On Monday night, Sound Transit held an open house at Everett Station regarding its plans for Snohomish County in ST3, mainly focusing on the light rail extension from Lynnwood to Everett via Paine Field. Over the last month, much had been said over the disapproval of county residents and politicians over the proposed 2041 delivery date for light rail to reach Downtown Everett, with county leaders coming up with alternative proposals that sought to preserve service to Paine Field at the expense of any rail on Evergreen Way. ST presented its new solution to the Paine Field problem, building a spur and keeping the main line on Interstate 5 for a decade-faster delivery in 2031 at a lower cost and faster route. A spur, either a short rail line along the Boeing Freeway towards Boeing’s Everett factory or bus rapid transit between Everett Station and Mariner Park & Ride via Evergreen Way and Airport Road (both part of Community Transit’s Swift BRT network, the latter coming online in 2018).

The spur would cost in the range of $320 million (for 11.6 miles of BRT) to $500 million (for 2.8 miles of rail), bringing down the cost of the entire line from $4 billion to only $3.5 billion at most, which would help with the Snohomish subarea’s ability to fund the project without inter-subarea loans. Travel times between Downtown Everett and Lynnwood Transit Center would also be reduced by 7 minutes from 32 under the Paine Field option to 25; riding the rail spur would add 5 minutes of travel time and a few minutes for a transfer at the Everett Mall, adding a small amount of time for Boeing-bound riders. The distance between Lynnwood and Everett would be reduced from the proposed 15-16 miles to only 12.6, saving riders 50 cents per round-trip under the current light rail fare formula. Total ridership would increase under either of the Paine Spur options well into the 40,000 range if not higher when including the two spurs, with the slower and longer BRT option netting 7,000 to 9,000 daily riders and the light rail spur only 1,000.

Turnout at the Everett meeting was high enough for Sound Transit staff to use their prepared overflow room, just down the hall from the main meeting space on the fourth floor of Everett Station. A dozen or so local politicians were on hand to make speeches and have their opinions be heard, including representatives from cities outside of the Sound Transit district such as Marysville, Lake Stevens, and Stanwood. Many in attendance were wearing t-shirts distributed by the Light Rail to Everett group, funded by the Economic Alliance Snohomish County, reading “Light rail to Everett…in our lifetime”; the group’s official position is similar to that of the Snohomish County politicians on the Sound Transit Board, who want both sooner delivery of light rail as well as service to Paine Field’s employment center. The question-and-answer session was handled at a much faster pace than a previous session I observed at the similarly-contentious Ballard meeting, though it did continue well past the scheduled end point as people were happy to stay and listen for longer as a majority of those wanting questions answered were heard. ST CEO Peter Rogoff seemed eager to inject a healthy amount of his humor into his responses to various questions that would have been better left unanswered for their irrelevance. With the exception of an attempted filibustering from an anti-rail speaker, who had his microphone rescinded by staffers, questions touched on concerns ranging from the upcoming Tim Eyman initiative and its possible effects to ST’s plans, to possible annexation and extension of Sounder and Sound Transit Express to Marysville and Smokey Point (where the former would be time-competitive with existing peak express service).

At the end of the night, many in attendance seem to come away satisfied with the new proposals and their timeliness as well as their preservation of Paine Field service. While the lack of any rail options on Evergreen Way may disappoint those who push for TOD in Snohomish County, an Interstate 5 alignment (with Paine Field spurs) is ultimately the lesser of two evils and would be wholly acceptable and palatable to all parties in Snohomish County, from commuters to businesses and leaders.

Capacity crowd at Everett Station, Monday night (photo by author)

122 Replies to “Sound Transit Presents Paine Spur Option at Everett ST3 Meeting”

  1. I agree with some options to Marysville and Smokey Point. Definitely a need whether it be bus or extension of Sounder.

    1. Annexation into the ST taxing district is spelled out in the latest Long Range Plan (Dec 2014).
      Joining the district keeps local taxes for local projects for 5 years, then they get lumped into the Subarea. ST policy prevents them from trying to recoup and sunk capital cost since Sound Move was passed. This seems like a really good deal for cities north of Everett.
      Of course the best deal going is Gig Harbor and Olympia paying for extended Express bus trips using only the incremental cost increase to pass along to them.
      I doubt ST would offer such generous terms to Marysville and points north for any sort of rail or extensive bus service like that.
      Did that come up?

      1. Mic, the deal is that in return for service up north- where huskies are starting to pass out from global warming and have to be shaved like poodles- Olympia and Gig Harbor will get in on next order of hydrofoils already getting prepped for run between Helsinki and Talinn, Estonia.

        That way, no matter how long it takes Sounder to build out to Olympia, we’ll wash every windshield trapped on I-5 with the spray from our airfoils as we go by.

        Too bad contract says we can’t use ST paint scheme, but on the other hand, red and white is more visible in heavy weather. Also assures that none of our boats end up purple and yellow.

        And wraps on windows are against the Geneva Conventions. Sorry we took so long to get this to you.



    2. The ST district is unbalanced with Pierce County exurbs in (DuPont, Bonney Lake, Orting) and equivalent Snohomish County exurbs out (Marysville, Smokey Point). In King County, Covington and Maple Valley are out, Sammamish is in, and Snoqualmie is way out. Originally that was probably crafty maneuvering by the Pierce County delegation. But since then Marsyville and Smokey Point have grown so much they look more like a suburb than an exurb, so it’s probably equitable to include them in the Sound Transit district. However, we have to look at whether that will increase the percentage of No votes in district-wide propositions. It makes no sense to include north Snohomish County, Skagit County, and Thurston County if it leads to a majority “Hell no taxes” on everything so that nothing can be done.

      1. Good points all, Mike. I think we especially need to be wary, as you say, of areas joining the district that will not only vote “Hell no!” on taxes but will elect legislators who will also be barriers to transit…but want theirs and want it now when other areas get things passed.

        If it’s pretty clear that these are transit-supporting areas, by all means add them. Pierce Transit’s experience with their own outlying areas makes me very leery of that however. We are apparently designing a system that will benefit them anyway.

      2. “Pierce Transit’s experience with their own outlying areas makes me very leery of that however. We are apparently designing a system that will benefit them anyway.”

        They’re paying ST taxes. And all of ST’s services to them are shuttles to Sounder. That might change if this Orting commuter rail project gets off the ground, but there’s no certainty it will after the study.

      3. Especially in hostile territory, it’s a good idea to start looking for, and encouraging, people who aren’t hostile to transit. And let them be the ones to organize and fight where they live.

        The quicker you write anyplace, or anybody off for hostile, people looking to support you will get the idea you’re counting them among the enemy. And return the favor.

        In counties like Thurston, the phrase “Hell no!” is always followed by a qualifier. Like “I moved here I’ve got a lot of money and want to keep it.”

        Or: “I’d be glad to vote for ST taxes in Thurston County, except I can’t vote there because I moved to Seattle because it already has both ST and KC Metro Transit.”

        But only one worth answering and discussing face to face: “If I could afford those taxes, now that the mill’s shut down, I’d go someplace I earn enough to pay them. And ride transit”

        Because as for majority of Washington counties not named King, Snohomish, or Pierce, every single one of Thurston County’s problems outside the Capitol dome could be solved by a whole work-force-load of jobs that put people sixteen and older permanently into any tax bracket at all.

        And providing the kind of education that lets these workers learn while they earn. Rather than come out of decades of school a lifetime in debt and pretty much unemployable. But tactically, I think ST is already in a position to give a lot of Thurston voters a very good reason to vote to join.

        Tacoma Rail has never stopped running small freights right past the Capitol, on the very track a platform-width from the Dupont Transit Center. Tacoma Rail track-bed into town looks to be about walking speed.

        But Amtrak station at east-side suburb of Lacey is a twenty-minute express bus ride from Olympia Transit Center. No reason a bus couldn’t meet every train. Delivering a trainload of positive votes with the first “The Doors Are Closing.”

        Regional Transit’s crown jewel: A Freeway-Free Ride to Seattle. With easy transfer to forty minute ride to Sea-Tac Airport on half hour headways out of Tacoma Dome on the 574. I’m not sure if it’s legal or Constitutional to annex part of a county covertly de facto.

        Pretend Olympia is really in King County- don’t think Pierce would mind that- ’til the trains have been running for awhile, and then call an election to keep them. Put it in the marketing budget.

        Mark Dublin

    3. As a resident up here, I’d campaign for annexation like my life depended on it. It’s such a no-brainer when you consider just how linear the city is (along State Avenue/the BNSF tracks).

      The only downside is having to renegotiate with BNSF, and possible delays caused by the movable bridges on the Snohomish River delta. I also think that the city might be split on support/opposition of ST, given that the eastern half (suburban sprawl on the hills) is severly underserved by current bus service.

  2. The rail +BRT option is the obvious winner here.

    Cheaper, faster, can be in operation sooner, has higher ridership, better coverage, etc.

    The only thing keeping the Paine field alignments alive at this point are the politicians who refuse to move off their original position despite the facts.

      1. Keith, it depends on exactly what you’re referring to, but my guess is that Seattle Subway will go for anything that doesn’t turn DSTT into General Purpose freeway lanes, and proposed second tunnel into either paid or worse, free, parking.

        Come on, Seattle Subway, straighten this one out before everybody starts to think all you really care about is exclusive concession to one of your sandwich places at every ST3-related station.


      2. MDNative: This isnt a redline for us, we just think it’s a good idea and will vote better than the original plan. It’s so obvious I don’t think we have to puff up about it.

        There is only one true redline for us. We’ve been saying it over and over since the beginning. We’ve organized thousands of public comments to say the same thing at every step in this process. It’s one of the reasons we exist as an organization.

        Full grade separation in Seattle or we will have to make a very tough decision.

        There are three options.

        Supporting ST3 would be off the table. Oppose would be odds-on favorite. Staying out of it would be on the table.

      3. Keith;

        Ask for help from The North on grade separation, and you should get it. We The North love Seattle, we want our Sound Transit jerseys to support the staff, and we want ST3 to pass.

    1. Let me fix that for you:

      The rail +BRT express bus option is the obvious winner here.

      Cheaper, faster, can be in operation sooner, has higher ridership, better coverage, etc.

      The only thing keeping the Paine field alignments spine alive at this point are the politicians who refuse to move off their original position despite the facts.

      1. The politics of this are pretty much set at this point. The Snohomish County “yes” voters want rail to Everett.

        The politicians insist on rail to Paine field, whatever the numbers say.

        As soon as ST offered an option that did both in the early 2030’s the likelihood we could stop it with logical arguments probably went out the window.

      2. I think this option is a wise move politically (if not the most efficient/logical). It takes one of the boogieman away from ST3 opponents (i.e. Paine field gets an extra 2 billion from other subareas while we get hosed). The other boogieman is Ballard light rail in 22 years. ST has its work cut out on that idea. (I had proposed building Ballard to UW first, even if it means delaying or canceling Ballard to downtown).

        I see the key issue for this option is whether Boeing uses its muscle to get Paine Field back or whether they just shrug their shoulders (which Amazon and Expedia appear to be doing in not urging faster Ballard to downtown)

      3. Rogoff: “It is hard to convince voters in [fill in the blank based on the audience] that their congestion does not exist.”

      4. How about the pathetic fact of the number 512 at the front of a whole bus load of soon-to-be unemployed Everett trapped by a one-car collision near Northgate. Five days a week.

        The fact could be that ramps and barriers necessary to address that other fact will cost more than light rail.

        So let’s do this. Build the light rail line like I’ve been saying, essentially a 30 mile extension of the DSTT trackway. Then, bus or train decision wouldn’t be either hard or hard to change. Add 30 years’ overdue training and signalling, and you could even do joint-use.

        Which would be perfect way to do the Boeing Loop with a busway. It’s just like Abe Lincoln supposedly said about cats: “Facts fight all the time, but there’s never a shortage of..well, whatever you call a basket full of cute little facts which in a few weeks will start shredding the sofa and feeding the toilet paper into their own little shredders.”

        Mark Dublin

    2. The spur is also somewhat viable if they insist on rail. Either option is clearly better than the diversion as the numbers make clear. Both options would shave ten years off of delivery time.

      Its hard to imagine Snohomish County representatives continuing to fight for the diversion given these new choices.

    3. A short rail spur could be built small like Tacoma Link. That would be cheaper than extending Central Link, and it would establish the precedent of transferring to a lower-volume service in the suburbs rather than always a one-seat ride, and also a precedent for future Tacoma Link-like lines in Everett or Lynnwood.

      If the politicians are willing to go with either a spur or BRT, we should take the ball and run with it. Bruce’s article seems to say there wasn’t a lot of “Central Link or bust” opposition. So maybe the politicians will come round.

      As for what Boeing wants and what would entice Boeing to keep jobs in the area, so far I’ve heard nothing. So is Boeing really saying it must have a Central Link station? Or does it just want “some kind of better transit” in its neighborhood.

      1. There you go. Or we could ask Boeing for creative ideas about the vehicles. Or, hint hint, funding the spur.

  3. Is there a higher res version of the image anywhere? It’s kind of hard to read.

  4. So what exactly is the I-5 alignment? Where would all the stops be?

    Followup question — how do they get the 40,000 riders? It seems to me that this would be pretty easy to figure out. You can just take the bus ridership from all the express buses that serve the same bus stops. Since the train will typically be slower than an express bus to Lynnwood, I wouldn’t expect an increase in ridership. According to the 2015 ST report (http://www.soundtransit.org/sites/default/files/documents/pdf/planning/2015sipfinal02242015.pdf), here are the numbers for the ST buses:

    510 — 2000
    511 — 2000
    512 — 2000
    513 — 610

    There are some CT buses that serve downtown or the U-District from north of Lynnwood, but I can’t find any ridership numbers on them. Looking at the schedules and the maps, it appears that a small portion of the buses fall into this category. Since the entire Community Transit system carries about 34,000 people a day, I’m going to guess only a few thousand take CT from north of Lynnwood to downtown. (Please correct me if you can find the numbers).

    I feel comfortable claiming, then, that somewhere around 10,000 a day would use the train (probably less). Few, if any, would come out ahead with this versus an express to Lynnwood. That sure seems like a lot of money for very little. The Paine Field alignment seemed rather fishy as well. But it at least it had the hope of being something different enough to gain new riders. There might be a lot of new reverse commuters who find the buses too slow, or maybe with enough stops along Airport Road and SR 99, you could pick up enough local riders. I find those claims dubious, but there is a lack of history here, and maybe ridership could surprise me. But a freeway alignment seems to be rather predicable — very few people will ride this, and very few will gain anything by it.

    1. It’s probably based on the PSRC numbers that assume Everett will have 1 million people in it by 2017, or some other similar foolishness

      1. Seems likely. Those PSRC numbers seem to be based on the theory of “zone it and they will build.” That theory may more or less hold true in Seattle where zoning does seem to be a legitimate constraint on development, but not as much in the suburbs.

    2. It’s mostly about the parking. With sufficient parking capacity at Lynnwood, it would be fastest for everyone in Everett or beyond to simply drive as far south as possible, until traffic starts to back up, then get on the train to go the rest of the way. However, building enough parking capacity at Lynnwood Station for every conceivable person who might want to ride the train into Seattle from Everett or beyond is not feasible. The classic solution is to extend the train a few more miles to serve another parking garage, then a few more miles to serve another parking garage, etc. Whatever walk-up riders or reverse commuters get picked up is a nice bonus, but really, it’s all about the parking.

      1. So there is going to be 40,000 parking spots north of Lynnwood? Wow. OK, I know that isn’t what you mean, but even if you assume that half the riders walk or arrive by bus, that is 20,000 parking spots. That is enormous. How many new stops are there going to be? Five? That is 4,000 spots per station. That is crazy.

        What really gets me is that even if you have that kind of ridership, hardly anyone will benefit from extending the rail line. What difference does it make if you ride the express bus to Lynnwood or the train? It is about the same in terms of speed. ST is basically suggesting we spend billions so that a handful of commuters (40,000 if you believe their ridiculous claim) can enjoy more time on the train versus a bus. It is nice to look at ridership as a starting point. If, like this line, you fail to get sufficient riders, then there really is no point in discussing it any further (it isn’t worth it). But ridership itself is otherwise meaningless. At a minimum you want to talk about number of hours of rider time before evaluating a project like this. By my estimation, assuming the alternative is express buses, I think it is close to zero!

        Consider someone who starts or transfers at Everett Station. The HOV lanes extend that far, and traffic from there to Lynnwood is not that bad. It certainly isn’t enough to make up for coming to a complete stop several times, waiting a while, then moving again. 25 minutes to get from Everett Station to Lynnwood — I’m sure an express bus is faster. If this gets built, I’m sure more than one driver will swing by the Everett Station, ready to drop off their sweetie, only to see the train pull away, then decide to chase it. More often then not, they will catch it.

        Or consider a rider that is closer. How about someone who is used to taking the CT 412, which goes from Mill Creek to downtown. In a few years, that bus (like many others) will serve Lynnwood. But with this change, instead of getting on the freeway (where there are HOV ramps) it will continue on, then wait for the light a few blocks down. By the time a bus gets to the station at the Mariner Park and Ride, another bus would be half way to the Lynnwood Park and Ride. What is true of that bus is true of many others. The 417 from Mukilteo will of course continue to go to Lynnwood. The 435 is the same way.

        The only value added for this light rail line is for those that want to go from, say, Ash Way to Mariner Park and Ride. They won’t have to go through Lynnwood or catch a local. To think that people are seriously considering billions for that is just mind boggling. I really feel sorry for the folks in Snohomish County.

      2. “If this gets built, I’m sure more than one driver will swing by the Everett Station, ready to drop off their sweetie, only to see the train pull away, then decide to chase it. More often then not, they will catch it.”

        You can’t be serious. The next train is six or ten minutes away. They wouldn’t chase the train if they’ve already left the highway exit. If they chase it at all it would only be if they can see it from the highway or they’re still right next to the entrance. At that point they never had a chance of catching it at Everett in the first place. This would only happen at the moment the train leaves, and only a few drivers would see it, and not all of them would chase the train. So it’s not enough drivers to worry about.

      3. A typical stall (if you believe it will usually be filled) can handle two rides per day. One from the station and another returning to the station. So that would mean 2,000 stalls per garage given your example.

      4. “ST is basically suggesting we spend billions so that a handful of commuters (40,000 if you believe their ridiculous claim) can enjoy more time on the train versus a bus.”

        ST is basically suggesting we do what the politicians and voters in Snohomish want so that there’s a chance of having any ST3 at all. There’s a diminishing return to extending Link further but there’s no hard-and-fast line. Maybe growth and ridership by 2050 will blow our socks off and we’ll be glad we added the capacity. Even if not, and even if it’s well used only peak hours, it’s not the end of the world. It’s better than building another freeway (which would cost the same), and at least there’s movement to get rid of the worst of the silliness (Paine Field deviation).

      5. @Mike — Fine. So we are supposed to basically let the politicians throw the Snohomish County tax payers under the bus so that someone in some other area gets something decent out of ST3. As I said before, I really feel sorry for Snohomish County residents. If this goes through, they are getting screwed. The improvement in transit over a series of express buses is marginal at best, meaning they will have built the local version of Ice Town.

        Meanwhile, if they do grow, they will sure as hell need that money for other things (police, day care, schools, social and health services) let alone useful transit. What happens a few years from now when someone proposes Swift 5, and it gets shot down because people “have paid for enough transit”?

        Oh, and if the area does grow, then it will likely grow precisely where the Paine Field deviation would go (along the highways that cross the area). No, the worst of the silliness is to follow the freeway all the way up — destroying any hope for walk-up riders and making the choice to extend rail so obviously stupid.

      6. “So we are supposed to basically let the politicians throw the Snohomish County tax payers under the bus so that someone in some other area gets something decent out of ST3.”

        ST does polling to see what would pass. It’s not in ST’s interest to propose a measure that would fail. The polls are based on voters and taxpayers, not politicians. So the people who are saying yes in the polls are statistically the same ones who would be taxed and would have the benefits/unbenefits of the project. If they don’t know what they want, who else would?

      7. So the people who are saying yes in the polls are statistically the same ones who would be taxed and would have the benefits/unbenefits of the project. If they don’t know what they want, who else would?

        True story: When I was living in Lynnwood, I bought a cheap car so that my family and I could get around. It cost all of $500.00. It seemed fine to me when I bought it, but within weeks the transmission was shot. Maybe the previous owner was ignorant of the problem or maybe he knew about the problem and didn’t say anything. But I know for sure that buying a car that was worthless within weeks of my purchase was hardly “what I wanted”.

        Another true story: I’ve voted yes on every single Sound Transit proposal, including the first one (that failed). But after spending time on this wonderful blog and studying the issues, I have come to the realization that it was a mistake, and that much of what made up that proposal was a bad idea. I know a lot more about transit now, just as I know a lot more about purchasing a used car (always have a mechanic look at it).

        Maybe the Sound Transit planners are ignorant of the issues or maybe they know about the problems and haven’t said anything. I guess voters are stupid for trusting them. But one could assume that the planners have our best interest at heart and know what they are doing. But voting for something like this is not necessarily “what they want” anymore than I wanted that terrible car.

        As I said, I feel sorry for the Snohomish County taxpayer. The purchase of the car cost me $500, but this would cost a family tens of thousands of dollars.

    3. You haven’t considered any trips going into Everett at all, and I’m sure some people really would use this to access Paine Field. 0% growth among transit riders from Snohomish County to Seattle in the next decade and a half as the area continues to grow and densify seems extremely pessimistic. Maybe 40,000 is a bit high (I’m not sure – I don’t spend a lot of time in Everett), but I’d take that number over 10,000.

      1. @Nick — My numbers are for the freeway alignment, not Paine Field. As I said, the Paine Field alignment is a lot trickier. With enough stops, I could see something much higher than 10,000. I doubt 40,000, but who knows? But the I-5 alignment is predictable, because there are buses that follow that exact pattern. They don’t carry that many people.

        But even if that really is the case — even if an I-5 alignment carries a lot more people, it will primarily be because the worst delay (from Lynnwood to Seattle) was eliminated years and years before. But extending up to Everett really adds nothing. An express bus to Lynnwood (from the various neighborhoods as well as the park and rides) would be much faster. 25 minutes from Everett to Lynnwood is not exactly kicking ass.

      2. “the I-5 alignment is predictable, because there are buses that follow that exact pattern. They don’t carry that many people.”

        Why don’t they carry that many people?

        – The buses have limited capacity.
        – People don’t like standing on buses for long periods.
        – There’s an accident somewhere practically every day, and these add an unpredictable 10-60 minutes to bus trips, and you never know which day you’ll get caught in one.
        – The 512 runs every 15 minutes midday and 30 minutes evenings and Sundays. A train running every 10 minutes all day and evening every day would attract more riders.
        – The buses don’t stop at Northgate, Roosevelt, or Capitol Hill. A lot of people in Snohomish work in north Seattle or shop there or attend events there, and the 45th stop doesn’t meet their needs. Sometimes they just forget it exists because the bus is “to downtown”.
        – The buses get caught in traffic between Northgate to downtown and within downtown if the express lanes are going the other direction.

        A lot of this will be alleviated when Lynnwood Link opens. But then ridership will go up, so your assertion that there aren’t many riders won’t be true anymore.

        Also, even if it’s only a few riders from a train’s perspective, it’s still several hundred buses that are mostly full. Most people would say that getting rid of those bus segments and their fuel consumption and the space they use is a worthwhile thing.

      3. The 512 runs every 15 minutes midday and 30 minutes evenings and Sundays. A train running every 10 minutes all day and evening every day would attract more riders.

        Why the hell would a train run more often than a bus following the exact same route? That is ridiculous. The bus runs only 15 minutes midday because it doesn’t carry that many riders. It is losing money, and they don’t want to lose that much. Change that to a train and you would lose a lot more money. It makes sense to run trains less often, which is what everyone else in the country does in the same situation.

        But your other points are good ones. Service will improve as the train gets to Lynnwood. That could lead to a jump in ridership. But for many riders, it will (of course) mean that it takes longer to get to where they want to go (consider a noon time appointment downtown). I think it is crazy optimistic to think there will be a quadrupling of ridership since it primarily would benefit commuters, but I’ll concede the point.

        Even if that happens — even if 40,000 people ride Link north of Lynnwood — you have really wasted billions if the best thing you can say is that it has reduced the number of buses off the road. Really, Mike? Over 3 billion spent on an insignificant time savings for a very small group of people and we should be happy that there are fewer buses on the roads? My God, man, 3 billion spent on putting buses on the roads would save way more fuel.

      4. “Why the hell would a train run more often than a bus following the exact same route?”

        Because a subway has stations every 1-2 miles and people get on and off there. A train is the aggregation of several bus routes, specifically limited-stop routes. These people don’t take the bus because the bus doesn’t go there, or if it does it’s less frequent. Two 15-minute express bus routes can serve two areas. One 5- or 10-minute train can serve both of those areas and also others simultaneously.

        “3 billion spent on putting buses on the roads would save way more fuel.”

        Let’s put those buses on more dispersed routes than all in a line on the freeway.

      5. “A train is the aggregation of several bus routes, specifically limited-stop routes.”

        Meaning the train is limited-stop (every 1-2 miles), which if it’s grade separated can replace several express bus routes, and also replace some of the local bus service (trips between urban villages that coincide with its stations).

      6. A train is the aggregation of several bus routes, specifically limited-stop routes.

        Right. Like the 512, which runs every 15 minutes. OK, I know, that is different. That bus has to work its way to the various stations, and that slows it down. So I would imagine that ridership would increase if the trip was faster. You are basically saying that not only will Link ridership north of Lynnwood exceed the entire ridership of Community Transit, but that there will be so much demand that trains will go every 3 minutes. That’s absurd. Swift runs every 12 minutes at most. Are you really saying that this will be more crowded and thus demand more use than a BRT route that actually runs where people live?

        But let’s break it down a bit. How many stations are we talking about — five? At 40,000, that is an average of 8,000 per station. That is over four times the ridership of Beacon Hill, one of are more popular stations. Do you really think there is a station north of Lynnwood that will exceed Beacon Hill, given the obvious advantage that Beacon Hill has in nearby density? What about Mount Baker, a station with plenty of density (compared to Everett) and the second most popular bus as a feeder line? It only carries a couple thousand. Look to BART — a system with suburban cities twice the size and many times the density of Everett serving a region many times as big — and you can’t find a line that operates with those kind of numbers (40,000 a day) outside the urban core.

        Look, you can theorize all you want about 3 minute service to Everett, but can you point to any train system in the U. S. that works like that? BART has 15–20 minutes by line. DART is the same. Denver is the same (for the suburbs). TRAX, in Salt Lake City, operates on 15 minute headways on each line all day long.

        To get three minute, or even 6 minute headways you have to be in the city. You have to have all day, midpoint stop demand. Vancouver, Toronto, Boston, DC — that sort of thing. Suburban locations — or small, not very dense cities that people are assuming will operate like suburbs — just don’t have that sort of demand. Not that many people want to spontaneously take an hour long trip into town (or any place along the way).

        The system you are talking about has never worked out the way you suggest. We aren’t that different — we shouldn’t expect different results.

      7. I’m going by ST’s policy tradition, not capacity necessity (which is technical and I don’t know). ST’s operation history and planning scenarios have all been 10-minute minimum until 10pm. I haven’t heard a specific frequency for the Everett and Tacoma extensions. But we do know that Northgate-Lynnwood was originally going to be one line off-peak (10-minute), but later ST extended both lines to Lynnwood full time (5-minute) believing the capacity would be needed, if not right at opening then within a few years. I don’t really care whether ST sends one or two lines to Everett or even half a line. I believe in general that all branches should be 10-minute minimum to maximize the usability of the network, but if ST reduces Everett to 20 minutes it’s not the end of the world. But the point is that ST has never indicated it would reduce Everett to 20 or 30 minutes: you’re the only one saying that. Once the line is built, the only downside of too much frequency to Everett is electricity and driver time. Those are insignificant compared to the overhead of buses or cars, especially relative to the greater usefulness of a rail line. We spent fifty years with transit underservice and people saying, “We don’t need more” when we did; so if there’s a bit of overservice now, that’s at least some compensation for it, and it also maximizes the incentives for maximum ridership and mode share.

      8. Part of the plan is to build ridership… 10 min intervals lead to a level of comfort that makes people ‘want’ to ride…

    4. Ross, I need to remind you of a key fact about buses and rail:

      Buses and rail are nothing alike. You look at every conceivable metric and they score totally different on every single one. Most importantly, there are huge numbers of people who absolutely refuse to ride a bus, for both ration and irrational reasons. So, with all these new riders, combined with population growth, I don’t think it all that crazy.

      1. There are riders who, if you believe some of the supporters of the 38 extension to the ID, refuse to ride a train. I think those are hypothetical riders, just like the hypothetical riders of old route 42 that never emerged. But I digress.

        We had a commenter who insisted for months after he was proven wrong that (1) the trains to the airport are slower than route 194 was; and (2) that riders going between downtown and the airport would keep taking the bus, given the choice.

        He ignored both the impacts of congestion and the draw of frequency. Sounder is infrequent, and so not much of a draw. A train departing every four minutes during peak and five minutes off-peak still has a powerful draw over a bus coming every ten minutes that will be stuck in traffic at several points, and usually take longer on the trip at peak, or a bus departing every 15 minutes off-peak.

        But my calculations using ST’s underpromised travel times has the train making the trip to downtown in 57 minutes, compared to the bus taking 52 minutes for the peak express version and 62 minutes for the off-peak BRT path.

        I have not heard a single rider from Everett complain about giving up bus service when Link arrives. All I’ve heard is complaints that Link is taking too long to get to Everett (construction time, not travel time).

      2. Donde, for the kind of service we’re talking about for Everett, chief advantage of trains is that since railcars can be coupled, a four-car LINK-size train will be about 360′ long stopped, or at any speed.

        Set of buses intended to work like a coupled train is called a “platoon”. Which DSTT and signals were designed to consider main vehicle configuration, but after 2 weeks didn’t bother.

        Six 60′ buses are same length- and probably about same passenger capacity- stopped. But Metro rules are that driver must maintain safe “following distance” from vehicle ahead. When I drove, one vehicle length for every ten miles an hour.

        So, for six bus platoon: Total bus length stopped: 6 x 60=360′. But at 60mph: 360′ total coach length is added to 5 x 600′ total following distance.

        So: 6 x 60′ buses = 360′ platoon length.
        +5 x 600′ following distances = 300′ following distance.

        So to move same number of passengers at 60mph, train needs 360′, while bus platoon needs 660′. Meaning that past a certain capacity, the whole section of the right of way has to slow down.

        Some other advantages include fact that disabled train can be pushed or pulled with other trains, while buses have to be towed individually.

        So my own “call” again:

        Lay the trackway for rail, tracks and all, and start operating it with buses. When we’ re ready to convert to trains, we’ll have ridership large enough to make them pay. And necessary to stay “rapid.”


      3. “There are riders who, if you believe some of the supporters of the 38 extension to the ID, refuse to ride a train.”

        Different people. Americans have gotten so soured on substandard bus service that many of them will only ride trains. Or they see broken promises on HOV lanes and they want a better guarantee. Or they have irrational fears about getting shot in the ghetto or their neighbors looking down on them if they ride “the poor bus”.

        Europeans, we are sometimes told, value trains and buses equally, because the buses aren’t substandard, trains are reserved for the highest-volume corridors that RossB would approve of, and the land use makes it easier to walk to bus stops and train stations. I don’t fully believe this however. Rents are highest around subway stations in Moscow, London, and probably other places, so many people do prefer to live near trains. Some of them don’t ride buses much because the subway goes almost everywhere they want to go, and they’d take the subway even if it’s a transfer but there’s a direct bus. Still we can say that Europeans have a better view of buses than Americans do, because their bus networks are much better.

        People who refuse to ride trains (or protest when they have to) are a distinct set. This is the other side of “buses for the poor”. The reasons people cite for taking the bus are (A) lower fares, (B) longer transfer time, (C) they feel intimidated on the train because more of the passengers are middle class, (D) they don’t understand how the train works and they have limited English-language skills, (E) they don’t like how the rail infrastucture impacts their neighborhoods (displacing houses, no left turns, ugly wires, no P&Rs, etc), or (F) the train doesn’t have enough stations so it goes by them without stopping. Most of these aren’t an intrinsic/permanent adversion to rail technology, but simply a matter of a few more dollars in their pocket if they take the bus. That’s hard to imagine in Europe, where social programs ensure they aren’t so desperately short on money for basic services.

    5. Complelely missing the point. Those buses routinely take 75-90 minutes to make the trip, with wide flucuations in reliability and performance. And those times will continue to degrade. Whereas the train will make it in 53 minutes, every single day, at every hour of the day. Speed and reliability, the asured prospect of beating bus and car travel times every day, are what belie the contention that future light rail ridership will equal current bus ridership.

      1. Which explains why Sounder North is so popular. And to think there are some who want to cancel the program.

        Sorry for the snark, but look. I get it. Traffic sucks. But most of the delay is close to Seattle, and all of that will be eliminated when Link gets to Lynnwood. As I said elsewhere, an express bus from just about anywhere in Everett will beat the train to Lynnwood. You don’t build billion dollar subways out that far and expect it to work. You add bus lanes. You use commuter rail. There just isn’t the demand in general, or certainly the demand for midway stops to justify the cost. No one has done this and had the kind of numbers (either with headways or ridership) that ST is promising. It is foolish to think that we will be different.

      2. RossB, you’re still going to have congestion north of Lynnwood. You also need to realize Spine Destiny goes back not 20 months but 20 plus years. We want what’s ours or we’re not going to support ST3, can you please understand?

      3. Well, not every single day. But if they do the necessary maintenance of way and keep the cars fit 99+% of the time.

      4. FWIW, the main slowdowns I see during my commutes are (from south to north): Northgate at the end of the express lanes, at the county line near Mountlake Terrace TC, between Alderwood Mall and Ash Way P&R, between SR 526 (Boeing Freeway) and 41st Street in Everett, and finally between Everett and Marysville.

        Definitely more than just what Lynnwood Link covers.

    6. The straight-up I-5 Link option will be 51 minutes from Everett Station to Westlake, even faster than Sounder! (26 minutes from Westlake to Lynnwood, 25 minutes from Lynnwood to Everett with this article).

      For comparison, ST Express bus 512 is scheduled for 65 minutes midday, and the 510 is scheduled to take 65 to 75 minutes during peak.

      1. Exactly Chad. BRT to Paine Field and an I-5 alignment will make it only judicious to retire the 510s-512s, respect the Spine Destiny, and save taxpayer money. Boeing should step up with a check for the light rail and the Boeing unions need to speak up.

  5. Good observation, Chris. Also- is color-key off, or am I missing something?

    Still think Everett would be good segment to check out idea of railway run with buses ’til trains get there. If you want to call it Bus Rapid Transit, for once the name will fit. Trackbed graded and curved for rail at design speed for future trains.

    The convertible trackway could go as far south as necessary, depending on how far north rail can get at any given time. And then keep extending north as time and money allow. since rails will already be in place, progressive conversion should be much easier that it was in the DSTT.

    Would be good if buses and trains could share same voltage. But even if not, would let us put some poles along the track ’til it’s time to hang the overhead.

    But main thing: I think could be the only answer that will prevent 2041 from becoming 25th anniversary of the defeat of ST3.

    Mark Dublin

  6. I’m having a tough time conceptualizing operations of a spur in this area. There are a lot of options.

    – There’s a minor engineering headache to be conquered for northbound trains to access the westbound spur, and eastbound spur trains heading back northbound. Unless….
    – The spur could be used as a northbound terminal station? That messes with riders coming from the few stations due north, who might have to transfer at a so-called “Paine Junction” station on the mainline. But since travel times would be relatively short from central Everett anyway, it might not be a problem.
    – Or, will the entire spur line be operationally separated, running as a shuttle line between “Paine Junction” and Industrial Center? Hear me out: Minimizes construction impact to line already in service, and allows for limited hours. Also allows for future expansion considerations towards Mukilteo separate from the rest of the spine. (Of course, this is all potentially an outrageously poor use of funds in terms of cost/rider, and I can’t see political will forming for an extension past the airport, at least not right now.)
    – Since this is still all dreamland anyway, the spur needs a line color — I vote for Silver.

    1. The service plan can be refined in the EIS based on further study of demand patterns, time-of-day issues and engineering considerations. At this point, the important thing is to present the macro concept.

    2. I believe that different colors on the projects say that, at least initially, the spur trains will be the Link version of the Princeton Shuttle, but with fewer book bags. As I said below, I do hope that the necessary wye to the Spine (trains gotta go to the car barn occasionally) is built to be revenue capable so that “direct service” to the Paine Air Terminal is possible at some time in the future.

      That would require extension of the spur which appears to end at SeaWay.

      1. I was thinking that a good service model would be like the Evanston Purple Line, where the line goes all the way into the Chicago Downtown Loop at commute hours, but is otherwise truncated at Davis Street at the north end of Chicago.

        In terms of operations, the SFO spur operation promo a second line could be workable operational scenario here, where a train backs into the end station after leaving Everett and the wye, then heads back out the other direction to the eye to continue into Seattle.

    1. There’s passenger service at the King County airport, and it’s a mile walk from the nearest bus stop.

      1. General aviation, not commercial. BFI is never going to be a commercial passenger airport. Paine will.

      2. Even though it’s down to only several flights, they are still cheaper than the flights out of Lake Union if you happen to be going to the San Jusn islands. Also, the gloat planes have very tight weight restrictions.

    2. As “Eye of the tiger” plays: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=btPJPFnesV4

      We got a fight on. We also got a real problem with the proposed Dave Somers Terminal at Paine Field…

      Namely the good guys are calling in every favor they got for mitigation. Including traffic mitigation.

      Save Our Communities tonight is finally learning the importance of rapid response. Just got this:

      You may have seen some recent media coverage of Paine Field and comments made by Propeller CEO Brett Smith who continues to minimize concerns regarding the scheduled service.

      The main concern is that commercial service will come with impacts that will grow over time unless there are limits. Remember, the FAA allows rates that cover ALL direct AND indirect costs.

      We understand that Mr. Smith, his investors and prospective airlines would rather minimize the impact issues, essentially ignoring legitimate concerns about how scheduled service over time would change the quality of life, transportation, noise, and air quality around our schools, all while decreasing tax revenues from lower home values.

      Mr. Smith has stated he wants to be a good neighbor and community partner. He can start by limiting scheduled service activity under his lease terms and agreeing to mitigate all reasonably determined impacts. Perhaps he will seriously consider doing so but we are not holding our breath.

      We must pursue ensuring that all costs to the public are covered, in every way we can (remember, if they don’t pay, you do!). Propeller and any airline they partner with should have no question in their minds about surrounding communities’ commitment to follow through and ensure there are no free passes. Stay tuned!

      These guys really could use a donation for the fight for traffic mitigation to make sure we get some GREAT transit options out of this. I chipped in $10. You?

  7. After 128th NB, it looks like a regional rail system with only one stop at the SR526 transfer station, before heading to Everett Station (about 7 miles total). That looks like Central Link from Henderson to TIBS, with a BARS stop.
    With a tall enough parking tower inside the SR526/I5 IC, some direct access ramps into it, and a high enough toll on I-5, you could just capture the first 20,000 cars that come along. (requires a huge ass sign saying “Free Parking ahead and cheap train rides to Seattle”.).

    1. There isn’t any good place to put a station on that stretch of I-5, which has a huge elevation distance between sides. I could argue for a provisional station at 41st Street (near the planned-but-abandoned riverfront development), but it’s really close to Everett Station already and would be better served by that old ST2 proposal for a streetcar.

      1. Sadly, that is a good example of what is frustrating about the I5 alignment.. I’d love to see access to transit near Madison as well as 41st, but the access to that area is so terrible, it’s hard to see how it could really work very well.

      2. Is a streetcar ever likely to happen? By the time Everett gets light rail I suspect federal funds for streetcars may be long gone.

      3. We can’t predict what future administrations or Congresses will be like. Even if we think we know what the next one will be, there’s the one after that, and the one after that… Any of them could either raise or lower transit grants, or finally get serious about infrastructure investment.

  8. My guess is Snohomish County reps will all fall in line behind the spur idea. It gives them the faster delivery time and also the rail they demand (numbers be damned) to Pane Field.

    I suspect the “yes” voters in Snohomish County won’t particularly care that its a freeway alignment (in fact, many probably think its the natural alignment, not being informed on how rail ridership works). I suspect these same “yes” voters won’t really care about the Pane field spur and may even vaguely think its a good idea.

    Politically this is probably a slam dunk.

    As RossB points out, the ROI is terrible, but I don’t think logical argumenents are going to stop spinefest destiny at this point.

    1. The suburbs are illogical in a lot of ways. We can’t fix it all right now. There are 2.5 million people in the suburbs who need transit alternatives, and we want them to have transit alternatives so they’ll drive less, and so that we can get around the area when we have errands up there or if we get priced out of Seattle someday. With a million people coming to the region and Seattle expecting a long-term maximum of maybe 1 million (380,000 above today), three quarters of them will be in the suburbs. What we can do is say no to highway expansion, compromise on suburban transit but insist on more Seattle subways, and let the market work on solar energy and alternatively-powered vehicles.

    2. The ROI on 130th isn’t that shiny, either, at least on paper. But ST’s method of counting “cachement” around stations could probably stand some refining to include bus-shed and bikeshed. At any rate, advocates of 130 are living in a glass house when it comes to criticizing the Everett project. Both have merit, and both have questionable return.

      Some at the Everett meeting were even criticizing the ROI on Ballard rail. The head of the org giving out the t-shirts had this to say, “The ribbon on the Everett light rail station should be cut before or the same time as anyone cuts the ribbon on the Ballard Station.”

      1. I get where you are coming from on Seattle 130th, but 3B versus 80M is a bit like comparing a glass house to a terrarium.

      2. Wow. Where to start. First of all, thanks Baselle, but it is actually 25 million (if we do it while constructing Lynnwood Link). The 80 million figure is if we build it later.

        Second, Brent, please look at a census map. Lake City has density — lots of it — Snohomish County does not. Seattle is growing considerably faster than any city in Snohomish County and Lake City is growing faster than the rest of the city.

        Third, proximity matters. Areas that are close to other urban areas have higher ridership. Look at BART, and look at the ridership per station. All of the stations that perform well are in the urban core (San Fransisco, Berkeley and Oakland). The best performing stations outside the urban core tend to be close to the city. Much closer to San Fransisco than Everett (or even Lynnwood) is to Seattle (and way closer to urban centers like Berkeley and Oakland). There just aren’t that many people from satellite cities that want to visit the core city (or core region as the case is with the Bay Area). So even if Everett was a lot more dense (like the cities in the Bay Area) and the train was blazing fast (like BART) and served a much more popular area, you still wouldn’t get high numbers for Everett the way you would with Lake City because it is just too far away.

        The return on NE 130th is obvious. It would enable much faster travel times for people in Lake City and Bitter Lake. I really don’t see that for any neighborhood north of Lynnwood, with an I-5 alignment. By the time the neighborhood bus reaches the station, it is just as fast to skip right by it (and the rest of the stations) and head to Lynnwood. It would be different if Northgate had ramps to serve it — then you could make the case that building a station at NE 130th is unnecessary (just get on the freeway) — but that isn’t the case. Lynnwood makes a decent terminus, because it has those ramps whereas Northgate does not.

        A station at NE 130th would enable a better grid as well. You could make the same case for much of I-5 alignment to Everett. That is about all they have in common. Spending 25 million for it probably pays for the savings in service. Spending billions for it does not. For that kind of money, you could simply build Swift 3, 4 and 5 and cover all the various east-west corridors at a much better level (along with express service to the Lynnwood Station).

      3. @baaelle or a glass mailbox… the numbers you listed are nearly two orders of magnitude apart.

  9. If Everett Mall does make the spine, this will indeed be the light rail that connects the malls of the PNW.

    Given how much Everett Mall has been struggling in recent years though, it might be time for them to consider redevelopment.

    1. And link will give them the customers to pull it off.They have all that parking they can build in.

      1. … or Link will swallow up the rest of their customers by giving even easier access to Alderwood Mall.

        Either way, light rail might boost the property value of Everett Mall and perhaps bring forth some mixed use development.

      2. “And link will give them the customers to pull it off.They have all that parking they can build in.”

        There’s a contradiction there. If people are arriving by train to shop they won’t have cars. If they’re using the mall as a P&R then they often won’t shop at the mall. So… maybe park Link trains there? A maintenance base site? A combination maintenance base, postmodern recreational park like Gasworks, and shopping mall?

    2. “connects the malls of the PNW.”

      Not yet. Despite making more financial sense than any other segment of the southern Link spine, Dome-Mall has not been included in ST3.

      1. Also, Southcenter is not connected.

        Reguardless, this is going to connect a lot of mall sites to eachother. Redevelopment is probably inevitable.

  10. Well, there you go. Everyone had a big meeting and talked it out, and it sounds like they came up with a new plan that works for everybody.

    This isn’t how packed public hearings usually work out. So Bravo to everyone involved.

  11. The timing differences between these proposals are interesting. The spine to Everett via Paine Field would take 22-25 years at a cost of $3.7-4.3 billion. The Paine Field spur would be done in 15 years for $3.3-3.5 billion.

    I would naively expect a 5-25% cost decrease to lead to no more than a 5-25% time decrease, since it seems like the time to complete a lot of the phases of the project (environmental impact, station construction, testing) shouldn’t speed up a whole lot just because you’re laying fewer miles of rail.

    And yet, Sound Transit predicts the Paine Field spur could be constructed 40% faster than the 2041 estimate for the original proposal, or 32% faster than the Snohomish proposal to avoid Evergreen Way. What is allowing them to predict such a huge time difference here?

  12. In a great article last week, Zach mentioned an article by Transport Politic about ridership metrics (http://www.thetransportpolitic.com/2016/04/22/which-riders-matter/). One of the items discussed was the number of hours of rider time saved. With some projects, you save a handful of riders a huge amount of time. With other projects, you save huge numbers of riders a bit of time. In general, it is a very helpful metric. But like all metrics, can be overused (or abused). It has tended to favor suburban riders, because their trips tend to be very long (perhaps looking at percentage of time saved might make more sense). In any event, it is worthwhile to consider for this project.

    Does this save anyone any time over a set of express buses headed to Lynnwood? It seems to me that any set of re-routing will likely cost people time. This means that you are entirely dependent on riders who walk to the station (and save a bit of time over their express bus) versus those who lose a bit of time because their bus stops before Lynnwood. With a cost of roughly $100,000 per rider (and that is using numbers from ST that are optimistic) that has to be one of the least cost effective projects ever designed. So, based on a solid metric that tends to favor suburban transit riders, this fails miserably.

    Has ST done this sort of analysis for this project? Am I missing something?

    1. RossB, unhitch yer wagon from ridership as the gold standard, or you will never get 130th Station. ST’s methodology is weighted toward the suburbs, thanks to the PSRC, so you might want to start asking ST to re-examine its way of counting riders.

      1. Assuming Sound Transit’s numbers (which, as you say, are pessimistic towards the city and optimistic towards the suburbs) the station at NE 130th would carry about 3,000 people a day. The station would cost about 25 million (if built while Lynnwood Link is being built) or less than one tenth the cost per rider than Everett Link. The savings per rider would also be substantial today, unlike Everett Link.

    2. Yes,. Ross, express buses to Lynnwood appear by far to be the proper technical solution. We get that you have replaced he-who-must-not-be-named as the resident train skeptic. And, in fact, I agree that the system to be completed under ST2, with a big bus intercept north of West Kent and maybe an extension to 164th in Sno Co would be sufficient for the Spine, but that position completely ignores the political realities. ST has been drawing an unbroken line from Tacoma to Everett for too long to stop proposing it while at the same time adding more lines in Seattle. Even if, “yes”, it’s technically superior.

      Unfortunately, the folks in Snohomish County do not have control over the operation of the HOV lanes on I-5; WSDOT does. And if, perish the thought, the Port Commissioner wins the governorship you can be double-darn betcha certain that providing transit reliability in those lanes is headed even farther down the list of DOT priorities than it demonstrably is today.

      So the Snohomians are spreading their bets.

      To the technicals, if an I-5 alignment is chosen why would you think that expresses to Lynnwood would still be faster than closer transfers? Sure, the farther north the interchange is made the more accumulated station dwell and slowdowns the train must overcome. But fifteen years there’s really no telling how bad the performance of the HOV lanes will be. But one thing is absolutely certain, it will be worse than it is now. On a Federal-only holiday the express buses all the way to Lynnwood from north of Everett might very well kick butt over an Everett Station transfer. Ditto buses entering anywhere in between down to about 164th, albeit to a successively lesser degree as fewer stations would delay the train.

      But on a normal workday the train is actually going to win for most riders in the absence of a separated reversible busway for peak direction buses. Which of course wouldn’t cost quite as much as the train infrastructure, but wouldn’t be free with the necessity of having accesses to it.

      1. +1

        Of course Link to Everett along I-5 isn’t a part of any ridership-and-data transit nerd’s fantasy map, but it’s been obvious for a long time that it’s part of the package, like it or not.

        Given the status quo, this spur/BRT plan is awesome news. It is better on ridership, cost, delivery date, speed, and cost for daily riders.

      2. OK, fair enough. I just wanted to make sure I didn’t miss anything. From every conceivable metric, this is a horrible project, but … politics. Got it. I do really feel sorry for folks in Snohomish County.

        Anyway, as far as the particulars, it really depends on the bus as well as the station location. But from what I’ve seen, it is often easier to get to the south bound ramps of I-5 (with an HOV lane) than it is the park and ride. From highway 2 (e. g. Lake Stevens) and north of Everett (Marysville) it is faster to just keep going on the freeway (as the 425, 421 and 422 do now). From 526, it looks a lot faster to get on southbound I-5 than it is to get to Eastmont Park and Ride (where I assume they will put a station). Mariner looks fine from the west (where the station is) but not so good from the east (where a couple buses go). Swift 2 will go along 128th, though, so that should really help things. Is Sound Transit prepared to put the station right on 128th, and not the park and ride a few blocks away? Somehow I doubt it. South of there you are close enough to the Lynnwood station (which has bus lanes right to its front door) to be a wash, even if you added a station at Alderwood Mall.

        I’m really not trying to stretch things here. I’m not trying to say this has no value. But unless the HOV lanes really gets horrible, I don’t see this as being a net positive, unless they continue to run express buses to Lynnwood (the way they plan on running express buses from Federal Way, apparently). But if that is the case, we are talking about a very tiny time savings for a very small number of riders. That just seems crazy to me (politics be damned).

      3. I’m sure any I-5 BRT proposal in Everett would skip Eastmont P&R, considering that Silver Lake P&R is just one-half mile away and has dedicated HOV exit ramps both north and south.

      4. In the spirit of comity, I feel sorry for them too. But those million people supposedly coming gotta be housed somewhere, and SFH Seattle and Bellevue (e.g. everywhere except urban villages and — I hope — the tops of all the ridges) isn’t going to absorb more than 15% of them. Maybe the urban villages and tops of the ridges can hoover up another 25%. Which leaves 600,000 people to house.

        Now the region can make them live in Lake Stevens or it can put density in Snohomish and South King Counties. Roughly a decade and a half remains for a 2031 build-out and lots of refactoring in the “close-in” areas outside North King can happen in that time. There will be many more people wanting quality transit in mid- and southwest Snohomish County and in south and southeast King Counties at that time. The trains will be full; the only downside is that they may be too full to accept many people from Seattle. I sincerely hope ST means what it says about building a tail-track for reversing north of Northgate.

      5. Oh, and by 2031 there will be such a clamor for the “Duwamish Bypass” that will make the then Board curse today’s for not having reserved right of way for it.

      6. HALA almost killed SFZ in Seattle. In another few years, that will be a winnable fight.

        The Duwamish by-pass is a red herring. Rail access to Seattle from the South is best provided by speed, frequency, and span-of-service improvements to Sounder; a Sounder-Link transfer station at BAR; and Link trusses connecting the Link spine to the Puyallup, Auburn, Kent, and Tukwila Sounder stations to faciliate transfers to the proper rail technology for travel of such distance (assuming those of us in the South area who realize what a bad idea further Link extension is will be unable to stop it).

  13. On the one hand kodos to ST for coming up with a plan that better serves Snohomish County given the political constraints at hand. On the other hand it’s disheartening that it took Sound Transit this long to come up with the Paine Field spur/stub idea. If you measure the distances and use typical multipliers for the cost of elevated verse at grade alignments, it was pretty obvious that a stub option would likely cost less and garner more riders by speeding up trips to Everett.

    People on this blog often note that Sound Transit has to pick such and such alignment because of political constraints. And of course political constraints and political “promises” dictate much of what is proposed and that’s fine. But the delay in proposing the stub line seemingly had nothing to do with political constraints. Instead, the delay suggests to me that Sound Transit is just not that good or creative with route planning.

    1. Alex;

      It just took time to get this idea fleshed out. Time to do the research and gin up enough data to come up with an estimate that looked real and wouldn’t overpromise & underdeliver. Better to do it right than have folks say, “You promised back in 1996…”

      1. I don’t see why it would have taken any longer than the other three options (i-5, Paine field, and sr-99) proposed last year.

      2. But this still doesn’t answer the fundemental question of why it wasn’t considered earlier. Why were those other options conceived of years ago, but this one wasn’t.At some point up the timeline sound transit decided “nah we aren’t going to study this” (or more likely just didn’t think of it) and I think that shows a lack of foresight and thoughtfulness.

  14. In the face of unified Snohomish County rejection of an SR99 alignment, this is by far the best solution available for extending Link to Everett. I would add only one caveat: for a score millions more I expect that you could have a cross-platform transfer rather than a separate platform for the spur at the 526 intersection. There has to be some connection between the Spine tracks and the spur tracks if LRT is chosen, so a half-wye at a minimum is necessary. Build the turnout to the spur far enough south of the interchange station to include a crossover between the platforms and the turnout and a pocket track for reversing north of the platforms. A train from Paine [after staying mostly on the plain] would slip through the cross-over to stop on the northbound side of the platform briefly to discharge passengers the enter the pocket to reverse. Ideally this would be just before a northbound train. After the next southbound train passes, it would exit the pocket, call at the platform and enter the spur.

    In the best of all possible worlds, north and southbound trains would be scheduled to meet at the interchange so that the spur train would serve passengers to and from both the north and south equally.

    Doing this would allow for direct Everett-Paine operation should it ever become a “train to the plane” with the start of commercial service to the airfield.

    Obviously that would also require extending the spur to the air terminal, so one hopes ST makes allowance for that at SeaWay. Adding an additional stop for the terminal to a spur line would not raise the same objections that would adding it to the main spine.

    To allow for the wildest of futures in which Paine really takes off [you may groan now, dear reader], at the proper distance south of the spur, widen the separation between the tracks sufficiently to allow a third center track long enough to hold a Paine-bound train before it crosses the southbound Spine track. Such a “left-turn pocket” would allow for inexpensive addition of direct service to and from the south in the future.

    1. In the best of possible worlds, the Paine Field branch trains would occupy the center track at a three track two platform station, so no preposterous transfer penalties are required.

      1. Like Beaverton TC. Yes, that would be a good way to do it, as long as there are connections to both tracks “beyond” (from the point of view of the spur) the platform so that direct service is also possible.

  15. ST said it has received 50,000 comments. How can anyone ever read all those? Even if some of them are only one paragraph, the total must be twenty-five times longer than “War and Peace” or “Lord of the Rings”, and it often takes people a month to read those. So will ST divide it into teams to each read and summarize 2,000 of them? How many comments will the board members read even if they really want to read all of them?

    1. At most they are probably using software to try and bucket the comments into rough categories to turn into statistics.

    2. My advice if you REALLY want to be heard: Show up at a meeting. Send flowers. Write a letter to the editor. Do all three like me.

      Never hurts. Which reminds me, I got FTD hard at work…

      1. OK Brent, hope you don’t work in the Sound Transit Planning Office. :-).

        The FTD message:

        Thank U Sound Transit Planning Staff for coming to Everett. Please accept as a token of appreciation & ST3 comment to plz serve Everett w/ light rail by 2031 & Paine Field with Bus Rapid Transit. Pictures please!

        Figured an unconventional, thoughtful comment in FTD® Beyond Blue™ Bouquet (best) w/ chocolates to share would cut through the #ST3 clutter. We need to be memorable and we are thoughtful up here in The North. Being mean or ungrateful is going to hurt us in The North.

  16. This is encouraging. I really feel like the whole st3 package needs to be revised to just include those items that can be put into service in 15 years (2031EIS). Any longer and most voters will be inclined to vote no. If this means a smaller package than so be it.

    1. It was voters’ clamor for more projects and a clear long-term timeline that led to the expansion to 25 years in the first place. Did they completely reverse their attitude in one year?

      1. Let’s remember Seattle Subway was leading the charge for ST3 to go BIG and got through to Karen & her people. :-).

        The torch has now passed to us in the North to block, block for some Russelin’ to win in November!

    2. Do you mean 15 years from the vote, or 15 years from completion of ST2 projects? — the latter of which is essentially what ST3 is.

    3. Well, then, bye-bye Ballard-SLU-downtown. Because the tunnel can’t be finished by 2031 no matter how much money they throw at it. There are a lot more deep basements along Fourth and Fifth Avenues today than there were when the DSTT was built along Third. The distance between the surface at Fifth and Madison and track level is much greater than it is at University or Pioneer Square under Third. That means “Midtown” Station is going to be a lollapalooza to dig, and they want to mine it out using the tubes to remove the spoils a-la-Gotthard Base Tunnel. The Westlake and IDS stations, while both shallower, face the same need to be mined because they’ll a least in part be underneath buildings not entirely within the street ROW.

      It’s going to be a huge engineering challenge, but worth it, for sure.

  17. I am curious to how much driverless cars will add to the ridership of our suburban light rail lines such as this one. We might not need many parking lots in our suburban stations if everyone can just tell their car to drive home after dropping them off. The parking lot could then just be a “cell phone parking lot” for people to have their automatic cars park for 15-30 minutes when they are on the train home in the afternoon. Is it really that crazy to think this could happen by 2031?

    People wont be able to ride in their driverless cars all the way to their destination because the freeways will be even more of parking lot. But they should be able to easily drive from across town to the station and then send their car home. This could change our whole thinking on station parking lots. They could even be converted eventually to 1 hour parking if driverless cars are the norm.

    1. Wouldn’t you simply shift to a traffic jam of wireless cars inside/getting into each park & ride during peak?

      I’d be thinking more in terms of a long distance GPS unit on you, timed go off when you crossed a certain point on the spine. The driverless car would then time itself, match its travel to the travel of the train car to get there just in time. You wouldn’t need to time (or mistime) it yourself.

  18. To Metro Coach Operator #2495:

    ” 6 x 60′ buses= 360′.

    ” One coach length for every ten miles an hour = 60′ = x 6= 360′ following distance between each coach.

    “Five following spaces in a six coach platoon = 5 x 360′ following distance = 1800′ total following distance.

    “360′ of buses + 1800′ of following distance = 2160′.

    “2160 / 5280 = four tenths of a mile.

    “Same distance you need to run before I shoot. Come back to duty when we get trains. But good thing the anti-rail people are hiring consultants. So who cares if you ever get this right?”

    Signed: Your Base Chief.

    Hate cleaning desks. Where’s that shredder?


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