January 2016 O&A Handout ST Express
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The future of Sound Transit’s express bus services has long been unclear. Will express buses continue indefinitely as a peak layer on top of Link? Will they truncate at major Link terminals at increased frequency? Or will they disappear entirely in corridors served by Link? Sound Transit staff have long noted – relatively opaquely – that ST Express is legally an interim service to be discontinued upon introduction of high capacity transit in a corridor, but the details of service truncations or discontinuations has never been clear.

Yesterday at Sound Transit’s Operations and Administration Committee, we got the beginnings of an answer. Staff presented a report that outlined options for ST Express funding levels going into Sound Transit 3 (ST3). Today, ST Express consumes 754,000 service hours annually in 8 major corridors (I-5 North, I-5 South, I-90, SR 520, SR 522, I-405 North, I-405 South, and 2 Sounder Connectors).

Staff outlined 3 service hour options for ST Express in 2024: 490,000, 610,000, and 820,000 service hours. The Sound Transit 2 finance plan, adopted prior to the 2008 vote, assumed that service hours would be pared back to 490,000 annually once Link opens to Lynnwood, Des Moines, and Redmond in 2023, or roughly a 35% cut. This would result in mostly status quo service levels, with Link taking over major routes such as 511, 550, etc. Confusingly, the 610,000 hour option, though a 20% cut from today’s service levels, would require the Board to allocate 25% more funds to ST Express than assumed under ST2. Lastly, the 820,000 hour option would be an 8% increase over today’s service hours (and a 67% boost in funding over the 490k baseline), on top of Link every 8 minutes from Lynnwood-Des Moines and every 8 minutes Lynnwood-Redmond.

For the first time, all options explicitly assume aggressive bus truncation at Link terminals, taking ST Express out of Link-served corridors (and out of Downtown Seattle). Buses would truncate at Lynnwood Station, 145th Street, UW Station, Bellevue Downtown Station, and Kent/Des Moines Station.

In both the 610k and 810k scenarios, service hours saved through truncation are reinvested in frequency improvements throughout the system, with the more aggressive options being particularly attractive. During peak, service could run every 5-10 minutes between Everett-Lynnwood, Woodinville-145th, Lakewood-Des Moines, and Issaquah-Bellevue.  In a huge step up for ST Express, service would also be frequent 7 days per week everywhere in the system except the two I-405 corridors, which would only see frequent service during peak.*

These proposed truncations apply only to ST Express, and though it was stressed that service planning will be much more integrated between agencies going forward, the future of Metro and Community Transit’s peak-only services in these corridors will be considered by their respective agencies.

Lastly, though unremarked upon at the committee meeting, the I-90 plans all assume truncation in Downtown Bellevue with Link transfers at South Bellevue Station. It would seem that Mercer Island is winning their battle to keep transit off the island.

*It’s also important to note that these options are agnostic about the existence of an I-405 BRT System, which could swing the service hour needs by ~50,000 hours.

206 Replies to “The Future of ST Express: Frequent Feeder Service”

    1. I continue to fail to understand why these regional routes are designed to skip population centers…

    2. Maybe other LCW buses like the 312 and 72 would provide more frequent and better service, and run to the Roosevelt Link station instead of downtown as well.

      1. @SeaStrap Or eventually a rapid ride style service between Bitter Lake and Lake City connecting to the future 130th Link Station?

    3. The city boundary will look a lot different by the time 145th St Station opens. By virtue of it being on the city limits, it has half the NIMBY-shed, so upzones are a lot more doable than they are around 130th St Station.

      Moreover, going to 130th St Station misses a whole lot of the existing TOD, and so does route 522’s current stop placement. Lake City Way ought to be in line for its own RapidRide++++ (which maybe, possibly, might get rid of all parking lanes standing in the way of transit lanes). Most of what is there between 145th and 125th right now is strip-mallish, with a couple apartment complexes that just happen to be newer and swankier than the ones on 145th.

      1. By virtue of it being on the city limits, it has half the NIMBY-shed, so upzones are a lot more doable than they are around 130th St Station.

        I find this claim confusing. Aren’t there NIMBYs in Shoreline? (Haven’t we seen them right here in the comments section, banging on about too much upzoning?)

      2. I believe you’ll find there are more folks near 130th who are open to rezoning than there are near 145th. When Shoreline started talking about rezones near 145th it faced tremendous backlash.

        At least some folks near 130th seem to be open to a small rezone in exchange for a station. One should also note that in order to make 145th work as a bus terminal, Shoreline either needs to take existing lanes for transit or tear down existing homes to extend the road to make more room for bus lanes. Either option appears to face a significant uphill battle.

        130th on the other had is not a major freeway access car sewer, so has more room for buses without major new road construction. It also doesn’t skip the center of Lake City like turning buses at 145 does.

      3. Where exactly are you thinking of upzoning? The school? The golf course? The Shoreline side, which they’ve already thrown a hissy-fit at the mere mention of the idea?

        How do you imagine 145th will look? If you really think there is the political will to mow down dozens of houses for transit, you are living in a TOD fantasy land of your own mind’s making.

        Though some of the elected officials talk a good game to get the transit, NIMBY is strong in Shoreline.

        If you really think all Lake City is is stripmalls between 125th and 145th, you need to really look at the census maps. Then I challenge you to find any tract more dense in the TOD darling in Ballard, which is dripping with a disgusting over-abundance of unwarranted fantastical transit goodies being thrown at them at in all these RR and Subway plans. While all the while the plan is to bypass the main transit lifeline the majority of the residential and nearly all the of the commercial district.

        The people of Lake City are poor. Many don’t own cars. It’s not like Ballard, where if the transit isn’t convenient, the hipsters have to suffer through a 5-point turn to get his Prius out of his crappily designed townhome’s garage. The people in Lake City lose their freakin’ jobs if you take their bus away.

        Get some perspective.

      4. Could I-5 be lidded with mid-rise buildings above that? School, Golf, Condos and Transit. What’s not to like?

      5. I suppose it could – but if we’re going to spend all those gobs of money, why not just build rail to the already-dense Lake City?

      6. @Brent — What? Seriously, what are you talking about? Please look at a census map. Here is one: http://www.arcgis.com/home/webmap/viewer.html?useExisting=1&layers=302d4e6025ef41fa8d3525b7fc31963a
        You have to zoom in on the city you are interested in. Don’t worry about picking out the Seattle border. It is freakin’ obvious. The dark colors (high density) are in the city. The very light colors (low density) are north of it. Between Lake City (in Seattle) and the county line, there is not a single census block over 10,000 people per square mile. Not one. Zero. Zilch. Lake City contains four, and one of those is over 25,000. But if you actually select the blocks and look at the numbers it is even more striking. North of Seattle, not one of those along 522 is above 6,000 people per square mile. The second highest block in Lake City (down by 125th) is around 20,000, or over three times as dense. The area to the east, which is not above 10,000 people per square mile? It is over 50% more dense, or 9,941. Of course, this is as of the last census.

        Without a doubt it is above 10,000 right now. This is because the area is growing steadily. Not just along Lake City Way, but on the side streets. It will continue to grow. Saying that Shoreline or Kenmore or Lake Forest Park or Bothell will suddenly become huge is ridiculous. That is like saying that after the first 50 meters, I’m going to catch Usain Bolt. Yes, he has a huge lead, but now I’m going to really turn on my after burners. Yeah, right. Lake City is way more dense than those areas and will always be way more dense than those areas.

    4. After Northgate Link opens, I expect to see the 522 truncated at Northgate Station. That would effectively replace the 75’s current routing between LCW and Northgate. Then the 75 could take over the 41’s current routing, via NE 125th St and 5th Ave NE, and the 41 could be deleted.

      This seems like so obviously the right thing to do that it’s hard to imagine it won’t happen. All current stops would be maintained. Tons of service hours are saved from the deletion of the express portions of the 41 and 522. And the network would be much simpler. Today, almost every route going through the 125th/LCW intersection turns left or right; with this change, every route would stay straight.

      The interesting question comes when NE 145th Station opens. If the 522 is changed to use that station, then Northgate Way loses all service east of Link, and LCW south of 145th loses its connection to Link. Addressing that service gap is much tougher. So much tougher, in fact, that Metro might just decide to pay ST to keep the 522 on its current routing, just to avoid having to run a parallel route itself.

      1. That sounds like a horrible idea to me.

        The *only* routes that turn at LCW/125th are the 41, 75, and 330. That’s less than half — exactly half I think if you exclude the commuter routes — not almost every. The 522 already goes straight through on LCW, and the 330 would still need to turn to either terminate or through-route with the 75.

        More importantly, you’ve replaced an express portion with a local route. Under your plan, for 522 customers to get downtown, not only would they sit in the traffic sewer at Northgate, but they’d have to stop and pick up all the existing 75 customers along the way.

      2. Some good ideas, Aleks, but unless we manage to shoe-horn transit priority lanes onto Northgate Way, and take one of the two turn lanes into a transit only turn lane at 5th, it will be a long-slow slog to Northgate. It would likely take longer to get there than it takes the 522 to currently get all the way downtown.

        If either the 72 could be upped in frequency and the route modified to do it’s weave along Ravenna to get to Roosevelt station, that might be both a quicker and more useful solution. What really should be done, in the absence of light rail, is a full BRT treatment on Lake City Way, veering off before I-5 on-ramps and zooming right down Roosevelt to the station.

        That would take a widening of Lake City Way between 20th Ave and the on-ramps. I think this would be a significantly less expensive endeavor, that would reap huge dividends far beyond the BRT as the area is currently a parking-lot both directions, at all times of the day. A center-running turn late and transit lanes would be wonderful

        This would impact far fewer properties than the houses along 145th. All are single story businesses in decrepit buildings nearing the end of their useful life. They wouldn’t be dearly missed. Except maybe Coopers. ;)

      3. That can’t be right. They took the 312, they are planning on taking the 522. They are taking the 72!?!

        WTF? They plan on giving high-end trikes and a good push towards downtown or UW to everyone in Lake City or what?

        And people ask me why I’m pissed off looking at all those new high-freq lines criss-crossing Ballard and a planned subways going north, south and east. Fck. Maybe they’ll go west from the locks to Bainbridge too. Only another 10 billion. Nothings too good for Ballard.

        No, inequity here. No-sir.

      4. Bleh, sorry; I’m really tired right now, and I forgot about several of those routes.

        I understand the point you two are making about the slowness of Northgate Way. And you’re right that keeping the 522 on LCW and terminating at Roosevelt would probably be the fastest trip (at least when there is significant I-5 traffic).

        The problem is that ST has no real obligation to serve Lake City by bus. The 522 exists for the sake of Bothell and Woodinville; it serves Lake City only because it would be silly not to. Once NE 145th St opens, that service almost definitely disappears.

        Metro, too, has very little incentive to run all-day service on LCW between Roosevelt and 95th. To my knowledge, there are no all-day bus stops on that segment right now. North of 95th (post-ULink), LCW is served by the 372. So even though it sucks for Lake City riders, I really don’t think that there will be an all-day route between Lake City and Roosevelt Station. Eventually, hopefully, they will be able to use NE 130th Station. But until then, riders heading to Northgate/Link will have the choice of NE 125th and Northgate Way.

        To me, the only open questions are [a] which of the two paths will the 75 take, and [b] how will Metro cover the other path? I really do think it’s likely that Metro will move the 75 to NE 125th St, because it’s easier to understand. But I don’t know how Metro will serve Northgate Way. I can think of a lot of bad options, and no good ones.

      5. biliruben,

        The big problem is that Lake City Way south of 95th just doesn’t fit into the grid. It makes total sense to use it during peak, but the rest of the time, it’s hard to justify using it instead of continuing south on 25th Ave NE to UW. That’s why the 372 will be the main LCW bus after U Link opens.

        I’m trying to think of other all-day routes with long express segments that Metro offers, and coming up with few. The E Line has few stops south of Winona, but it’s hard to think of an alternative routing that would avoid the issue. The C Line has no stops between the West Seattle Bridge and Seneca/Columbia, but running the C on surface streets would be way more expensive for Metro.

        If you want good service in Lake City, you should be campaigning for a station at NE 130th. That’s by far the best outcome for Lake City, given ST’s charter and the reality of the street grid.

      6. It’s clear that ST intends to move the 522 to 145th. First there was 145th station and it was ambiguous if the 522 would use it. Then it put 145th into the elong-range plan in December 2014 (from I-5 to Lake City Way). Then ST3 has a BRT proposal on 145th. And now these maps have both alternatives on 145th. So the 522 is gone baby.

        Aleks is probably right about how ST sees it (as she’s right about most things, except maybe the mid Madison woonerf): ST’s job is to connect the cities in the region together, and it’s Metro’s job to connect Lake City to its nearest Link station.

        “I’m trying to think of other all-day routes with long express segments that Metro offers, and coming up with few.”

        The 150. The 41.

        “The E Line has few stops south of Winona, but it’s hard to think of an alternative routing that would avoid the issue. The C Line has no stops between the West Seattle Bridge and Seneca/Columbia, but running the C on surface streets would be way more expensive for Metro.”

        That’s not really the issue. The issue is it takes so long to go through the neighborhoods in between that it hinders people’s ability to get around the city and makes transit less competitive with cars. And Metro has actually been going the other way, finally. The 71/72/73X run full time now, and in March the 26X and 28X will be full time, as will the 372X. Unfortunately for Ballardites not the 15X.

      7. I really think a RR+ Priority path from lake city to Northgate is not only an excellent idea, but sorely needed. They’re so close to one another but the traffic has separated them.

      8. “The big problem is that Lake City Way south of 95th just doesn’t fit into the grid. ”

        Indeed. There is a massive escarpment that blocks east-west travel. No matter what the urban planning gurus recommend, with few exceptions, Seattle just isn’t a grid. Not downtown. Not NE, not SE, not SW, not central, north. Nowhere. Well except maybe Ballard. Maybe that’s why Ballard is getting all the love. It’s the only place in Seattle that looks like a Nail to the urban planner’s Hammer?

        The standard, vanilla urban planning ideas for the most part won’t work in Seattle. Too much topography. Too much water. To much geography. If you can’t think out of the box, you will consistently F-up Seattle planning and transit. Grids won’t work. Period. If you think they will, you really need to get your nose out of the text books and look around. Use Lake City Way. Embrace the geography. Don’t try to force it to conform to you. You bend to it.

        This is actually what makes the route ideal for some sort of BRT or LRT, as there are very few crossings, and those that are there are low-traffic cross-streets. Use it!! It’s a beautiful way to get where you are going fast, without barriers, and widely spaced stops. This isn’t a bug, it’s a bloody feature!!!

      9. The standard, vanilla urban planning ideas for the most part won’t work in Seattle. Too much topography. Too much water. To much geography.

        Too much process :=

      10. ” Maybe that’s why Ballard is getting all the love.”

        Ballard is getting all the love because it’s the largest, most walkable, highest-ridership urban area that’s the furthest from ST2 Link. It’s low-hanging fruit if we want more places where you can live without a car and not be stuck in your neighborhood.

      11. IT’s the same distance from 15th and Market to Roosevelt Station as it is from central Lake City to either 145th or Northgate.

        Why doesn’t Ballard just “grid” it’s self on over to Roosevelt instead of getting 4 Rapid Rides and 3 subways. While Lake City loses 3 buses, and gets told to beg back their service, and maybe we get something in 30 years.

        Ballard is a pretender to density and walkability. Yeah, it has a few hipster boxes in oldtown, but it’s largely 5000 foot lots with a bit of upzoning to allow poorly designed townhomes for a few blocks north of market.

        I’m not saying Ballard doesn’t deserve good transit. But so the hell does Lake City. Spread the wealth.

      12. I don’t see the point in trying to play Ballard against Lake City; or even compare them for that matter. Lake City used to be, a long long time ago, a hamlet along the highway.between Seattle and Monroe. It’s a real shame the old Road House burned down (or was it torn down, I forget). Once Lake City became part of Seattle having the highway go through your neighborhood was no longer a good thing. It was for a few years back in the 80’s a great place for cruising, more great memories. Flash forward to the present and Lake City succeeded in it’s efforts at traffic calming and essentially ended 522 as a State Highway at NE 145th. Most people in Lake City, and yes, most people don’t rely on transit, don’t want BRT blowing through with gobs of Kenmore, Bothell, Mill Creek, Woodinville suburban commuters. Lake City needs Metro/Seattle to provide good local transit. They need ST on Lake City Way like a turkey needs Thanksgiving.

        Why the focus on getting over to Link on I-5 instead of UW. It’s 5 miles down 35th. It’s only 2 miles to Northgate Mall. The imaginary station at 130th would only be a 1/2 mile closer largely offset by extra travel distance and another stop on Link. 145 is 2-1/2 miles in the wrong direction and unless you want to play golf there’s nothing there. Connect Lake City with Northgate and UW, which are just as likely to be the end destination as DT Seattle and call it a day.

        Ballard is completely different. The main N/S route to DT is either 99 or 15th. It’s way far away from I-5 and Link and the stations are counter the direction you’re trying to go. Ballard to UW or Ballard to DT but not Ballard to Northgate or Roosevelt.

      13. Just looking at the map, it looks as if Lake City has 3 or 4 times as much multi-family containing double digit units as Ballard. Now that’s density. That’s walkability. That’s low hanging fruit.

        Low hanging fruit that is left to rot. Without sidewalks. Removing what transit we have. Worse than ignored, so that the Ballardites won’t have to walk an extra block to get to their latest and greatest Rapid Ride.

      14. “I don’t see the point in trying to play Ballard against Lake City”

        Equity.

        Ballard is about twice the size of Lake City, and about half as dense, at their densest.

        Ballard grew around 20% from 2000 to 2010. Lake City grew more than 40%.

        Ballard is looking to get somewhere north of 10 billion in transit investments. Lake city is getting substantial service cuts.

        Ballard is Rich(30% poverty in the densest parts) and non-white (~50%).

        Does that sound right to you?

      15. “I don’t see the point in trying to play Ballard against Lake City”

        Equity.

        Ballard is about twice the size of Lake City, and about half as dense, at their densest.

        A lot depends on where you draw the boundaries and it’s hard to find apples to apples comparisons. According to Findwell

        Lake City is “richer” but not by much; median household income $41,203 vs $42,666. I’m sure income disparity is far greater in Lake City since the entire eastern edge is Lake Washington waterfront whereas all of Ballard’s water access is commercial. And there’s a big difference; Ballard is and has always been a jobs center. Lake City is a bedroom community. Ballard gets a walk score of 97 vs 85 for Lake City. Lake City would seem to be the more affordable with 3 bedroom home $344k (really, that sounds cheap) vs $415k.

        City-Data says Ballard has 10,288 people per square mile; well above the Seattle average of 7,779 people per square mile. I can’t find the date for Lake City but if you define it on a map the same way everyone else does for Seattle Neighborhoods I’d be amazed if it even came close.

        Oh, wait… I figured out how to get City-Data to show it’s conception of Lake City. 7,815 people per square mile. So on all counts your perception of what Lake City is is at odds with how the rest of the world defines it. I think you’re looking at a core area around 125th & Lake City Way and trying to compare that to all of Ballard; Red Delicious vs Walla Walla Sweet, love ’em both. There’s really nothing to be gained with this “us against them” mentality. Maybe Lake City isn’t getting the transit investment it should because instead of lobbying for why it should resources are wasted complaining about why somewhere completely different should not. It’s Seattle, there is no sub-area equity. Be happy about that and go positive with why transit is a good investment.

        For what it’s worth, if I had to live in Seattle (and I’m glad I don’t) the two neighborhoods I would be looking at are Lake City and Beacon Hill with Beacon Hill currently having the edge. Even though it’s poorer than Lake City and has a median home value higher (but less than Ballard) I just like the open feeling of the area better; and that’s both the layout of the lots and the people.

      16. Looks like there was some sort of hiccup on the website. The stat should say…

        Ballard is Rich(30% poverty in the densest parts) and non-white (~50%).

      17. Stupid html tags.

        Ballard is Rich (less 5% poverty in the densest parts) and White (~85%). Lake City is poor (greater than 30% poverty in the densest parts) and non-white (~50%).

      18. (A preamble: I’m specifically talking about service outside of peak periods. During peak, it’s very easy to justify a high-frequency route from Lake City to downtown via LCW, and no one is ever going to try to take that away.)

        Let’s say that there’s a frequent bus that runs on LCW bus from Roosevelt to 145th. The big question is, what do you do about 25th Ave NE between 95th and Montlake? This is an important corridor; how do we serve it?

        One approach would be to branch. You could have a bus on the northern portion of LCW every X minutes, but half of the buses would head southwest to Roosevelt, and the other half would head south to Montlake. That works, but it means that no matter how many buses run on LCW, only half of them go to Roosevelt. Even if you make both routes frequent, they can never be as frequent as they would be if there were only a single route. Maybe this doesn’t matter if you’re heading south, but it sucks if you’re heading north, since you can’t opportunistically take whichever bus comes first.

        Another approach would be to introduce a connection point. But a route between Montlake and 95th just isn’t that useful. It means that someone going from 75th/25th to Lake City has to take two buses, and transfer at an incredibly pedestrian-hostile environment.

        The third approach — and the one that Metro seems to be trending towards, given the new 372 — is to run all-day frequent service on 25th. That way, there is a single frequent N-S corridor, and one with a Link connection.

        I’m not saying this is ideal. Clearly, from Lake City’s perspective, it’s not. I’m just saying that, once you take the 522 out of downtown, the other realistic options aren’t much better.

        Of course, the gold standard remains a N 130th St Link station. That’s what we should be spending our energy on.

      19. Why doesn’t Ballard just “grid” it’s self on over to Roosevelt instead of getting 4 Rapid Rides and 3 subways. While Lake City loses 3 buses, and gets told to beg back their service, and maybe we get something in 30 years.

        Sorry, but what on earth are you talking about?

        1. RR is not inherently better than regular service. RR makes slow corridors faster, but not necessarily fast. I’ll take a “regular” bus on LCW over RR on Market/45th any day of the week.

        2. There are 6 RR corridors now, and there will soon be 7 more, for 13 total. All but 3 of these corridors go nowhere near Ballard. One of them (the D Line) bypasses the main commercial core. That’s 2 (or 3 if you stretch), not 4. And see #1; these corridors are getting the RR treatment because they’re slow, which doesn’t apply to the 522.

        3. When North Link opens in ~2020, let’s say that the 522 adds a stop at Roosevelt. This would dramatically improve Lake City’s access to Link. It would make trips faster during peak (when I-5 is slower than Link), and it would trips to UW/Capitol Hill/SODO/RV/SeaTac faster at all times. It is literally not possible to give Ballard this level of access to Link.

        4. It’s quite likely that the N 130th station will get built, and that it will open around when N 145th St does. Once it opens, Lake City’s access to Link gets even better.

        5. There are no approved plans to bring any rail service to Ballard. ST3 will propose _one_ line to Ballard (not three). If it gets approved, it will likely open in 2030 or later. At that point, Lake City will have had useful access to Link for about a decade.

        6. If and when there is no longer a bus that runs between Lake City and Roosevelt via LCW, it becomes dramatically more important to speed up whichever corridor is chosen as the main replacement. N 145th St station doesn’t open until 2023, so there is still plenty of time for Metro to add a new RapidRide corridor: maybe LCW/25th (like the 372), or maybe Northgate Way (like the 75), or maybe NE 125th St (like the 41). No one’s talking about this now because none of these corridors would be faster than the 522, even with every possible improvement. But take away the 522, and that will change rapidly.

      20. Thanks for the response Aleks. Some good points.

        I understand RR is about frequency, not necessarily speed. Honestly I’d take frequency over speed, having on numerous occasions been sitting downtown waiting a half an hour for the last or 2nd last 522 home, pondering having to abandon my bike if the next one is also crushload like the last. And choosing to ride two miles to make sure and avoid a 10 mile ride in the late night dark and wet or a 30 dollar cab ride. So some other unlucky Lake Citier gets screwed instead of me. And the 522 will be sorely missed.

        Suggesting that Lake City will have access to Link in any more meaningful way than Ballard just bugs me. There’s this fallacy in peoples minds that North Link will serve the NE. It doesn’t any more than Roosevelt will serve Ballard. The time to Northgate from Lake City and the the time from Ballard to Roosevelt is essentially identical.

        Regarding 3. I would wager 5-1 that 522 will certainly not add a stop at Roosevelt. And yes, it is possible to give Ballard that access to Link. See above.

        I very much hope you are right about 130th, and I agree that this is where the efforts should be made. But the very thought that this is something that has to be fought hard for, and was only an afterthought, is absurd. The two fastest growing communities in Seattle, and some of the densest, Lake City and Bitter Lake, should have been a priority from the beginning, not an afterthought. They should have been ST1 or 2, not 4 or 5 or 6.

        All I’m talking about is plans. And Ballard is getting a tremendous amount of plans. Nothing is being planned for Lake City. Not even what it sounds like you think is a foregone conclusion in some sort of bus to Roosevelt. There is no such bus. And, as far as I know, not even a plan.

      21. I agree with you about frequency vs. speed; I’d much rather spend a few extra minutes sitting down on a bus than waiting at a loud, cold (or hot) bus stop.

        The problem is that I don’t know if it will ever be possible to justify truly high frequency on the 522 outside of peak hours, because there just isn’t enough ridership south of Lake City, and especially south of 95th (where there are literally zero stops). I could imagine a world where the 372 has 10-minute service to UW Station, and I could imagine a world where there’s a 10-minute or better bus between Lake City and N 130th. But just doubling the number of 522s would probably mean a lot of nearly-empty buses during the middle of the day and the late evening.

        Believe me, if Metro proposed to run the 522 every 10 minutes, I’m certainly not going to complain! :) I just don’t think it will ever happen.

        I do have to point out that the most frequent routes in Metro’s system are not RapidRide: the 3/4 (to Harborview), the 7, and the 36. There are a few routes with 12-minute base frequency, only one (E) of which is RapidRide. The other RapidRide routes have 15-minute base frequency, which is actually fairly common for Metro routes.

        I understand what you’re saying about North Link. I’m not saying that Northgate Station is useful to Lake City, at least not without a massive BRT project. What I’m saying is that Roosevelt Station (which is part of North Link) is useful to Lake City in a way that has no parallel for Ballard. It takes 7 minutes to get from Lake City to Roosevelt via LCW. The same distance takes at least 17 minutes from Ballard, and in fact it’s quite a bit longer, because the only connection is the slow-as-molasses 44. And I’m also saying that N 130th St station — which is an infill station on a line that’s already under construction — will get much closer to Lake City (4 minutes away) than any station that’s currently approved for Ballard.

        I will take your bet about the 522. Or, to be more precise: maybe it won’t be the 522, but when Roosevelt Station opens, I think Metro will create _some_ sort of frequent all-day route between Lake City and Roosevelt (with a stop) via LCW.

        I completely agree with you about the absurdity of having to fight for N 130th. Everyone on this blog agrees with you, too. But I do want to point out that the plans for N 130th are much further along than the plans for anything in Ballard. And while there are no official plans for changing bus service in response to North Link (including Roosevelt Station), that’s just a matter of time. The plans for changing bus service in response to U-Link only became official a month ago, and the station opens in a few months. So there’s still time :)

      22. I agree with most of what you say.

        I will note however that I think you are vastly under-estimating 522 ridership, both peak and non-peak. It’s pretty much SRO at any time of day and night. Improving the half-hour frequency off-peak might also increase ridership substantially, as it’s so often over-flowing that many folks currently choose the more dependable but far slower 41 so that they aren’t left out in the cold.

        You also seem to think, unless I’m misunderstanding your comment, that the 522 has stops south of 125th. It doesn’t stop until Union St., downtown.

      23. I know that the 522 doesn’t stop south of 125th St until downtown (but thanks for making sure!). I’m arguing that there will be a stop at Roosevelt, once there is a reason to stop there (i.e. Link), and before there is a reason not to (i.e. when N 145th St opens). I know we disagree on that point. :)

        I’m not disputing that there are crush loads. What I’m disputing is that those passengers are all Lake City-bound.

        According to Sound Transit’s annual report, there are a total of 480 people who exit the 522 northbound at the three stops south of 145th on a typical weekday. (All other riders would be unaffected by shifting the 522 to N 145th station.) Of those riders, 196 are during the PM peak, and 114 are during mid-day. PM peak is 3 hours long, and mid-day is 6 hours long, which means that there are about 65 Lake City-bound riders per hour during peak, and about 19 riders per hour during mid-day.

        If there were a bus every 10 minutes between N 145th and Roosevelt via LCW, and if the only stops were those three, that would be about 3 riders per trip during mid-day (assuming no induced demand). You just can’t justify that kind of frequency for that level of ridership.

        FWIW, the southbound situation is similar, though not as extreme. There are 185 SB riders during the AM peak (62/hour), and 175 SB riders during midday (29/hour). With 10-minute midday frequency, you’d have 5 riders per trip.

        (Source: http://www.soundtransit.org/Rider-Community/Rider-news/Service-planning)

        You could say that ridership would be higher if buses came more often and weren’t crush-loaded. And you’d be right. My only point is that the vast majority of the 522’s ridership is from N 145th St and points north/west. That’s why ST isn’t too concerned about serving Lake City, and that’s why I think it’s unlikely that there will be a truly high-frequency all-day bus route between Roosevelt and LCW in the long term (i.e. after N 145th St opens). So long as it makes sense to send Bothell/Woodinville riders to Roosevelt, the fast connection will remain. Once that’s no longer important, it probably won’t, for better or worse.

      24. Don’t forget the 522 will begin stopping at 80th once ULink opens, to help fill a gap created by deleting the 72.

    5. Running a bus along 522 to 145th is fine. It will be very difficult to justify those frequencies, but since Seattle isn’t paying a dime for it, I don’t care.

      Meanwhile, Seattle will have to do the heavy lifting (again)* to serve it’s needs. Charles is right. Seattle will probably create a new BRT line from 145th and Lake City Way to 130th and Greenwood (via 125th). This will be a cross town connector, if you will. It will connect to Link, but it will also connect to a lot of north-south buses. So someone from Lake City headed to Greenwood would start by taking this bus and then head south (on the 5). I see very high frequency on this bus being justified, not only because of the relatively high density along this route, but because of all the connections. It’s just geography. This is the best east-west crossing north of 45th. 65th is great to the east, but you run into Green Lake to the west. North of there (75th/80th/85th) you don’t have a Link station. The Northgate station is nowhere near Northgate Way. To serve it requires a huge detour, with multiple turns. It is just a lot faster to go on 125th/130th.

      It also narrows there, which means you bring in more people (e. g. Sand Point). For a relatively short distance, and a fairly traffic free area, you have a ton of crossing arterials. It makes sense to have a Madison style BRT line along there (off board payment with frequent all day service).

      * When I say “again”, I am, of course, referring to Sound Transit’s failure to provide adequate coverage for the city, and SDOT’s attempt to fix the problem. Link will go from downtown Seattle to the UW very soon. It will not travel the cheap route, but will travel via a tunnel, so that it can “serve” Capitol Hill. But it won’t serve it very well. It is quite possible (if not likely) that Madison BRT will serve the area better than the one station they decided to add. It will probably cost less than one tenth the amount of money, but carry more people than that one station.

      1. “Running a bus along 522 to 145th is fine. It will be very difficult to justify those frequencies,”

        If you want to have the buses be an effective Link extension, they’ve got to run every ten minutes. And there’s your argument to try to get the Everett and Tacoma extensions cancelled. It’s too bad that these buses aren’t running now, then you’d be able to make more of an argument that we don’t need the Link extensions, and people would see the buses running and be able to ride them and they might agree with you more. But by the time the buses start the ST3 vote will be long over.

  1. Instead of truncating them full-time, I would truncate them during peak hours only. But outside of peak hours I would have them run non-stop from the end Link station to downtown. Hopefully by then the buses will have their own lanes instead of this sharing lanes with HOV cars garbage.

    So for example, buses would go to Lynnwood, then if it’s outside peak hours they would run non-stop downtown. Even with the current setup, this would be faster than Link most of the time for people going downtown. But if the buses had their own lanes, even better. Not having to make any intermediary stops would decrease travel times a ton.

    1. Running the existing 512 all the way downtown wouldn’t save as much time over Link as you think it would, and what time it would save under ideal conditions would get eaten up on the slow slog within downtown (where Link would be much faster than a bus). Also, I-5 traffic is not just a peak-hour problem. On Saturday afternoons, I-5 is routinely bumper to bumper from Northgate to downtown. And all it takes is one bad accident to snarl traffic at any time of day or night – a few months ago, I got stuck in a traffic jam where it took 20 minutes to cross the ship canal bridge – at midnight.

      Furthermore, Link connects Snohomish County to the whole I-5 corridor, whereas a nonstop express bus requires time-consuming backtracking to get the northern parts of Seattle.

      Finally, going all the way downtown would mean big frequency trade-offs – like running every 30 minutes compared to every 10 minutes.

      1. Going to the northern parts of Seattle wouldn’t require any backtracking, because people going from Snohomish County to the northern parts of Seattle would transfer to Link at Lynnwood.

        And I did say that I hoped the buses would FINALLY have their own freeway lanes by that time.

        As far as going through downtown, they could go only to Westlake station (or SoDo station if coming from the south).

      2. We’re already getting transit-only lanes into downtown – that’s called Link. I highly doubt you can get a bus-only lane. Better to campaign for I-5 to get ETLs, which can both generate revenue and provide pretty reliable service.

    2. WTF????? You have it exactly backward. It’s during the peak that premium express service needs to be provided. That’s when you want to capture “choice” riders.

      Pierce County is going to be ballistic about losing all-day direct airport and downtown Seattle service.

      1. Pierce is very different from Snohomish because the travel time advantages of express bus over train are much greater. There should be an all-day Seattle->Federal Way->Tacoma bus.

      2. Since ST seems clearly hesitant to continue to operate Tacoma-Seattle buses after 2023, I’ve been wondering if PT would want to take a page from CT and reintroduce their own ‘premium’ express service at a higher fare. If you had 5-10 minute Tacoma-Des Moines service on ST, all-day Sounder, and peak PT service from Tacoma-Seattle, I could see that working.

      3. Agreed, SubArea politics will dictate which routes stay and which routes go. N.Sounder is around because Snoho board members like it, not because it saves any money.
        Pierce will want to retain all the Dome to Seattle service because it’s quicker and cheaper than Sounder or Link.
        I-405 BRT will cost something like $20 a ride, but East will be hard pressed to do anything else.
        Truncating routes from Kent seems like a non-starter.

      4. Like it or not, bus service on 405 is essential to provide any kind of a reasonable network. Forcing everyone to slog it out on the 240 all the way from Bellevue to Renton is not a reasonable network. Even if 99% traveling between Bellevue and Renton are just going to drive, no matter what ST does, I don’t care – you still have to connect the dots in a way so that a 15-minute drive doesn’t take an hour an and a half.

        North Sounder, on the other hand, is totally ridiculous, and the only reason to spend the money continuing is rail bias at its finest. The areas served by Sounder today would be much better served by an express bus to Lynnwood TC that ran all day and in a straight line, without stops every couple of blocks.

      5. “Forcing everyone to slog it out on the 240 all the way from Bellevue to Renton is not a reasonable network.”

        An hour’s travel time, for those who haven’t experienced it.

      6. I like Zach’s idea. You gotta have some sort of bi-directional peak direct service between Tacoma and downtown Seattle. Link plus the transfer lag will be way too slow. And, to be blunt, way too crowded out of downtown in the afternoon. A good portion of the folks headed for Tacoma who now almost always get a set would have to stand at least to Columbia City or Othello. And they’ll be paying nearly $4.50 for the privilege.

        There will be large demand for C-Tran style $4.00 or even $5.00 direct expresses.

    3. It’s almost like we’re wasting a ton of money to serve low-density suburbia and water down light rail to be little better than a bus instead of actually building a network that works!

      1. Yes, and take out all of Seattle’s votes, yes AND no, and see what all those taxpayers and electoral districts would have gotten if left to their own devices.

        Not much.

    4. @Chris — From the north end, what asdf2 said is true. First off, there are multiple destinations in the north end which are popular. This is what light rail should be providing. Northgate is a decent destination and the UW is the second highest in the state. By sending all the buses to Lynnwood and asking people to transfer, you avoid the problem of splitting frequency between downtown and the UW. Ultimately this means you have higher frequency within the whole system. The added ridership from Everett means that you can justify running the train can run from Lynnwood frequently. A frequently running train from Lynnwood means that you can send buses there often (for riders headed to the UW or downtown). That is the way it is supposed to work.

      Meanwhile, the buses are only good when the express lanes are in your favor. I just rode the 41 back from downtown and it was crowded (standing room only) but otherwise great. However, going the other direction it was already terrible. Trying to go south on I-5 at 2:00 in the afternoon on the express lanes is terrible. It will be that way until after 7:00 PM. It is fine in the HOV lanes, but those end after the city limits. This means that a bus to Lynnwood is just fine, but a bus to downtown (or the UW) is terrible. Likewise (as was mentioned) it is terrible on the weekends, assuming the express lanes are going the other way. When you add it all up, it makes sense to terminate the buses at Lynnwood.

      The south end isn’t as clear. Their just aren’t the destinations at the south end of Seattle. Rainier Valley has a reasonable number of people, but there aren’t clinics or shopping centers (like Northgate) or the major university and business center that is the UW. About all you have is SeaTac, which, like just about every airport in the world, is a very minor destination. So someone from Everett will be willing to put with the extra stops in Northgate and the UW because they see plenty of people getting off there, but someone from Federal Way will see hardly anyone getting off before downtown.

      Then you have the fact that the south end HOV lanes could be much faster with just a little paint. Change HOV 2+ to HOV 3+ and every express bus in the south end is extremely fast. Even without such a change the bus is reasonably fast outside of rush hour peak direction. It can be terrible during the weekends, but again, it isn’t as reliably bad during the day. So keeping the express for the south end might make a lot of sense, along with changing the HOV 2 to HOV 3. But in the north end, truncating at Lynnwood would be better for just about everyone.

      1. “About all you have is SeaTac, which, like just about every airport in the world, is a very minor destination.”

        You keep saying that but there are tens of thousands of people arriving and departing on those planes every day. It’s like a football game every day, or Northgate’s largest shopping day of the year. There are shuttles to SeaTac from Bellingham. I can’t get from Everett to Mt Vernon outside peak hours weekdays, but people in Bellingham can get to SeaTac. It makes sense to serve airports, just like it does other large pedestrian concentrations like downtown, stadiums, and malls. And airport transit is people’s first impression of the city: are they serious about transit or not? People make decisions where to locate businesses and do business based on things like that, so it helps our economy to have a line to the airport. Maybe it’s not as important as a line to UW, but it’s still important, and not minor as you make it out to be.

      2. Sea-Tac is a minor destination, however you fail to consider the employees of the airport in addition to those travelling by air. Not to mention the large concentration of hotels in the area in close proximity to the airport which seems to be somewhat unique now that I pay attention to such things. I have actually stayed in hotels near the airport for various events and used link to get to downtown seattle before.It’s a really easy transfer from the hotel shuttles to LINK.

  2. I-5 north and I-90, route truncation is appropriate, but I-5 south, the time penalty of truncating the 577 and 594 is too much. Unless, of course, ST 3 is able to promote Sounder from a peak-only to an all-day service.

    Along the 520 corridor, the route truncation being worth it is conditional on WSDOT finishing their Montlake lid, so buses don’t have to wait in a long line of cars to exit the freeway and serve the station.

    On the 405 south corridor, the map shows the route continuing on past Bellevue TC to Overlake TC. Considering that this section of the route duplicates EastLink and subject to very heavy and unpredictable traffic (which impacts the reliability of the entire route), this decision looks very questionable. Perhaps the map this is just a typo in the map.

    1. After spending billions of dollars on LR you would propose that ST spend millions of dollars more operating a bus system that competes with LR and serves a relatively few people who are going endpoint-to-endpoint and can’t catch LR anywhere else along the line??? Good luck with that!

      Na, the current formation of the 577 and 594 needs to go once Link opens that far. Just like the 194 went.

      1. I can assure you that Pierce County will create a massive shit-storm if ST truncates the 590/594 and 577/578 at Kent/Des Moines, adding about 20 minutes to our travel time. Truncation should be at SODO station until Sounder becomes all day and has a price and travel-time comparable to the STEX buses.

      2. How about all those 577 riders from FWTC that barely get their seat warm when told to exit at Kent DesMoines and wait 6-10 minutes for a Link train.
        Better buy some more torches.

      3. “I can assure you that Pierce County will create a massive shit-storm if ST truncates the 590/594 and 577/578 at Kent/Des Moines, adding about 20 minutes to our travel time.”

        This may be the first time ST says no to a subarea over anything larger than a specific station location. All the scenarios have truncation. This was a committee meeting, so I assume at least one boardmember was present. Some other boardmembers read STB so if they didn’t know about the truncation, they do now. And it’s likely the board gave the staff some direction on this: “Include south truncation scenarios”, not just “Do anything you want”. If the board is horrified at what the staff has done truncating Pierce, then it will reverse them real soon or when it gets to the full board.

        So it certainly looks like ST intends to truncate Tacoma and Federal Way, in spite of the 10-20 minute travel time. Maybe that’s to push people to Sounder. (Federal Wayans can of course get to Sounder with a bus to Auburn or driving to an Auburn P&R,)

        And if Pierce keeps insisting on keeping the buses, ST may stand up to them (not that it stands up to cities very much) and say, “You can’t have both Sounder and Link and parallel express buses, so which do you want more?”

      4. It’s a 15+ minute 7 mile drive from Federal Way to Auburn that puts you 3 miles farther from DT Seattle. It’s less than 15 minutes to the proposed Des Moines Kent Link Station. It would be sad indeed if driving to Auburn from Federal Way was the fastest transit option. And you can forget about a bus from Federal Way to Auburn; maybe backtrack to Tacoma on the bus to catch Sounder to Seattle? Sounder’s not sounding so good.

    2. Along 520, I’ve argued that UW truncation is appropriate, as Redmond-Downtown trips are faster on 542–>ULink than they will be on East Link. From Issaquah-UW, it’s a wash, with 556 taking the same amount of time as “Future 554” to East Link, so a South Bellevue transfer makes sense. As David and I have discussed offline, the hole in this network is Bellevue-UW, where the 556 is currently much faster than East Link will be. Will the 271 improve to make that a faster, all-day connection? Etc etc. So much will succeed or fail depending on how well the agencies’ networks are able to build one complete system.

      1. A good way to make this work would be to kill the 554 and make the 555/556 an all-day route truncated to UW Station. That retains a good Bellevue-UW express connection along with a frequent Bellevue-Issaquah route.

        ST may have other ideas though. Improving the 271 could conceivably remove the need for ST to run a Bellevue-UW bus. Metro has a few options to address the speed of the 271 between 520 and downtown Bellevue, but they almost all involve a few more service hours to make up coverage in West Bellevue/Medina.

      2. There was talk last year that 520 component of ULink restructure would be revisited as part of a larger Eastside restructure of Metro in 2016. Any idea if / when that will happen

      3. The proposal would have made the existing route 271 thru-route with the (future) route 45, and run more frequently. This would eliminate the transfer to reach downtown Bellevue from much of north Seattle. The routing within Bellevue through Medina would remain unchanged.

      4. @Jason Rogers – perhaps I missed something in the discussion, but wouldn’t killing 554 leave Issaquah – DT Seattle riders much worse off? 555/556 ISS – UW is about 45 minutes, 554 ISS – MI is about 25 minutes, with remaining Link ride to DT about the same in both cases.

      5. @Jim Whitehead – Issaquah-DT Seattle riders would transfer from the 555/556 to Link at South Bellevue. 13 minutes from Issaquah TC to South Bellevue, 5 minute wait (10 minute headways), ~18 minutes to Westlake, total of 36 minutes. That is slightly slower than today’s 554 (34 minutes to 4th and Pike), so the transfer to Link is probably as fast or faster by 2024.

        I’m looking at the 8:29am 556 and the 8:43am 554 from Issaquah TC btw. At 5pm, the time difference is the same 2 minutes in favor of the current 554.

      6. The 255 and 271 are in some ways relics. To my knowledge, they are the only two frequent all-day cross-lake routes still operated by Metro rather than ST. Unusually for cross-lake service, they also both have many local stops.

        Rather than doubling down on the 255 and 271, I would prefer to see them deleted. For local-stop service, run one frequent route between Kirkland and Bellevue (or maybe even two routes, to cover both Lake Washington/Bellevue Way and 108th/112th), plus a half-hourly or hourly route serving the meandering Eastside parts of the current 271. For cross-lake service, either truncate the 540/555/556 at UW Station, or else run ultra-frequent service on the 541 that riders can connect to.

      7. Rather than doubling down on the 255 and 271, I would prefer to see them [relics] deleted.

        You’re obviously not from around here pardner. The 255 is the heavy lifter of Metro’s eastside transit. Probably 25% of it’s ridership is Seattle to S. Kirkland P&R. And NO going to DT Bellevue and loading the cattle onto Eask Link is not an option. The stupid train goes over the wrong bridge. Where are people trying to go; UW, Pill Hill, S. Lk Onion, DT Seattle or MI, Rainer Valley, Sodo? Yes the 255 should terminate at Montlake after U Link opens and the 520 construction is finished. Deleted??? WTF OVER

        For local-stop service, run one frequent route between Kirkland and Bellevue (or maybe even two routes,

        They could call them the 234 and 235. But it doesn’t change the fact that most of the people using S. Kirkland P&R are going to the UW and DT Seattle. A large portion of the 234/235 ridership is using it to do just that. Most of the rest is reverse commute riders coming from Seattle/U-Dist and working in Bellevue or Kirkland.

      8. Bernie,

        I’m not saying that there shouldn’t be service between Kirkland and Seattle via SR-520. I’m saying something much more specific, which is that cross-lake service is ST’s specialty. Metro used to run service between downtown/UW and Bellevue/Redmond/Kirkland/etc., but ST has been gradually taking over all of those routes. The 255 and 271 are the only two all-day frequent cross-lake routes that Metro still maintains. I think ST should take over those corridors as express routes. That’s all.

      9. The 255 and 271 are the only two all-day frequent cross-lake routes that Metro still maintains. I think ST should take over those corridors as express routes. That’s all.

        It may be easy to think that way if you look at just the color of the buses running at peak but the 255 is all day everyday and is the only Kirkland to DT Seattle route. The 540 is packed at peak but not the same frequency or bus capacity as the 255.

        ST’s mission is regional connections and to feed Link. The 550 only exists as a placeholder for East Link; which you’d think would be enough to show what a horrendous waste of a few billion dollars it’ll be. There’s an argument that 520 routes are a feeder to Link and that is the bridge to DT Seattle when U Link opens. But if they do that the 540 would need to run all day and make all the stops on 108th instead of running as a peak express. Just look at the interiors of ST buses. They are all designed as long distance haulers. It’s King County Metro that has the responsibility for moving people in King County. Moving people across the Lake is a big part of that. Making people take a local bus (15-30 minute frequency) and then transfer to ST Express (15-20 minute frequency, maybe, at peak) and then transfer to a train with anything but a smooth connection at Husky Stadium isn’t going to win many choice riders. Metro runs a lot of routes into DT from the North and South. The Lake is a different kettle of fish for sure; especially when Link gets to MI and S. Bellevue P&R. Metro should then truncate all routes to Seattle at a Link station. Likewise they should force a transfer at UW. But in the case of the 255 I think it’s silly to truncate the 255 at S. Kirkland and force yet another transfer for the 10 minute hop across the pond on the brand spanking new center HOV lanes and the soon to open 520 with HOV lanes and center exit at Montlake. It makes more sense to kill the 540 and increase bus service on both sides of the Lake. The 540 is the odd duck in that it spends more of it’s route on local streets than a freeway.

        ST really doesn’t want to be in the business of buying buses and contracting out service, which is what ST Express is. Metro is driving the routes and servicing the buses. It’s really Metro with a different source of funding. Maybe the funding model needs to change to that a percentage is just handed over to local agencies to run buses with their own brand name. But that’s not the way ST’s pot of gold is set up. ST gets the big bucks because they are ostensibly the agency tasked with building regional mega projects. Much sexier job than running plebeian bus service.

      10. There is no plan in place that makes UW truncation of SR-520 routes time-competitive, even with I-5 congestion. Even when the final WS-DOT lid configuration is finished, the HOV lid configuration will suck for transit. There is a traffic light for the HOV lane on the lid for general purpose traffic to cross. Another traffic light at Montlake Blvd. No meaningful transit lanes toward the bridge. A terrible transfer at UW. No layover facilities.

        In what universe has any agency come close to creating a decent transfer experience, a decent transit priority, and a decent operational plan for SR-520 transit routes to terminate at UW? It’s the worst possible nightmare for Eastside riders who need to go downtown.

      11. Bernie,

        I still think you’re reading way too much into what I’m saying. I’m not saying that we should eliminate all service on the 255 and shove everyone onto the 540 instead. I’m saying that ST should take over service planning for the regional corridors currently served by the 255 and 271. Why does it make sense for ST to run service between downtown and Bellevue, and between UW and Kirkland, but for Metro to run service between downtown and Kirkland, and between UW and Bellevue? Why does it make sense for the 255 and 540 to have different fare structures, and different stop patterns?

    3. @asdf2 agreed. Had light rail NOT gone down the rainier valley I would say you may have a case for feeder service into light rail. However the time penalties is just too much from Tacoma, Federal Way, and other points South of the airport into Downtown Seattle to make it a popular option. Aside from peak times you can still get from Tacoma-Seattle in about 30-45 minutes, which is going to be roughly 30 minutes faster than using Light Rail. Federal way is going to be less than that but its still a significant amount of time. And also, will LINK have enough capacity to handle all the transferring passengers? Feeder service is important, however if you don’t have enough capacity in the system you have problems. Will everything be a 3-4 car train?

      1. I agree with you about the time penalties, but I do think the capacity will be sufficient. ST has said it’s all-4-car-trains-all-the-time post 2023.

        If 4-car trains run every 6 mins peak/8 minutes off-peak on the Red Line, that’s 28-40 LRV’s/hour of capacity in South King, compared to 12-20 LRV’s/hour between SeaTac and downtown today.

  3. I love the idea of bus truncation, but I wonder how palatable it will be given no-brainers like having at least some existing SR520 service truncate at UW station were summarily killed the second there was public feedback.

    I think it’s very telling that the only corridor that doesn’t justify all-day, frequent service is the 405 corridor – even in a world where service hours functionally **double** from what they are today.

    Maybe 405 isn’t the right place to spend millions and millions on a new BRT system (that has the same travel times as existing busses and misses a ton of key stops)?

    1. Not having express bus service between UW and Bellevue on 520 was painful for me to see. I hope this changes. There’s a significant time savings taking 520 if you’re coming from the north end, especially once the new bridge is completed.

    2. Metro said it withdrew the 520 proposals pending a more thorough look at an Eastside restructure this year. It also said it didn’t get enough Eastside feedback at all, either good or bad, to feel confident about its assumptions. Also, to asdf2’s point, the proposal wasn’t just about the 271/545; it also had changes to the 255 and ST routes in Kirkland and Redmond. So those issues would also come back in an Eastside restructure.

      1. Also there were no Eastside residents on the Sounding Board, which may have made Metro uncomfortable with sustaining the proposed changes.

      2. Anyone who seriously looks at the operating consideration and transfer paths will find serious flaws with sending SR-520 routes to UW. The path from SR-520 to UW sucks, the congestion is unsurmountable, the transfer sucks, there is not bus turnaround or layover space.

        Service like Metro 255 & 271 and ST 545 will be the prime routes and rider choices even after UW Link opens.

      3. The big problem with sending 520 routes to the UW today is waiting in the long line of cars for the Montlake exit ramp. When the 520 construction finishes and the Montlake lid is built, there will be an HOV exit ramp which should solve the problem (except for the 6 times a year that the Huskies are playing). Ideally, the station would be surrounded by a transit center, with bus layover space, rather than a parking lot, but that’s the UW’s decision we can’t do anything about, and the planned bus stops along Pacific Street are close enough that I would hardly call it a dealbreaker.

        At the end of the day, it’s not like staying on the bus to go downtown is all that quick either. I-5 is often backed up, waiting for the light to cross Denny can take several minutes. Even when the roads are empty, the lights along Stewart are timed so that the bus stops at Denny, 9th, and 7th, always cause the bus to miss the next light. Today’s route 545 is scheduled at 13 minutes from Montlake Freeway Station to 5th/Pine, or 24 minutes from Montlake Freeway Station to 5th/Jackson. In practice, it often takes considerably longer than this.

      4. I believe that the lid and HOV ramps aren’t funded yet, so they are years away. But even when funded they will not be a panacea, given that there is a traffic signal on the HOV ramp, so that general purpose traffic can cross to the south, and then another signal at Montlake Blvd, and then the bus is doomed to general purpose lanes through the Montlake Bridge bottleneck. With no layover space, if the bus continues to someplace like the 271 terminus, there really are no operating savings vs. just going downtown. At least today the bus would often be at Stewart/Yale as quickly as you could be at the UW station. The timings are highly variable, but outside of the evening peak, generally the time from Montlake to 5th & Pine is under 10 minutes. Without transit priority and a layover facility, there’s little benefit to truncating the SR-520 routes at UW. Metro made the right call, and I would not be surprised if the ridership causes ST to keep the 545 as present as well.

      5. As part if ST3, a 520 Link station really needs to be part of the east side subarea.

        Consider the huge infrastructure investment that is likely to be made, and all of it compromised for the lack of one station.

      6. There already are two 520 Link Stations in ST2; First is at Overlake Village; the old Group Health site at the edge of the Microsoft Campus. The other is Overlake TC. Plus there’s the 130th P&R in Bel-Red which is fairly close to 520. Presumably buses will go from there to UW because it takes a gods age on Link the long way around.

      7. Glenn, if you mean a U-Link infill station at SR-520, that ain’t going to happen for approxximately the same reasons that a Ballard ‘spur’ will not be built. It wasn’t anticipated when the line was being designed (I don’t think the tunnels are level there) and if it were built, it would shutdown operations for months at a minimum.

        It would solve the problem of having no big projects in the East King sub-area..

      8. Stations do not have to be level. In fact, many of them are not level. What is the grade of the tunnel?

        $500 million was the estimate for the BART infill station at 30th Street. However, BART runs longer trains so the platforms need to be longer, so it would have to have at lot more dug out.

        So, there are at least other agencies that have looked at doing this type of thing.

  4. Does the definition of “off-peak” include evenings, or are talking about daytime service only? Also, is there any chance of expanding the span of some of the ST Express routes, like running some routes to 1 AM that currently shut down around 11 or 12 at night?

  5. “Confusingly, the 610,000 hour option, though a 20% cut from today’s service levels, would require the Board to allocate 25% more funds to ST Express than assumed under ST2.”

    It’s just math. ST2 assumed 490000 shrs, so if you go to 610000 shrs that represents a 24.49% increase (i.e., 490000 is the basis for the calculation, not today’s level)

    1. I was just trying to head off any criticism by a skimming reader to the tune of, “What?! We have to spend x more dollars to get less service!”

    1. And Snohomish County riders should start getting concerned about the lack of two-platform boarding/deboarding processes at stations that are spaced closely together and have the longest dwell times. ST is playing a shell game regarding what is actually forcing a practical minimum headway, but the number of trains that can move through the DSTT in a given amount of time seems to be a contender for the title.

      Once Rainier Valley moves over to DSTT2, I think the design problems of DSTT stations are the limiting factor.

      Center platforms at all DSTT stations — but especially ID Station — might increase the capacity of the system.

      1. How in the world would center platforms increase capacity? Making it easier to change directions? Sure, but increase capacity? No.

      2. Station dwell time affects line capacity. Post ST2 you’ll have trains every 3-4 minutes through downtown during peak. That isn’t a lot of wiggle room for delays when it gets crowded.

        What Brent has been proposing for a long time is the “Spanish solution” to cut dwell time. By using the center platform for exiting and the side platform for boarding, the train spends less time in the station, freeing up capacity for more trains.

      3. Right, except that in most cases it would increase dwell time, not decrease it, which is why it isn’t used that much. Twice as many doors means twice the time spent making sure they are closed.

      4. I can’t imagine the São Paulo metro handling anywhere near the number of passengers it does without that arrangement at Sè.

        Once the deboarding passengers have stopped you can close that side while still boarding.

        With no boarding passengers in the way of alighting passengers, you could probably do a train filling stop at International District in 15 seconds.

      5. Sao Paulo, Tokyo, Bejing, Seattle. One of these things is not like the other …

        Actually, from what I can tell neither Tokyo nor Bejing use the Spanish Solution. Very few cities do. Even huge cities with huge subways rarely use it. New York, for example, has closed many of theirs. Because in most cases it costs time — instead of the opposite.

      6. The times that I have been through Sé, I couldn’t possibly imagine any other solution working there as the exchange of passengers between the two São Paulo metro lines is huge.

      7. There are plenty of transit systems that manage 3 minute and event 150 second (2.5 minute) headways with single platforms. The Tokyo subway and Yamanote line do this, as do some subways in Germany.

      8. There’s times and places when MAX has two minute headways, and that’s a surface line with mostly single side platforms.

        Getting station dwell time down means giving passengers room to get on and off the train.

        If you have a full metro line where half the car length is door, you might be able to do this with a single platform. If you have platforms wide enough for up and down escalators on the platform, you might be able to do this with a single platform.

        Before the extensions were built, São Paulo had the most crowded metro in the world based on passengers per mile of track. With only one north-south line and one east-west line, a huge portion of those passengers have to transfer between lines at Sé. Trains arrive from all directions pretty much full to capacity. To get more people on the trains, it works vastly better to open the doors on one side of the train several seconds before the boarding side doors to create a vacancy for those passengers getting on.

        At Sé they exchange about half or more of the passengers on the train in about 15 seconds or less. I don’t see how they could do that with only one side of the train opening the doors. It would be like trying to empty an arriving set of Seahawks fans into a crowd of Seahawks fans just leaving the game. It would take a huge amount of time for the crowds to get past eachother at the doors.

      9. It underlines how design decisions on vehicles and stations can affect capacity. The Tokyo Metro and Yamanote train cars have up to 4 super wide doors (at one point, six doors) and sideways seating to maximize passenger flow and standing capacity. You can also walk through the entire train. Ditto for Berlin. Also, a very strong culture that values punctuality.

      10. They probably also have platforms wider than ID, and more than one escalator running in a single direction.

    2. We’re now worried about too much ridership on Link? I thought it was going to be a boondoggle of half-empty trains running fifteen miles too far into the sticks.

      1. It won’t be full in the sticks. It will be full, eventually — maybe not 2023 — as it pulls into downtown Seattle at peak of peak, and a good chunk of those riders will be from the sticks. The world will hopefully not come to an end in 2023. Nor will the reasons people want to move here, stay here, or raise families here. So, we should plan for growth.

      2. We really don’t need to worry about capacity. The green line for BART (which goes out to Fremont, CA, a city twice the size of Everett) runs every fifteen minutes. The trains are much bigger, but we can run ours a lot more often.

        This will be similar. There will be a reasonable number of people on the trains coming from the suburbs during rush hour, but outside rush hour, almost all of the ridership will be in the city.

        Lynnwood is not 15 miles too far into the suburbs. Northgate is terrible to serve with buses, so the train should have gone at least as far as 130th. But people would have demanded a big park and ride, which means that 130th would have required a lot of work. You might as well go to 145th, if not Mountlake Terrace (where you already have the infrastructure). Lynnwood is really not that much farther (another mile or so). So basically, it went at most an extra 5 or 6 miles. The trains will be running very infrequently during the day (with very few people) but not that many miles.

        Now if it is extended farther we really have jumped the shark. We won’t pick up any more people, but it will cost a lot more, and will send us down the DART/BART rabbit hole of infrequent, very expensive, very low farebox recovery service.

      3. Which is why the first MAX line was single track east of the Ruby Junction shops until the mid 1990s. Even then, they could probably have gotten away with the single track sections even now if it weren’t for the occasional Steele Bridge lift throwing the whole scheduled meet at sidings concept into a tizzy. Even then, it worked pretty well for as long it was needed.

        Light rail is chosen because the capacity may be adjusted to suit the actual needs. It isn’t quite as oriented around high capacity as full scale subway type construction.

        It seems to me that north of Lynnwood the line could be built with 10 minute headways in mind. You have no light rail drawbridges in Seattle and no plans for any, so you won’t have that little issue MAX had. Grade and ballast for a second track, but don’t build the track or overhead. Install undergound conduit for the signal wires, but no signals.

        With proper preparations you could probably throw down that second track in less than a year when it becomes necessary.

      4. @Glenn — Sounds like BART to me.

        In a few years someone in Everett will be able to take a bus that gets on the freeway and then goes to Lynnwood. At Lynnwood they will get on a train. Instead we could spend billions of dollars so that you can take the bus to some place in Everett, instead of Lynnwood. Really, what is the point? Why is that any better? That just doesn’t work. The advantage of light rail — the only thing that justifies its very high cost — is that there are lots of people getting on and off at each stop. Northgate to Capitol Hill. Mount Baker to the UW. Roosevelt to downtown. Hell, right now — with our current system — about a quarter of the riders use it only to get from one side of downtown to the other. That is because every urban stop is a destination. But there simply isn’t the demand to go from Ash Way to Mountlake Terrace or Shoreline to Lynnwood.

        Yes, you could build an express. It is called a bus. It is what just about every city now uses as their express. If they can leverage old railway lines and build commuter rail than they do. But most cities just leverage the freeway and run buses from the suburbs to town. It is by far the most cost effective way to improve transit. Lynnwood will make a fine transit center. Run buses from all over Everett (and Mukilteo, Edmonds, Snohomish and the little burgs in Snohomish County) to Lynnwood. Now the handful of people who need to go from one to the other will have a very good way of doing it. Ridership in Lynnwood might even be decent that way. But extending it further out is just a recipe for failure (one cooked up many times before).

      5. ” If they can leverage old railway lines and build commuter rail than they do. But most cities just leverage the freeway and run buses from the suburbs to town.”

        Except that the “old railway lines” available here – The interurban for North Link, the ERC for an eastside alignment – are being turned into bike trails, and the money the ‘Regional Transit Authority’ is spending is going towards Express Bus systems on the Freeways.
        Without guarantee of exclusivity (that is, WSDOT requires anything Sound Transit builds for “BRT” must accommodate auto traffic, if it is to ‘leverage’ their investment).

        And don’t forget to widen your major arterials to accommodate “BRT” via BAT lanes (again, non-exclusive use), to LA style widths.

        Aurora Ave through Shoreline is now a pedestrian Mecca… I see people walking past the slug all the time. At least there’s a crosswalk at Highland Ice Arena and Deseret industries. (I doubt Doug’s customers make use of that crosswalk, though)

        Kenmore is in the process of bringing SR522 up to LA standards, and Don’t Spare the Concrete to hold back the hillsides, either !!

        How much does all this cost? Maybe I’m missing something in the links to SDOT’s plan for Roosevelt BRT. It’s either $, or $$$$$. (and supposedly $$$$$ is too much)

      6. “Without guarantee of exclusivity (that is, WSDOT requires anything Sound Transit builds for “BRT” must accommodate auto traffic, if it is to ‘leverage’ their investment).”

        It’s the other way around, WSDOT is accommodating BRT in its investment. ST is just paying for the stations and their exit ramps; it’s not paying for the whole right-of-say or lane. If it were, it would cost as much as light rail. The whole reason ST is considering BRT is it has less capital cost, which is only possible because WSDOT is paying for most of it.;

      7. When ST was looking at the HOV-HOV interchange ramps between 405, 520, and I-90 for BRT, they were going on the assumption (for performance evaluation) on a bus-only (i.e. narrow lanes) configuration. WSDOT said they had to make the ramps accommodate standard vehicles. (with shoulders, to boot)

        Yes, the actual lane on the freeway is WSDOT’s, it’s the connecting infrastructure that would be picked up by whatever transit $ are available. Ramps from the HOV lanes to the various P&R’s to eliminate weaving to the SOV exits, etc. I believe the Totem Lake station cost about $80 million. If I remember correctly, when the WSDOT engineer was talking about the flyover ramp they constructed between S/B 405 and 167, (he was marveling at how much that improved the performance of the S-curves), it was about a $10 million project. That’s 1 ramp, extrapolate as you see fit for whatever configuration you’re trying to accommodate.

        Of course it costs less than Light Rail, no one has ever argued otherwise.
        Light Rail = Exclusive infrastructure with no auto interference.
        Bus on Freeway = Ebb and flow of rich people in the way (Remember how Totem Lake – Bellevue bogged down before they went from HOV 2+ to 3+)

        Except for the Kennydale hill, there’s plenty of green stuff in the 405 ROW to rip up. If you want green stuff to look at, maybe they can cast the sound walls with green paint impregnated in them, so the drivers don’t have to feel like they are in concrete trench.

        BRT had a higher capitol cost than Commuter Rail in the ERC, by the way. Same ridership.

    3. Was on the road most of yesterday so folks…

      a) The Skagit Transit 90X buses to Everett are almost full when running.

      b) The deal with light rail money coming from Snohomish County was that Snohomish County – and by extension, Everett – would get light rail. Spine Destiny it is.

      c) If folks are going to compare us to Portland MAX/Trimet, okay… just note MAX light rail serves both Portland International (their SeaTac) and the Hilsboro Airport (their Paine Field) on the way to Hillsboro (their Everett, I guess).

      1. If folks are going to compare us to Portland MAX/Trimet, okay… just note MAX light rail serves both Portland International (their SeaTac) and the Hilsboro Airport (their Paine Field) on the way to Hillsboro (their Everett, I guess).

        Hillsboro to Portland is 20 miles, Everett to Seattle 30 miles. Drive time is about the same maybe even longer for Hillsboro at ~30 minutes. According to Google transit you can take Max but it’s 1:42 or 1:31 if you transfer to a bus for the last leg. There is a #5 bus option listed run by Tillamook County Transportation District. Fare is $15 or $20 round trip and it’s a 30 minute ride with only 2 stops.

        Hillsboro has the same density (3,833.1/sq mi) as Bellevue(3,827.4/sq mi). And there’s the crux of it; Link to Everett (2,100/sq mi) and Tacoma (3,990.3/sq mi) will make sense when those cities achieve a growth trajectory like Seattle and the Eastside and have their own vibrant and diverse 21st century jobs centers. Tacoma and Federal Way is slowly turning it around. But it’s over 30 miles from Seattle. Beaverton in contrast is already higher density (4,794.6/sq mi) and sits just 10 miles from both Hillsboro and Portland DT. When reverse commute Sounder trains start to make sense will be when it’s time for Link to the City of Destiny.

      2. Nit: MAX serves the Washington County Fairgrounds, which are used as the parking facility for the Hillsboro Air Show. The airport is actually across two busy streets and through a field from the MAX station.

        While the Hillsboro Airport is reasonably busy, the flights in and out of there are pretty much entirely expensive private stuff operated at the whim of Nike, Intel and several other tech companies. There’s maybe a couple of prop craft still stored out there as well. However, nobody from those flights winds up on MAX.

        MAX was routed that way because TriMet purchased the freight railroad that went through there. It was more happy accident than trying to serve an executives (and occasional general aviation) airport.

  6. Wow, so ST wants to take away the true express for Federal Way, Tacoma, and Lakewood with a transfer to a real slow rail line with over a dozen stops and routing through the rainier valley, and is overcrowded at peak?

    Sounds like ST wants me to vote no on ST3?

      1. Aren’t you the guy who said he might vote against the next Metro proposal because they can’t seem to do a decent restructure? ;)

        I guess I don’t see the difference. Sound Transit can keep these bus routes. They can actually fund more of these bus routes. Doing so would get some people (like Alex) to maybe want to vote for ST3. But if they cut the bus routes and then turn around and push the spine, why should someone like Alex vote for it? For that matter, why should anyone?

        It boggles the mind that Sound Transit has something that is extremely popular, extremely effective, has growing ridership, yet it it is willing to kill it in the name of spine destiny. There are certainly areas where the buses should be truncated and the riders will enthusiastically welcome such truncation (like the 41). But there are areas where it simply won’t work. These are areas where people want an express, not a local. These are areas where light rail is simply too far from their destination(s) to work successfully. Trying to pretend that Federal Way is the same as Northgate just won’t make it so. One area is well suited for light rail and the other isn’t.

      2. “It boggles the mind that Sound Transit has something that is extremely popular, extremely effective, has growing ridership, yet it it is willing to kill it in the name of spine destiny.”

        That “something” is subject to unpredictable travel times whenever there’s an accident, is half-hourly off-peak, and the last run is at 10:30pm. So it’s not as popular or effective or has as much ridership as it could if it didn’t have these limitations.

    1. Your ST3 vote would be irrelevant here Alex since this would be post ST2 build out. If they did something like 15 min Lakewood-Des Moines and 10 min DT Tacoma-Des Moines service each serving Federal Way TC that would be a substitution worth having. Midday Sounder service would be sweet too if possible.

      1. For many 590-series riders, no. When I used that service off-peak, I was happy to adjust modestly to ST’s bus schedule in exchange for fast, direct service. Treating frequent service as really really important is correct and important but it really does get overrated a bit around here when it comes to very long journeys. It’s not as important that my 40 mile trip is scheduled for maximum spontaneity, especially at the expense of speed.

        I’m actually not too worried this will actually happen; this is one area where ST being beholden to local political whims is a very good thing. But their desire to kill the Federal Way and Tacoma express service and channel passengers on to a local train demonstrates some very poor judgment about the transit needs of the region. I can understand why some Seattle–Tacoma and Seattle–Federal Way commuters might sour on ST III when seeing things like this, even if it technically has nothing to do with it, as they might (quite reasonably) conclude that the further South Link gets, the harder ST will fight to kill our express bus service.

      2. Well, it seems like people like Alex should fight like hell to keep the bus service. If Sound Transit ignores the requests. then people should push for more bus service with ST3. If Sound Transit ignores both, and focuses on train service only, then I think it is reasonable to reject ST3.

        Keep in mind, I’m not talking about rejecting their proposal just because they can’t run things. I’m talking about rejecting their proposal because they can’t seem to plan things. If they ignore the fact that in many cases a bus is simply the better choice, then it is quite reasonable to reject their plans for more (ineffective) light rail.

        If, on the other hand, ST sees the light and proposes a lot of bus service (which is arguably the best thing they have ever done) then folks like Alex should enthusiastically support them.

    2. Actually, this modeling helps ST3 assume more funds are available for capital improvements. Eventually, ST may decide to keep some of the express bus routes, similar to how it is keeping some express bus service (e.g. route 545) post-ST1-opening.

      Voting down ST3 surely won’t help pay for more bus service, and voting for it does not mean the express service will actually go away. Clear as mud?

    3. Martin, it has to do with ST3 to the extent that increased service hours for STX in 2024 would be included in the ST3 System Plan.

    4. It’s what Federal Way and Tacoma have been asking for.

      Whether you vote no won’t matter if two other people vote yes.

      1. It may be what Spine-obsessed politicians have been asking for (this has been a regional priority for political elites for decades, after all), but I have real doubts those views accurately represents 577/578/59X commuters, once they learn the scope of the time penalty they’re going to asked to pay for the privilege of a train ride, especially as more and more people become aware of the sheer size of that time penalty (which ST and a certain kind of transit advocate try to downplay by focusing on the frequency boost.)

      2. Personally I’m am well aware of the penalties and accept them for a variety of reasons. One not all of us down here in Pierce County are headed to Seattle. Many of us that are aren’t headed fully into Downtown and have to suffer a transfer penalty even as they enter town. Lastly, PT services have huge holes in them making local transit into South King County difficult at best. I’d rather have the stronger more local connections even at some trade off to express Seattle service.

      3. Going from Federal Way, transferring to Link at Kent-Des Moines will take about an hour, which is about twice as long as the 577. This would be like missing the 577 and waiting for the next one with today’s service.

      4. The voters of Federal Way and Tacoma never asked for the spine. The last they were asked, they rejected it (handily).

      5. As for Tacoma, its the mayor asking for it. I’m not sure the rest of the city agrees with her demands to get the spine to Tacoma, or realizes what the potential service impact could be.

      6. The people elected the mayor to represent their interests. If they don’t like what she’s doing they shouldn’t have voted for her. Also, a mayor has to think about the economic good of the whole city, while individuals often think just about their own good. That again is why we have mayors.

      7. I talked to someone from ST once about this, and he seemed to seriously believe that I-5 congestion would worsen over the years to the point where an hour-long train ride from Federal Way to downtown would become time-competitive with driving. Maybe if you squint really hard, that might happen during rush hour, but certainly not in the middle of the day, absent a major accident or road construction.

      8. I think they mentioned that at the workshop in December, that I-5 would be around a half-hour slower in twenty years, so it would catch up to Link’s and Sounder’s slowness.

  7. I love it in concept, but as ASDF notes, the massive time penalty of Link through the Rainier Valley leaves a lot to be desired. Still, this is a better use of our ST dollars than the current system.

    As I understand it, Sounder will be adding still more trips in the coming years (two additional trips in the next two years, I think???). With ST’s continued investment in the Sounder south line, the south line’s massive success, continued growth around all of the stations, and the potential to build parallel tracks to allow Sounder to operate side-by-side with freight in this corridor, I can only imagine that Sounder will eventually morph into all-day service. The potential for future parallel tracks is most evident at both Auburn Station and Tukwila Station where there are actually two loading platforms along the west side (at Auburn) and east side (at Tukwila) of the tracks: one constructed of asphalt that is currently used, and a second one set back from the tracks far enough to facilitate addition of another track.

    1. It’s the combination of the Ranier Valley, plus dwell times at all the intermediate stops. Each intermediate stop adds about a minute, including acceleration and deceleration time, which, going all the way from Federal Way to downtown, adds up. Lynnwood->downtown has fewer stops long Link and travels in a straighter line.

      There is also the fact that traffic along I-5 is generally worse north of downtown than it is south of downtown, during all hours of the day.

      I could accept a route 594 truncation if all-day Sounder service exists as an alternative, but not before. I would be mostly fine with truncating route 574 once Link reaches Federal Way. Presumably, trips on the 574 could continue to the airport during the late-night hours that Link is not running.

      1. Yeah, it really isn’t Rainier Valley that is the problem. It is simply the nature of light rail versus express. Light rail makes sense if there are lots of destinations along the way. Light rail makes sense if the distance isn’t that great. In this case, neither is true. This is true all over the world for subways. That’s why cities much bigger than us (New York City, London, etc.) do not extend their subways as far as what we are proposing. It just doesn’t make sense.

    2. Sounder needs to add all-day service, roughly every 30 minutes on the south line. Personally i’d love to see that extended to Olympia as well. If sounder had all-day frequent service I would say the idea makes sense for south end riders. Ride times may increase from Tacoma somewhat but the tradeoff would be service reliability which I don’t think anyone could argue with. As for Auburn Station there has been a provision for a 3rd main track through the station since it was built. I think as part of the coming round of BNSF upgrades it will actually be installed. This is also bringing a 3rd main track through Tukwila Station as well which also has a temporary platform.

      1. Sounder needs to run more often and the HOV lanes need to change from HOV 2 to HOV 3. Those two things would do more for people in the suburbs than spending billions on new light rail.

    3. “Sounder will be adding still more trips in the coming years (two additional trips in the next two years, I think???).”

      About that. The full ST2 service will be “almost hourly” with a 1.5-2 hour gap in the late morning and early afternoon.

      The ST3 proposal is hourly and includes some evening and weekend service. The cost is not yet known because it’s pending negotiations with BNSF and a new passenger track. Also, the improvements would speed up Sounder, cutting down the 1-hour Seattle-Tacoma travel time.

      Half-hourly service outside peak has not been officially proposed, but it would make a world of difference to southeast King County.

  8. Regarding “Lastly, though unremarked upon at the committee meeting, the I-90 plans all assume truncation in Downtown Bellevue with Link transfers at South Bellevue Station. It would seem that Mercer Island is winning their battle to keep transit off the island.”

    This is showing concepts for future ST Express service. The only truncation of ST Express at Mercer Island that has ever made any sense has been the 554, but if you kill the 554 and go with an all-day 555/556, then clearly there’s no truncation at Mercer Island. Metro’s plans for truncation aren’t on the diagrams here (or even discussed), so I think its safe to say that these concepts don’t mean anything regarding Mercer Island.

  9. With the I-90 buses having a transfer at South Bellevue, how does this affect the time penalty of Issaquah-Seattle rides via the proposed Issaquah-Kirkland light rail system? Specifically, I am looking for numbers on the following scenarios:

    1. I-90 bus from Issaquah TC to South Bellevue TC, transfer to Link, ride to Westlake.
    2. LRT from Issaquah TC to Wilburton station, transfer to East Link, ride to Westlake.

    1. I would assume they would be the same. For the same amount of money (or a lot less) bus service would be much better. Light rail to Issaquah can not travel through the neighborhoods. But buses can. Connecting to South Bellevue may not be ideal right now, but if we spent a bit of money, it would be every bit as good as light rail to Wilburton. The only difference is that Issaquah to downtown Bellevue could be a one stop ride if light rail is built. But given the demand, it would likely be very infrequent. When you look at frequency and cost, the bus just comes out way ahead.

  10. In the future, when some train fetishist gushes about record-breaking Link numbers, remember back to this post and the plans to aggressively funnel and truncate bus routes to Link stations.

    1. So, we no longer have Metro route 194. Where is the rest of Link’s current ridership coming from?

      1. I’ve gone over this before, and this getting a bit ot. So STB, you have my permission to delete this comment. (And yes, you do need my approval before deleting any of my comments). But if you add up all the recent punitive measures against driving and parking … wait, is the term add up redundant? I could just say add, right? It’s like that park in Redmond called Grass Lawn Park. Aren’t all lawns grass? Couldn’t they just call it Grass Park? Or Lawn Park? Why is it called Grass Lawn Park? Ok, now I forgot what I was talking about. Sorry.

      2. A good chunk of Link ridership is simply coming from the buses that used to travel in the tunnel. If you are trying to get from one end of downtown to the other, taking Link, or the first bus that comes along makes sense.

    2. The most important thing to ask is whether you are actually making things better or not. That is why fixating on ridership is a starting point, but not a very good one. The best starting point is overall transit use. So, if we cancel these bus routes, put the service hours into other service and have the rail do the heavy lifting, are more people riding transit?

      But even that doesn’t tell you the whole story. There may be plenty of transit riders within our system that have no other choice. So improvements to the system won’t increase ridership, but they will improve their lives quite a bit. But it is also possible that you simply have a shift. You have very few new riders, and the new riders aren’t that much better off.

      My guess is that you have a mix. Some of the riders are certainly better off. This includes some that have had their old bus routes truncated. But other riders simply endure a transfer because they have no other choice. But looking at numbers (that aren’t even that impressive) and getting excited is really silly. I agree with Sam on that point.

  11. If the major truncation were to happen, I would expect a lot of frequency improvements for sure, which looks like it is going to happen. But I also would also like to see some other express scenarios realized with some of the recovered service hours. For example, STB has made some noises in the past about a Tacoma-Bellevue express being viable. I think a good idea once Link reaches Federal Way would be to first to keep the current 574 routing to Fed Way TC (and have a Link transfer to the airport, as would happen anyway), but implement a new northern routing of the 574 to go to Kent, Renton, and Bellevue. Aside from duplicating part of the route 560, this creates new one-seat ride scenarios from Tacoma, Lakewood, and Federal Way to Kent, Renton, and Bellevue. Right now, coming from Tacoma, Lakewood, and FW to Renton or Bellevue require one transfer, which would go up to two transfers (except Federal Way) once the Link truncations take effect, so this reroute would help make up some of the lost time because of the truncations.

    1. All-day Sounder would easily out-compete Federal-Way Bellevue express bus service. The model above keeps 560 service between Tukwila Sounder Station and Bellevue.

      But then, it might just be faster to stay on Sounder the whole way, and jump on Link to Bellevue.

      1. Wait, since when does the 560 serve Tukwila Sounder Station? It’s in the high-investment 405 BRT package, but there’s no guarantee that’ll get built. (Or are you talking about the 566/567 to Kent Station?)

      2. I was thinking of the F Line. So, yeah, all-day 567 may be an option, but I’m still not sure whether just transferring at King Street / ID Station won’t be faster by then.

      3. The Sounder tracks don’t go anywhere near Federal Way. So, the only rail-based option from Federal Way to Bellevue would be to take Link all the way downtown and transfer to EastLink. An express bus down 405 should definitely be faster than that.

      4. The thought comes to mind because since, by truncating Seattle service, ST is unilaterally and instantly increasing travel time by probably a half hour for every rider from the south Sound to Seattle (at least, during off-peak), then the traditional wisdom of “oh, just transfer to the 550 (soon to be Link) at Seattle” becomes a ridiculous suggestion given travel times. Also, there used to be a 565 route that is the same as the 566 except it started in Federal Way (not Auburn, but it served Auburn as well), and ended at Bellevue TC, not Overlake, and was deemed to be too low-ridership. What makes me think that this new 574 could avoid that fate is that 1: There is no Auburn stop, and 2: it can also pick up riders from Lakewood and Tacoma. Also built-in is a true fast way to get from Federal Way to Kent, which is a scenario that isn’t quite covered in the current system. It also acts as a partial Sounder shadow.
        Also, given that the ST board has decided that the plan described in this article is how they are going to “solve” the Seattle problem (or to “crack” the “getting people to Seattle” nut) once and for all (for better or for worse), then I would hope that they would at least spend most of their energy and service hour reinvestment (and boy, are there service hours to be reinvested) looking at alternative transit scenarios that, let’s face it, go from bad to worse with the Link feeder plan.

    2. A Tacoma-Bellevue express makes sense to me primarily because those buses are already deadheading from Lakewood, not that the demand is strongly there yet.

      1. I agree. A Tacoma Bellevue express makes a lot of sense. This is the sort of thing I think ST should focus on, instead of extending the spine or assuming that the spine will work for every connection.

      2. A Tacoma-Bellevue Sounder line would have been a smash hit from day one, but it looks increasingly slim that that will ever happen. All of ST’s resources seem to be pumped for better or worse into the spine. They seem to forget that Bellevue/Redmond is getting to be just as large if not a larger employment center than downtown Seattle and provisions should be made from people coming from the north and south to reach there by rail without having to travel on that disaster of a freeway known as I405.

      3. “Bellevue/Redmond is getting to be just as large if not a larger employment center than downtown Seattle”

        You’re comparing two entire cities with one downtown. Bellevue/Redmond as a whole may become as large as downtown Seattle (although I doubt it), but downtown Bellevue itself is several times smaller. Seattle is building a new downtown Bellevue in SLU, and it also has First Hill (which may be part of “downtown”), the U-District (the “second downtown”), Ballard/Fremont/Interbay (has grown a lot and has capacity for more), and Northgate (emerging urban center).

        The advantage of supporting employment downtown is it has the infrastructure to support tons of pedestrians and commuters. If that many people went to downtown Bellevue or the Microsoft area simultaneously they’d be completely overwhelmed. That’s one reason why parades occur on downtown Seattle.

      4. By the numbers from PSRC Redmond and Bellevue combined have 213,611 jobs in a combined area of 53 sq mi. Seattle has 514,710 jobs in 142 sq mi. So job density for Redmond/Bellevue is actually slightly greater than Seattle. Population density OTOH Seattle (8k/sq-mi) has Redmond/Bellevue beat by more than two to one. The Seattle CBD according to the Downtown Association based on PSRC data is host to 81,444 jobs in about 1.5 square miles; an order of magnitude greater job density.

  12. When I first saw the map, I wondered why some areas had feeder service and some did not. It quickly dawned on me that other operators are serving them.

    Which leads to what really bothers me here: There is no discussion of what the role of ST Express is as opposed to a local operator. Is it for commuters or be all-day? Is it to act as a virtual rail line or is it to serve longer distances where light rail is ill-suited? Shouldn’t “feeder” services be for local operators instead of ST Express?

    I’m rather bothered by having alternatives determined by service hours first, rather than by the function of the service first. ST should be ask this question before establishing service levels.

    Does anyone else feel that ST doing this out of order?

    1. It’s like the difference between a state highway and a city/county road. The state picks what’s important to them and the locals fill in the gaps.

      In this case, ST’s proposed “feeder” routes are almost entirely on state highways, connecting the dots between the city centers and train routes. Metro and the other local operators will be left with the routes mainly along city and county roads, whatever ST doesn’t take.

      And in answer to your last question, yes, it usually seems that ST is doing planning out of order.

    2. I traced the Express bus program in past referenda. It appears that the origin is a linkage between express buses to freeway HOV lanes and direct access ramps. That’s consistent with the organization by freeway corridor listed in this diagram. The 1996 vote explicitly links Express Bus to HOV lanes and ramps, and the 2008 vote “expands” the program. A list of corridors is included.

      So the intent is valid as defined by ST2.

      The 2008 guide also says this: “When light rail opens in the various corridors, the majority of ST Express service in those corridors will be redeployed, resulting in a net overall increase in transit service.” A few things I would note in that statement:
      1. The express bus program is put into place for all of ST2, so that the program does not allow for an exchange bus service hours for rail service hours.
      2. ST should revisit the “redeployment” logic if ST3 passes because more HOV corridors will have rail if ST3 passes depending on what gets put into the rail part of ST3. There will likely be significantly fewer miles of HOV corridors without rail to serve by express bus.

      In sum, we need to have some regional clarity on the Express Bus program within ST3. It’s a much bigger issue than redeploying service hours like instructed in ST2.

      1. Redeployment was ST’s original idea in 1996 as well, I think they planned to nix a lot of the 59x peak buses at rush hour, however when the ridership did not shift and sounder ridership took off on its own it forced them to reconsider. I don’t think they will ever admit this however. Some consolidation is needed, especially in the north and the east where the line runs on a dedicated ROW and is much more direct than from the south.

      2. ST should charge a premium for the Tacoma to Seattle service, instead of giving bus riders a discount vs. Train. Some of the riders may be on the bus because it’s cheaper for the riders (even if the marginal cost to ST is much higher.)

  13. I’m really confused about the little zinger about Mercer Island at the end of this article. Why is it a bad thing to truncate service across I-90? It just seems to make logical sense to me. The 550 is absolutely redundant to East Link, and anything that goes across the bridges to Seattle really ought to funnel into East Link. It doesn’t sound to me like Mercer Island is winning anything, they still get a light rail station, we can give them some rudimentary circulator for around the island. If “winning” means no buses crossing Mercer Island, then fine, don’t run any buses across I-90. We won’t need to, we’ll have a big ol’ train to move everyone fast!

    1. Isn’t I-90 designed to have direct access ramps to Mercer Island Station but not South Bellevue Station? If so, the transfers should be at Mercer Island. Why should a few whiny residents prevent the functionality of a public capital investment of tens of millions of dollars of direct access ramps?

    2. See my ,a href=”https://seattletransitblog.com/2016/01/08/the-future-of-st-express-frequent-feeder-service/#comment-678929″>comment above. For ST Express, truncation to Mercer Island really only makes sense for the 554. We don’t know what Metro’s plans for bus truncation are, so Mercer Island is still very much on the table.

  14. In addition to adding a half hour to the travel time of anyone going between Pierce County and downtown Seattle (unless we have all-day Sounder), the other problem with these maps is the long line from Lakewood to Puyallup with no circles along the way. Parkland has about the same population as Puyallup and is much more dense, making it easier to serve with transit, but the 580 STEX bus just drives right through without stopping.

  15. I think it’s important the 590 series continued to run at a high frequency especially during non-peak hours even after central link to Tacoma is done. Mostly because central link is going to a long slow trip that won’t replace the bus during non heavily congested times.

  16. It noteworthy that the southern end of Link is Kent/Des Moines Station here. What’s the timetable for that extension? Is the funding in place?

    1. 2023. Yes, it’s in ST2. ST2 was originally going to go to 272nd but it was truncated with the recession, first at 200th, then they determined they had enough money for KDM. 272nd wavers between “maybe” and “no”. When ST restarted planning for KDM, Federal Way asked it to plan out to 320th so that it would be “shovel ready” in case funding became available, so that’s what ST did.

  17. So if ST is into cutting/truncating ST Express routes to feed into rail lines, then why does the peal-only 590 route even exist if there’s a Sounder commuter rail line? This is somewhat comparable to the Link situation because (according to the schedule, which probably is only accurate for good traffic days, but still) the 590 beats the Sounder train to the same place, even with the SODO slog. Sounder leaves TDS at 7 am and arrives at King Street Station (which I’ll compare to S. Jackson street) at 7:59, taking 59 minutes. The same trip on the 590 starts at 7:03 and ends at 7:52, taking 49 minutes, 10 minutes less than Sounder. Since ST has already indicated that saving people time is no priority at all when considering truncating routes at rail terminals, then what’s stopping ST from eliminating the 590 and truncating the 592 at Lakewood station and saving all those service hours? Why do they do this for the slow and frequently stopping Link but not for the fast and infrequently stopping Sounder?

    1. I think it was ST’s plans at one point in time that once sounder started they would start killing the 59x series of routes. However they found that ridership on the buses did not change as sounder attracted a different group of riders who mostly were not riding the buses before. also don’t forget capacity. Sounder trains are already running at near maximum capacity so funneling buses into them without adding more or longer trains will not do anything.

  18. Lot’s of common themes coming up here that were brushed aside by the block voting for Sound Move and ST2. Link though the RV instead of direct “to the airport” in the name of TOD is now coming back to bite. TOD ain’t happening and if/where it does it’s labled by the progresives as gentrification. ST has by charter been focused on capital construction; not providing service. No surprise that the budget assumes they will kill bus service once a section of rail is complete. What politicians (not the best people to be guiding engineering and operations) failed to grasp is that to “feed” this High Capacity Transit you need more not less bus service. But these are the same politicians that said, “when people are out of work bus ridership will increase” DOH!.

    It would be nice if this could be a wake up call to how stupid East Link really is. Can’t truncate service because it’s a milk run. Super expensive to build and the ridership models and growth projections are completely bogus. Central Link didn’t even take away packed to capacity traffic lanes the way East Link will. I can see why ST is paniced to get round 3 of their sallaries funded before that happens. The real killer will be if they complete East Link and then the inevitable come to light; the floating brigde is sinking just like every other pontoon bridge the State has ever built because cheaper now outways lifetime costs of building a real bridge.

    1. If you are talking about the I-90 bridge literally sinking, I think the state has learned from its past mistakes. If the response to the Tacoma Narrows Bridge disaster is any sort of direct corollary, then chances are that the I-90 floating bridge under the wheels of your car is the safest floating bridge in the world. The fact that they will be building billions of dollars of light rail where the express lanes are no doubt raises the stakes that much higher. It also gives them an opportunity to make darn sure that this bridge is so well engineered that it will never go down.

      1. If you are talking about the I-90 bridge literally sinking, I think the state has learned from its past mistakes.

        Obviously not. The Hood Canal bridge is on a 25 year rebuild schedule. That’s becauce when it sank they only rebuilt half of it and reused the bits that were still tied to the dock. Sinking isn’t something they engineer for. It happens when there’s a big storm. It’s worse when you have a big storm during a construction project. Absent catastropic events they slowly sink as WSDOT keeps slapping concrete on them. 520 rides 3′ lower than when it was launched. The I-90 center roadway was built 1989. It will be 34 years old when East Link opens. It’ll have, if trains don’t prove to be harder on the old girl than cars, about 20 years until it’s going to be disaster in service like the viaduct is right now; hasn’t collapsed yet.

    2. “What politicians (not the best people to be guiding engineering and operations) failed to grasp is that to “feed” this High Capacity Transit you need more not less bus service.”

      The maps above are in fact feeders to high capacity transit. And they’re frequent like feeders should be (“more bus service”), which is what maximizes the ridership and usefulness of the network.

      The complaints about Link being slower than the buses come from one specific area, namely Federal Way and Tacoma. And I agree it’s an issue: it’s not clear whether the buses should be truncated there. The primary reason for this dilemma is Link is limited to 55 mph and the freeway is 65, and you can only go so far before the difference becomes apparent. The equivalent distance of Federal Way in the north end is Everett, and in the Eastside it’s Snoqualmie. East Link goes half that far, and for north Link that’s the very edge of the furthest proposals, but south Link they want to extend far beyond that to Tacoma, so of course it will take time.

      “Can’t truncate service because it’s a milk run.”

      What milk run? The 226 and 235 don’t go to Seattle anymore.

      “packed to capacity traffic lanes”

      Packed with cars. SOVs. A train can fit fifty people in the space of a car, and fifty times is sufficient benefit to justify converting the lanes. Also, the current bridge has no HOV lanes in the reverse-peak direction, and Link will be bidirectional full time. The reverse commute there is as big as the traditional commute, if not bigger, in case you haven’t noticed.

      “the floating brigde is sinking just like every other pontoon bridge the State has ever built”

      If the bridge sinks the cars won’t be able to use it either. That has little to do with whether East Link should be built.

      If you take the highest traffic, highest potential ridership places where high-capacity transit is most justified, you get downtown, the U-District, Ballard, Capitol Hill/First Hill/CD, and across the lake to Bellevue and arguably Microsoft.

      Jarrett Walker points to bridges as natural choke points , a place where quality-speed transit can have a higher-than-usual advantage in being more attractive than driving. He says Seattle has a lot of potential for maximum ridership because of our several natural chokepoints (Ship Canal Bridge, Duwamish Waterway, steep hills)… and Lake Washington is naturally one of them. Everyone hates crossing the bridge and being stuck in traffic, but the lake divides two affluent areas that have a lot of interaction between them.

  19. Why are the travel times so long? There’s no way a bus running along it’s own freeway lane should average under 25 MPH even with lots of stops. And the less “intensive” options with very few stops should not be averaging under 30 MPH.

    This was quoted from a previous post but it’s germane here. From the latestService Delivery Quarterly Report the average speed for ST Express (Revenue hrs/Revenue hrs operated) is 22.5 mph. For Central Link it’s 18.6. Sounder is the “express” service at 31.5 mph. Gee, ya think stop spacing has anything to do with this? BRT on 405 has widely spaced stops. That’s a plus. There is no political pressure to torture the route such that it favors developers contributing to campaigns, +2 (well, except for leaving the freeway and routing through Renton).

    1. I think taking a raw average isn’t helpful in all scenarios, because not all ST Express routes are created equal. The 512 and 574, for example, stop at pretty much all (or nearly all) freeway flyer stops and nearby transit centers, dramatically hindering average speed. The 578 and 594, however, provide a very fast off-peak connection from Federal Way and Tacoma because they don’t make a single stop in between those destinations and Seattle. Puyallup and Lakewood don’t get a great average speed because the 578 has the stops in Sumner and Auburn, and the 594 has the 705-pac avenue routing.

      Taking the average for Link is very helpful, however, because (with exceptions along certain segments) stop spacing is very regular and every stop is served by every train (unlike with ST Express, a fully completed Seattle-Tacoma spine will have 15-16 stops between TDS and downtown Seattle).

      1. I think taking a raw average isn’t helpful in all scenarios, because not all ST Express routes are created equal…
        Taking the average for Link is very helpful, however, because (with exceptions along certain segments) stop spacing is very regular

        An average speed of 21 MPH may not sound like much, but that is fast for the city, and blazing fast for urban transit

        The average speed for ST express is just that, an average. You can’t say every route will have that speed but on average that’s what you can expect. My curiosity in making the calculation was originally prompted by a comment that ST Express on 405 ought to be way faster than 26mph to SeaTac. No, 26mph is, on average, what you’d expect for that route. It’ll still be blazing fast compared to Link that wanders hither and yon with a transfer after you’ve backtracked several miles.

  20. Its all about the transfer… reliable, frequent and convenient…

    The trains should be reliable, but the feeder buses have to be also, so give them bus lanes. Making them more frequent will help with the reliability too, if one doesn’t show at least the next one is in 5 minutes. The transfer needs to be super convenient, ideally you shouldn’t have to cross the street to the bus stop, the bus stop is in the station or the station has a foot bridge or tunnel to the other side of the street for the bus stop.

  21. Anyone want to guess what actually gets done under Peter Rogoff with respect to FTA guidelines on Cost/Benefit guidelines? http://www.fta.dot.gov/12304_9718.html
    As an example, using 30 year average annualization of Capital Cost, plus O&M, i-405 could cost anywhere from $12.73 to $21.26 per annualized rider.
    All of the truncation routes (eg: Tacoma bus to Kent DesMoines, to Link) have there own range of cost effectiveness which aren’t much to write home about.
    Spine Destiny will likely trump all the fancy math in the FTA documentation.

    1. That’s the beauty of the 30 year horizon for C/B analysis.

      Lanes and buses always come out ahead.

      1. And Directors get retired, unlike GM’s that get fired every few seasons when the wrong plays are called.

    2. Anyone want to guess what actually gets done under Peter Rogoff with respect to FTA guidelines on Cost/Benefit guidelines? http://www.fta.dot.gov/12304_9718.html

      Mic,
      Maybe a guest post to page two would do a lot to make this more clear. I’ve tried a couple of times to wade through the report you linked to. It’s lots of great info but awfully hard to dig out the parts that matter and make sense of it.

  22. It’s January 9 and still no formal opening date set for ULink Stations or First Hill StreetCar. When do we begin to worry that we might miss the March due date? I would think they would want to give 60 day notice to the public and begin rolling out ads fairly ahead of opening date.

    1. I thought my sharp prodding in comments would have at least embarrassed SDOT enough to announce a date or at a minimum update their website. The wagons have circled, so don’t hold your breath.

  23. Here’s a possible new role for ST: linking/extending rapid corridors beyond jurisdictional boundaries? For example, extending the A line to Tacoma and combining the E And swift. Transit that ignores geopolitical boundaries and serves corridor is better.

  24. The board may be studying some of these lines, but I hope they come around to better decisions in north and south King County. the studies may show low ridership. ridership should be the paramount objective.

    The SR-522 service needs to serve Lake City and Northgate, an urban village and urban center respectively; the NE 145th Street interchange area is not a good target for frequent two-way all-day transit service. Northshore riders will want to reach Lake City and Northgate and local transit network at the NTC. NE 145th Street is quite congested and will likely remain so; buses sitting in traffic provide little social utility. where are the pedestrians? put the frequent transit service there.

    The Link spine in south King County is projected to be slow. a fast frequent two-way all-day I-5 based service should be provided between Federal Way and downtown Seattle via the South 317th Street ramps of Sound Move and the center HOV lanes. it could use the Seneca Street ramp. no one has challenged the legality of the ST regional express service. they have restricted themselves. the interim may be 50 years.

  25. an East point. even the Route 554 type service is oriented to Bellevue, the Mercer Island intercept is needed for the peak service for Eastgate and Issaquah, and Sammamish. hopefully, it will be improved to be two-way and all-day.

  26. “The 550 only exists as a placeholder for East Link; which you’d think would be enough to show what a horrendous waste of a few billion dollars it’ll be.”

    How much ridership does a light rail line need to get before it’s “not a waste”? How full do the trains have to be?

    The same applies to buses. How full does a route have to be to be justified? How much above that is a really productive route? It seems like different people are assuming different things.

    I would say that a good bus route has a few people standing peak hours, is half full off peak (meaning one person in most double seats), and has at least three or five people evenings. Expecting forty people every run is too much, and doesn’t account for the fact that the route has to run full-time to gain some riders who won’t put up with part-time or infrequent routes. It’s the same principle as the last run is necessary in order for people to take the second-last run, so that they don’t fear getting stuck if they miss it or it’s a no-show. Also, some people get off before others get on, so they aren’t visible if you count just the people you count at one moment. The same principle applies to Link, although a bus is comparable to a single Link car, or maybe half a double car, and add a bit because of the higher capacity.

    So if Link has five people when it gets to Lynnwood evenings, I’m not really worried about it.

  27. Thanks for sharing this. I hadn’t seen the meeting yet, and had been wondering about this subject.

    I think that what Mr. White was referring to with “half the NIMBY-shed” is that 145th is half Shoreline and half Seattle (with some measures of WSDOT and King County ownership mixed in for good measure). This was part of the reason why Shoreline mounted an all-out effort to ensure that this was the location of the station (less opposition, as only half of that area is in Shoreline, with the freeway to the west) and not the more-logical (along with a North 130th station) 155th location, where the infrastructure (sidewalks, bicycle lane, nearby parking lot) already existed. As I heard one official say, though, this (a 145th location) was the only way to get 145th fixed up (yes, I’ve written this before).

    A lot of good points re: Lake City Way! One of my favorites of the potential ST-3 projects is the Ballard/UW line, as: (1) this segment has been heavily used for decades; and (2) not everybody is going to downtown Seattle, and this offers options for those going from Ballard to the north as well as from the north to Ballard. Your discussion suggests that another great extension line would be from the forthcoming Roosevelt station to follow Lake City Way as far northeast/east as Bothell/Woodinville. Too bad that didn’t make the ST-3 list.

    PS-

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