Link at Graham Street, 2015 (Google Maps)
Link at Graham Street, 2015 (Google Maps)

During institutional comment on Sound Transit 3, Seattle strongly asked for “early wins” that would show near-term value for Sound Transit 3. The intent of the request seems to be twofold:  to chip away at today’s myriad transportation needs and also to incentivize additional ‘yes’ votes on the eventual ballot measure. Yesterday at the Sound Transit Board, Planning, Environment, and Project Development (PEPD) Director Ric Ilgenfritz and PEPD Development Manager Karen Kitsis briefed boardmembers on the types of projects Sound Transit would be willing and/or able to expedite. Staff cautioned the Board that given the likely length of the package, early spending disproportionately reduces later spending due to inflation, so care must be taken to strike a balance between showing quick value to the public and delivering the full investment promised at the ballot. So what could be on the table?

“Pre-rail” improvements. Those within the advocacy community worried about ST3 funds being shortsightedly used for new bus operations can likely breathe easy, as staff stressed that any projects must fit within Sound Transit’s statutory mission of delivering high capacity transit. So while we won’t see Sound Transit making Prop 1-style frequency additions to Metro for RapidRide C and D, Sound Transit did indicate a willingness to pay for capital improvements to bus corridors selected for rail. For Ballard and West Seattle, for example, this could include mean an ST3 contribiution towards extending and improving bus lanes in Interbay or on the Waterfront, adding better transit signal priority (TSP) for Rapid Ride, and other rechannelization type efforts.

Infill stations. Staff noted that the infill stations on the Candidate Project list are all within ST2 corridors, enabling their construction prior to any further ST3 Link extensions. Potential locations include Graham Street, Boeing Access Road, N 130th St, and SW 220th St in Lynnwood. Graham and BAR could be finished in just a few years, and 130th and/or 220th could open on Day 1 of Lynnwood Link in 2023. But again, the Board would have to explicitly prioritize them.

Expedited BRT Projects. There are a number of bus-based improvements ST could expedite. SR 522 BRT could be scheduled early to ensure it opens at the same time as 145th Street Station, ST could pay for shoulder-hardening on I-5 and I-405 to allow more transit access,  and I-405 BRT could be phased with some early projects.

Access improvements. Staff indicated that many of the small capital projects in the Candidate Project List could be completed early, including new parking garages, bike parking expansions, and Sounder platform extensions.

Technology improvements. This category could include full real-time arrival info at all Central Link stations (currently unfunded), mobile ticketing, NFC payment, and/or expediting the development of ORCA 2.

91 Replies to “What “Early Wins” Could Look Like for Sound Transit 3”

  1. I’d request a gondola be added to the list, but am hopeful that enough SLU stops will be included in our new subway to remove the need for a gondola there.

    When do we expect them to announce the route they’ll include on the ballot?

    1. The Draft System Plan will go public on March 31, with the hope that a Final System Plan will pass the Board on June 30 to send to the November ballot. I’ve been told that the draft released next month will have dates attached to projects, so we’ll get a pretty good sense then.

      1. So long as the ST3 plan does not bypass Rainier Valley for a fast connection to the airport and all points south, then I’ll vote “no”.

        Rainer valley light rail has killed and maimed how many people there? Hey racist light rail (you don’t run “at grade” in the U-district), but ST does in low income areas. Like Holgate.. another person all but dead in the hospital from just last week. Why not have a cut & cover for Rainer Valley, and extend the run to Renton and Boeing/Renton. Common sense is just not ST’s bag.

    2. Matt, I think your idea could really expand the service area of the next tunnel, while also provided much overdue recognition to a deserving ethnic community.

      Gondolas could be carried on trailers behind South Lake Union and First Avenue Connector streetcars, unloaded at the north end of the new tunnel, collecting a Venetian tenor, and sent through with him at the rudder singing “Santa Lucia!”

      What do you mean no water in the Canal, I mean tunnel? Not to worry. Portland doesn’t seem to have any problem like that- do they, Glenn?

      Mark

      1. That’s so ‘Old School’ thinking Mark.
        I’m ready for the ultimate transit vehicle to be unleashed on Seattle – Autonomous, Multimode, Personal Vehicles’ (AMPV’s). These modern marvels can ride an overhead wire, splash down in Lk Washington, only to be platooned on the other end on rails through the DSTT, or street running down 3rd.
        ST3 Must have money for AMPV’s.
        This is my best no-brainer idea yet :)

  2. In a vaccum without costs or a clear idea of what we’re giving up in order to fund “early wins,” it’s hard to be anything but skeptical about them.

    Add in the knowledge that early spending may kneecap the total project budget and that feeling intensifies.

  3. Is Madison St BRT included as one of those “Expedited BRT Projects”? If I remember the November open house correctly, they said ST3 could be a source of funding for that project, and that they’re aiming to open it for service by 2019. I’m hoping that’s the case!

  4. Excellent approach. But from a lot of experience with regular work in Lynwood these last years, let me add one thing to Pre-Rail.

    As long as the DSTT is open to buses, put the 512 to Lynwood and Everett into the tunnel. It’s just been something that should always have been there- exactly like the 550.

    Very short headway, serving an area pretty much where EastLINK will go. Call it Pre-EastLINK.

    One argument against: One more bus in the way of the trains. Answer- and one “Pre” thing 25 years “Post” the right time to do it.To make up for a quarter century of waste, turn on the signal system built into the Tunnel, and train operating crews like we should have done in 1990.

    And many other measures. Get those expletive-deserved fare boxes out of the way. Re-purpose about half the security crew to assisting with wheelchairs and giving passenger information. And every capital-free move to finally get operations up to speed.

    Doing that, one more bus should fit just fine.

    One thing I won’t hear: It’s across the county line. So are Tacoma and Olympia. And since SOV drivers drive over it without a bump- why don’t we level both the bump and the playing field?

    Mark Dublin

    1. What do you mean by “turn on the signal system” when I see a little stop/go light before each station that the buses use.

      1. Perfect example of my point, Mike. Probably some others left over too, like at staging areas capable of sending buses through in some order.

        And a couple of control towers in staging. Though maybe intended for use like that movie where the helicopter flew into the Channel Tunnel along with a TGV bullet train, which thankfully used Proof or Payment instead of fareboxes.

        Will = way. Too bad my keyboard won’t give me the key for the negative of that.

        Mark

      2. So the train light is always “go”? I always see it in one state, the vertical bar, but I’m on a bus when I see it so I don’t know what it does when there’s a train, and my understanding of railroad lights is a little fuzzy.

      3. So what needs to be done? The buses are being platooned, which is a kind of order. I don’t think it matters which bus comes first within a platoon.

    2. Why should Lynnwood buses have been in the tunnel all these years? Weren’t we better off with extremely popular U District and Northgate buses down there?

    3. The 512 would not work. It is operated by community transit and their systems will not work in the tunnel. And with the tune closing to buses in three years making the necessary changes to make it work would not be a wise investment.

  5. It would make a lot of sense to expedite final design at the ends of the currently under construction spine. There might be an opportunity to continue construction of elevated guideway without demobilizing and remobilizing the erection truss. It’s too late for South Link, but may be possible for East Link to Redmond and North Link/Lynwood Link. The plants for casting uprights an guideway segments could also just keep on churning out parts.

    1. Well…I’m not sure how much cost that represents in the overall scheme of things, but you are probably right that any projects that are expedited to produce “early wins” should be on the peripheries of the taxing district and not in Seattle.

      Think of it: The reason that “early wins” are even being proposed is to make the task of selling ST3 to the electorate easier. This is in spite of the fact that it is generally understood that early spending on temporary improvements takes away from the larger, longer term project.

      So where are “yes” votes thin? On the periphery, and that is where early wins can win you some votes. But in Seattle? Na, Seattle will undoubtedly vote yes anyhow so no need to try to buy votes there with early wins.

      If you are going to waste money in an attempt to buy yes votes, spend the money where it might actually accomplish that goal — on the periphery.

      And that is spoken by someone who lives in the heart of the city….

      1. 1. This political logic would make sense if this were organized like a presidential election, where you need 50% +1 in a number of districts. But it’s not–going from 70% yes to 80% in a core Seattle neighborhood is just as valuable as going from 25%-35% in a similarly sized far-flung suburb.

        2. “Early win” =/= “temporary improvement. Infill stations, for example, are forever.

      2. @djw,

        1) Na, the goal is supposedly to spend early to harvest votes that would normally be in the “no” column. Seattle is already a pretty firm “yes” without even knowing the details of the package, so it is far from clear that spending more in Seattle will switch many votes. And the LR related projects in Seattle are expensive — you could spend a lot for little effect.

        But in the burbs? A little bit of spending could have a much bigger impact, and they are more bus dependent so costs could be lower.

        2) Yes, infill stations are forever, but they are expensive, time consuming, and not necessarily good for the overall project. ST will follow the data first.

      3. Bear in mind that the City of Seattle is the stakeholder that specifically asked for these “early wins” for immediate needs in Seattle. Building them at the periphery would not satisfy that request.

      4. But it would not preclude early wins in Seattle as well. Presumably, expediting projects ouside the North King sub-area would not involve any North King funds. Infill stations on the spine could be built with North King funds, for example.

      5. is it really early wins or rather acknowledging that once approved, a rail line isn’t coming for 15 years and yet transit improvements were needed 15 years ago?

    2. It may or may not be possible to expedite ST2 with an influx of cash. Money isn’t the only thing holding up projects, as some depend on others, or there is design work to complete, or the contracting process has to finish.

    3. The infill stations are a no-brainer. If they’re a bona fide ST3 project, the inflation factor is irrelevent. And preinstalling 130th Station will save ST money over disrupting a running line and providing shuttle buses and information agents and such during construction. Not to mention that a line running continuously from day 1 without interruption would be better for passengers and better for ST’s reputation.

    4. Would still like to see some engineering knowledge of whether Graham Street could be undercut. Especially if we could do that without cutting service for the duration. Which might also work for the other MLK stations.

      Mark

      1. The “vote by subarea” problem might already being taking care of itself. Increasing number of people work one place, live someplace else, go to school another place and still- as huge mall parking lots and jammed freeways and arterials indicate, shop some (varying) place else.

        In other words, without only using freeway right of way, rail can even cut shortcuts between existing destinations. Wish official’s didn’t keep using words like “mobility”. Especially for regions, too much wiggle room for being slow.

        “Freedom and Fun” would be better. Exact terms car companies used to use. Wonder if they dare show a car speeding across Iceland? Where they’re already starting to have traffic problems.

        Mark

      2. Jarrett Walker prefers “access to places”. I like that concept but sometimes “mobility” is more concise and unambiguous. People eiither know what it means or know that they don’t, whereas “access to places” can be more ambiguous in a sentence, and can risk being misunderstood as just accessibility (i.e., ADA features).

  6. DSTT station modernization including down escalators would be another good early win. Down escalators at Mt. Baker would also be great!

    1. +1. We need down escalators in all our stations as ridership increases. It’s insane to have mobility impaired and or luggage carrying riders to use an elevator to get to the platform.

    2. Along with some of the other things that should have been taken care of before Mt. Baker Station was still on the drawing boards.

      Mark

    3. good luck adding those in retroactively. you’ll be taking out the downstair for both construction and for a permanent location for the escalator. totally agree they are needed, just don’t see both spatially and while the tunnel is still in use and needing a downstair this being remotely possible.

  7. Have the plans for Graham been finished. It also looks like ST didn’t do property takes to create the station so it could be more complicated than people think.

  8. Here’s an early win idea:

    With money currently on hand, upon a yes vote, immediately fund design for all of the major projects and get them shovel ready, in line for federal funding.

    Heck, why not do that now with the most important projects?

    1. The Board only has so much bandwidth to approve designs. Same for public comment – if you design everything at the same time, some things are going to be overlooked. It will be counterproductive to design everything at once.

      Further – if something is not going even start construction for 10+ years, it’s best to design closer to the start date, because you will have more current, relevant information. Cities grown, neighborhood needs evolve over time. Imagine if we had designed the Ballard line before Amazon picked SLU, and then it was “too late” to add a SLU station because the designs were final & construction contracts were handed out years in advance. Same for the Expedia move – the key nodes of a transit line can change

    2. How do you know ST won’t do that? Was there a problem in ST2’s project order? The first five years are assumed to be mostly planning, on most projects, except those that depended on others, like how Lynnwood Link depended on North Link which depended on University Link. But still Lynnwood Link is opening two years after North Link, so they didn’t delay the planning too much. ST also has an idea which projects will be favorable for grants, and works hard to get the grants, because they’re a major benefit to ST.

  9. Both the city and the county can play with buses.

    Only Sound Transit can build us real solutions for getting out of traffic.

    Robbing money from future rail projects to throw bus band-aids at the present is as short sighted as it gets.

    Let the bus people do buses and the rail builders build rail.

    1. I concur with this. The whole point of ST is to move the region towards HCT, which effectively means away from buses and towards rail. Playing around with buses is a distraction and effectively moves ST away from it’s prime mission.

      Let Metro and SDOT work with the bus component — that supposedly is their role regionally. And to the extent that Metro is good as anything, they should be good at buses (although I have my doubts sometimes).

      ST needs to focus on true HCT, which means “rail”

    2. Problem with that approach, Seattleite, is that a lot of voters have a hard time paying for transit that isn’t going to reach them for 30 years. DSTT was a very good example of a way to deal with that.

      In surgery, a lot of things are splinted and bandaged for months until bones and tissue can heal up. Whole fingers can be re-attached.

      Maybe someday we’ll be able to start re-growing whole limbs. But my guess is achieving this medically will take just about the same time it took to get LINK built to the Airport.

      Mark

      1. Way too much political cynicism. “Quick Wins” isn’t primarily about politics.

        The reality is that communities develop incrementally, and the built infrastructure is very long-lived.

        If your transit planning principle is that we should have rail in a generation, and not care about giving residents and workers better transit choices until then, you end up with Issaquah. You’ll have another generation worth of built infrastructure oriented primarily around cars. And when the rail gets there, we’ll scratch our heads and wonder why it doesn’t have ridership.

    3. ST buses carry more people than Link. So you are basically saying to ignore the majority of transit riders because … trains!

    4. We need a robust strategy, not to get caught up in modes or “the bus agency” vs “the train agency”. ST has regional buses in corridors as a stopgap before Link or that will never have Link. There’s some arbitrariness as to why Metro has some “regional” routes (255, 101) and why some routes are missing (Kent-Seattle off-peak express), but those are mostly legacy issues or imperfect prioritization. But:

      “ST buses carry more people than Link.”

      Beware of assuming the status quo is optimal, or giving an opening for anti-rail fanatics to do that. Highway partisans say, “Cars carry more people than transit, so we need more freeway lanes, and transit lanes and trains are irrelevant.”

    1. ST2 included planning to Federal Way (320th), so this is probably part of it. It’s only construction beyond 272nd (now 240th) that isn’t funded yet.

  10. Did I read this correctly? ST staff are seriously considering inclusion of Boeing Access Road station in ST3? That station was deleted from ST1 for reasons still relevant today — extremely high construction costs and very low potential ridership.

    1. It all depends on what you mean by “seriously”. A lot of these infill stations don’t make economic/ridership sense, and that won’t change whether they are early in the process or late.

      To me it sounds like ST is just chumming the crowd. I don’t read much into it.

      1. How many times do I need to remind you that in the real world where bus service does exist (and needs to be considered in ridership studies, which ST neglected to do), a lot of those infill stations do make good sense?

    2. BAR Station is Tukwila’s mayor’s highest priority. That seems to be the reason for its resurrection. His reasons for it are a planned urban village at 144th, a better terminus for the A that would serve this village, and better access to the Museum of Flight and Aviation High School. And perhaps Link-Sounder transfers.

      1. If ST3 includes all day or near all day Sounder, the Link/Sounder transfer would be very useful for those traveling between the Kent and Rainier Valleys.

        Could Amtrak use it instead of Tukwila Sounder Station?

      2. If Tukwila is serious about adding a Link station, they should be looking at S. 133rd St. where much station infrastructure is already in place — 400+feet of straight and level track, a stair tower, crossover trackage, and a TPSS. Designed and built quietly by ST, just in case Tukwila finally decides to embrace light rail transit.

      3. What does “a planned urban village at 144th” have to do with a Boeing Access Road station? That must be 144th and SR99 or 42nd South, but that is far from BAR.

      4. I don’t know. It may be one of those things of, “You’d have to be a suburbanite to understand.” City people expect to walk to stations and not need a car. Suburban people expect to bus or drve to stations and are content with that. (Not all suburban people all the time; I’m just trying to describe the average. Even in Seattle, in Ravenna or 8th NW, walking ten blocks to a single 15- or 30-minute bus is considered normal, whereas in First Hill or Summit it’s completely unacceptable because people expect to wait less and walk less in a dense environment so the buses should be every 5-10 minutes and closer together.)

        Perhaps STB could interview the mayor and get a clearer picture of what benefits he’s anticipating, and analyze how realistic these are assuming the village is built to its full size.

    3. One thing, though, Roger. I’ve always thought that after our system got built out and running, we could finally build an express line from Downtown straight past Boeing Field to join the Rainier Valley line up to Sea-Tac.

      In addition, second line could also branch off straight south for the Kent Valley, with Boeing Access as a transfer point. Much depends on how much future development is likely to develop at Boeing Access.

      Mark

    4. BAR would be much more valuable if it was a strategic transfer point for SouthCenter, Renton and South County local and express buses. Sounder service would also be great if BAR parking capacity was increased beyond the current plans. Let’s remember that 101 and 150 are going to get slower and slower in and out of Doentown Seattle. While TIBS and Rainier Beach are also options, BAR is much more strategically located for bus-light rail connectivity from the SR 167 cities. Finally, it could offload Seattle-bound users of the South Renton park-and-ride, easing its demand.

      1. BAR would be a great bus intercept assuming two things: a pair of bus only ramps at East Marginal Way and SR599 connected to the I-5 HOV lanes and an east of Boeing Field mostly single-track, at grade “bypass” for use during the peak periods.

        Folks riding in the middle of the day from the areas around I-405/SR 509 would see value in changing to Link there even with the “detour” up MLK because their buses otherwise would be on surface arterials. But commuters on express buses would hate it because they’d be getting off a bus and onto an already-crowded train that wanders in the direction from which some them just came.

      1. there’s a use for a gondola! could even be aviation themed!

        I sure hope there is a plan for a serious dense planned development around BAR station. if we don’t always put the high quality transit where the people/dense housing are, we need to put the people/dense housing where the high quality transit is.

      2. The industrial area around it is depressing and not very suitable for TOD, and both streets at that intersection are wide. Plus, we need industrial land for the economy and our own region’s logistics, and south of Seattle is where it has gravitated to. Can we afford to lose that chunk of industrial land?

  11. It looks like “real-time” arrival information has already been implemented in the new stations at CH and the UW. If you look at the monitors, you can see the actual times and platform assignments of the upcoming departures (they seemed like real-time since they weren’t perfect matches to the scheduled headways). I’m assuming those times reflect the fact that trains are actually running a normal schedule between those stations now, just sans people.

  12. ST has a tough sell. If they put in a bunch of “near term value” items people will go “great, but you’re going to make me pay billions more for what’s useful now so that in 30 years the next generation can benefit?”. I see that as a NO, try again vote. Maybe that’s the long term play, satisfy the “we want it all” crowd and then come back in an off year election with the “we tried that, it failed” political cover for the over reaching “go big” plan and just put ask for enough to build what today’s tax payers might actually benefit from.

    ST now has a track record of being hopelessly wrong with long term projections so I think it’s much more likely they get a yes vote on things that don’t rely on the gospel according to the PSRC. Better do it before they take the center roadway on I-90 though or voters will be ready to run them out of town on a rail.

    1. Agree that strong short-term work is good foundation for the future. But “hopelessly wrong” is a after-the-fact assessment for a transportation system that could still be under construction for decades.

      Alan Greenspan’s assessment that an exploding real-estate market would last forever could be classed as willful negligence because given his experience, his predictions violated the rules of his own trade.

      Even worse were bankers who very likely knew what was going to happen, and were already prepared to benefit from the collapse. Accurately confident, because their own lobbyists wrote the law, that the Federal Government would cover their losses.

      And also send few if any of them to prison.

      Meaning that both normal economic cycles and plate tectonics can have effects that can really slow down a project. Without maybe ten years’ delay being judged hopelessly anything.

      Mark

  13. Way too much political cynicism in the comments. “Quick Wins” isn’t primarily about politics.

    The reality is that communities develop incrementally, and the built infrastructure is very long-lived.

    If your transit planning principle is that we should have rail in a generation, and not care about giving residents and workers better transit choices until then, you end up with Issaquah. You’ll have another generation worth of built infrastructure oriented primarily around cars. And when the rail gets there, we’ll scratch our heads and wonder why it doesn’t have ridership.

    1. Both the city and the county can play with buses. In fact in the last two years Seattle has voted TWICE on bus improvements.

      However only Sound Transit can build us real solutions for getting out of traffic.

      Robbing money from future rail projects to throw bus band-aids, on top of bus band-aids, on top of bus band-aids is as short sighted as it gets.

      Let the bus people do buses and the rail builders build rail.

      Heck the County still has it’s TBD funding. How about that for these quick ‘wins’.

  14. I took Sounder this week for meetings near Pike Place Market. What a pain! I have no idea why, but the train runs on 40 minute headways after 5 pm. For people going to work with office hours running until 5 pm and working at the north end of downtown, this has you arriving at King Street about 10 minutes after the previous Sounder Train and 30 minutes before the next one. So, I had to sit and wait for approximately 30 minutes for the train to depart. I drove the next two days, because it got me home about 40 minutes earlier (6:00 versus 6:40). Can we get added PEAK HOUR service on the Sounder???? The demand is there. I am sure there are plenty of commuters who either work late or ask their employer to cater to their needs and “let them” leave early to catch a train. How about providing service that matches demand?

    1. Two problems. 1) You have to get that second slot from BNSF; bring train loads of cash. 2) You have to buy a whole new train set that sits around the vast majority of the time just to add a couple of extra runs.

      OK, three problems. The third train is primarily going to siphon off riders from existing service. When you’re wait in traffic is reliably 40 minutes then additional Sounder runs will get added. Unless by then “the spine” runs all the way to Tacoma. Then you can spend your 40 minutes weaving back and forth from 99 to I-5.

      I’m afraid anyone who thinks either more lanes or more transit is going to magically make a 20+ mile commute “better” in the future is setting them selves up for a big disappointment.

    2. I often hear the BNSFexcuse in this blog but as often is the case it isn’t true. Sounder is adding 3 new RTs for Seattle-Lakewood by next year. And others will follow thereafter.

    3. It’s not “40-minute headways”. Southbound is 30, 30, 20, 20 before 5pm, then 20, 38, 30. I don’t know why the 5:50 is at that time; you could ask ST. It may be a train-logistics issue, or an available BNSF time slot, or a wish to have three trains after 5:00 and stretch the last one to 6:20. Also, ST2 has a couple more round trips coming in a year or two, and at least one of them is probably peak. If Sounder goes to all-day, I assume they’ll even out the schedule to half-hourly peak, hourly off-peak.

      1. 38 minutes, 40 minutes…….. wow, the detail! Call it rounding error! For somebody leaving a meeting or a set work schedule at 5:00 pm at the north end of downtown, that gets you to King Street station reliably at 5:15 or 5:20 pm, barely missing the 5:12 pm departure and waiting for 30 minutes to depart. A LOT of businesses operate 8 am to 5 pm business hours and A LOT of those businesses are located at the north end of downtown.

        Yes, the point of my comment is that I really hope that they can fix this 38 (apparently too far off from 40) minute spacing between trains when they provide additional trips in the coming years.

        Bernie is right that additional lanes or transit will not necessarily make a 20+ mile commute any better. But, then again, plenty of us just don’t have a half million or a million dollars stashed away for the ridiculous price of real estate in or near Seattle. My preference is to work exclusively in Pierce County or South King, but the business community continues to set a precedent for offices in downtown Seattle and holding meetings in downtown Seattle, despite what their employees can afford. So, for me, I’ll settle for a short easy commute to my out-of-the-way office in class “B” office space with no nearby amenities on 90 percent of my work days. It would be nice when meeting schedules dictate a commute to Seattle if a more viable transit option that meets the actual demand were in existence. This is similar to the situation I encountered years ago when the 565/566 had such a long line at downtown Bellevue that you’d typically have to wait one to two trips to get on the bus since they were so full, and even then, it was standing room only. There was clearly demand. Hire the additional drivers and add more buses. (I occasionally wonder if this situation had improved at all.)

      2. The 566’s definitely improved, as far as I can tell. It’s got 12-minute peak service, and there’s plenty of room going south from Overlake TC. The rare times I’ve been at Bellevue at afternoon peak, it doesn’t have a long line.

      3. “For somebody leaving a meeting or a set work schedule at 5:00 pm at the north end of downtown, that gets you to King Street station reliably at 5:15 or 5:20 pm, barely missing the 5:12 pm departure and waiting for 30 minutes to depart.”

        There may be a problem in the 5 o’clock hour. I would like to see a second train at 5:25 or 5:30 for this reason. But there are a lot of people who get off work at 5 and can get to the station by 5:10, so they would not want to wait until 5:25. And again, we don’t know the reason ST scheduled the second train closer to 6; you’d have to ask ST.

        What I was objecting to is that “40 minute headways” implies that several trains are spaced 40 minutes apart over several hours. That’s not the case: this is a single gap at one point in the schedule, and all the trains before and after it have shorter waits.

  15. I hardly consider bus improvements wasteful. I think they are important for connecting non-rail areas to rail-areas, and providing feeder service to the rail, which has been overwhelmingly successful. The further outside of Seattle you go, the more important the need for ST Express becomes.

    1. With ST bus/rail in my schedule at least once a week, maybe more, I think one thing that will have to happen is serious scheduling and communication between every run on the system.

      And another necessary thing that can, must, and therefore will happen is that every bus route will have lane and signal pre-empt to keep promised transfers. Once people can depend on this, ridership will deliver appreciation by riding.

      Mark

    2. It’s not an either/or thing; there are several levels of bus investment, and some locations have more acute needs than others. If a small project is already in ST3, there’s no reason not to front-load it. But if it’s an interim solution that will be obviated when Link is expanded, then you do have to look into whether spending on it cuts into our long-term infrastructure, and how much the “inflation factor” impact would be. In any case, ST won’t make a sudden decision. It will put out a draft proposal for comments, and we can evaluate the particular short-term projects it includes, looking at how much short-term benefit it provides and how much long-term benefit it cuts into.

  16. Zach,

    15th Ave W already has BAT lanes from Elliot and Western to 15th and Emerson.

    The definition in RCW 81.104.015(2) indicates capital improvements to this corridor paid for by Sound Transit would have to increase the amount of exclusivity of the bus lanes in the corridor. If not full BRT and/or complete removal of lanes from general purpose or parking use (by changing the posted BAT hours), what the heck is Sound Transit / the City of Seattle talking about for this corridor?

    If we’re going to pay changing the signage so BAT lanes are 24/7, ok, that’s trivial $$. But if we’re sacrificing the best possible rail outcome for at-grade BRT in this corridor, then there are going to be a lot of people saying a lot of versions of “NOPE.”

    It feels like someone, somewhere is being stupid with this idea about 15th Ave W.

    Cheers,
    Ben

    1. It’s still an early-stage idea, so the proponents may not have yet reconciled it to RCW 81.104.015(2). If they even know it exists.

  17. Mark Dublin wrote ” the helicopter flew into the Channel Tunnel along with a TGV bullet train, which thankfully used Proof or Payment instead of fare boxes..”
    I understand it was a joke but the TGV is not a bullet train but a very fast train, like the Japanese Shinkansen (a Japanese word that actually means a new trunk line, separate from all other trains from the JR Group).

    The French TGV doesn’t run between France and England. It is the Eurostar train that does.
    The trains are somewhat similar(like a brother and a sister) but are owned and run by different companies…
    Note that the Eurostar has trains from London to Brussels and Amsterdam.

    As all long distance trains in Europe the most expensive fares are the ones bought on the day of departure, but are very low if one buy a ticket 30 days in advance (TGV) or 60 days in advance (Eurostar)
    never buy European trains tickets in the USA through Rail Europe, a company that tend to charge more than others, and doesn’t show all the trains running on a given day

  18. What I fear is the “let’s do everything on the list” for ST-3. I see a bit of that here, i.e. no picking and choosing. Doing everything is the equivalent of giving employees an across-the-board raise, which penalizes the productive and rewards the lazy. In the case of ST-3 projects, it’s also being reckless with other people’s money.

    An example of something I’d probably think long and hard about is a station at 220th, for there isn’t a lot of bus service there now and it adds time to commutes to and from points north. As I’ve noted many times before, a Paine Field sidetrack and the Issaquah to Kirkland rail ideas are both high cost, low benefit projects that blow considerable public money that is more deservedly directed elsewhere. On the other hand, the UW/Ballard and West Seattle to Stadium lines are sensible. Even the Ballard to Fremont and then to downtown, while expensive, has an incredible bang for the buck, and I’d favor that over the duplicative Interbay routing (duplicative of Rapid Ride).

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