Downtown Everett (Wikimedia)
Downtown Everett (Wikimedia)

This summary of Snohomish County’s ST3 feedback is the fourth in a series of ST3 feedback summaries. See our previous coverage of Pierce County, South King County, and Seattle. Future installments will be East King/North King (minus Seattle), and Stakeholder Organizations. 


Mukilteo Mayor Jennifer Gregerson
Mukilteo Mayor Jennifer Gregerson

Mayor Jennifer Gregerson’s letter states that her city’s highest priority is finishing ST2’s Mukilteo Station Multimodal Access project, which has been delayed and is due to be completed in 2019). Beyond their Sounder Station, her letter supports 3 additional projects.

First, the letter supports Link to Everett via Paine Field and/or SR 99 – however with a caveat of firm opposition to commercial flights at Paine Field – and firmly opposes a pure I-5 alignment as a “short-sighted and poor choice”.

Second, Mukilteo supports I-405 BRT to connect South Snohomish County to East King County, which is a white-hot political topic at the moment given the introduction of Express Toll Lanes between Lynnwood and Bellevue.

Lastly, the city strongly supports SWIFT II, which requires project N-8 to improve 128th St SW over I-5.

Everett, Snohomish, Lynnwood, Mountlake Terrace, Edmonds, Snohomish County, and Community Transit’s letters after the jump.


Everett Mayor
Everett Mayor Ray Stephanson

Everett wrote a very detailed 6 page letter, with 17 bullet points describing their preferred alignment for Link from Lynnwood to Everett. In short, the letter demands the following:

Serving Paine Field. Though it would slow trips into King County, cost nearly double, and attract few net riders, Everett goes all in on Paine Field:

Any alignment that fails to serve the SW Everett Manufacturing and Industrial Center (MIC) is a failure in that it is inconsistent with the Vision 2040 Regional Growth Strategy and reinforces the status quo land use and commute patterns.

Intra-Everett Connectivity. The letter also opposes a pure I-5 alignment that “will serve those who park their cars in Everett and commute to jobs in Seattle”, and that doesn’t “support growth or density goals in Everett.” The letter then dangles a carrot to the ST Board – which has had a notoriously hard time siting Operations and Maintenance Facilities (OMF) for Link trains:

[The Paine Field option] traverses industrial land…where appropriately zoned land exists to site an operations and maintenance base.

No trains on SR 99. In the latest of example of “keep those disruptive trains away from us, and please build them yesterday”, Everett opposes Link on SR 99 on the grounds that it would hurt local businesses, instead preferring that Link cross SR 99 twice with intermodal stations connecting to Swift:

In our recent Evergreen Way Corridor Revitalization Plan process, the City and stakeholders determined that locating a light rail alignment in this corridor will have disruptive impacts to the business interests in this corridor…Opportunities for transit-oriented development in the Evergreen Way corridor north of SR 526 are fairly limited by well-established neighborhood land use patterns. This corridor is already served by frequent Swift Bus Rapid Transit and Everett Transit local bus service. Our preferred alignment will have a station located at two intersections with Evergreen Way (at Airport Rd, and at SR 526) where access between…modes can be provided.

Fewer stations. The letter makes the case for reducing costs to help pay for Paine Field by removing a Downtown Everett station near Rucker and Pacific, instead using I-5 and then Broadway to approach a single stop at Everett Station:

In our recent conversations with Sound Transit staff and consultants, it is clear that the top priority for refining the alternatives is to reduce capital and operational costs. We believe [our preferred alignment] reduces costs…by eliminating two stations…These included a station on Evergreen Way in each option, and a station on Pacific Avenue…We suggest that the northbound approach to Everett Station be in the Broadway corridor.

A package large enough for North Everett. Stephanson closes the letter that any package be scaled to include the Downtown Everett to North Everett extension, for a total Lynnwood-North Everett cost of roughly $6B:

We recommend a finance package that is large enough to complete the system and robust enough [to include] the extension [to North Everett].


Though outside of Sound Transit’s taxing district, Snohomish Mayor Karen Guzak wrote to the Board in support of Everett’s preferences for Link to North Everett via Paine Field.


Lynnwood Mayor Nicola Smith
Lynnwood Mayor Nicola Smith

Mayor Nicola Smith’s short 1-page letter packs a punch, making four main points.

Complete the spine. The letter argues for prioritization of the Tacoma-Everett spine when “available funding [results] in trimming a number of potential projects.”

Serve Paine Field. 

Lynnwood has a strong preference for route N2A that will run from the Lynnwood Transit Center through the Lynnwood City Center and Regional Growth Center to Everett via Paine Field. While acknowledging this alignment is longer, the benefit of direct access to one of the largest concentrations of employment and planned airline service at Paine Field far outweigh the additional cost.

No stations at 130th or 220th. Immediately after asking for a longer alignment between Lynnwood and Everett, the letter asks for fewer stations south of Lynnwood in order to speed trips to Seattle.

We question the cost/benefits of adding stations at 130th and 220th in Lynnwood Link as part of ST3. Potential ridership increases are insignificant, and each stop will add travel time to Lynnwood, and ultimately to Everett. Potential demand could be handled by rerouting bus hours that will be freed up when Lynnwood Link opens.

Build faster. 

We encourage Sound Transit to find ways to expedite the delivery of projects. It will have taken 15 years from voter approval to complete the Lynnwood Link extension in 2023. ST3 should proceed on a faster track.

Mountlake Terrace

Mountlake Terrace Mayor Jerry Smith
Mountlake Terrace Mayor Jerry Smith

Mayor Jerry Smith’s letter supports Link to Everett via Paine Field (sensing a theme here?), and voices strong support for the only two projects within Mountlake Terrace, namely a second parking garage at Mountlake Terrace station and the deferred infill station at 220th St SW (which would serve 3,800 jobs, primarily Premera employees). Unfortunately, between the two, the letter says that the second parking garage is preferred.


Edmonds submitted two letters to

Edmonds Mayor Dave Earling
Edmonds Mayor Dave Earling

Sound Transit. Mayor Dave Earling’s letter supports Link to Everett via Paine Field and the deferred Edmonds Permanent Station project. He also supports the second Mountlake Terrace parking garage, though he hedges that better east-west bus connections serving the station could be a better choice. He also asks that the Lynnwood Link alignment be built in a way to facilitate the 220th St SW station, even if the project isn’t included in ST3.

The second letter (a joint letter from Mayor Earling an Council President Kristiana Johnson) says only one thing, in case there were any ambiguity, that “the overwhelming consensus has coalesced behind a preferred alignment to Everett via the Paine Field industrial area.”

Snohomish County 

Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers
Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers

New Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers’ letter is relatively short at two pages, but it is attached to 38 pages of entertaining revisions in which Somers resubmits Sound Transit’s project evaluation templates with redlined Track Changes. Beyond expected priority support for Link to Everett via Paine Field, the letter mostly urges support for Sound Transit to make $88m in capital contributions to the 164th St SW and 128th St SW widening projects. These projects would add transit, walking, and bicycling capacity to existing I-5 overpasses, but by also preserving general purpose capacity, some have charged that Snohomish County is asking Sound Transit to pay inappropriately for road widening. Somers’ letter makes a spirited defense of the projects on station access grounds.

Emmett Heath
Community Transit CEO Emmett Heath

Community Transit 

Community Transit CEO Emmett Heath’s letter begins by noting that CT’s  Long Range Plan is entirely predicated on the assumption of a completed spine to Everett, with a comprehensive network of feeder service and 3 SWIFT lines. The letter echoes Somers in asking for ST’s $88m capital contribution the the 128th St SW and 164th St SW overpass projects, noting that CT plans SWIFT lines over both roadways.

The letter also requests that Sound Transit include bus/rail integration in its proposed System Access program:

While transit is mentioned in the project description, the emphasis appears to be primarily on bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure. Given that most riders will access LRT via bus, [this project] should include transit priority treatments on roadway approaches to congested stations that facilitate effective integration of bus and rail. [emphasis mine].

208 Replies to “Snohomish County’s ST3 Letters”

  1. Not everybody commutes to downtown Seattle!! I don’t get why this blog is so opposed to Paine field. It’s more expensive and adds time – but it’s a huge employment center that deserves light rail.

    1. I live in downtown Everett and commute to Boeing at Paine Field. My current bus ride is 30 minutes in the morning, 40 in the afternoon. I would love to see a quicker commute via light rail.

      1. You could spend a lot less for a much faster bus ride. The result would also be a more frequent bus ride than light rail would ever be.

      2. Where exactly would you put the station at Paine Field to make your commute any easier or faster?

        If it goes to the main entrance to Paine Field to serve a potential commercial flight center, it won’t go anywhere near Boeing.

        If the station is at, say, 526 and Airport Road, it is going to be a 20 minute walk from the station to the Boeing entrance gate because Boeing isn’t going to alter its entrances to serve anything other than its parking lot.

        If the route is curved all the way north to serve the Boeing parking lot, it means getting to Everett is going to be a diversion, and the line would really be better off going to Mukilteo instead, so you would wind up taking Sounder then light rail, and you would only be able to do that at four times per day, peak period (due to Sounder’s very limited schedule) so ridership would be terrible.

        If Boeing wants to have light rail service it is going to have to make some adjustments in its arrangement so that it is easier to serve with a light rail line. Currently, the main entrance is a long way from anything else that is worth building a light rail line to.

      3. You’re right, there isn’t really a good place to put the station to help me out (unless they placed it right at the gate, which would meet my selfish interests but not be beneficial overall). I guess I hadn’t really factored in the station location.

      4. Thanks for your comments Curtineer. I really appreciate your input — I find it very refreshing.
        I think what you just went through is very common, and will occur quite often if folks keep an open mind and find out about the details (like you did). People hear about a project and think “Great, that will really improve my commute!”, but once they get into the details, it just doesn’t work. Either the station location is wrong, or it takes too long, or it is too infrequent or the transfers stink. Traffic sucks and there is a great interest in better transit. But the answer is not the spine (in any form). It delivers too little for too much money.

      5. It’s a problem with a number of highway oriented facilities like this.

        Nike could be a great MAX customer in Portland. Too pad there’s two square miles of parking and a moat (rumor has it it also has moat monsters) between anywhere else and the Nike building.

        Adidas put their USA headquarters building on TriMex bus route 35. Not even a fence between their building and the street, let alone vast parking areas and a moat. It’s vastly easier to serve with transit, but also not as well protected. It shows a difference in a European industrial philosophy and a USA company.

        Some sort of cross platform timed transfer at Mukilteo to a New Jersey RiverLINE type operation on Boeing’s already existing railroad branch might work decently. It would be best with Sounder North going in both directions though.

      6. It’s not so much protection as “Successful companies have a palace-like campus because that’s what everyone wants to have” and “We need parking to recruit and retain employees.”

    2. The problem is that employment is dispersed. Employment density is very low. So people will have to take buses after taking a train. It doesn’t make sense to spend billions just so they spend a little more time on the train and little less time on the bus (especially since the bus ride can be just as fast).

      That is just my assessment. I don’t speak for the blog itself, and I don’t know if the folks in charge of the blog oppose the Paine Field alignment or Everett light rail in general (like I do).

      1. “Buses can be faster.” Buses on I-5 every single rush hour cad be faster than a lot of things. Except stuck in traffic, time advantage over a slug goes away. Rail under discussion is not streetcars.

        Single bus on fully reserved right of way can run fast as a train, by the stopwatch. But every additional bus needs increasing following distance as speed increases.

        So same passenger load on buses means same speed same load. Meaning that each group of buses can’t enter a section before platoon ahead clears. Pretty much like the DSTT.

        As for ridership, it’s right to say that a bus line stuck in traffic will always have ridership too low to justify trains- because no reason anybody will ever have any reason to move where transit = traffic jam.

        Everett won’t be a dying mill town forever.


      2. We have nowhere near the bus saturation point on any point where it matters. The DSTT is the exception, and it functioned just fine when it was just buses and boarding didn’t involve payment. Not that the free ride area was a good system (it wasn’t). but you could achieve the same thing with off board payment (like the train). Or gates (which the tunnel was designed for). But again, there is no area outside of the tunnel where this really is an issue. It certainly isn’t on the freeway. A three second gap (i. e. very safe distance) means a bus every three seconds, or 20 a minute. That is a lot of buses.

        Oh, and it is much cheaper to get the buses up to speed than it is to add a brand new rail line.

      3. Also curious. Only reason I wouldn’t use term “Spine” is same reason we’ve got more than one (now blocked and motionless) freeway. More like major arteries, and like them, served by capillaries.

        It could be true that by the numbers, there’ll be more car travel throughout the region than train travel. But starting as WWII ended, people had seen enough of that situation to demand precisely massive (temporarily) high speed urban roadways.

        But easy question: If “Spines”, “The” or more, aren’t needed: Why are there so many cars blocking exactly same linear pavement that LINK will follow? Shouldn’t cars with no fixed route start dispersing away from hundred percent likely blockage?

        Like I said, just curious.


      4. “there is no area outside of the tunnel where this really is an issue. It certainly isn’t on the freeway. A three second gap (i. e. very safe distance) means a bus every three seconds, or 20 a minute.”

        I was at Latona yesterday at 4:30pm contemplating taking a 512 downtown, but when I looked at the freeway the cars were packed and stopped southbound. I believe this happens more or less every day. Since I thought the Aurora lane closures were still underway and the 71/72/73X would inevitably be bad, I walked to University Way and the 43.

        So the thoroughput on freeways is not always twenty buses a minute, but sometimes one a minute or less. That’s one of the reasons we’re building light rail: essentially, it avoids widening the freeway or building another freeway. The $5 billion cost of a line needs to be compared to the $5 billion cost of a freeway, not to zero. In Snohomish County I-5 may be less congested than in King County; I don’t know, but at least in some places putting more buses on the freeways is not an effective option.

      5. I think we are talking about two different issues, Mike. One is congestion caused by regular traffic mixing with buses. The other is congestion caused by too many buses by themselves. In other words, the buses can’t cover the load necessary because they need to allocate enough room between them (at speed). The first is a genuine concern, discussed in great length here, with many solutions (HOT lanes, HOV3+, making the freeway wider, etc.). The second is what I think is preposterous for the demand we see around here. A bus only lane can carry enough people to serve every stretch that doesn’t have a light rail line planned for it (as well as some that do).

    3. Simply put, meandering rail lines through industrial areas with free parking to reach a major employer whose shift times would make running connecting buses in other parts of the region difficult is not an attractive investment.

      If you have ever ridden the Tasman segment of VTA light rail in Silicon Valley, it would be stunningly apparent. It meanders through the same kind of land use – and if you remove the Caltrain connection riders, trains would be empty even after 20+ years of operation.

      1. Easy one. After alien phaser-fire took out the orchards that kept San Jose under Earthling control for so long, body-snatcher type creatures landed their warcraft, which resemble huge white unmarked buses, and began constructing whole neighborhoods out of captured Terran home magazines.

        Also fact that humans couldn’t stand these places made these places cost a fraction of the Galactic Value-Indicating Units of South Lake Union.

        Meaning that invisibility of the average Zorg explains mistaken belief that trains are empty. Also, in Warped time, 20 years to them is 30 second Alien-Bus-Imitation-Lines headway.


      2. VTA light rail’s rush hour looks like Link’s at 8:30pm. And Tasman Blvd is where San Jose residents commute to; it does nothing for Santa Clara residents who live a mile or more away. But while Tasman Blvd is a questionable location for the line, it is not excessively curved. It’s a reasonable way to get from the middle (the area around the sport stadium and convention center) to downtown SJ or Mountain View and Caltrain; the problem is it drops to half-hourly.

        As to how the area compares to the Everett Industrial Center, a small part of it is similar (three stations from Lockheed Martin to Bayshore/NASA), and west of that is highways which it would inevitably have to cross if it wants to get to Mountain View, but other parts of the line are breadbox office buildings with thousands of employees. Since the industrial area is small and straight on the way to Mountain View, I would call it less of an impediment or waste than the Everett Boeing detour.

      3. You’re right that Paine Field detour is a worse idea than Tasman, Mike. I’d also observe that half-hourly light-rail service from a transit agency (VTA) with local sales tax funding and a hugh amount of state funding is indicative of badly performing the line is! There are several VTA bus routes that are more productive!

    4. If Paine Field wants light rail, it should be served only by a spur off the main line and paid for by a local improvement district, which would largely fall on Boeing’s shoulders. Besides that, the last mile issue between the station and work areas is a huge hurdle, as is the shifts that Boeing uses (which don’t encourage any midday boardings). Not to mention that most of Boeing’s workforce is from northern and eastern county, which is not part of the district and will probably continue to have one-seat express buses directly to the plant.

      Also, skipping downtown Everett is not a good idea. It would be awkward to integrate with a northern Everett extension, but is absolutely necessary given how far Everett Station is from the actual downtown.

    5. Build a spur off the “spine” then. Lengthening the trip for the vast majority going to Seattle is stupid.

      1. A spur is a brilliant idea. And since Sound Transit is talking about two lines on the north corridor, have the red line go to Paine and the Blue one do Everett. Trial a single-car run from Everett to Paine as well, and see if it has the riders.

    1. Support for rail to North Everett makes long term sense with the WSU satellite campus coming on board and increased enrollment at EvCC. Paine Field makes sense if you think that Boeing employees will actually use the service (I have doubts on use throughout the day with how the shifts are structured and numerous people commute from Marysville/Lake Stevens making them likely to just continue the drive to the plant) and with the inevitable commercial air service that will come. Forgoing 99 and reducing the number of stations is a bad idea, especially Rucker/Pacific which serves a major hospital.

      Part of the problem is that Snohomish County executives seem to see the light rail line as a commuter rail service rather than a true metro system, which makes them prefer fewer stations/I-5 routing rather than providing access to the main residential/commercial centers.

      1. “Part of the problem is that Snohomish County executives seem to see the light rail line as a commuter rail service rather than a true metro system, which makes them prefer fewer stations/I-5 routing rather than providing access to the main residential/commercial centers.”

        That’s my estimation too. I think the rest of the Sound Transit district needs to say, “you can have PF or no-99, but not both.” What they are asking for is going to be really inefficient and those of us downline, who want a metro, will suffer with longer headways … unless trains are turned back at Lynnwood.

        Everett folks should take a quick trip north to the Vancouver suburbs to see how much better a 99 alignment would by for businesses, land value, and growth,

      2. Actually they specifically stated several times that they don’t want an I-5 alignment. Instead they all support a Pane Field diversion.

        Neither is remotely as good for transit as an SR99 alignment would be though.

        However, given how the ST board usually reacts to local leader’s letters, it looks like that ship has sailed.

      3. Isn’t that exactly what Link is up north of Seattle, a commuter rail service akin to the DC Orange line as it leaves the city and runs out to Reston?

      4. >> Isn’t that exactly what Link is up north of Seattle, a commuter rail service akin to the DC Orange line as it leaves the city and runs out to Reston?

        Sort of. But there are a few significant differences:

        1) This goes out much farther. The Orange Line extends less than ten miles (or less than SeaTac or Lynnwood). The farthest the DC Metro goes is about 17 miles (on the red line), or bit farther than Lynnwood. Everett Link would extend over ten miles farther. It is more like running a line to Baltimore (if Baltimore was much smaller).

        2) While the Orange Line extends farther than it had to (in my opinion), it did pick up a lot of high density places along the way. But the biggest difference is:

        3) Most of the central city is covered. If you look at a map of the DC Metro (, it is pretty obvious that 90% of the stations are in the beltway, and that most of that area is covered quite well. There are exceptions (Georgetown didn’t want the subway) but most of the city is covered, and it really doesn’t extend that far from town (the exception being the red line).

        The last point is the key one, in my opinion. I think it is silly for Everett to spend billions on a light rail line, but I don’t think it is the worst thing in the world. What is crazy is fixating on the completion of the spine before the central city (Seattle) is anywhere close to being complete. That is the part that is crazy, and nothing like what DC (or most successful subway systems do).

      5. Oh, I 100% agree with you on this whole spine idea… in fact, I think lines like UW-Ballard and stations like First Hill and 520/Montlake should have been built before Link was extended to Bellevue, much less to (seemingly) Bellingham ;). But, that’s all a moot point now of course.

      6. So, the other day, I happened to look up Yonkers (because of a documentary my brother told me about). I’ve never been there. A found out some interesting things. First, it has twice the number of people of Everett, or roughly the same number as Tacoma. But it is way more densely populated than both Everett and Tacoma. Not just the city itself, but it has a lot of high density census blocks that neither Everett and Tacoma do. There are areas that are basically like the dense part of Capitol Hill next to a couple dense parts of Capital Hill (i. e. the really dense areas go on for a while). It also isn’t that far from Manhattan. From these dense areas, it is about ten miles to the heart of Manhattan.

        The subway does not extend out to Yonkers. There are several lines that could be extended to reach it. There are dense areas along the way. It wouldn’t be that far (around four miles) and you could have good stations — stations next to dense areas — along the way. It would then connect into the biggest subway network in North America, and be a third the distance from the biggest employment center in North America (if not the world) than Everett is to downtown Seattle.

        But this really isn’t a priority for the area. No one is going to spend billions extending the subway to Yonkers, but they will like likely spend billions adding another line in Manhattan or adding another line to Brooklyn. In other words, there is no infatuation with extending it outward. They are focused on what will save people the most time, and that means a commitment to areas closer in. The people from Yonkers will have to take a regular train into town and transfer to a subway. Or they will just take the bus. Why a city like Everett (much less densely populated and much farther away to a much smaller city) thinks it has a better idea is really amazing to me.

      7. Sorry for all the typos on that last comment (that was painful to read). Hopefully the meaning is apparent.

      8. RossB I’m pretty sure the end of the Orange line is more than 10 miles from the DC city center.

        More to the point the Silver Line extends much further past Dulles into Ashburn.

        That said Dulles at least has substantial commercial airline service and with the exception of the two stations past the airport serves (or will serve) areas of higher density than the majority of the ST suburban stations. It still is a shitty highway alignment for the most part with stations in the highway median and will mostly act as commuter rail for the stations past the split with the Orange line.

        As for the Red Line at least Bethesda and Rockville are the sort of places that manage to generate all-day ridership rather than being sprawlvilles.

      9. Let’s also note that Alexandria Arlington raised the density around all four of their Orange+Silver line stations in DC. They went from areas that look like Aurora in Shoreline to look like Capitol Hill. They also have parking meters and paid parking garages.

        I’d be fine with the alignment if these Snohomish cities could show plans to replicate this level of development. I’m not familiar with their planning, but I’m not seeing it except for Downtown Everett. Without this level of commitment by a local government, their local NIMBY’s will keep most of these stations unproductive.

      10. >> I’m pretty sure the end of the Orange line is more than 10 miles from the DC city center.

        Yeah, I just realized I measured the other end of it (which is inside the beltway). It is about 12 miles from the far end (Vienna) to downtown.

        As to the Silver Line, it is way out there. But that is a recent addition, which gets to my other point. The subway doesn’t serve Dulles right now. There will be a forty year gap between building the core of the system and building parts that really aren’t that necessary. If the Silver Line was never built — if there was no service ever to Dulles, then it wouldn’t be that big of a deal. But if we never build anything besides a spine, we will be left with a huge mess. A sprawling suburban oriented subway system that doesn’t work for that many people because once they get into the city, they can’t get to where they need to go.

      11. Re Yonkers: it may be because New York City has eight million people so Yonkers is a relatively small and insignificant part of the metropolitan area that the city itself can easily ignore. Also, if the subway lines are already an hour long from Manhattan with dozens of stations, not many people will want to sit through the whole thing; that’s where they start looking for commuter trains or express buses. But Snohomish County is a fifth of our metropolitan area so we can’t ignore it so easily.

        “If the Silver Line was never built — if there was no service ever to Dulles, then it wouldn’t be that big of a deal.”

        If you never fly into Dulles you might think so. I’ve avoided Dulles because it has no rapid transit.

      12. Additionally, Yonkers has frequent commuter rail service (Metro North) into the center of New York City so it’s easy to get anywhere in the city.

      13. Other than the Silver Line extension to Dulles, DC’s not going to extend Metro further into the suburbs. They have a really big problem that is the core of the system has reached capacity. This is the same problem BART’s having, when adding suburban extensions and branches make core service worse. Both are looking to build an additional line through their downtowns.

        Re: NYC. I wouldn’t look at them as an example of funding priorities. The subway was going to be extended to Yonkers but once they rejected joining NYC a long time ago, those plans were pulled. They can’t even fund the completion of the 2nd Ave Subway. Meanwhile, the politicians there are proposing silly projects like a streetcar, foot ferries and an airport train.

      14. You guys are all stating the truth, but it simply reinforces my point. Yes, Yonkers has frequent commuter rail service as well as frequent bus service into the city. If demand for that is high enough, we can have the same.

        Of course Yonkers is a small part of the metropolitan area. That is my point! New York is huge! Demand is huge! Yonkers is like Capitol Hill, if Capitol Hill was on the other side of Northgate, and the entire area between Northgate and downtown was like Belltown. Extend the subway out to Yonkers and of course it will be ridiculously popular. More people will ride the new section than ride our entire line (and then some). Oh, and Mike, subways don’t serve counties — they serve neighborhoods. No set of Everett neighborhoods are anywhere near one sixth the neighborhoods currently served by Link, let alone the ones about to be served. There just aren’t any high density spot in Everett, and the handful of low (but not super low) ones are next to SR 99 (which ST wants to avoid). If you look at a census map without labels, Everett is hard to pick out — the population density is that low.

        Finally, Oran, I completely agree. But again, that is my point. New York is rich. Very rich. Yet new York struggles to pay for subway lines because subway lines are very expensive. Yet we think we can ask people with way less money to pay for a light rail line that will carry way fewer people and make way less sense even if it was free. That just seems nuts.

      15. Yes, Yonkers has frequent commuter rail service as well as frequent bus service into the city. If demand for that is high enough, we can have the same.

        That’s just it, we can’t have frequent commuter rail service! We have numerous cities that have grown up around highways with no viable existing train tracks to serve them. For Edmonds, Mukilteo, and Kent Valley cities, commuter rail is viewed as adequate and there is no movement whatsoever to build light rail to those places. But Lynnwood, Federal Way, and the like have no cheap rail option.

        Tacoma and Everett have rail tracks but they bypass both the airport (important to Tacoma) and Paine Field (important to Everett).

    2. Hard to say. No one has really done anything like this. BART comes close, but it hasn’t exactly been successful, outside of San Fransisco/Oakland/Berkeley. No one has built a subway line so far away from the city center and had much success with it. Lines like that carry very few people and run infrequently as a result.

      You could consider the Paine Field light rail line an independent system serving a fairly small, sprawling city. In other words, there are two lines — one serving Paine Field from both directions and one serving Seattle. They just happen to connect. From that perspective it is rather unusual as well. Cities that small and sprawling don’t usually spend big bucks on light rail lines. The ones that look similar to it are the ones that leverage existing rail lines. These function more like commuter rail in that respect, even if the pattern is more all day (or city to city). The River Line (Trenton-Camden) and the Sprinter Line (San Diego County) are like this. They both serve smaller cities that are close to bigger ones (Philadelphia and San Diego). But neither system was very expensive. Nor are they hugely successful (less than 10,000 people a day).

      In that sense, I think this would be unprecedented. I don’t think anyone has spent as much to serve an area so far away from concentrated employment or population. This is a huge experiment that they hope will work out well, despite all evidence to the contrary.

      It is possible that folks in charge understand all that, but they are hoping this will revitalize Everett. That might be smart. Who knows.

      1. With only one station, and long track connecting nothing but parking, we have enough evidence to know that this won’t work for any of their goals.

      2. As far as BART goes, Walnut Creek and Pleasant Hill are fairly urban at this point. There are many 6-story to 10-story buildings and expensive parking around both stations.

      3. >> Walnut Creek and Pleasant Hill are fairly urban at this point.

        Yet less than 7,000 people ride the train there every day. That is less than the 550 or the 41. I realize that both of those buses serve more than one stop, but not many (it wouldn’t surprise me if the numbers for just the main stop exceed those of this train station).

        BART really is a great case study in how density and proximity matters when designing a subway. Every station over 20,000 is in San Fransisco. Every station over 10,000 is in San Fransisco, Berkeley or Oakland. All the other stations follow that pattern (the closer ones have higher ridership).

        BART should have had a lot more stations in Berkeley and Oakland, and at least one more line there. Areas farther out should be served with buses. It was a grand experiment, and no should assume that the results will be different anywhere else.

      4. Not to quibble too much, but that 7,000 is just boarding. It’s not counting people leaving the station. These two stations are also next to each other. In sum, that’s about 28,000 riders for two stations — about 3/4 on what we see on the entire Central Link segment here today.

      5. Glen Park in San Francisco has about the same level of station activity as does Pleasant Hill. It’s also below 10,000 boarding on an average weekday.

      6. >> Not to quibble too much, but that 7,000 is just boarding. It’s not counting people leaving the station.

        Same with the numbers for the buses I mentioned as well as Link.

        >> These two stations are also next to each other.

        Yes, but there are a couple miles apart. Like most of the line, the distance between stations is so big that there really is no service that can be considered “shared”, the way that our line is. For example, Westlake has about 7,000 Link riders (and likely many more bus riders) while University Street has only about 2,500. But if Westlake closed, University Street would likely see their numbers increase, as people would walk to the other station. That just isn’t the case with Walnut Creek.

        >> In sum, that’s about 28,000 riders for two stations — about 3/4 on what we see on the entire Central Link segment here today.

        Well, no, it is about 14,000 boarders, or about 1/3 of a line that most people would consider a disappointment so far. But yes, it is still bigger than most or our line. It is more than the number of people that use the station in Rainier Valley, for example. I would consider that more of a failure for Link, rather than a success story for BART. Ridership on the 7 (which, to be fair, covers more than Rainier Valley) is much higher than the Rainier Valley Link ridership.

        >> Glen Park in San Francisco has about the same level of station activity as does Pleasant Hill.

        Glen Park is the lowest performing BART station in San Fransisco. It is about 1/3 of the average. I’m not sure why, but I can guess. First, it is not a very densely populated area compared to the other station. But I think more importantly, it is not a shared station with the Muni Metro. So unlike the really high performing stations in San Fransisco, you can’t go to the station and just pick the first train that gets there (Muni or BART). That is just a guess, though.

        If you did a graph with proximity to the urban area on one axis and ridership on the other, you would find a very strong one to one correspondence. Glen Park, like Rockridge in Oakland, would be a bit of outlier, clustered amongst other, similarly low performing stations. While not the worse performing stations by a long shot, the two Walnut Creek stations would probably fit just well within the slope. A station like El Cerrito del Norte, on the other hand, would be a bit of an outlier, as it performs better than most , but is a bit away. If there was better stop spacing everywhere, I think the numbers would be more pronounced (e. g. Oakland ridership would soar if it had more stations).

      7. Ross,

        You can’t just “go to the station and take whichever train comes first” in any of the Market Street stations. They serve quite different platforms between which there is no passage. If you’re going to ride BART you purchase a BART fare and enter the BART gate. Similarly with Muni, only it’s the Muni gate. And there are only four shared stations. If one is going from Civic Center to Montgomery, almost anyone would choose Muni because the trains come more frequently.

      8. RossB, “You could consider the Paine Field light rail line an independent system serving a fairly small, sprawling city. In other words, there are two lines — one serving Paine Field from both directions and one serving Seattle. They just happen to connect. ”

        Sound a lot like the Issaquah-Kirkland line, no? Especially if the only connection to East link is in Willburton

      9. What’s the threshold for “success”? What would we have to see in a suburban Link extension for it to be successful, justified, or indespensable? How many riders, how full trains, over what span of time?

      10. “Ridership on the 7 (which, to be fair, covers more than Rainier Valley) is much higher than the Rainier Valley Link ridership.”

        They are comparable if you ignore the riders going to TIB or SeaTac. Many of the 7’s riders are making intra-valley trips or going to Little Saigon, which is outside Link’s scope. Other Link non-riders are going to the U-District or Bellevue or Roosevelt where Link doesn’t go yet. As more extensions open, it will become more advantageous to go to the nearest Link station rather than taking a bus another way. Also, Rainier Avenue gets farther away from Link as you go south, so by Rainier Beach it’s almost a mile away. Many people walk to a station at Columbia City, but fewer at Othello or Rainier Beach. And some longtime residents still believe it’s unsafe to walk there. And Rainier Valley has a significant number of low-income people who rarely travel outside the valley at all, especially if they’re under 18.

        Much of your complaint boils down to Link not having stations every ten blocks in Rainier Valley. That would make it into a somewhat different kind of service, which would have advantages but also disadvantages.

      11. My complaint about the Mount Baker station is that they made it so hard for a transfer that few take it. You are absolutely right — because Rainier Avenue and MLK diverge, it often makes sense to take the 7. But very few ride the 7, then transfer to Link, because once they deal with the transfer, the faster trip just isn’t worth it. As for having stops every ten blocks, yes, absolutely. Unless you have some obvious reason why that won’t work (like a huge park or maybe a body of water in the way) you should do that. If you can’t justify doing that, then chances are the area isn’t right for light rail.

        What’s the threshold for “success” … ?

        In a word, Vancouver. System length, 42 miles, ridership close to 400,000. More importantly, the rail is part of a transit network that results in per capita ridership three times ours.

      12. So we shouldn’t build a line with ridership less than 400,000?

        You also have to plug in the fact that Vancouver reaches that level due to higher density and full-service station areas. That’s not politically possible here, but people still need to get around.

  2. The mayors appear to all want commercial air service at Paine field, but none are willing to articulate that.

    Everett giving up a station in town is starting to say the quiet part a little louder.

    Is Boeing driving, or one of the airlines?

      1. The residents don’t want more airplane noise, granted.

        The electeds would be pushing for better alignments if they felt the same.

      2. It isn’t just aircraft noise but also public safety (e.g. Allegiant Air), land use (potential conflicts w/ Boeing, how to deal with the need for transit facilities & rental cars) and transportation issues…

    1. Who really believes that people using Paine Field, should commercial service ever commence there, will ride the train to it but wouldn’t ride a bus? Really. Since the likely alignment will mean that almost nobody will actually be able to walk to the train from their home, everyone will have to take a bus or be ferried by car to a Link station. Believe me, if people in non-dense Snohomish County, with almost completely congestion free east-west travel, get in their car to carry someone to a plane flight, 95% or more of them will drive all the way to Paine Field.

      This supposed future “use case” beyond stupid.

      1. If you’re in Seattle or Shoreline, taking a bus to Link to Payne Field would be more attractive than taking a bus all the way, because buses get stuck in unpredictable traffic and are less frequent.

      2. “But Mike, nobody in Seattle would take a flight from Payne field; they’d go to SeaTac.” That depends on the flight schedule, price, and seat availability.

      3. Given the extremely low utilization (both less than 1,600 boardings a day) of the recently-opened rail connections to Oakland and DFW (both of which are many times more active than Paine Field would ever be), planning a Paine Field rail extension to meet up with a few commercial plane flights is inconsequential — if that ever even happens!

      4. Mike,

        I thought you were in the “let’s build efficient cost-effective transit camp”. Now you’ve entered tinfoil hat territory advocating for commercial flights at Paine Field patronized by Seattle residents.


        Al S,

        Thank you!!!!

      5. And Mike, you wouldn’t be “taking a bus all the way”. Link is going to get to Lynnwood unless the economy collapses five times worse than it did eight years ago. North of Lynnwood there is this almost unused-except-at-Boeing-shift-changes highway, State Route 525 to which any rationally placed terminal at Paine Field will be connected by a limited access roadway.

        Yes, right now it does not have a connection to the I-5 HOV lanes but there is plenty of room to add ramps. Subtract that $100 million from the six thousand million you want to spend on Everett via Painful Obsession Field and you’ll still have plenty of money for bus service.

        And anyway, I was talking about the people in Snohomish County. Other than a few who might live in South Everett, they will not take Link to Paine Field. And to put the cherry on top of the sundae, Everett now proposes to sacrifice its South Everett station in order to pay for Painful Obsession access. How truly magnanimous of them!

      6. I didn’t support commercial flights at Paine. I have no strong feeling either way on that. I was just just looking at it from a passenger’s perspective if flights were there.

      7. Joe, “more buses for PaIne Field”? Sure, as many as can be reasonably filled. I’d even say, “Be prepared to lose a lot of money overserving the area for eighteen to twenty-four months in order to build ridership.” But if it doesn’t start to show an uptick in that time, it probably isn’t ever going to happen. And that’s a possibility. It may be that there is such easy access to Paine and so much parking all around it that it will just never become a decent transit destination.

        Mike, I apologize for flying off the handle. You are not a traitor. But I still believe that both the north extension beyond Lynnwood and the south extension beyond Midway should not be made without either putting the thing on the ground along the Interurban ROW and upzoning a quarter mile strip along it OR running it on SR99 with a concomitant upzoning.

  3. I recently overheard a conversation outside the Fisher Board Room between the King County and Snohomish delegations.
    “OK, we’ll trade you a piece of crap alignment diverting out to Payne Field because we think it would be really neat to visit the museums more often, in exchange for your West Seattle underground alignment that costs a bazillion per rider because we know most of your politicians come from there”
    OK, that’s settled, let’s go vote!

    1. Oops, mis-spelled Paine Field. Maybe we should all learn how to spell it before we spend billions running a Metro out to it.

      1. I agree as a former military pilot and history buff, but the level of development and trips generated does not justify mass transit at the Link scale. I hope Director Rogoff can educate his Board in time.

      2. You’re actually proposing to spend a billion dollars more in order to visit a museum???? I hope that you just forgot the “/snark”.

      3. Mic;

        Since I’m now sitting at (my home) keyboard, I feel more comfortable responding.

        First, thanks for your service to America. Much appreciate. Hope you can take Island Transit Route 1 out to OLF Coupeville one day when the OLF is rocking (Wednesday afternoon next I’m told).

        Second, I almost if not already agree with you as to, “the level of development and trips generated does not justify mass transit at the Link scale”. I think without a great bus feeder network, the spine isn’t going to work. Happy to see transit agencies start a “Going to Boeing” PR project though.

  4. One big item missing from all the mayor’s comments is feeder service, especially Mukilteo, where the only all-day “feeder” service to the 512 is an hourly bus filled will loopy detours, that takes 40 minutes to get to/from the 512, and has no schedule coordination with the ferry, whatsoever.

    I won’t bother to rehash the reasons everybody already stated, above, why the Paine Field alignment is crap.

    1. Maybe they’ll now have a reason to put the 113 on a route by the Museum of Flight on its way to a Link station.

  5. Asking the train to divert to the middle of nowhere (Pane Field) and slow the train down to pick up almost no riders and in the same breath demanding 130th not be built so you can have a slightly faster trip to Seattle? Seems hypothetical.

    Sounds like Snohomish county wants a huge package, with a long, bent spine, lots of garages and road expansions galore. If they wanted to make the overall package big enough for all counties to build plenty, I wouldn’t care as much, but when they also say “if money is short, cut other projects to support the spine” it concerns me a great deal.

      1. At this rate, ST4 will extend light rail all the way through Marysville to my neck of the woods while neglecting denser areas in the city proper.

      2. Given that Everett’s map of its preferred alignment has an arrow labeled “future extension” pointing towards Marysville, that just might be the plan.

      3. Now that Marysville and Smokey Point are looking more like a suburb than an exurb, there may be a point in including them in the ST district someday. It will be increasingly seen as unfair that Spanaway, Bonney Lake, and Orting in Pierce County are in the ST district and have ST Express and the dream of future trains/BRT, while Marysville and Smokey Point in Snohomish County and Covington and Maple Valley in King County are left out in the cold. As to how it happened, basically Pierce County was the most persuasive, and Snohomish County probably didn’t foresee the amount of growth in Marysville and Smokey Point.

    1. That’s because Paine Field is upstream of Lynnwood, while 130th is not. Its a breathtaking case of not it in your backyard either.

  6. Oh, and the second parking garage at Mountlake Terrace is ridiculous. Does the may realize what traffic would be like on the local streets around the station, if that second garage were built, and actually well-used? In the meantime, the noise level at the existing garage is so bad you basically need to wear earplugs just to walk from your car to the bus stop (which could explain part of why the existing garage is so poorly used).

    1. Perhaps the better question we should ask about the second MLT garage is the value of spending $32M for a net increase of 280 parking spaces (500-space garage replacing a 220-space surface lot). That’s spending $110,000 per space of transit capital money to store cars for free.

      $32M would easily build a Swift-style BRT line deep into the surrounding community to help better feed the station. Or better CT feeder service. Or better bike and pedestrian connections. Or applying it to 220th Station. Almost anything else would be able to generate more than the 300ish riders a bigger garage would attract.

    2. If they want a second parking garage, then either build it themselves and make money on it, or up zone the whole area for 20 story buildings.

      I would not promise any garage unless it’s possible to build buildings twice as tall next door and down the street. When a garage is your tallest station area building, something is wrong!

      1. We could put a town logo or mascot on the P&R like midwestern towns have on their water towers.

      2. Zoning allows for 7 stories a few blocks from the station, but I agree that the rezone needs to be more aggressive. There are plans to build about 500 apartments a few blocks away from where the station will sit, but the area is definitely predominantly SFRs.

  7. Any line that does not include Paine Field would be a disaster. Glad to see so much support for it from the city leaders. Any other option would be a failure of common sense.

    1. Politicians are doing their best to ensure this line will be a disaster no matter what. Just like Federal Way Link, East Link… all them them will swerve and zig zag toward the hinterlands while evading spots that make the most sense. They couldn’t make worse choices if they tried.

      Once Link leaves the Seattle city limits it becomes a political punching bag. I cannot believe how ludicrous Sound Transit is being – they are supposed to be a planning agency and they are leaving all the planning to the politicians who clearly have no idea what they are doing.

      1. Sound Transit’s Board Members are selected from the elected leaders of the cities/counties of the tax district. Its hardly suprising that hyper-local politics are effecting this. These are politicians, not transit wonks.

      2. @Charles — Yeah, that does seem to be the problem. I am a proponent of an elected board, but I think the problem is that the elected leaders select a board made up of elected leaders. Why is that? Why doesn’t the county leader just delegate. Dow Constantine does not run Metro, why does he run ST? Why not just ask his Metro head to serve on the board. Other leaders should do the same (Emmett Heath seems pretty sensible).

        But I also agree with barman. There is no reason a board be so involved at this level. They should be asking hired experts to come up with a plan, and then see what they come up with. Maybe it isn’t the spine — maybe it is dozens of projects like what Heath proposed. Then the experts would have to explain why they chose that. There would be give and take, of course (the experts might want to run this on 99, while the politicians say that is a non-starter) but that would still be way better than what this is. I think extending this line any farther is crazy, but if you really want to extend this, then cut over to 99, even if you don’t travel on it (or go any farther). That would at least get you a connection with Swift and you wouldn’t break the bank getting there.

        I have a feeling ST3 will fail, and there will be a long overdue shakeup of the board.

      3. The mayors represent the taxpayers, and the taxpayers want a say in where the line goes. Other countries have a top-down approach which leads to a more transit-standards (and higher ridership) line, but here the public wants control on everything and wants to vote on everything their taxes go to, and some want to vote for initiatives that kick the funding out from under an already-approved transit service.

        “Once Link leaves the Seattle city limits it becomes a political punching bag.”

        And inside the Seattle city limits it’s not a political punching bag?

        The saddest thing will be if Link goes on 99 in Fife and Everett when it skipped 99 in north Seattle, Shoreline, and Des Moines. Let’s put stations were people can’t live, and not where they do live.

  8. It’s another batch of Santa Claus letters. Like a smart Santa that asks kids to justify why their wishes should be granted, ST should do the same thing. Furthering the analogy, it seems they want a longer toy train set that they probably won’t use if they got it. Have these officials ever regularly ridden light rail?

    1. “Have these officials ever regularly ridden light rail?”

      To best answer your question: probably not; there hasn’t been a Link ribbon cutting ceremony in Snohomish County to give them a reason to ride.

    2. “Have these officials ever regularly ridden light rail?”

      I get tired of these kind of questions because the real answer is, “We don’t know.” We haven’t asked them or counted how many take transit. Implying they never take transit is a false accusation if maybe some of them do.

      1. Some places in the US have told transit board members to use transit to reach meetings and hand them a transit pass — and then refuse to reimburse for parking! Does ST do this?

    3. Wait, have Snohomish County officials ridden light rail? What light rail? Like, how would they possibly do that?

  9. Consider how few years it took I-5 to pack solid from the Snoqualmie River to then miles past the Nisqually, might be good to think about both Paine Field and what’s beyond it. Same for Olympia.

    But I also think it’s ‘way past time to make anybody who says transit kills business prove it.


  10. Appropriately I am in transit today, ending at Paine Field. So I have little to say from my tablet.

    But 24 Feb is an open house for the Mukilteo Multimodal at Rosehill at 5:30 until 7:30.

    More tonight.

  11. While a survey from Sound Transit last year showed the I-5 alignment as the most popular alignment in the Snohomish subarea, the Evergreen Way alignment as the second-most popular, and the Paine Field alignment as the least popular, many politicians and special interests in Snohomish County keep pushing for the Paine Field alignment and do not appear to take any account of what many people want from Link.

    Compared to the I-5 alignment, the Paine Field alignment involves spending an extra $1.558-$1.865 billion for construction, spending an extra $19.86-$25.35 million per year for operations, and adding 10-13 minutes to trips along the spine, all for a gain of only 1,000-2,000 daily riders, which is a bus route’s worth of riders.

    (The Evergreen Way alignment costs less and adds less time than the Paine Field alignment, but it comes with a loss of 0-2,000 daily riders compared to the I-5 alignment.)

    Not only does it ignore the existing transportation corridor and bus riders on I-5 to and through Everett, it ignores the Everett Mall area on I-5 and its development and ridership potential, and it dodges much of the increasing number of lower-income households in South Everett along Evergreen Way.

    The businesses and jobs around Paine Field are too spread out for Link to serve properly. Shuttle buses would be needed to get riders from the stations to many of the businesses. Many people working there would still drive, since many live in the outer suburbs and exurbs of the county and using transit to go to Paine Field would not be advantageous.

    It appears that cities, politicians, and special interests in Snohomish County wanting Link to Paine Field are treating Link as an economic development tool first and a mobility tool second, which is the opposite of what should be done. There is also an overlap between groups wanting Link to Paine Field, and groups wanting commercial air service at Paine Field.

    Everett is the most prominent example of this, where it wants commercial flights at Paine Field, and wants Link to serve the businesses there. It opposes any light rail on Evergreen Way on the basis that it would negatively impact auto dealerships and other businesses located along it.

    Assuming subarea equity is followed, the Snohomish subarea likely cannot raise enough tax revenue to afford the Paine Field alignment and probably even the Evergreen Way alignment, especially when taking account of the other projects proposed for the subarea. Grants and leftover money likely cannot be enough to provide the additional funds needed for a Paine Field alignment. If the Snohomish subarea tries to use revenue from other subareas, the other subareas would likely object.

    The Paine Field alignment is very impractical and is not an alignment Sound Transit should move forward on. Sound Transit should focus on a more realistic I-5 alignment.

    1. Good news, subarea funds are now a muddy puddle to go fishing for cash. I think N.King would greatly benefit from a Pain Field alignment and would be willing to pay for at least half of it.
      BTW, spot on comment.

      1. Why would North King benefit from a Paine Field alignment? More significantly, wouldn’t Snohomish County benefit from a UW-Ballard line, or an SLU line, at least as much? If we’re going to shift money between subareas on the basis of shared benefit, it should at least go both ways.

      2. Paine Field International Airport will be much closer to fly out of than SeaTac for most residents north of the ship canal, and delays less. Plus you have all the world class museums to entertain the kids with.

      3. Hey, Mic! Your career background is best information I’ve hear all year! Because now, we’ve got a failure-proof way we can evaluate each others’ comments on transit. Question:


        Including whether choice of Everett LINK routing decides whether Boeing gets a contract. Promise, everybody. Every air-craft related point will hold double for transit. With every reference explained. This is gonna be great!


      4. [ot]
        I suppose an analogy would be a fleet of buses with hundreds of zones to serve over one Link station at Paying Field to show off how -….. er….. modern we are.

    2. “Assuming subarea equity is followed, the Snohomish subarea likely cannot raise enough tax revenue to afford the Paine Field alignment and probably even the Evergreen Way alignment..”

      I’m not sure that’s true any more. In a 15-year package, Snohomish’s greed clearly exceeded what it could fund. In a 25-year or longer package, a direct route to Everett looks more affordable. Paying for Paine Field might be a 40- or 50-year project.

      If Snohomish values Paine Field over having something useful in our lifetimes, that’s their call. The rest of the region can, and should, tell them to wait.

    3. “Everett is the most prominent example of this, where it wants commercial flights at Paine Field, and wants Link to serve the businesses there. It opposes any light rail on Evergreen Way on the basis that it would negatively impact auto dealerships and other businesses located along it.”

      Is there proof or just speculation behind these statements?

  12. I try not to editorialize too much in these summaries, but I primarily see Snohomish County cities’ unanimity as as Overton Window of sorts. They join together to make the same big ask that both they and Sound Transit know they can’t afford, and when they don’t get it all there will be a narrative that they are owed next time around.

    The Paine deviation is painful and underperforming by any standard performance metric, and no jurisdiction has adequately answered questions about the fundamental tensions between industrial shift work and all-day, frequent, high capacity transit. By Everett’s own admission (and by its own policy), they view SR 99 as a complete product that can’t be touched, leading to a poor choice between speed to Everett via I-5, or wandering through Paine to serve speculative future development that most the area’s cities oppose anyway. So if agitating for Paine threatens service to Everett’s core without substantial subarea transfers, Everett ends up lobbying against its own citizens and its own Downtown, which like Tacoma actually has the bones of a real city.

    The silver lining for Seattle, of course, is that the winds are favoring the largest possible package.

    1. I think part of the disconnect between desires and planning numbers is that regional leaders think that a proper airport in Everett is critical to Snohomish County’s future, but there is absolutely no benefit to coming out in support of an airport now.

      With fairly intensive air service to Paine Field, a diversion to serve it goes from highly suspect to very attractive.

      1. Ok, then maybe we can put in ST3 with a project delivery date of 2041, contingent upon commercial air service and significant station-area rezones. But maybe just maybe they’d object to that. ;)

      2. Thank you Martin. I really think there are serious, legitimate issues around commercial air service. Some of which are safety and some of which are very relevant to this blog – like land use and who is going to pay for the transit to service this terminal? Why should taxpayers who will never use this proposed terminal pay for serving it with transit when a major nonprofit stood up by Snohomish County taxpayers several thousand feet away is waiting until possibly 2019 for bus service? Who will lose out on a transit grant to fund the construction of the transit facilities? Oh and what will happen if this terminal comes in when it wants to expand huh?

        Listen I love airplanes. I love Alaska Airlines. But I don’t want the top spot in the paradise that is Puget Sound aviation restoration harmed further… especially by Allegiant Air.

    2. “The silver lining for Seattle, of course, is that the winds are favoring the largest possible package.”

      I’m not sure this is a silver lining. The more expensive the package, the harder it will be to pass anywhere that is not Seattle. Many people in Snohomish will not benefit from this, just like many people in East King will not benefit from the current proposals. You can probably convince some of those to vote for a smaller package, but it will be harder for a larger package. Especially if sub-area equity is not followed.

      To state more clearly, if East King money is used to pay for Snohomish (or other areas outside of Seattle), I would bet many transit advocates from East King would vote against it (I certainly would). And any use of the money for Seattle would have to be justified as to how it benefits East side residents (e.g., 520 link station sounds good. Link to West Seattle is not so good).

      1. I’m certainly in that boat. I’m an East King voter that has voted in favor of every Sound Transit ballot measure thus far, but if ST3 looks like it will include transfers or loans to Snohomish, South King or Pierce to build the spine, I’m a ‘no’. There’s basically no value to an East King resident of extending the spine and very limited value to the region overall. If those areas want to extend the spine, they need to waste their own money.

    3. Another option is to extend Link to 164th. That’s closer to Everett than 196th, and there’s a P&R that can be expanded if they want that.

  13. Hide-and-ride will happen, with or without an extra 280 spots. With the current garage filling up before the peak, it’ll just happen a little bit later in the morning. The demand for high-quality transit into downtown far outstrips any additional car storage capacity, thus an RPZ is the only thing that can truly stop H&R.

  14. It’s been 20 years since I drove a 60′ DSTT bus for Metro, so maybe required following distance has changed. Anything less than 6 seconds would get you written up.

    When they pulled you out of the wreckage of whatever stopped in front of you when its driver dropped their phone.

    Agree that DSTT could always have been run better, in other words, the way the world’s top engineers designed it. Whose point is that transit systems do not run, but have to be run by skilled and trained crew.

    And managed by people who cared about the difference between a healthy pumping Transit main than a dripping Water Quality drain.

    But one serious difference between rail and bus modes. Because rail can’t swing out of lane to pass, system has strong incentive to be sure it doesn’t have to. Since a bus can get around an obstacle, nobody official has any problem with letting it do just that.

    Or waiting ’til opportunity presents itself, like truck driver getting finished with whole delivery so the bus can also leave. Unless the truck stops next block.


    1. >> Because rail can’t swing out of lane to pass, system has strong incentive to be sure it doesn’t have to.

      I don’t think so. Seattle has two streetcar lines that are stuck in traffic, while the BRT line they are planning is going to have grade separation where it matters most (and the ability to add it when needed).

      1. South Lake Union neighborhood isn’t even completely there yet- though not referring to things like Mocha’s Cafe, my absolute lifelong favorite. Which used to be there and now isn’t.

        But when time comes, which form of transit, bus or rail, has stronger claim on its own lane- and the lane’s exact location already irrevocably chosen? Also, no arguments over how much the “BAT” idea will be allowed to get in the way of transit.

        Also easier to mark off lane surface with higher, sharper, and more effective cobblestones than a bus-lane could use? Though any serious plans for including buses in the transit only lane could allow smoother pavement.

        With intrusion more discouraged by every shortening of headway. The tracks have already won us this one. If First Avenue Connector funds can’t help here, its example can.


  15. I really like what Emmett Heath had to say. I do wonder what would happen if you got the three transit chiefs together to hash out a spending plan. Emphasize capital project spending over added service, but also consider service, especially service across jurisdictions. My guess is that you would have a completely different set of projects — ones that would move a lot more people. There would be a focus on making sure the buses could connect to Link, or just move without congestion in general. This means some substantial spending (like the projects Emmett mentioned). It would also mean extending Swift south (or RapidRide E north) as well as more express service from one small city to another (e. g. Tacoma to Renton). In that sense it would really be focused on what the organization was designed to do — not build a spine necessarily, but work across jurisdictions to build a better network.

    You would probably have a different set of projects for Seattle as well. It is hard to see how Metro would get excited about light rail with the same sort of connectivity problems that they had with U-Link. On the other hand, something like the UW to Ballard subway would be a huge hit for their planning folks — you barely have to tweak the routes at all to get great connectivity. The WSTT is an obviously great value. Guys like Mr. Heath would nod his head when the Metro chief mentioned the NE 130th station, and then quickly move on to the next subject (“Yeah, sure, of course, definitely. OK, I want to talk about something that is a bit tricky …). This would be completely different than the current organization, that seems to be oblivious to the obvious role that bus service needs to play for this thing to be remotely successful.

      1. Gotcha, so is the actual $1.2 B guaranteed, or just $125 for FY2017? I can only imagine the transit funding decimation that would occur should Ted Cruz or Donald Trump become President.

      2. Here’s the ST press release. It does say “potential” $1.1B. I guess they’re at a stage in the process with the FTA where they’re fairly confident? That said, you never know for sure until the check has cleared.

  16. I am massively pro-transit, but I just hate to see a low payback sprawling slow light rail system get created. Non geographic core king co politicians just don’t seem to get the land use component of transit planning. The non-99 alignments, the protection of car dealerships (sales tax vs. property tax revenue I guess?). It is very sad to see. I wish we could have a growth management act version 2 to lock down sprawl and stroads even more.

    The other shocking number to me is the high end proposal cost compared to the high speed rail cost in southern california $48 billion ST3 possible on the high end versus $68 billion for 840km hsr SF to LA.

      1. Ron, it’s true of suburban “KingCo” politicians too, with some exceptions, mostly in Bellevue and Kirkland.

    1. The big difference is that the CA HSR line (from what I understand) goes mostly through pretty empty areas of the Central Valley, reuses a lot of infrastructure that’s already there, and does mostly upgrades in LA and SF as opposed to adding a new line. Whereas ST3 will require a good amount of property acquisition is dense areas plus the associated problems of building not in empty fields but between houses and businesses.

      You can instead compare to NYC’s recent 1.5 mile extension of the 7 line for $2.4B dollars. Whereas the Ballard to UW line is $3 billion or so for 5 miles. So it all depends on where you build transit.

    2. When it comes to the cost estimates, remember what Joni Ernst said: “Optimism is not our friend” – With everything so preliminary, they overestimate everything

    3. Whether this is positive or negative change, don’t I remember some car lots and other things that used to be in South Lake Union?

      Any chance a major rail line will raise property values to the point where car dealers either go elsewhere or convert their property into more transit-related uses?

      Word has it, maybe ugly urban legend, that when a transit project starts looking like it’s going to buy property or compensate for lost business, some people will use possible losses as a bargaining position?

      Blind anything, including optimism is dangerous. But like any outlook on project, or life, blind pessimism can also get your possible success, or you, killed.


  17. There are three widely known options for getting from Lynnwood to downtown Everett: along I-5, (mostly) up SR99 and Paine Field. But there’s always supposed to be a “No Build” option in these Federally funded studies. While I think that there is a good argument for extending Link at least to Alderwood Mall, the HOV ramp at Lynnwood TC provides a very good bus intercept capability there.

    Many of us on the blog have questioned extending Link south of Midway, especially in light of the universal rejection of SR99 as a route to the south. I would assert that the same skepticism regarding extending Link to Tacoma is equally true if not more about extending it to Everett.

    I realize that not giving the ‘burbs access to the gushing flow of tax dollars that will be ST3 means that ST3 will not pass. But again, the same objection that Mike and Ross raise about LRT to West Seattle — most people will have to come by a bus ride that is relatively short on streets that are relatively uncongested and then have to transfer in a not very nice place (15th and Leary, probably) — is true for Ballard as well.

    So, since ST3 will almost certainly not have either Ballard-UW or a “Metro 8” however defined, what of critical importanct to Seattle would really lost by an ST3 failure, except the second downtown tunnel? What Seattle needs more than Ballard-Downtown, West Seattle-Downtown, and even Ballard-UW is the Metro 8. SLU, First Hill and now the inner CD are all growing rapidly. North Rainier could be a striking new Vancouver BC-like neighborhood with views over Beacon Hill and Mount Baker.

    It certainly needs the second downtown tunnel, but for buses, not trains. But the slow bus service which Ballard-UW would ostensibly fix could be eliminated by the city building a genuine BRT service across 45th and making auto-improvements in the freeway corridor on both 40th and 50th. Let those streets carry cars more effectively and dedicating two lanes on 45th to transit would not be seen as such an imposition.

    In any case, the lunacy at both the north and south ends of “Spine Destiny” gets ever more manic. The local officials of all the municipalities only see a big honkin’ pot of money to spend. The East King subarea should be very skeptical that it will ever get any “loans” back. Very skeptical.

    But the SoundTransit Board clearly is not in the business of creating “collector-distributor” transit in Seattle which both of those projects would

    1. There will be a no build option because the EIS requires it. But extending Link to Alderwood Mall is not “no build”. No Build means minor improvements to the express bus network, whatever that means.

      164th would make a better compromise terminus than Alderwood Mall. It’s where the Lynnwood routes peter out now. It has an existing P&R which could be expanded. It has highway access to Everett and Mukilteo, and the growing Mill Creek and Martha Lake areas.

      1. Since I happen to live on it, I can tell you that there is no space to make “auto improvements” on 40th Street. There isn’t enough room on it for a bike lane.

      2. Mike,

        Sure, 164th would be fine, especially if a superior bus intercept more like Mountlake Terrace could be provide there. But no farther north.


        Did you not note that I said “in the freeway corridor”? The auto capacity of both 40th and 50th is seriously damaged around the freeway. For 50th it’s the capacity east of the freeway which is flooded by cars exiting from the freeway in both directions. Since 50th really isn’t a “through” arterial east of 15th it would behoove the City to reconfigure Seventh NE and the northbound NE 50th off-ramp to provide a non-crossing access to NE 47th and establish a one-way couplet on 50th and 47th as far as 15th NE. Forty-seventh would carry the eastbound traffic.

        NE 40th has that horrid bowl of spaghetti under the Ship Canal Bridge which destroys its carrying capacity. It and Pacific Street to the west both need to be reconfigured to link with Pacific Street to the east without all of those stop signs. There are elevation changes along 40th Street which could be leveraged to cross over the Burke Gilman trail in order to do that.

  18. Is it possible to defer the decision on Paine Field alignment beyond the ST3 ballot? ST3 can commit to LT to Everett, and budget for the highest cost option for the overall package size. But, defer the actual decision on alignment until 2020+.
    Wouldn’t it make sense to judge the correct alignment after North Link has opened and we can have more data on how commutes/traffic and housing/commercial growth reacts to line extension.

    It just seems premature to lock in a particular alignment. Can someone clarify what ST3 actually commits Sound Transit to delivering? I recall that for Move Seattle, the initiative was constructive with a prospective list of projects, but SDOT had the flexibility abandon proposed projects and add new ones in the future if they thought it was a better use of the money.

    I think everyone agrees that ST3 should extend deep into Snohomish county, but I’m concerned a decision made in 2016 may not meet the needs of the County when the line is actually built.

    1. The budget in ST3 would have to be high enough to cover Paine Field, but the corridor would be listed as “alignment to be determined”. Then ST could choose a lower-cost alternative, and the net ST3 cost would be lower. This is essentially what Kirkland is asking (budget enough for LRT but leave the door open for possibly choosing BRT pending further studies).

      1. Great, I like that – for both Everett & Kirkland. I’m still strongly in the BRT camp for Kirkland, unless the long range plane is to extend Kirkland LRT up to Everett…

        Maybe when the time comes closer, people can organize to ditch the Paine alignment, and instead reallocate that nice big budget to get great service through Everett & north Everett. Hopefully.

        Or 6 years from now Southwest has made Paine field its Northwest hub & a Paine alignment makes sense. We shall see.

      2. It’s up to Snohomish County residents to send ST a petition or somehow otherwise show that they are numerous and want a prudent light rail line, not an excessive one or none at all.

  19. Why is the readership of this blog so opposed to the lack of a 99 alignment? (Ignoring Pain field debates), I find the idea of the LT along I5 as a spine for long haul commutes (i.e to Seattle & Bellevue job centers, and onward to Seatac), and Swift lines servings as HCT lines both feeding LT and serving locale commuting needs as very compelling. This strikes me as the ideal transit structure – LT for high volume, long distance; BRT serving high density areas with high stop frequency feeding back to LT; and then regular bus service filling in the gaps.

    I am assuming that, over time, the Swift lines will evolve into BRT with true ROW where needed. But this is consistent with Dave Somers and Emmett Heath prioritization of N-07 and N-08 & CT long range plans.

    I think what frustrates me is this same logic isn’t extended to Pain field. Why not run the Link with N–02b or c alignment and ALSO include a top notchBRT loop serving Pain field / Boeing / etc. That seems like a reasonable carrot for ST to offer.

    1. Because an I-5 alignment will not produce high volume.

      You put the train where the stuff and people are, not where the vroom-vrooms are.

      1. But that’s exactly my point – you depend on HCT SWIFT lines to provide the high volume, not the 10-minute walksheds around LT stations.
        (And you can still build nice density immediately around the stations, even if they are by I-5 )

        The benefit of the I5 alignment with limited stations is rapid access to Seattle, which is conducive for 2-seat rides. If you depend primarily on the walksheds of a station generating the ridership, you end up with more stations, increasing travel time. In other words, you end up with the Rainier Valley alignment, which is getting even slower as they add in-fill stations … because, you know, there are stuff & people there that need to be served Directly by the LT.

        The blog readership is very familiar with the “Duwamish bypass” idea because everyone complains about how slow Central link, and how crappy it will be for commuters coming from south King.

        Snohomish wants rapid access to Seattle. They are, in effect, trying to build their own Duwamish bypass. A 99 alignment will devolve into another Rainier valley, with high demand for in-fill stations & slower speeds. SWIFT will serve the I99 corridor just fine, no need to duplicate it with Link.

      2. Marine Drive is not comparable to I-5, especially in terms of noise. It’s half the lanes, half the speed, so probably half the noise. Not really conducive to residential development.

      3. Lynnwood did zone its Swift stations for TOD, as did Shoreline with its E stations. That way you can get both riders within walking distance and the other corridor riders. Light rail is all about walking to the station: that’s a major component of it. Commuter rail is all about top speed, and people put up with stations in the middle of nowhere because the train service is worth it and they don’t want such large parking structures in their neighborhoods. Link would reach its maximum potential if we put both it and miles of medium-density housing along Aurora, Pacific Highway, and Evergreen Way. It wouldn’t be as effective as Capitol Hill or Ballard/Fremont because those are large two-dimensional areas while 99 development would be mostly one-dimensional, but it would be better than putting Link on I-5.

        An elevated line runs at 55 mph regardless of whether it’s along a freeway or above an arterial street. An “urban stop spacing” design would have a station every half mile (10 blocks). Link’s typical design is a station every 1-2 miles. So Link’s function on 99 would be to take people longer distances from those neighborhoods — not two-mile trips along the arterial. That is perfectly compatible with serving trips between two major city centers at other points on the line.

      4. AJ,

        The BIG difference between 99 north of Lynnwood and Rainier Valley is that 99 North of Lynnwood could actually be an LRT catchment area! If Lynnwood remained the primary bus intercept point the only people hurt would be folks in South Everett who would face a longer ride. The Rainier Valley is between the South King and Pierce riders and downtown Seattle. SR99 would only be between South Everett and Seattle.

        Everett Station is NOT a good bus intercept point but I suppose that you could move the BI to somewhere near Everett Mall if WSDOT would build an HOV ramp for the station.

      5. Back up a bit Mike…

        Light rail is all about walking to the station: that’s a major component of it.

        I think you got the second half right. I transfer to/from buses & streetcar from ST1 light rail. In part for “the fix” and joy of riding light rail. But also because light rail is very reliable schedule wise.

        ALL OF YOU: Please stop demonizing transfers to/from light rail. It’ll only burn all of us in the end.

      6. Transfers can be good, or bad.

        For a while, TriMet transfers at Clackamas Town Center with bus route 79 were timed so that the bus got there one minute after the train left, maximizing the transfer time.

        Some of the transfers between the 19 and 33 and MAX orange line are routinely in the 3 minute range. That’s vastly better, and should be the goal for something like this, where buses are going to act as Link extensions.

      7. I meant “all about” colloquially, not to exclude everything else. Light rail needs TOD so that people have a choice to live within walking distance. But it also needs good transfers sp it can serve a wider area; otherwise people more than a mile away are left out and have significantly lower-quality transtit.

  20. “LT for high volume, long distance; BRT serving high density areas with high stop frequency feeding back to LT; and then regular bus service filling in the gaps.”

    I think part of the reason is that LRT is not supposed to be for high volume, long distance. LRT is supposed to be for short distance, high volume, many stops. Commuter rail would be for high volume, long distance, few stops. If you take a look at most other places (Europe or the NE corridor probably being some of the better examples), heavy rail is used for inter-city travel while light rail and buses are used for intra-city travel. There, you’d have high speed rail from Seattle to Shoreline to Lynnwood to Everett with buses and LR in each city to feed it.

    1. Hmm, OK interesting, so it sounds like we disagree on the goal of Link. I have understood Sound Transit’s mandate as serving commuters first, with the County & city services filling in the local & non-commuter needs.

      Yes, heavy rail is superior for longer distance, and I’m a big fan of Sounder, especially South. But wouldn’t 4-car, 6 minute headways Link provide the needed capacity for decades to come? I honestly can’t image Puget Sound growing so much, and so dense, that Link’s capacity would be exceed for many many decades in the future. So we are not talking high volumes beyond LRT’s capacity.

      And Seattle-Everett is effectively one city, hence inter-city travel with LRT … heavy rail only becomes relevant when you start talking about moving people to Olympia or Bellingham. That is clearly beyond the boundaries of Sound Transit for the exact reasons you articulate.

      A 40 minute ride from south Everett to Seattle isn’t a long distance for LRT – as evidenced by the fact that N Sounder really isn’t that much faster from Everett, right?

      1. “Seattle-Everett is effectively one city”

        So why are they so keen on serving only parking garages? Shouldn’t they collect and distribute people to and from points of utility in this giant city?

      2. I believe the mandate of ST is to provide public transit in a way that will most impact the region’s transportation capacity as compared to its needs. Commute is definitely when the most amount of transit happens, but definitely not the only time and you will probably get more boardings on UW-Ballard on a Sunday than Everett to Seattle on a weekday.

        The problem with LRT for intercity travel is that it is slower because it trades off maneuverability for speed (I think there was a post on here not too long ago on this). This is needed if you’re maneuvering through streets and need to make tight turns. Not so much for going along I-5.

        And while Everett and Seattle may be part of the same metro area, that’s not a reason for them to require LRT. Look at the NY Metro area. Someone pointed out Yonkers higher up in the thread – Yonkers does not have subway connectivity to New York yet is more dense than Everett (and parts of Seattle). It does have commuter rail connectivity though and (I assume) it’s own local transit. Newark is the same way as are all the towns surrounding New York.

      3. Good point on PATH – I forgot about that one – though it’s pretty specific as to where it goes and not a general purpose line. Still, that’s the only exception for NY as far as I know – there’s no connectivity via subway to Long Island or to the north.

      4. NYC area transit is shaped by the private companies that built the initial systems, the public entities that took over the private systems, and political boundaries. No telling what transit would look like in NYC had it all been planned and built by the same entity.

    2. “If you take a look at most other places (Europe or the NE corridor probably being some of the better examples), heavy rail is used for inter-city travel while light rail and buses are used for intra-city travel.”

      People here are not willing to pay for two levels of rail service, so they’re making do with one in-between level. They did support Sounder, but only where freight tracks already existed. There are no existing tracks from downtown to Northgate and Lynnwood, or from downtown to Bellevue, or from downtown to Federal Way, so we had to build new rights of way which is expensive. People are willing to build one new right of way, but not two parallel ones.

  21. RossB does a particularly excellent job (to give one shoutout and neglect many worthy others) of showing the absurdity of link to Everett (via Paine field!!). It’s clear, though, that if we do ST3, we’re gonna get this as a part of it. No way around that.

    The important question seems to be how ST financing works for operations. The financial inevitability is that eventually poor ridership will have to lead to low levels of service, which will lead to poorer ridership still, and yet lower-quality service. The question is, will the core end up subsidizing service for the distant suburbs, and thereby cripple service in the core part of the network that could function well, or will they be separated financially, so that Seattle can buys lots of service and maybe use tax revenues for infrastructure improvements, while Everett and Tacoma enter death spirals of lowering service levels and degrading infrastructure?

    Neither one seems great. I’m more likely to vote for the latter, because Seattle could really be on its way to quality transit with ST3, and we’d have one solid success out of it. But if tax and fare revenues are shared, and turnbacks are not built, we’ll be stuck with excessive frequencies to a bunch of parking lots and woefully inadequate frequencies in the actual city.

    1. I agree that I’d need turnbacks at Lynnwood included in ST3 to get a yes vote. Lynnwood to Everett via Paine Filed off peak demand probably won’t warrant more than half hourly trains. If they want commuter service in Snohomish, give it to them. But don’t make us suffer.

      1. SeaStrap, on previous comment:

        Don’t you think that people dangerously late for work stuck in usual consequences of a miles-away fender bender on I-5 have been thinking for awhile about different ways to travel? And live?

        Guarantee, any 3 year old child of theirs who’s ever been on LINK already has their mind made up for their first transit vote 15 years later. Good way for transit to have political program and message ready for ST whatever number.


    2. It will have good all-day ridership to at least Lynnwood, judging from how full the 512 and other ST/CT routes are. Does it really cost extraordinarily much to go a few more miles that may be lower performing? The track exists, the trains are electric, and have only one driver.

      1. I believe they are building turnbacks at every “phase” of construction – there are turnbacks at Westgate, there are turnbacks at UW station, and I assume there will be turnbacks at Northgate, Lynwood TC, etc , as each station is the end of the line for a period of time. Presumably, you could run service that terminates at any of these.

        Looking at it glass half-full, I could foresee additional peak service that truncates to provide additional headway, say, from Lynwood to Seattle during rush hour.

      2. ST is building crossovers at many places to have both operational flexibility (ability to single-track) and to allow interim termini (e.g. SeaTac Airport or the Pine Street Stub), but for mid-line turnbacks you really need a siding or pocket track. This allows an out of service train to move off the mainline and layover. Without a siding or pocket track, you’re blocking the main line. This isn’t an insurmountable problem, but is really inconvenient and puts some additional safety restrictions in place.

        Link has pocket tracks at Stadium and Rainier Beach stations today, and will have them at SeaTac Airport, Northgate and Judkins Park in the future. There are plans for a pocket track at Federal Way TC

      3. A few more miles is one thing. Lynnwood to Everett doubles the length of the line, depending on the route chosen.

      4. ST’s earlier operating plan was to have Federal Way-Lynnwood running full time and Redmond Lynnwood only peak hours, with Redmond-Northgate off-peak. It later extended all East Link trains to Lynnwood believing they’ll be needed. But they can turn back at Northgate if ST changes its mind.

  22. Wouldn’t the I-5 alignment most likely use the spacious Interurban Trail right-of-way from Mariner P&R to Everett Mall? A station at the intersection of Everett Mall Way and the Interurban Trail would be more than 1/4 mile away from the edge of I-5, so redevelopment potential would be relatively decent, and the area already has some useful destinations.

    Also, is it written in stone that the line has to serve Everett Station rather than the heart of downtown Everett?

    1. The TOD potential of the Everett Mall area is an overlooked advantage of the I-5 alignment. Alderwood, Northgate, and Totem Lake are all seeing new mixed-use development, and with the right zoning so can the Everett Mall area.

      Routing Link in front of the mall to Everett Mall Way & Interurban Trail is greatly better than the current routing behind the mall.

  23. 1) Build the Paine Field route
    2) Build station bypass tracks at every station
    3) The Red stops everywhere between Everett and Lynnwood, including Boeing & Paine, and the blue line goes non-stop between the two.

    Travel time problem solved.

    1. The travel time issue is only part of the problem though.

      The primary Boeing access faces west with their entire facility to the east.

      The Paine Field access is on the east side, with no good route between there and Boeing’s primary access.

      You would be better off just giving it each a separate branch line.

      1. True. But this would be the compromise between Lynnwood that doesn’t want 220th and 130th (for speed) and Mountlake Terrace and Seattle that do want them (for access)

  24. One thing to remember in all this is that it is a long time to stand between Everett (or Tacoma) and Seattle. Sure, on the inbound trips the folks from distant stations will get the seats, but in evening at least half the people who board in downtown Seattle will be standing to Northgate. There won’t be that many folks get off at Husky in the evening. U-District and Husky will board about as many as deboard, so someone standing will probably continue at least to Northgate. A few will still be standing at Mountlake Terrace.

    1. It’s 15 minutes from Westlake to Northgate, or less than the time that people routinely stand on the 71/72/73X, 43, etc. Those can be twenty or thirty minutes. Each train can hold 130-200 people depending on the target comfort level, and there will be a train every three minutes at peak, and more if they upgrade the DSTT. So it’s pretty certain that there will be at least a few seats at Northgate for those who most want to sit. Even if at worst they have to stand all the way to Lynnwood, that’s 28 minutes and still less than the aforementioned buses — and less than the 51x and 4xx when traffic is worst (which is when you’ll most likely be standing). If it’s still standing-room-only at Lynnwood, then it would have a meltdown south of it with hundreds of people not able to get on a train.

      1. Well, the folks who ride the Double Talls mostly have seats today, both ways. Those are “cruiser” style buses with little aisle room. Their riders are not going to be happy to lose them. My point is that if the trains run all the way to Everett an ever-greater proportion of the Snohomish County riders will be standing on the outbound trips. No, nobody will be standing after Lynnwood; you’re right. But neither will the train provide any benefit to its riders other than not having to transfer at Lynnwood.

        But then, If either I-5 or Paine Field is chosen as the alignment, almost nobody will be a walk-up passenger; only those who Park’N’Ride. Anyone coming on a bus could just as easily ride it to Lynnwood in the HOV lane to make the transfer.

        Yes, the operational cost of the buses would be higher as they’d have to run “closed-door” between Lynnwood and whatever road crossing I-5 the bus serves. But six billion dollars — six billion dollars — can buy a lot of bus hours.

        So, why extend past Lynnwood when bus service north of there will be just about as fast and cheaper to provide?

  25. On Monday I did my bus trip in the future Swift II route, the Bothell-Everett highway. I took the 372 from Lake City to UW Bothell, the 105 Mariner P&R (at 5:29pm), the 202 to Lynnwood, and the 512 home. My biggest impression was that there’s a lot more housing than I’d been led to believe. I was told the area was like 99 but less development and lower density. Instead I found several large apartment complexes, some 4+ stories, and several clusters of houses almost next to each other. It felt like north Issaquah (between the transit center and the Highlands), both in the surprising density of housing and its utter unwalkability. Along with the housing there are office-park clusters, supermarket plazas, and big-box stores. It’s definitely enough to support a Swift line. It’s higher density than 99, especially in housing. Lynnwood has rezoned its Swift stations for TOD but so far it’s all still car dealerships and decaying big-box blocks.

    The southern connection between the 522/372 and 105 is not very good. The 372 goes through downtown Bothell to UW on the east side, then the 105 goes back through downtown Bothell and then north. I almost got off the 372 early to catch the 105 where Bothell Way turns north, but luckily I didn’t because the 105 goes a couple blocks north of there and runs nonstop in downtown Bothell. Nonstop but not very fast.

    Swift II is planned to terminate at Canyon Park, so you’d still need to take the 105 from there to UW Bothell to catch the 522. But that’s just a budget limitation. Swift II will be extended to UW Bothell when the funds are found. But CT, ST, Metro, and Bothell should look at connecting the routes better in downtown Bothell.

    But then another idea occurred to me. “Go west, young man!” With Link coming up to Lynnwood, could there be east-west routes from Canyon Park and Mill Creek to the Snohomish County Link stations so that people don’t have to go to the 522? I don’t know the area in between so I don’t know how feasable it is. But Swift II (or IV) will go from Mill Creek to Lynnwood Station (and Edmonds), so that’s one corridor done. I don’t know if it’s feasable to put something south of there to 220th Station or Mountlake Terrace Station. From the map it looks like the roads don’t go through very well. One thing to keep in mind is that east-west feeders would directly serve only those who live right near them. Others would have to transfer to a north-south route, making it a three-seat ride to Seattle.

    1. Filbert Road from Thrasher’s Corner, which turns into 196th in Lynnwood.

      164th is Mill Creeks route to the Ash Way P&R area.

      405 follows is the only other path from Canyon Park.

    2. Directly west of Canyon Park has Nike hill in the way, and then the Swamp Creek ravine before you get to Brier.

      Maybe a suspension bridge between the two.

      There you go… Gondolas !!!
      It would be an outstanding view.

  26. “Downtown Everett to North Everett extension, for a total Lynnwood-North Everett cost of roughly $6B” WHAT THE WHAT?!?!?! you cant be serious!! $6B for that!!!

  27. [ot]

    Importance for transit? Your comparison of local with express is good, Mic. But to me, for use up to caliber of Sounder, ideal transit vehicle itself above all needs ability to handle heat, dirt, abuse, and rough handling.

    Train used on nothing but its own right of way works fine for jet aircraft designers and builders. But planes don’t suck copper and carbon dust into the their motors from badly-placed intakes.

    So here’s connection with the A-10, Mic. I’m pretty sure that whatever trouble aircraft people have with transit, A-10 design team could build the regional transit cars we need. How can we check if anybody with Fairchild Republic retired out here?


  28. The younger workers at Boeing are eager for some other option at getting to Paine field, and the engineers and pencil pushers do not need to be there at shift changes, and many are choosing to live in Seattle just like young Microsoft employees living in Capitol hill (I know many Boeing employees in Ballard and Fremont). For example, my wife works there and is allowed to show up whenever, but if she doesn’t get there by 8 am, she has to park over a mile away in the overflow lot. However, taking 1 bus to northgate then link the rest of the way is her dream especially given how terrible traffic can be coming home.

    1. Traffic is bad between Northgate and Fremont, but it’s not bad between Boeing and Lynnwood. There is absolutely nothing to stop Boeing from operating its own commuter shuttles from Lynnwood Station to the Boeing campus.

      But, instead of paying for its employees travel on its own dime, Boeing wants the taxpayers to spend billions of dollars on a Link extension instead, which would still require Boeing to operate shuttle services for last-mile travel anyway. (And there’s no guarantee that the will; they could easily refuse in the name of “saving money”, leaving taxpayers with a giant white elephant for a station).

      There is also no guarantee that, by the time ST 3 is built, Boeing will even still be operating at Paine Field. They’ve already moved some workers to South Carolina in the name of cheaper labor – in the future, there is nothing to stop them from moving more. Or, they might decide to simply move the whole plant over to China and save even more money.

      1. Or, they might decide to simply move the whole plant over to China and save even more money.”

        They probably won’t do that because of the rampant IP thievery in China. But they very well might move much more to Charleston or even Mexico or some more secure Asian country. The wings for Dreamliners already come from Japan and were mostly designed and engineered by Mitsubishi. The rest of the plane is “snap-together” parts for a few dozen sub-contractors; calling it a “Boeing product” is a bit disingenuous.

        But of course their name will be on all the new reports when one crashes…..

      2. The thing with foreign plane sales is that the larger client countries naturally want some of the work done in their own countries, for the same reason that we want it done in the US. Boeing can’t sell abroad without running into “Build part of it in my country or you’re not getting my order.”

      3. FWIW Boeing isn’t going to pick up and move tomorrow. It would be a lot of work and billions of dollars to move any of the existing lines elsewhere. Boeing has recently made billions of dollars of investment in both Everett and Renton that makes it unlikely either plant will be abandoned any time soon. For example the 777X wing plant is being built in Everett next to the existing factory.

        Even the 787 is a bit more than just “snapping it together” or they wouldn’t have had to put so much time fixing the QC problems on the FAL in Charleston. The simple fact that they have expanded in the PNW for their two most recent models rather than putting part of the work in Alabama, California, Kansas, South Carolina, or overseas speaks volumes.

        These days really only China is in a position to demand work-share as a condition of orders. It used to be true in Japan but Boeing has lost some big orders to Airbus recently from ANA and JAL.

        That said LINK to Paine Field is stupid.

      4. Boeing already has a fleet of shuttle buses that ferry people from distant parking lots to the Factory.

        No, Boeing is not going to pick up and move. There is billions worth of tooling used to assemble the airplanes there, along with the know how, that cannot be easily or cheaply moved.

      5. asdf2, Boeing has employee-only shuttles now. But employee-only, therefore not available for serving the museums, flight schools, general aviation hangars, and other manufacturing facilities at Paine Field.

        Which begs the question everybody should be asking… where’s the buses for Paine Field?Or is everybody going to use Lyft & Uber for that last mile…

  29. No surprise about the support for the “Paine Field diversion” that costs anybody traveling to/from north of there an average of 2 weeks per year in wasted time, 24/7/365. Imagine canceling your 2 weeks’ vacation every year, that’s what the diversion does for those folks. At least Mayor Stephanson acknowledges most of the weaknesses (“slow trips into King County, cost nearly double, and attract few net riders”), but he missed these others: (1) The operating & maintenance costs for the Paine Field routing costs 44% more per year than an I-5 alignment; (2) By the time Link would get to Everett, the 128th/I-5 to Paine Field segment would be a, quoting the mayor’s statement, “corridor (that) is already served by frequent Swift Bus Rapid Transit; (3) Transit service was cut going to Boeing in 2003 and 2010, very little of it restored, folks instead preferring to drive so much in Boeing’s case that they lease lots in areas surrounding their plant.

    The Everett mayor would improve transit in the area far more if he’d allow the two transit providers to merge into one in Snohomish County. That way, their services would be scheduled as one so routes would connect with each other regularly and reliably, there wouldn’t be gaps in service (e.g., Mukilteo to southwest Everett, no service from southwest and south Everett to the 112th freeway station), and residents wouldn’t have to travel several miles north in order to get transit south and east, as they do now.

    I’d much rather spend the $2 billion plus the annual savings in operations & maintenance costs towards spur BRT lines – which are phenomenally less expensive than light rail – from the north and east to Paine Field, if the ridership demands for thatsuddenly materialize. The 128th and 164th intersections are worthier options at this time.

  30. Finally caught up on the comments.

    Folks, folks most of you are not asking the real questions here:

    a) Why does Mayor Gregerson want a Link alignment that isn’t I-5, but supposedly is anti-commercial service at Paine Field?

    b) Speaking of which, is the request to send light rail to Paine Field related in any way to a commercial terminal at Paine Field?

    c) Why has Paine Field Executive Director Arif Ghouse not even started scoping on any impact studies of a commercial terminal at Paine Field to see what the traffic impacts would be?

    d) What can be done to guarantee ample bus services to all of Paine Field – not just the Boeing Factory and soon the museum that services the Boeing Factory tour?

    e) Where does SPEEA and IAM 751 stand on the light rail issue? If they truly represent their workforce, they should be demanding with picket signs and choice sound bytes light rail, eh?

    f) Where will the City of Everett Government and Snohomish County Government site transit-oriented development along this Paine Field diversion to induce ridership?

    g) Will light rail congest further the land use at Paine Field?

    There you go.

  31. A key question for the ST Board about ST3 is whether they are trying to maximize transit ridership subject to their budget constraint or build the Link spine as a monument? With low ridership forecasts and long travel times, could the north and south ends of the spine not be better provided via regional express bus? ST has already provided center access ramps in both directions at Lynnwood and Federal Way. Would a shift to bus free up fiscal resources to provide a robust network of transit service in Pierce, South King, and Snohomish counties? Is ST3 a transit or faith-based exercise? As Mic seems to ask: what is the social utility of relatively empty four-car trains? Since LInk costs at least $200 million per mile to build, it would be best to attract good ridership. Martin made reference to tight street grids in Kent, Auburn, Sumner, and Puyallup that benefit from south Sounder service. the key objective of transit is extend the range of pedestrians; therefore, Link, a costly mode, should serve pedestrian centers and not freeway envelopes.

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