On May 5 at Sound Transit’s Executive Committee, Sound Transit Staff  presented initial results of the ST3 Draft Plan public comment period that ended on May 2, and EMC Research presented the results of a separate region wide phone poll. After a Friday the 13th weekend, here are 13 takeaways from that presentation.

#1: Huge Overall Response

Puget Sound residents and their governments were more than willing to take a few minutes of their time to weigh in on what is clearly a pressing issue in their daily lives. Sound Transit received 35,000 completed online surveys and 2,300 written public comments, had 1,200 meeting attendees, and received formal letters from 90 jurisdictions or stakeholder groups.

#2. Central Puget Sound Dominates Responses

For all the political importance of completing the spine, only 20% of responses came from Pierce and Snohomish County combined, and 65% came just from Central Puget Sound, namely Seattle (45%) and the Eastside (20%). South King County accounted for only 6% of responses, less than the number of responses from out-of-district residents (8%).

#3. Voter Optimism is High

Puget Sound residents generally feel that things are going well, with 53-55% of voters consistently saying we’re “on the right track”, up 10 points since the recession ended in 2011.

#4. People Like Sound Transit

Sound Transit has consistently had a better than 60% overall approval rating since 2004, with support down slightly from its all-time high of 69% on 2014.

#5. Transit Votes Better Than Roads

In the phone survey, only 38% preferred highway spending to transit when asked to choose between the two, while 70% said expanding transit was either urgent or extremely urgent.

#6. Voters Instinctively Support Sound Transit Expansion

76% of voters approve of Sound Transit expansion in the abstract, and all 5 subareas have supermajority approval, running from a low of 69% support in South King County to 81% in Seattle. However, this level of overall support is also down from an all-time high of 85% in 2014.

#7. The ST3 Draft Plan is Less Popular, But Not By Much

After being read a description of projects in the ST3 Draft Plan (but without a timeline), package support drops from 76% to 65%.

#8. People Care More About Time Than Cost

Overall polling support remained steadfast after a description of costs and annual taxes were read to respondents, dipping only slightly from 65% to 63%. When project timelines were read, support dropped more significantly, from 63% to 59%.

#9. East King <3 West Seattle

East King’s highest rated priority in the phone survey was Link to West Seattle, higher than any Eastside Project, edging out even the assured extension to from Overlake to Downtown Redmond.

#10. South King Looks North

South King’s phone survey respondents rated both Boeing Access Road Station and Link to West Seattle more highly than completing the spine to Tacoma.

#11. Pierce Cares More About Sounder Than Link

Pierce County’s phone survey respondents prioritized Sounder extension to Dupont over Link to Federal Way/Seattle.

#12. Snohomish <3 130th St Station.

Though Paine Field did quite well in the online survey (likely because politicians ably got out the vote), on the phone survey it barely edged out support for Sounder parking and building 130th Street Station.

#13. West Seattle Edges Out Ballard

Surprisingly, enthusiasm for Link to West Seattle outperformed Ballard in the phone survey, even though Ballard trounced all in the online survey. West Seattle got high marks from four subareas, while Ballard’s interest seems more confined to Seattle.

133 Replies to “13 Takeaways from ST3’s Public Comment Period”

    1. The phone survey is presumably a random sample. It’s interesting to compare phone vs. online responses for things like the 130th station.

      I also thought it was notable that a couple of subareas had SR-522 BRT in their top 5, while I-405 BRT didn’t make the cut.

    2. > #s 9 & 13 prove that West Seattle is way more organized than Ballard…:(

      I would think it shows the opposite: you can use social media to encourage people to fill-out an online survey. That kind of “rigging” for a randomized phone survey would be much harder to accomplish.

      1. A few things of note:

        1. The number of phone surveys were 1001, more than an order of magnitude less than the online survey.

        2. Note sure how they choose phone interviewees, but I don’t have a landline and my cellphone has an area code not represented by my current ST region. This is very common among the younger people more likely to be informed of the current ST3 plan, understand the implications and use transit in the future.

        3. Out of area people might just think “West Seattle has one way in and out to downtown and it’s always congested, therefore it needs mass transit sooner.” If there’s an accident on the Ballard Bridge, you may hear about it, but it doesn’t have

      2. RapidRider posts an excellent question: phone surveys in this day and age can mean dramatically different things depending on how they are carried out. While you can’t get everyone such as those with out of state area codes, this survey might be heavily skewed to people who own homes with landlines (less likely to ride transit), not renters with cell phones (more likely to ride transit). Has anyone looked into this?

      3. Oh, and they claim to have chosen the population to be reflective of the population of registered voters.

      4. Population of registered voters skews it a bit older, less renting population than the general population … but their goal is to get support among voters, not residents, which is a slightly different population

    3. A lot of people have experienced the West Seattle Bridge. Fewer have experienced gridlock trying to get to Ballard. Once the viaduct is gone, and getting to Ballard involves taking Aurora, clogging streets in Belltown, or taking a slow bus, a lot more people will suddenly appreciate the need for Link to Ballard.

      Some respondents from other areas may think Ballard is part of West Seattle, and not know where Ballard is.

      1. It’s surprising that East King thinks West Seattle is more urgent than any of its own projects. But it makes sense if they think they’re supporting sensible transit solutions to the greatest barriers. They already have East Link approved so that’s out of the way. They may occasionally go to West Seattle and see the bridge and imagine it gets clogged peak hours like their own bridges do, plus they read in the newspaper about West Seattle delays every few days. Meanwhile, from their houses on Cougar Mountain and Newport Hills, they think the Eastside’s needs are too diffuse for high-capacity transit (thinking of 405 BRT and Issaquah Link) to meet more than a small fraction of their needs, so better to invest where it can do more good.

      2. Mike, as a Sammamish resident, that’s pretty much how I feel. I’d rather see East King money go toward building a high quality system in the core of Seattle than building suburban infrastructure that will forever saddle the system with high operating costs for mediocre ridership. About the only thing that seems like a good use of funds in ST3 on the Eastside is extending East Link to Redmond and targeted bus improvements.

        Of course, what I’d really like is to pause East Link and use some of the Eastside ST3 money to build the right alignment through downtown Bellevue, but that ship has sailed…

    4. goes to show that Seattle Subway was stuffing the ballets with the survey but couldn’t do so with the phone interviews.

      1. Encouraging people to comment in a public comment period is somehow bad now?

        Seattle subway is and has been fighting for west seattle too.

      2. Jon C is from West Seattle. I think he would have noticed if Seattle Subway wasn’t organizing for/in West Seattle.

      3. Meh. West Seattle and Ballard to Downtown were always going to be in ST3, either because of politics (Mayor promised LRT to West Seattle and Ballard, Dow Constantine lives in West Seattle) and/or interested stakeholders (Amazon, Expedia, Gates Foundation benefit from Ballard to Downtown as opposed to Ballard to UW, which wasn’t even listed as a choice in the survey). The only questions I had for North King were whether Ballard to UW would be in ST3 to offset the long wait for Ballard to Downtown (unlikely) and whether they could somehow speed up Ballard to downtown (we’ll see).

      4. ST3 might not have happened at all if it weren’t for Seattle Subway’s push to have a ballot measure.

      5. West Seattle and Ballard are also half the city that’s furthest from ST2 Link. That’s why there was a monorail planned there, and they’re still trying to fulfill it. Ballard-UW lost its chance when the budget could barely fit Ballard-dowtown and West Seattle-downtown; there’s no extra few billion if West Seattle is non-droppable.

      6. @JonC “people to comment in a public comment period is somehow bad now” is not bad at all. but over indulgence with a means is. Phone interviews are much more controlled and hence are abused less and more indicative of what people want.

      7. @Mike — The monorail was specifically chosen to not interact with Link. It is crazy for ST to choose the route, unless it is choosing symbolic, superficial improvements over sensible ones. I think they count on people treating light rail like it is a freeway (even to the point of putting almost all of our lines close to our existing ones).

      8. Not interacting with Link and being an underserved quarter of the city are the same thing.

      9. Les,

        Seattle Subway has done things like meet with the Burien Democrats in order to help them understand the design options and the process, in order to put them in the best position to advocate for their community.

        You think that Seattle Subway only cares about Ballard. That’s not true. We care about stitching our city and region together with high quality, high capacity transit. That stance, at its core, can’t be about only one place.

      10. @Mike Not interacting with Link and being an underserved quarter of the city are the same thing.

        No they’re not. For example, a UW to Ballard line would of course interact with Link, even if all it did was share a station (at a different level). Yet it serves an under served area. Same with extensions. The line to the UW obviously interacts with the existing line.

        But again, the monorail route was specifically chosen so at to not interact with Link. No shared stations, no extensions, no shared track, none of that. They had no faith in what Sound Transit was doing, and wanted nothing to do with them. Much of their support came from that (as Sound Transit struggled with their estimates, their popularity dropped). That is one reason why they chose the route they did. If they had chosen, say, Ballard to UW or UW to downtown, they would have had to work with Link. Of course, the west side (where there is a lot of existing rail) makes sense for an above ground route, so that was another factor. But there was no plans for mixing the stations at all, even when they ran close to each other (downtown).

        The route only made sense given their limited criteria (no cooperation with ST, elevated the whole way). It would be foolish for ST to pay any attention to such a route.

      11. “But again, the monorail route was specifically chosen so at to not interact with Link. No shared stations, no extensions, no shared track, none of that. They had no faith in what Sound Transit was doing, and wanted nothing to do with them. Much of their support came from that (as Sound Transit struggled with their estimates, their popularity dropped). That is one reason why they chose the route they did. If they had chosen, say, Ballard to UW or UW to downtown, they would have had to work with Link.”

        They chose Ballard and West Seattle to avoid overlapping with Link’s transit market. Nobody suggested shared stations then, neither on the monorail side nor the ST side nor anybody else that I heard. The only place they could share was the DSTT, which was already built but the monorail would be in the air and on 2nd Avenue. Not having a Ballard-UW line was due to downtown-centrism, which was stronger then than it is now. I don’t remember if the monorail’s long-term plan had a Ballard-UW line. But if you’re going to suggest they didn’t put Ballard-UW first because they didn’t want to share a U-District station with ST, where’s the evidence?

    5. When people visit the movie theatre or restaurants in Ballard or go to Golden Gardens, it isn’t when the Ballard Bridge and 15th and Mercer are all at their worst. You’d have to actually live in Crown Hill or Magnolia to see that.

      Everyone can see the West Seattle Suckiness from downtown.

      1. I really don’t think anyone who visits West Seattle would claim that they encounter more traffic getting there than getting to Ballard. I go to both places quite a bit, but I have never encountered a problem getting to West Seattle. I used to go to school there, and it was never a problem. Once you cleared downtown (got to SoDo if you will) it is smooth sailing.

        Getting to Ballard from the south is often a pain. All it takes is for the bridge to go up ten minutes before you get there and you are crawling. Meanwhile, getting from the UW to Ballard is worst of all. There is no fast way to get there any time of day.

        I think there is simply a ridiculous preference for light rail routes that follow the freeway, even though such routes are often stupid. If there was a Ballard to UW freeway, my guess is there would be more support for a Ballard to UW line, which just shows how strong the driving and freeway preference is. Ballard to UW makes way more sense because their isn’t a freeway, but people don’t think that way. Congestion on a freeway = demand = build more light rail. No transit planner in the world would feel that way, but ST does, and maybe the public does as well.

      2. You don’t have to actually visit West Seattle to see the traffic backup on the bridge though.

        Ballard traffic is hidden behind a hill or two.

        A pretty wide area gets to see the traffic on the West Seattle bridge. Anything northbound on I-5, for example.

      3. Ah, good point, Glenn. That makes sense. As I said (somewhere) I think there may be some screwy logic going on:

        1) Bad traffic on the freeway is worse than a congested surface street.
        2) The solution to bad traffic on the freeway is light rail.

        Both of these arguments are very weak, but I think that may be the way people view things.

      4. A bridge funnels traffic to it. That congestion is highly visible, and every minute people are in it they think about how there’s no alternative. The West Seattle bridge is long, and the only other way out is a big detour around the south end of the penninsula and possibly another bridge which is also bottlenecked. In Ballard, the bridge is short, there are many approaches right up to the bridge deck, many ways to turn another way if you see congestions, and there are two other short bridges nearby and three more bridges beyond that if the Ballard Bridge is clogged. Which it doesn’t get that clogged because of the many approaches and alternatives.

      5. The Ballard bridge doesn’t get that clogged? What? Yes, the West Seattle freeway bridge is long. So what? That just proves my point. Take any arbitrary spot in Ballard, then draw a line to the other side roughly the distance of similar trip from West Seattle. Do you really think the Ballard trip is faster, on average? Of course it isn’t. It isn’t even close. But again, people view freeways differently, and your post is a great example of it. If freeway traffic moves at 10 MPH, during one part of the day, in one direction, and people scream about it. But if a regular surface street averages 10 MPH, then it is just fine and dandy.

  1. I’d say the low response rate for South King, Tacoma & Everett is because they generally like what they’re getting in the draft. This isn’t so much the case for Seattle and the Eastside, so the letters came rolling in.

    1. South King has long been the least supportive of raising taxes for transit. Several Metro measures failed there too. It seems to be because of the area’s low income; many people feel they can’t afford transit taxes. That’s ironic because much of the area is car-dependent and voting down transit measures only reinforces it.

      1. @Mike Orr:

        Part of the problem is that any believeable rate of transit spending isn’t going to do a thing to reduce South King’s car dependence. The land use decisions there (and in many other places too) are just not conducive to effective transit.

        With respect to Metro funding in particular, it probably doesn’t help that the (I believe basically correct) decision to abandon 40-40-20 in favor of the current service guidelines has the effect of ensuring that very little of any new taxation isn’t going to get spent in S. King anyway.

      2. Yeah, and a lot of the problems are also due to our horrible tax system. Sales taxes are very regressive, as are the taxes on cars. They are often based on each car, which means a guy who owns a couple of old beaters pays more than a guy who drives a new BMW.

  2. > Surprisingly, enthusiasm for Link to West Seattle outperformed Ballard in the phone survey

    Do you think this was surprising to everyone, or only to those who spend their time in the Ballard-uber-alles echo-chamber that is STB?

    1. I answered the non-rhetorical part above.

      Rogoff clearly gets it that a lot of people from Ballard have not experienced the gridlock between Everett and Lynnwood, and a lot of Everetters don’t know how slow it is getting between Ballard and downtown.

      There are a few in the commentariat who want all-for-us-and-none-for-them, but that’s just the commentariat.

      1. Sure, the result could be due to any number of reasons. Still, it’s telling that the only place Zach felt compelled to insert an editorial comment was when talking about this result.

    2. There’s just a ton more people who will use the Ballard to DT line than WS to DT, making it the more attractive project. That’s just fact.

      1. Sure, and there are also a ton more people using I-405 than using the Kirkland Rail Corridor. That doesn’t automatically make it a better choice for rail.

    3. I think it is a surprise to everyone. Let’s break it down here:

      1) How many people go to West Seattle from the north or the east? From my experience, very few. I drive there in the morning all the time (and come back in the evening) and the only problem I have is with downtown. Now, obviously this is a freeway, so it can handle lots of people, but still, it just doesn’t seem like that many people. There are jobs there, but not as many as in Ballard, and certainly not as many as the combined area served by Ballard light rail (South Lake Union, Lower Queen Anne and Interbay). As far as destinations go, this doesn’t serve the main ones, South Seattle College and Alki.

      2) There is great need for a public transportation solution here. Again, I don’t see it. Most of the people that suffer with congestion in West Seattle are those that live in West Seattle (and commute via the freeway). This is due not to the number of people on the freeway (the freeway is nowhere near capacity) but from the number of people on I-5 and SR99. The West Seattle freeway is essentially a huge on-ramp, and like all on-ramps to I-5, it is clogged. Add a dozen lanes to the West Seattle freeway and nothing changes. Add a dozen lanes to I-5 and everything is great for a West Seattle driver (for a while, until induced demand kicks in).

      3) This is the best solution for improving West Seattle transit. This is obviously false, but I don’t blame people for not looking into the details. Before I got on this blog and did the research, I would have felt the same way. Trains are always better than buses. That isn’t the case, but I’m not surprised that people feel that way.

      So I really doubt personal experience (tons of people trying to get to the Junction and being stuck in traffic) is not the problem. Something else might be going on. I think there are a few possibilities:

      1) People equate freeway traffic with the need for light rail. This has been the mantra of Sound Transit for a very long time. They even go so far as to suggest that building light rail will improve traffic (that is a big part of their campaign). A clogged surface street doesn’t get noticed, but if a freeway is moving slower than 60 MPH, people think it is a travesty.

      2) People like the idea of going to West Seattle. This is similar to why the airport was chosen. It doesn’t make sense, but people can see themselves using it some day. This seems weird to me, though. While Alki and other spots in West Seattle are certainly nice, it doesn’t strike me as a “if only there was a nice train there, I would go” type of destination from places like Bellevue.

      3) Geographic balance. West Seattle is viewed (rightly in my opinion) as being more of an independent entity, whereas serving Ballard is just serving another part of the north end. The line to West Seattle also takes a much sharper angle. On a map it seems to cover more of the city.

      4) A second line through downtown Seattle seems redundant. For whatever reason, Ballard is tied to that aspect of the project, and it may hurt them as a result. In other words, their might be more support for a rail line from Ballard to Westlake than there is for the existing plan. It is also possible that Ballard to the UW would gain more support outside the city.

      In any event, it is very strange to me. I have lived in West Seattle, I have several relatives in West Seattle and visit there all the time, but I find the result rather surprising.

      1. Agreed, except your claim that there is a lack of transit demand. Two of the top ten bus lines in the city go across the WS bridge (C-line & 120), with total ridership exceeding 20,000 daily just on the express portion crossing the bridge (and this on buses that are stuck in traffic more often than not!). Additionally there are a half-dozen less frequent lines serving the same corridor as well, adding 5,000-10,000 more to the daily total.

        Sure, this demand could probably be better-served by “True” BRT, but that’s not an option that any agency has seriously put on the table (and historically we have very good reason to doubt whether Metro/ST/SDOT will be able to deliver on such things).

        Light Rail to West Seattle makes sense. I’m just glad the general public recognizes that, even as much the STB community insists on keeping on their blinders.

      2. I think Ballard to UW would have more Eastside support than Ballard to Downtown, for selfish reasons: many of us (anecdotally) can imagine using the Ballard-UW line either from a 520 bus or from Eastlink itself to get to the bars/restaurants in Ballard, Fremont, Wallingford, etc., or maybe even to the Zoo, depending on the location of the line.

      3. >> and this on buses that are stuck in traffic more often than not!

        Oh, come on. During noon these buses aren’t stuck in traffic and you know it. Hell, even during evening rush hour they aren’t stuck from SoDo to West Seattle (either direction). They are only stuck in traffic in the morning and only in one direction. Well, join the club. Try taking the 8, or the 44 or dozens of other buses during rush hour. Hell, try taking them in the middle of the day. Seriously, can you tell me with a straight face that riding the 8, or the 44 at noon is faster than riding the 120 at noon? Nonsense. How about this comparison: North Queen Anne to downtown versus West Seattle Junction to downtown (or the 13 versus the C). At what time of day is the North Queen Anne bus faster? I would really like to know because I think the answer is never. It is never even close. The C is way faster, day or night. All West Seattle buses are.

        You are basically complaining about a corridor that is crowded only part of the day as justification for a light rail line. You use numbers for entire lines — lines that spread far beyond the small area that would be served by Link, to justify one of the most stupid investments imaginable. Public transit doesn’t work that way. It isn’t a freeway. You have to actually get to the station (you can’t drive on). Most of the day (I literally mean “most”) it is simply faster for a bus to get on the freeway. By the time someone gets off the bus, walks down the long set of stairs to the station, the bus will be half way to SoDo.

        If you want to talk bus ridership, take a look at the 7. It has way more riders than any bus that serves West Seattle. So why not run a light rail line along that path? I can tell you right now what people would say if you proposed that. Rainier Valley already has light rail — we want some. That is an ignorant attitude that ST is all to happy to exploit. If they are successful it will mean spending billions on a line that will only work for a very small percentage of the people who live there. Just as very few people get off the 7 and transfer to Link, very few people will get off the 120 or the 21, and transfer to Link. West Seattle light rail will only work for the subset of riders that take the C, which has a lot fewer riders than the 7, the 8, the 36, the 48 and a bunch of other buses.

        Your damn right true BRT (or gold level BRT) would be better, yet ST hasn’t proposed it. All the more reason to tell this agency no on ST3, because they obviously don’t know what the hell they are doing.

      4. @Eastside Rider — From a regional standpoint, I think Ballard to UW is better than Ballard to downtown. Certainly it is when it comes to getting to Ballard. If you are coming or going from the north, it much better. In fact, taking the Ballard to downtown light rail line from north of the ship canal (to Ballard) will never make sense (the speed of the light rail can’t make up for the distance). The same is true for a 520 bus. You have to be coming from the south for Ballard to downtown to be faster than Ballard to UW, and even then it will only save a couple minutes.

        Of course, neither line should be viewed as simply a way to get to the endpoint. The stops along each one are significant. I think they balance each other out, though. While the stops along the way to Ballard from downtown are great, the stops from Ballard to UW interact much better with the buses. Once you extend the region a bit (e. g. Kirkland to Greenwood) Ballard to UW is not only a much better value, but simply a better line.

      5. Just because light rail is right for other parts of the city doesn’t make it wrong for West Seattle, (or Ballard, or Redmond, or &c).

        You could make the same arguments against *any* ST3 line, Ballard included.

        If you want to make the perfect the enemy of the good and vote down ST3, that’s your prerogative.

      6. “You are basically complaining about a corridor that is crowded only part of the day as justification for a light rail line.”

        Maybe the only justification is that the bridge is a single point of failure that stops like a cork when there’s an accident. That happens enough times a year that it’s worth it in a lot of people’s minds. Think of it as insurance.

      7. If we are worried about single point of failures, why are we building light rail? If the train breaks down, it completely shuts down the entire line. If there is a bus accident in the tunnel, the other buses just go on the surface. Not ideal, but better than nothing. It seems to me that a BRT system is a lot more resilient. Not that I would spend a huge amount of time worrying about it. I would trade our transit system for ones like New York and DC in a heartbeat, but those definitely break down. In general, it is rarely worth the cost to make a system 100% reliable (100% safe is a different matter). People fly on airplanes knowing full well that their plane might be delayed. We could change the system (cut down flights dramatically) to make it more reliable, but people aren’t willing to pay the cost. I see no difference with transportation in the city (lots of people drive to work, which is probably the least reliable form of transportation).

      8. Just because light rail is right for other parts of the city doesn’t make it wrong for West Seattle, (or Ballard, or Redmond, or &c).

        No, but that wasn’t my argument.

        You could make the same arguments against *any* ST3 line, Ballard included.

        Pretty much, yes. Just a review of my argument: Given the travel patterns, the stops along the way and the fact that there is an alternative that can be leveraged, BRT to West Seattle makes more sense than light rail. It would save more time for more people at less cost.

        I can make the same argument for the spine, certainly. I can also make the same argument for Issaquah to Bellevue light rail (boy, can I ever).

        Ballard to downtown is a bit trickier, I would make the argument that the WSTT is better overall than Ballard to downtown rail. Add in a new (bus only) Ballard bridge and it makes the case even stronger. So, assuming all the same treatment from Queen Anne to Ballard, it makes for an interesting comparison. From a stop perspective, the WSTT has Belltown, while the subway has one at Denny and Westlake. Given the other stops I would say it is about the same. Meanwhile, the WSTT would have direct, fast downtown service for Aurora buses (that carry a huge number of riders). That gives it the edge. Direct service to more areas of Ballard as well as higher frequency through the core make the WSTT (and substantial improvements) the clear winner.

        So yes, you could say the same thing about the other parts of ST3. Oh, and notice that I can’t say that about Ballard to UW. The argument simply doesn’t apply.

        If you want to make the perfect the enemy of the good and vote down ST3, that’s your prerogative.

        No one expected ST3 to be perfect, but I don’t think it is even good. Every single line is a failure, in that every single line could be replaced by something much cheaper and a lot more effective. That is not good. This is good: https://seattletransitblog.wpcomstaging.com/2015/11/30/an-alternative-for-st3-with-something-for-everyone/. So is this: https://seattletransitblog.wpcomstaging.com/2015/11/16/kirklands-brt-design/. They aren’t perfect. Build the line from Ballard to the UW and it will likely serve upper Fremont instead of lower Fremont. This will piss off a lot of people. It will inconvenience many (including me). Some will call it a horrible mistake, and say we should vote against such a line. That would be making the perfect the enemy of the good.

        In this case, though, it is simply opposing a very expensive, very wasteful set of projects.

      9. “Rainier Valley already has light rail — we want some.”

        Rainier Valley has a fast, reliable right of way; it’s only natural that the southwest quarter of the city wants that too.

        “If we are worried about single point of failures, why are we building light rail?”

        Light rail is the backup for the West Seattle Bridge. The bridge is the backup for the light rail.

      10. I should add, light rail is the backup for the bridge and the game-day traffic.

  3. Gosh, looks like 405 BRT-to-nowhere doesn’t chart in the top 5 projects for the Eastside. I wonder if people actually want a transit network that can get them out of their cars by going to/from actual destinations, rather than a fast bus that stops in the middle of massive freeway interchanges and parking lots far away from urban centers?

  4. Kind of off topic but: Can someone explain to me how Denver is able to run 3 LRT lines on surface streets, Portland can run 4 lines on the same bridge (also on surface streets), but Seattle can’t fit one more line in our DSTT?

    No one has explained why exactly we need a new tunnel. Fitting three lines in a single tunnel isn’t that complicated, in fact it’s done all over the world. Why do we insist on continually re-inventing the wheel?

    1. Denver actually has one section with FIVE light rail lines sharing two tracks. Alameda station serves 5 lines on the same platform.

      1. They all run 15 minute headways for combined 3 minute service. Our two lines will be 6/3. So it’s the same capacity.

      2. So why do we think a milk run train to Everett will need 6 minute frequencies? I think we’re in for a big reality check when these things run mostly empty. There is no precedent in any of our peer cities that this will be a problem – there’s a reason Denver’s trains run only every 15 minutes and fill up only at peak-of-peak. Why are we choosing to ignore this?

      3. There is at least one alternative operations scenario on the table, with Redmond to Lynnwood and West Seattle to Everett, last I checked.

      4. “So why do we think a milk run train to Everett will need 6 minute frequencies?”

        Because half the train will be full at U-District, and another 40% by Lynnwood. That leaves 10% for Everett, and it can’t go above that without getting overcrowded elsewhere on the line, except for the people that get on at Everett and off at Lynnwood or north Seattle. That’s how trains work. So the “almost empty” status in Everett is not a bug.

        As for 6 minute frequency, ST originally planned for East Link to go to Lynnwood only peak hours, so Northgate-Lynnwood would have 10-minute service off peak. It later extended all trains to Lynnwood believing the capacity would be needed. In Everett’s case it could do the opposite, planning for two lines to Everett now but reducing it to one line later if the capacity isn’t needed. That would lead to 10-minute service in Everett, which still isn’t bad for passengers. It’s better than the 15 minutes or 30 minutes that some other systems have. As to why Everett needs 6-minute service when Portland and Denver have 15, it’s partly because this isn’t Portland or Denver so travel patterns may be different. Seattle also has a sound and a lake on both sides so there are few north-south roads and no other way to get around. That creates bottlenecks, which leads to higher transit demand.

      5. They all run 15 minute headways for combined 3 minute service.

        Peak period on MAX, Red, Blue and Green combined are 29 trains per hour, or about one every two minutes, then throw in the yellow line across the bridge.

        Peak period, blue is every 7 minutes or less (some are 5 minutes apart, some are 3 minutes, depending on the slot available.

        MAX also has very frequent station spacing on the surface so the following distance into congested areas such as Rose Quarter can be fairly short and each train winds up waiting at a station if something delays them along NE Holladay Street.

      6. Denver has two endpoints downtown and three endpoints to the south, with lines covering almost every pair of those. The end result is average 5-7 minute rush hour frequency in the entire system outside of the far ends of the light rail network.

    2. We can fit lots of lines in the DSTT. But every line you shove in there means longer headways for everyone. Three lines at 6 minute intervals means a train in each direction every two minutes. With station dwell time, acceleration and deceleration that is not feasible

      1. That’s just not accurate.

        Right now – today – transit operates at approximately 2 minute headways in the DSTT during peak hours. A Link train arrives, followed approximately two minutes later by a 2/3 bus platoon, followed another two minutes later by another 2/3 bus platoon, followed two minutes after that by a Link train; repeat.

        There is a noticeable gap between each of these, and neither operations nor the passengers on the platforms seem to be particularly concerned about it. Two minutes is a longer time than you’d think and is used on many non-automated systems elsewhere in the world. Going to all trains with their much safer signaling systems, smoother deceleration/acceleration and all-door boarding will actually improve the situation.

        If we need the additional tunnel because the number of passengers overwhelms the system (I remain to be convinced by ST’s numbers, to say the least), then fine – the second tunnel would be necessary. It isn’t needed for headways that we already see today.

      2. And look how well that works out: trains and buses are regularly delayed, which throws an element of unreliability we shouldn’t settle for on a multi billion dollar mass transit system. If we’re spending $50 billion on this expansion alone, we shouldn’t cut corners on anything, let alone the 5 busiest stations in the entire system

      3. Bus loading delays the trains – cash-fumblers, drivers waiting for runners to catch the 41 (for example) despite them running every 5 min or less, people exiting through the front doors whilst others wait to board – that sort of thing. Once we go to all trains, if the agency can’t do what scores of other agencies can manage throughout the world, then why the hell should we throw $50 billion at them?

        I catch the train at Westlake northbound in the afternoons daily. Generally speaking the trains come as advertised. Further improvements can be made by not dwelling at stations for a full minute – close the doors. Another train will be along (particularly if we do go to two-minute headways).

        I’m not saying don’t plan for it – ST has been notably bad at “future-proofing” their system to date, so that would be an improvement – I’m saying that the headway argument doesn’t hold water and certainly won’t for an all-train system. We’ll know in a few years if usage will require it. I think the second tunnel is a great idea for other reasons, including expanding the service area downtown, creating a direct transfer to Madison BRT, allowing a cross-platform transfer at IDS for Eastsiders headed to the airport, and allowing for different route permutations that we may not think about today. I just don’t buy the headway issue.

    3. This question has been answered repeatedly by ST (though not completely to my satisfaction).

      Among the elements that might be forcing minimum headway are (1) the timing of traffic lights on MLK Way; (2) the missing vent (below a property owned by Kemper Freeman) in the tunnels from Capitol Hill to UW, for which an alternate solution was designed; (3) the I-90 floating bridge; and (4) the DSTT. They haven’t answered the question as to which specific element sets the minimum headway.

      Regarding the DSTT, dwell time and the short travel time between the closest stations forces a minimum headway (but not necessarily *the* minimum headway). Dwell time could be nearly halved if the stations were redesigned to have platforms on both sides of the train. Our efforts to get ST to study such a retrofit have not gotten very far at ST.

      Given the cost of a new tunnel, I still think it behooves ST to study the cost of retrofitting ID Station and Westlake Station to have three platforms. And do it now, before ID Station is closed for a few weeks to have a turnback track installed where a third platform is really needed.

      1. The DSTT is probably the strongest link on the whole chain. Ballard’s headways will be forever hindered by MLK. West Seattle’s headways will be forever hindered by missing vent on the U Link tunnel. I fail to see how the DSTT cannot handle the capacity.

        Is everyone just taking ST’s extremely weak argument at face value?

      2. No.

        On the DSTT math, start with the reality that trains are taking a minute to unload and load at Westlake Station. That dwell time will only get worse.

      3. At least down escalators are needed at ID and Westlake stations, as transferring riders arrive in surges from other trains.

        It appears pretty easy to do at ID. Just add a new switchback set of stairs and then replace one of the end sets of stairs with a down escalator. The new stairs could perhaps using adjacent station property for the southbound platform and a little sidewalk room adjacent and above the northbound platform for that side.

      4. It will be so easy to add center platforms at Pioneer Square, University Street, and Westlake when the buses are gone I find it amazing that ST hasn’t already started planning for such a conversion.

    4. Read the three pertinent contour maps, barman. Like everyplace else on Earth except for some European mountain towns with streetcars, Portland and Denver are wide and flat. End of story.

      Also, look out the train window on any regional-speed-and-capacity line as it enters a tunnel. Surface or underground, right of way generally widens for switches and extra tracks at the ends of any tunnel.

      With the space we had for the DSTT, we need two narrower tunnel through Downtown to make up for the lateral space that isn’t there at the ends of one.

      San Francisco MUNI has good example of what happens otherwise. Notorious “N-Judah” line. Light-rail-size vehicles stuck like the PCC’s of old times, except much worse equipment.

      Oran, any chance you can give us some maps and sections to illustrate these points?


    5. Portland can run 4 lines on the same bridge (also on surface streets),

      Over the same bridge, but not into the same stations. Green and Yellow divert to different stations than red and blue on the west side of the river, yellow does on the east side.

    6. barman,
      So how exactly does the Ballard line get between the DSTT and Ballard while serving Westlake?

      How do you solve platform crowding at Westlake?

      Given early ridership on U link I can easily see 4 car trains every 2 minutes being needed to just handle IDS to Northgate loads during peak.

    7. It’s not just the trains, it’s the people on the trains.

      The DSTT, with it’s open mezzanines and limited egress simply can’t handle safely and quickly evacuating the number of people you could carry on 4 car trains (especially with ST2 cars having a more open layout/higher capacity) if you drop the frequency too low.

  5. It would be interesting to know why people rate West Seattle over Ballard.

    I actually do personally because I travel to West Seattle on transit more often so I feel that I would be more likely to ride that transit link. That could be true for some people in South Seattle as well who travel through West Seattle to Burien and points south, but don’t spend much as time in North Seattle.

    It could be a perception that Ballard already has sufficient transit. It could be because West Seattle is perceived as more remote so must need transit greater. For people less familiar with Seattle in general, it could almost be down to a naming issue with a feeling that West “Seattle” must be more urban than a neighborhood with a non-Seattle name.

    Overall though I hope the decision of where to prioritize transit is made based on some objective criteria rather than simple popularity.

    1. Agreed! Though getting the “why” out of survey results like this is quite difficult in practice…

    2. fletc3h, and everybody else: start thinking railroad and busway instead of neighborhood boundaries and lines on paper.

      Express transit from either Ballard or West Seattle will need so much turnback space if it terminates Downtown that through route is only thing that makes sense.

      Put that information and that question in a poll, and then let’s discuss this one with voters on both ends.


    3. It’s not that West Seattle is remoter, but that its only connection with the rest of the region is one bridge or a drive around the south end, and some people probably use the 1st Ave S bridge on top of that. So that’s three bottlenecks that often become clogged due to traffic or accidents. That’s why people who experience West Seattle are pushing for light rail, and people who don’t experience West Seattle imagine they need light rail heavily. As a redundant connection that will work when the others don’t.

    4. No big mystery. I think it’s because the cost of the new tunnel is ascribed to Ballard, so it looks way more expensive for an otherwise similar line.

      Only other point I can think of is that WS is more of a regional tourist destination. Thousands of ppl come over to alki on warm evenings to hang out on the beach and go to the bars along there. Obviously Ballard has a big nightlife scene but less broad regional appeal than the only real sandy beach plus boardwalk combination.

      1. You could just run the 50 more often. It is essentially the same thing (a shuttle that connects from a train station to Alki). You could also run the ferry and shuttle bus more often. You could also run the 37 (from downtown to Alki) more often. You could do all of that for far less money than building a new tunnel and a new bridge.

        Anyway, I think the original point might be valid. While a new train will do nothing to make a trip to Alki any easier, some people may think it will, and thus support rail to West Seattle.

      2. “You could just run the 50 more often.”

        That would require more service hours. The north-south RapidRide is predicated on the C not going downtown anymore because Link would take that over and it would be off Metro’s budget. I checked the 2025 version (pre West Seattle light rail) and it still has a “local” route to Alki.

    5. “I think it’s because the cost of the new tunnel is ascribed to Ballard, so it looks way more expensive for an otherwise similar line.”

      Ordinary people don’t look at the cost of each project. $2 billion vs $5 billion is an abstract number. They look at how important each project is for mobility, both their own and in general. If the tunnel were assigned to West Seattle in accounting, it wouldn’t make a difference.

    6. It points more to how unexciting East King projects are. That’s not a good thing.

    7. I’m not excited about the East King projects either. :) (Except 522 BRT and the Redmond extension, which people tend to forget about.) It’s hard to think of what would be better for East King given the diffusion of its population and the difficulty of accessing the population centers that exist via either 405 or the ERC. That’s the legacy of encouraging sprawly development in the 70s, 80s, and 90s. The densest area that exists is along East Link.

      1. Kirkland came up with a very nice plan for Kirkland: https://seattletransitblog.wpcomstaging.com/2015/11/16/kirklands-brt-design/. I would imagine each area could do the same.

        There really is no shortage of similar projects on the east side. It is mainly about connecting various areas, and eliminating the bottlenecks (or even just inconveniences). Then run the buses from the neighborhoods to Link (or downtown Bellevue, which has both). As an example, how do you get from Eastgate to downtown Bellevue once East Link is complete? Via Mercer Island? That seems like a long detour. As yo do now? I think that involves a lot of slow traffic. South Bellevue? That might work. No matter how you choose, that route can be improved. If you fix that route, then Issaquah goes along for the ride. Now every neighborhood in Issaquah has a much faster connection to Link than with ST3 (and it will be built much faster as well).

        Sound Transit has, in most cases, simply failed to do the homework necessary to make these sorts of improvements. They think in terms of giant corridors, not bottlenecks. 405 BRT is a great example. That is basically a poor man’s Link light rail. With the exception of downtown Bellevue, it goes nowhere. Building such corridors is simply a bad idea for the suburbs. It becomes either way too expensive (if done with light rail to the neighborhoods not already served) or way to ineffective (if done with buses that barely leave the freeway). Something like what Kirkland proposed makes way more sense.

      2. @RossB, There’s a great slide in a Metro deck that was shared in Bellevue recently. It’s a comparison of what Bellevue asked for in ST3, and what they are getting via the combined efforts of ST and Metro.

        This is a great Eastside network. What I don’t understand is why Metro is doing so much of the heavy lifting of connecting the Eastside when Sound Transit has vastly greater resources.

      3. What I don’t understand is why Metro is doing so much of the heavy lifting of connecting the Eastside when Sound Transit has vastly greater resources.

        Maybe because Sound Transit’s planning department is dysfunctional. Just about everyone agrees that this is the case with the spine. Rather than look at the transit needs of the regions, they have assumed (without any data to support it) that a spine makes sense. It is even one of the main criteria for each project! That is an absurd way to plan a system.

        But this mode of thinking (and preference for mode) permeates their entire planning purpose. West Seattle rail was chosen because folks thought it was a good idea. There was no consideration of alternatives for West Seattle, let alone the possibility that there are much better projects in other parts of the city. It is sad, really. I would love to root for this thing. I would love to tell all my friends about what a great thing we will build (eventually) and put a nice sign in my yard. But I don’t see it. I see a very expensive, very dysfunctional system.

      4. What was one of the metric criteria the board gave the planners? Whether it furthers the spine. That sounds like the spine was a requirement on the planners, not something they could just ignore.

  6. Am I correct in reading into #13 that North King prioritized Ballard over West Seattle, but, when the other 4 subareas responses are included, West Seattle was prioritized over Ballard?

    Or do we not yet know this much detail?

  7. Since Ballard to UW was not listed and was only available if you wrote in the “other comments” section, did they bother to break out the “write in” votes?

    1. The slides did not get into the freeform comments but ST must have them tallied somewhere, as it has done in the past.

      1. Is there a tally of the views in the comments, or only the messages themselves.

  8. 1. Be careful about surveys, especially online and by phone. There’s no way to verify who is participating and why, or know how anyone will vote either next survey or in the election.

    2. People naturally vote for the parts of the project that reflect what’s most important to them personally. But it might be useful, for example, to see how a West Seattle to Ballard line would poll.

    3. History has advice re: time factor. Suburbanites really were unexpectedly willing to accept twenty years of subway bus rides as down-payment on LINK.

    Starting with hardest parts first- water-crossings, for instance- and filling in with bus service. Never liked diesels underground. But 30 years later,battery packs can now handle dual-power just fine. But since time factor could win or lose the election, best get started finding relevant segments now.

    4. Support for Dupont is natural. First because a populous new community has little rush hour service and none off-peak. And also because in order to shift Amtrak from the Point Defiance bypass, track improvement south from Lakewood has already been underway for months.

    Also, though Olympia area was not polled, voters sitting next to me on IT and ST Express buses stuck in the frequent traffic jams either side of the Nisqually River really will definitely go for a freeway-free ride. Meaning existing fast, mainline track past traffic disasters sometimes day-long.

    So with Thurston County’s fastest-growing voter base directly across the river from Dupont, upgrade of one set of existing switches already in progress will get passengers to the Amtrak station in Lacey, an eastern “suburb” of Olympia. Which will be a 20 minute max express bus ride from the Capitol dome and attached city.

    Would be worth it to give this one to Olympia as a present. Starting with prep. for a lot more of their county to flood the thing. And the ballot box to join Sound Transit too. Thanks for this posting, Zach. Made my morning.

    Mark Dublin

    1. “People naturally vote for the parts of the project that reflect what’s most important to them personally. But it might be useful, for example, to see how a West Seattle to Ballard line would poll.”

      That’s why it’s surprising to see people rate things outside their area so highly. That shows which projects have the most regional support across subareas.

      1. Mike, I think the answer is that increasingly, people live their daily lives across subarea lines. This doesn’t mean sprawl is inevitable. Transit and land use can be arranged into organized lines and centers.

        My own days’ travels really convince me that the most useful unit is not the subarea, but the corridor.


      2. “increasingly, people live their daily lives across subarea lines”

        I’m skeptical. We know that most people drive for most trips more than a very short distance. And we know we are driving less collectively – average VMT is down.

        I think that is an indication that people are less likely to be crossing subareas, not more. Perhaps with a growing population, the absolute numbers crossing subarea lines is growing, but I’d guess the proportion is falling.

      3. If people do live their lives across subarea lines, it still doesn’t explain the popularity of a West Seattle subway. I think the other theories make a lot more sense. As I said above, I drive to West Seattle a lot (and used to drive it more) and the main traffic problem is heading to downtown in the morning. Even evening traffic to West Seattle isn’t that bad (despite the fact that the freeway dumps you right out to streets with traffic lights). So getting to West Seattle is not the problem. It is getting out of there in the morning. So unless thousands of folks are spending the night in West Seattle (which I’ve done before as well) I don’t think this is based on personal experience. I really don’t think there are many people who think “man, once they build the West Seattle subway, my trip there will be so much better”. Just adding more frequency to the buses would achieve that.

  9. I would caution that popularity of referenda like this are often high – and that voters get less enthusiastic once voting time arrives. Many a transit vote has failed after rosy initial surveys and polls. Rather than sit back and assume it’s a done deal, ST3 supporters should realize that there is work ahead.

    1. I sure hope it’s not a done deal, because what’s on offer in ST3 is too little, too late, and not worth a yes vote. ST needs to either compress the schedule, so that we can reasonably talk about voting on an ST4 “actually finish it this time” package in 2028/2032, or they need to significantly increase ST3’s scope so that the package we’re voting on actually represents a complete transit system worth waiting such a long time for. Faced with the current ST3 proposal’s anemic, molasses-paced muddle, we’d be better off scrapping it, rolling the dice, and seeing what we get in 2020.

      1. I agree, although my reasons for voting no are a bit different. It simply isn’t a good value. That explains why it takes so long. Does anyone honestly think that after we do this, we will have a really good system — something like what Vancouver BC has right now? No, we still have tons of things on the table. We have to do Ballard to UW and a Metro 8 subway. Then we will be close to what Vancouver has. So how long will that take, and how much will it cost?

        In comparison, imagine this: https://seattletransitblog.wpcomstaging.com/2015/11/30/an-alternative-for-st3-with-something-for-everyone/. That would probably be cheaper, which means that it could be built faster. Since it could be built piece meal, you would certainly see improvements a lot faster. Add the necessary pieces to West Seattle and suddenly the entire peninsula benefits (not one tiny sliver). Build the transit tunnel and West Seattle is done, while Ballard to downtown is pretty close (the bridge is still a problem). It shouldn’t take that long to build the tunnel — it is just a tunnel (it should be built in five years). Building Ballard to UW might take a while, because it is expensive, but it isn’t even included with the current proposal, which means that it would probably be done around 20 years sooner.

        The timeline is the result of bad planning, more than anything. They have pursued very expensive, low value projects, and the bonding limitations (as well as the nature of the projects themselves) mean that it will it will take a very long time.

        It also means that voting no will not be to our doom. We will not have to wait much longer (if at all). Since the timelines are due to the projects themselves (and the bonding rules) passing another proposal could easily see us getting much better improvements years before ST3 would result in much of anything.

  10. Auto oriented West Seattle reminds me of the east side so this all makes sense.

      1. The problem isn’t necessarily West Seattle, but trying to get to the places that are worth serving.

        If you build out to the dense places on the peninsula, there’s no expanding to anything else.

        If you build to Fauntleroy, what do you do about eventually extending to Burien?

        There’s no money to extend all the way to Burien now, so it must stop in the middle of not much.

        It’s a bit like building the Ballard line to an end at 22nd and Dravus so it connects with the 31 and 33 and saying it serves Ballard and Magnolia. In reality it serves a halfway decent neighborhood pub and a couple of small apartment buildings and not much else. Anyone using current transit lines will need to transfer.

  11. Snohomish supports 130th Station? Hooray! Hooray! So will ST really go against both North King and Snohomish to block it? All it has to do is commit to building the station somehow at some time, in some way that doesn’t destroy the grant.

    1. When results from subareas don’t support their own projects first or second and instead favor a project from a residential area in another part of the system, I wonder how deep support runs in that subarea. It suggests that local projects are more bland than the tastier projects from another subarea – and that’s not a good harbinger for a yes vote.

    2. Or that Snohomans realize they go to Lake City sometimes, and will more so in the future, and that it’s an important area for high-capacity transit to serve. They may even see it in a similar light as Paine Field; i.e., two things that should not be dropped.

    3. I think I am going to go with Al on this one. Don’t get me wrong. The number of people who like to visit Lake City or Bitter Lake might surprise you. But as someone who visits both places quite a bit, I can tell you that they number in the hundreds (if that). Either the folks in Snohomish County are simply being magnanimous (in which case, kudos to you, fellow citizens of Snohomish County) or they are simply randomly picking projects other than the ones they will pay for.

    4. That “residential area” is an urban village that will have more businesses and jobs in Link’s timeframe, so people will have more reason to go there. And as the population rises, they’ll more likely know somebody who lives there whom they might visit occasionally.

      1. Oh, come on Mike. I am a huge fan of Lake City (and Bitter Lake). I spent a considerable amount of time in both places today (as I often do). But even I know that there aren’t huge numbers of people that think “what we really need is a way to get to Lake City and Bitter Lake”. Come on. Last zoning change I noticed in the area was a building that went from commercial to residential. There just isn’t huge demand for office space in Lake City.

        What you say may be true in the long run but I don’t think it would show up on a poll. Either folks are sympathetic to the needs of those communities or the other projects are very weak (or a combination of both). I don’t think people believe that the difference between a 130th station and a 145th station is enormous when it comes to visitors from Snohomish County. Something like that is way more likely to happen with the Ballard to UW subway, which has way more employment now, and will probably have way more employment for the foreseeable future.

      2. I guess Wallingford is off too then because it’s smaller than Lake City, and thus insignificant. But Lake City has one other factor, the social justice issue. It’s the one place that has room for sizeable expansion that’s far enough away from the center that rents can be relatively lower, and it doesn’t have as strong residential nimbys like Rainier Valley because Lake City Way is obviously a commercial highway.

      3. What are you talking about Mike? We aren’t arguing whether Lake City or Wallingford should have decent transit, or the efficacy of various proposals to improve transit for them. We are simply trying to figure out why so many people from Snohomish County picked NE 130th as one of their more popular projects. All I’m saying is that it isn’t because huge numbers of people will save huge amounts of time getting to Lake City if it is built.

        While I believe that transit from one neighborhood to the other is greatly underestimated (which is why I support such projects like a NE 130th station, Graham Street station and yes, Wallingford station) I’m also under no illusion that it occurs in huge numbers from distant, suburban locations (it is a very long ways from Lynnwood to Lake City). From nearby neighborhoods, certainly (I’m not alone in that regard) but not from Snohomish County (they have decent sushi restaurants there, I assume).

        Both areas are tied together with the freeway, making driving the logical choice almost all day long. The one exception is during rush hour, but again, why are people going to Lake City at rush hour? Seriously, what it the biggest employer in Lake City? I honestly don’t know — the VA outpatient clinic, maybe? That clinic wouldn’t make the top ten list for Ballard.

        Even if someone wanted to get to Lake City from the north, this will only be a minor improvement. NE 145th is a terrible station if you are trying to get from the heart of Lake City (125th) to the south (where most people will be going). But it is only a minor improvement compared to 145th if you are coming or going from the north. With 145th, all you need is a bus that goes up Lake City Way and then takes a sharp left on 145th. Wait, there already is a bus like that. Two of them! They just need to be modified ever so slightly. The 65 goes through Lake City, then on 145th, but ends at 15th. So just extend that a little bit. The 330 crosses the freeway on 155th, so you just make that cross on 145th. That’s a lot of service for very little extra money, connecting the north end of Link to every part of Lake City.

        A station at NE 130th will add tremendous value to the nearby region (Lake City, Pinehurst, Bitter Lake). It will enable much better transit for the greater region (the north end of Seattle). But it will be a minor improvement for Snohomish County, which is why the numbers are baffling.

  12. It’s hard to make sense of many of the priorities until one looks at the numbers and sees how many are near-ties.

    Probably, this means support is broad, but still shallow. When voters can’t identify what should logically be their obvious priorities, it just means they haven’t considered it in any careful way. (It’s May, and the ballot is November, so this isn’t surprising).

    The corollary is that the favorable headline numbers may not mean much by November. There’s a generalized pro-transit sentiment out there, or maybe it’s just anti-traffic sentiment, but as yet no firmly held view about the particular solution on offer. If voters take their cues from elite opinion, the package will pass. If anti-ST3 advocates focus on the local shortcomings of particular solutions, they may have an opening.

    1. Nice comment. How, I wonder, will anti-ST3 advocates focus on the shortcomings (local or not) of the particular solutions?

      That, to me, is the question of the year.

    2. Also, the close ties could mean that some obvious high priorities were missed completely.

  13. I’m not surprised with the West Seattle results. During the last week of the comment period, we were also inundated with ‘prepare for the viaduct closing and take transit’; and during the last couple of days of the comment period, the viaduct was closed. My hypothesis is that most WS comments have an early May date stamp on them.

    I’m pleasantly surprised by Snohomish being supportive of the 130th results. I wonder if the thought is that Link will genuinely reduce congestion on 1-5, or that it will free up parking on 145th.

    The other bump is that ST impeccably timed the survey with the success of U-Link.

    1. In think the viaduct closure was reminding people in West Seattle what they are going to have to go through every day to get to downtown, once the viaduct comes down.

      1. Excellent observation, asdf2. Which is reason I think that future pile of rubble being pawed-over by depressed rescue dogs needs to come down in neat vertical order, like the King Dome did. Right now.

        Which will not only make ST3 planning easier and more accurate, and save, what was it in California, fifty lives?- but also get the desperately necessary start on the transit system nobody, read two mayors and two Governors, bothered to write into the project.


  14. South King’s low response rate also maybe due to low participation in the public process among minorities. Many of us are simply used to bad transit service (and overall a negative perception of government) that it squashes any incentive or desire to interact with local government. In Seattle’s case, i wonder how many survey respondents were from W. Seattle, Ballard & C.H. vs. Beacon Hill, Rainier Valley or Mt Baker.

    1. I would imagine that they prepared this survey before they started taking Paine BRT seriously. Remember, the serious consideration of Paine BRT is largely in response to Snohomish County leaders complaining about the long timeline.

      1. Whether or not rail service to Paine Field is ever needed or built, if there’s any other heavy-duty transit planned there, a busway curved, graded, and structured for rail might be a good flexible way to proceed.

        Conversion needn’t be anywhere near as long as in DSTT- where every station floor had to be skill-sawed and jack-hammered down a foot to accommodate low-floor trains and buses.


    2. BRT from Paine Field to Link makes a huge amount of sense. Call it Swift 3 if you want. Double up Swift 2 from Boeing to I-5. Swift 2 (https://seattletransitblog.wpcomstaging.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/Swift-II-map.png) goes to Canyon Park, while Swift 3 gets right on the freeway and goes to Lynnwood. These both run every 12 minutes, which means that you have six minute frequency in one of the most densely populated parts of Snohomish County (http://arcg.is/1NwhWhW). While you are at it, run Swift 1 (the original) twice as often, or every six minutes. Now you have a transit system that is way better than ST3, and you have billions (literally billions) to do with as you please (maybe Swift 4, along 164th …).

      1. Good thinking RossB. I’m of the view IF ST3 fails this November, the next iteration will be VERY BRT heavy. Problem with that is due to subarea equity, Seattle will also be forced into BRT or a lot less light rail than the 2016 version of ST3.

      2. That wouldn’t be the end of the world. This has way less light rail, yet is way more effective: https://seattletransitblog.wpcomstaging.com/2015/11/30/an-alternative-for-st3-with-something-for-everyone/

        Even a scaled down version of that gets you more. Build the WSTT, make the necessary improvements on the surface and you have a much better system already. That is without one inch of new rail. The new tunnel would be expensive, but probably half the cost of light rail. I would much rather have a bigger system (that included Ballard to UW rail) but paying half as much for something that is better sounds OK to me.

  15. Just a note of caution about this survey. There were only 1000 responses and 200 responses per subarea. This means, as they mention on slide 12, that the margin of error (i.e., the uncertainty) is 7% for each subarea. That basically means that unless two results are separated by over 7%, the survey is not conclusive (at some confidence interval that they don’t mention, but typically 95%). And this assumes no systematic issues with the survey in general.

    What does that mean? Taking the 1-7 point scale, any difference of less than of about 0.4 is statistically insignificant. For East King and South King, that means all the top 5 projects are statistically tied. For the others, all but 1 or 2 are tied. Since only the top 5 were presented, we don’t know what the results were of the others, but some could be statistically tied as well.

  16. Something I noticed looking at the data is the numbers in the results don’t match “Priorities” listed on the top. I was looking at south king specifically, the top numbers were the Boeing field stop and improvements to sounder stations. Neither of those were in the priorities section. The second lowest – the light rail – was the top listed in the priorities. I feel like ST is misleading in the information they present to us and I am frustrated with it.

    1. Yep. This particular sort of misleading reporting of survey results is a really bad idea as it leads (quite correctly) to distrust of government. ST should cut it out.

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