Sound Transit Board Meeting Liveblog

This morning from 9am-12pm, the Sound Transit Board will hold a special meeting to finish up the substance of the ST3 System Plan, formally voting on a series of amendments reflected in last’s weeks Draft Plan Update ahead of a final vote on June 23.

When live video is available, it will be linked live here, and our Twitter feed will be embedded below. As always, please share your thoughts in the comments.

Sounder Service to Renton?

Spirit of Washington Dinner Train at Downtown Renton (Wikimedia)
Spirit of Washington Dinner Train at Downtown Renton (Wikimedia)

In the weeks leading up to last week’s Sound Transit 3 Draft Plan update, the City of Renton made some noise about feeling left out. As part of the East King subarea it has funds to build things, but will see very little in the plan except for I-405 BRT. Some of this perceived wound is based on geographical bad luck, but much of it is also self-inflicted. The city has been speaking out of both sides of its mouth, demanding high-capacity transit while asking Sound Transit for two very transit-hostile things in ST3: financial help moving transit away from its fledgling Downtown and constructing the region’s largest parking garage. Other potential investments, such as a West Seattle-Burien-Tukwila-Renton light rail line, are excluded from ST3 and are many decades away from having either the political will or financial capacity to build it.

So for the time being Renton seems set to get what it asked for, a transit-hostile park & ride and transfer facility, surrounded by some of the worst auto-oriented development in the region, in the vicinity of SR 167 and Grady Way. It will also get BRT access ramps at NE 44th Street, sandwiched between the hills of Kennydale, a Denny’s, and the Seahawks training facility.

Yet questionable municipal preferences aside, Renton is a serious city of 98,000, the 8th largest in the state, and nearly as big as Everett and its spine destiny of high frequency, high capacity transit. There is significant ridership in Renton, both all-day on Routes 101, 105, 106, 107, etc, and on peak-oriented service to Seattle on Routes 102, 111, 114, etc. As jobs continue to concentrate in the Seattle core and Seattle housing fails to keep up, recents trends of suburbanized poverty and increased peak travel demand seem set to continue or intensify. So what could we do for Renton?

There’s one idea that’s been kicking around in my head for years. Over the years on the blog we’ve sung the praises of diesel multiple units (DMUs) as a flexible, low-cost alternative to traditional locomotive hauled commuter rail such as Sounder. There are numerous potential applications for DMU service in the Puget Sound Region, including on the low-ridership North Sounder line and for off-peak service on the Sound Transit-owned Nalley Valley line between Tacoma-Lakewood-JBLM-DuPont. But no one has really discussed using them in Renton.

Continue reading “Sounder Service to Renton?”

Action Alert – Last Push for Provisional Extensions


Last week Seattle Subway wrote about the importance of future proofing ST3 by including provisional projects in the plan. A provisional project is a project approved by the board and voters, but doesn’t have any budget. This would mean voters approve projects now and when funds become available they can immediately be used towards those projects without issue.

Between Federal or State grants, local funds or increased ST revenues from growth, or savings (U Link was $200 million under budget) there is a high likelihood that additional funds could become available in the next 25 years. We need to be able to take advantage of this and move as quickly as possible towards building out our system. Our region is a hundred years behind already, we can’t afford to wait longer.

Thank you to Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy for beginning the exploration of how to include Provisional projects in each Sound Transit Subarea for inclusion in the Sound Transit 3 plan at last week’s Board Meeting. (1:38 mark)

Thanks also to Seattle Councilmember Rob Johnson for working on this.

We are so close to pushing this over the finish line. Tomorrow is where the final draft of ST3 will be hammered out. Please and tell them you want provisional projects in each Subarea included in Sound Transit 3’s plan!