about this.

      1. Northgate station is being built to allow turnbacks there. UW station, not so much. There is a crossover there, but Northgate will have a poket track north of the station.

        I see this splitting of the spine as being a way of serving the hinterlands with high frequency, but it doesn’t mean that they will be served that often from day one, or even in ytear 2050.

      2. Which may also mean that the core doesn’t get served that often either. Sound Transit’s lack of focus on turn backs suggests they really aren’t concerned with running trains that often in the middle of the day.

  35. While Sound Transit is building their system, might be a good idea to mention this matter to the management of the First Hill, Connector, and South Lake Union streetcars.

    Mark Dublin

  36. So what is the difficulty that makes Sound Transit think that it isn’t worth it for the Purple Issaquah line to serve the Downtown Bellevue station? There must be a huge technical hurdle or something.

    1. The wetlands south and east of the Bellevue Way station. Of course, those wetlands are already massively impacted by I-90, but that’s a highway, so of course it gets a pass.

      1. I-90 is a highway that was built in a different time. If they did it now, they would probably find a way for a highway, but it would probably be more costly.

    2. The hurdle is crossing the Mercer Slough. It would be easier and cost many millions less to stay east of I-405 and put the Factoria stop in the vicinity of Richards Road and Eastgate Way.

      1. Yes it would. But it would cost tens of thousands of dollars per day in bus operation costs because Issaquah/Eastgate riders bound for Seattle would still be on buses to Mercer Island.

        And, Factoria is not decently served by a station north of the freeway.

      2. aw,

        And your comment is a propos of what? Why can a line which passes through Factoria not cross the freeway to the Eastgate TC and Bellevue College? All of this trackage along I-90 would be elevated anyway, at least once it left the ERC. Sure, it’s a bit pricier to cross a freeway than just string together identical elevated spans. But not ruinously so.

        Study more, lad.

    3. I thought we were willing both politically and economically to throw down serious money and effort to build a real useable regional transit system, I mean we are talking 68-70% public approval and in the order of $30 billion plus or minus $10B. We cant seriously be letting the BS environmental complications of this already impacted wetland stand in the way where the initial conceptual planning for this is already compromised????? TriMet built a new bridge in Willamette River and went through all the obstructionist environmental BS regulations so it can be done.

      1. Unfortunately, we aren’t willing to do that. Or even if the voters are, our representatives aren’t. Just look at how Metro totally messed up the restructure at the last moment.

      2. There’s a group in Bellevue threatening to sue ST if it builds in the Slough, so you have to factor in the cost of the lawsuit and ST possibly losing.

      3. So let them sue, there’s tons of lawsuits flying around when you are building a 100+ mile rail transit system. Let this NIMBY enviro group blow all their own money on this than saving birds. If its a real environmental group they will see the “forest for the trees” and that light rail done in the most minimal impact way (like hugging I-90 to cross the slough) will greatly help the environment.

      4. So how about elevating it above I-90 across the slough? Sure it would need new supports between the existing ones, but how much impact is that really? There would be no additional shadow cast.

        It would make the “flying junction south of South Bellevue easier to accomplish than a lower structure. And it would remind the drivers what they’re missing.

    4. I thought one of the reasons you people wanted more urban density is to save nature. Now you’re all f nature. Huh?

      1. Somehow running a minimal impact designed two track rail line across a slough, in the shadow of an existing wide freeway is hardly f-ing nature. Again if these opponents really cared about nature, this would be the least of their problems.

      2. How’s about ripping out two of those useless expressway lanes to put in the rail line? Nobody can claim that that impacts the slough because the lanes are already there.

  37. If they are calling the Houghton stop the Google stop, then why aren’t they calling the Factoria stop the T Mobile stop?

    1. ST is selling naming rights to stations, just like we do for stadiums.
      Next, Metro will sell naming rights to stops and buses. Company colors are extra.

      1. That’s actually a great idea – let’s do it!

        Next up: See Apple, Google, and Microsoft bidding for the rights to Redmond Tech Center Station!

      1. We’ll have you seen the f line routing? It goes all over the place with too many turns, too many stops, doesn’t even go to Bellevue so not really comparable in my opinion.

      1. Ah. I’m assuming they’d build a tunnel through kennydale hill? Not much room in that skinny corridor for an expanded freeway and two track rail line.

  38. Great map! Neat out of the box thinking from Sound Transit planners. All we need now is some Boeing integrated Pratt and Whitney or GE turbofans mounted atop the trains to speed their progress to the outer suburbs and Everett/Tacoma. Paris RER here we come…

  39. This ST3 proposal would have some benefits for some people but would be extremely costly and would disadvantage many others. Why not, instead, do it all with the current tunnel? Simply interweave the 3 train lines from the south, with 2 minute headways in the tunnel. Then convert the current bus tunnel north of Westlake to the start of the Ballard line under South Lake Union.

    Every third train from each of the 3 lines from the south would switch to the Ballard line, so that the Ballard line would get 6 minute headways, just like each of the 3 lines from the south. North of downtown the single line to Everett would have 2 trains 2 minutes apart followed by a 4 minute gap to the next train. This would yield a 4 car train capacity to the U and beyond of 4*150*3= 1800 riders every 8 minutes, or 13,500 riders per hour, effectively in the neighborhood of 200,000 rides per day.

    Then wait another generation to see where additional capacity will actually be needed. We can expect big changes ahead, but likely with some surprises. So, let’s keep some flexibility – some resilience – in our plans and not overcommit when we don’t need to.

    1. That makes two of us who like the idea. Unfortunately ST, RTA, and the JRPC and all the staff members for 20 years have never given it much thought. Metro as sold the CPS property to the Convention Center, so that eliminated the built switch and station. Now you would be forced to relocate all that after Westlake, or as it is proposed to have a second tunnel under the existing one at Westlake.
      Apparently, ST feels there is enough untapped taxing to do the second tunnel, when our idea of running those three lines in a tunnel designed for 90 sec headways would be just fine.

  40. Did a wrong calculation. Should have been 4*150*2 = 1200 riders every 6 minutes, or 12,000 riders per hour, with 2 trains proceeding north to the U in every 6 minute interval. The gaps between the U bound trains would be either 2 minutes or 4 minutes, if scheduled properly, with half being 2 minute gaps, then half 4 minute gaps, repeated in an 18 minute cycle.

    1. A four car train, carrying 150 per car, or 600 every 2 minutes would be 18,000 riders per hour in each direction, or 36,000 total for the peak hour of the day in both directions.
      That’s a lot of capacity ST has chosen to give up, in order justify needing another tunnel because, … you know …. the current one is kind of full.
      My analogy of this situation would be WSDOT building a bridge with 4 lanes, then after it was finished declare only half of the lanes were usable and want to build another bridge right next to it.
      Remember all the hype being tossed around that Link was akin to a 22 lane freeway. Weill, we only got 11 lanes.

      1. I was referring to my previous post about only 2 of every 3 trains going on to the U, with the other train going on to Ballard. This is the one that gives 12,000 rides per hour one way at peak.

        There are two challenges here. One is how to handle time irregularities for trains arriving at the tunnel. For this purpose I’d view the 2 minute gaps as average gaps, with temporary variations of from 1 to 3 minutes permitted, with the goal of smoothing out irregularities while minimizing delays. I could write code for a good optimization algorithm to do this.

        A second challenge is the mix of 2 minute and 4 minute gaps, or other gaps, for the trains heading north to the U. Here station wait timing could be used to gradually smooth these gaps to 3 minute gaps as the trains head north. For the trains heading south from Everett, this smoothing would need to be reversed as the trains approach downtown, so that the gaps leave room for the arrival of trains from Ballard. Again, a good algorithm could schedule the appropriate station wait times automatically.

  41. Following on from DB and MIC, and the earlier thread about moving the new tunnel east, it does seem like a lot of tunneling for only one additional station downtown. I’d think we could get a lot signaling/block control technology for the cost of that tunnel. Alternatively,if RV delays are the real constraint on 90 sec operations, we could probably fully grade separate RV for less than tunneling.

  42. Whatever happened to the Hwy 99 Route that Seattle Subway once proposed? They added in that CD serving curly cue route which I don’t necessarily oppose, but I don’t understand why the Aurora Ave route was eliminated. Other than the canal crossing it seems like an easy route to build and that the ridership would be there, what with the ‘E’ line being one of the biggest bus riderships in the system. This line would connect Downtown, SLU, Fremont (Lower), Fremont at 45th, Phinney/Greenwood, Licton Springs/Linden, Bitter Lake, Aurora Village, and On to Shoreline and Edmonds. While maybe not a priority at the moment, it seems like a worthy consideration.

  43. Thinking about the retrofits required to IDS…
    What makes IDS/ king street suck now? Transfers require up and over 4th.
    Why is that necessary? BNSF mainline in the way.
    Would bnsf ever give up their main line? Not without a new route through downtown.
    what did they use before their tunnel? Alaska way.
    Why Wasn’t the viaduct replacement tunnel cut and cover? Couldn’t undermine the viaduct during construction and Sea wall and major utilities are west of the viaduct.
    …… SO WHAT IF, once (if?) Bertha is done the viaduct demo occurs at the Sam time as a cut and cover tunnel for BNSF along the waterfront.
    Connection to the existing BNSF mainline on the south may be tough ( or part of basketball stadium holdgate overpass wrangling?), but once that was done and BNSF freight rerouted, then the old BNSF tunnel south portal and much of the tunnel could be used west Seattle to ballard ballard light rail. And no more up and over at 4th avenue.

  44. I can’t begin to understand the candycane through-routing of the Everett and Redmond lines. With the SR-520 HOV improvements and the route restructures to serve the new University Station, anyone traveling on Link between Redmond and anywhere north of the canal will transfer to an express bus rather than sit through the frequent stop spacing in downtown Seattle and downtown Bellevue. Why not terminate East Link in West Seattle or South Seattle, where it would actually make some geographic sense?

    1. So people from Redmond, Bellevue and Mercer Island would have to transfer to go to downtown Seattle? That would probably be the most common destination. They better make the platforms at Stadium really wide when they rebuild it because it would have one or two trainloads of riders on it in the morning and evening peak hours.

    2. Not only would you have to transfer entire trainloads at Stadium or Sodo station, but The existing flyover bridges that connect the DSTT to I-90 Express line (a.k.a. future East Link) would be rendered useless and new bridges connecting the south track-way to the I-90 express would have to be built. This would be a huge expense in terms of property acquisition and construction, with pretty much no benefit received from the added cost.

  45. Thanks for the map Zach. I love this idea and your map is such a more complete vision than I thought possible for ST3. However, why stop there? 30 is the number that will stick in people’s minds. It is the standard length of a mortgage today, it isn’t any more unreasonable than 25 and it would give us double the time after the ST1 and ST2 debt burden have gone away. Add in the Ballard to Northgate extension, UW to Ballard, ???

    I think we need to ask to see what 30 years looks like.

  46. There have been good comments questioning the blue line running to Everett and skipping Belltown forever. These are very easily solved by adjusting the map “slightly.” The green line could skip SLU and serve Belltown instead, continuing north to Ballard and someday on to Crown Hill Northgaye, Lake City, etc. The Blue Line, then, only interlined with the Red to Westlake, at which point it veers north under Westlake Ave with a pair of stops in SLU continuing on roughly along Aurora/99 north serving Fremont, Phinney, Greenwood, Licton Springs, and eventually Aurora Village (aka rapid ride E).

    This is great because it directly connects the Eastside to SLU and Belltown is not skipped, we no longer dedicate extra service hours to lower ridership areas.

    …drops the mic.

  47. From a Belltown resident perspective this plan is not good. Why skip one of the most densely populated neighborhoods in the city? I like most of this plan however. Perhaps there is a way to adjust the line to make a stop in North Belltown on the way from SLU to Uptown. Yes it adds one more stop and station but there is great ridership opportunity by doing this.

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