The Utility of Reversing Some Station Escalators

Escalator queue at Capitol Hill Station
Peak hour queue to exit Capitol Hill Station — photo by SounderBruce — Flickr

Those of you who have spent any time at UW Station, Capitol Hill Station, Mt Baker Station, Tukwila International Boulevard Station, or SeaTac Airport Station may have noticed something obvious about the station escalators. They usually involve long queues in only one direction: exiting.

You may have also noticed that station escalators sometimes shut down for maintenance for extended periods of time in the middle of the day.

UW Station, Capitol Hill Station, and SeaTac Airport Station are blessed with two pairs of escalators between each level. This affords the possibility of having three escalators set in the egress direction, and letting just one handle the more-spread-out arrivals heading to the platform. And then when one breaks down, leave one in the ingress direction and two in the egress direction.

There will, of course, be some ingressing crushloads, such as right after a Husky football game. In that case, Sound Transt could reverse two of the escalators some time before the game ends, and then switch them back once the crowd is gone.

I talked with an ST service supervisor about the escalator directions on opening day, and he said the escalators are reversible.

Sound Transit to Select Siemens to Build 122 New Link Vehicles

Siemens S70 on Minneapolis Green Line (Wikimedia)
Siemens S70 on Minneapolis Green Line (Wikimedia)

At yesterday’s Sound Transit Board meeting, CEO Peter Rogoff gave board members a brief update on new Link vehicle procurement planned for 2018 (see video below from 4’30” to 6’30”). The 122-car order went out to bid late last year, and Rogoff told the board that ST would soon issue a Notice of Award to Siemens to build the new vehicles, beating out Stadler and the maker of the current fleet, Kinkisharyo. The Board will take final action on the procurement later this year.

The new Link vehicles are needed to fulfill the operational needs of Sound Transit 2 (ST2). At roughly $730m, the order is the largest single contract in Sound Transit history, and will triple the Link fleet from today’s 62 cars to 184. The purchase is required to run “all 4-car trains, all the time” once Northgate Link opens. (By choosing to batch the order into a single contract, the 2016-2019 period has left Sound Transit short of vehicles, and unable to run as many 3 and 4-car trains as riders want.)

The S70 Siemens light rail vehicles (LRVs) are some of the most commonly used in the United States, and can be seen in places like San Diego, Portland, Minneapolis, and Charlotte. In a phone call, Sound Transit’s Bruce Gray said that while the final specs aren’t yet determined, the new vehicles will likely have higher capacity, a more open floor plan, double the bike capacity (4 hooks per car), and both a wider walkway and better seating in the center section. The new vehicles will not be compatible with the current fleet for coupled use in revenue service, as enabling compatibility would have added 20% (or roughly $140m) to the order. So future trains will be composed of either Siemens or Kinkisharyo cars, but never both.

Light rail vehicles are admittedly still an awkward fit for our grade-separated “light metro”. When coupled into 4-car trains, there are 8 operator cabs per train, wasting a lot of space that could be used for passengers. “Open gangways” are also not possible at this time, as Gray said that longer cars are incompatible with current and future Operations Maintenance Satellite Facilities (OMSF), and accommodating them “would require cutting up and rebuilding all the existing maintenance bays.”

No need for 8 operator cabs... (Wikimedia)
Portland making good use of its cars… (Steve Morgan – Wikimedia)

Fortunately, places like Portland – where 2-car trains are forever the maximum due to at-grade running on short blocks – have enabled greater capacity by reducing operator cabs to 1 per car, and using the other end for additional seats. I hope that Sound Transit will look to do similar things with this new order, as Link is being sold to the public on account of its high capacity. If all-4-car train operation is the plan, consists could be permanently coupled into sets, only needing 2 operator cabs for push-pull operation and 6 for seating, yielding up to 48 additional seats per 4-car train.

100 More Double-Deckers for Snohomish and Kitsap Counties


During Thursday’s meeting of the Sound Transit Board, a motion was approved to order 32 double-decker buses from Alexander Dennis for $33 million. The order is a joint procurement with Community Transit and Kitsap Transit for a total of 143 total buses; Community Transit will receive 57 buses for its commuter routes and Kitsap Transit will receive 11; Sound Transit also has the option to purchase 43 more buses at a later date, to support their goal of having all Snohomish County trips operated by double-deckers.

By 2018, Sound Transit expects to operate double-deckers on all Snohomish County routes. That includes routes 532 and 535, which currently do not have double-decker service because of vertical clearance issues at Bellevue Transit Center. Last November, Sound Transit began operating its double-decker buses in Snohomish County, contracted out to Community Transit (whose facilities are the only ones in the region that can handle them). Community Transit had begun using double-decker buses in 2007 and ordered additional fleets in 2011 and 2013, with the latter including the Sound Transit order. Kitsap Transit tried out a double-decker bus last summer while seeking higher-capacity options for its ferry feeder service.

As part of the deal, 32 articulated buses currently used on ST Express routes in Snohomish County will be transferred to King County Metro, replacing older buses and being used for future service expansion.

Production of the buses will begin in November and delivery will begin in April 2017. The relatively fast turnaround and delivery was made possible by a new parallel production line at the Alexander Dennis/ElDorado National factory in Riverside, California. Each bus has 81 seats, a 30 percent increase over typical articulated buses, and is only 42 feet long.

Sound Transit Previews Angle Lake Station

Sound Transit – Angle Lake Testing 30 second from Sound Transit Video on Vimeo.

Wednesday afternoon Sound Transit (ST) gave media a short preview of Angle Lake Station. The 1.6 mile extension south of SeaTac Airport will open some time in late September (exact date to be announced soon), and the project is also running $40m under its $383m budget (or 10.4%).

Sometime in late August, Sound Transit will begin roughly 30 days of pre-revenue simulations, with trains running their full schedule and terminating at Angle Lake. During full testing, the main difference for riders is that SeaTac Airport will no longer alternate between platforms, but deboard from the west platform and board from the east platform. Airport riders accustomed to always having an out-of-service train on which to sit and wait will begin having to wait on the platform, as the train will only dwell at SeaTac for the customary 20 seconds.

At an elevation of 450′ (the highest station in the system until Federal Way opens), the station affords sweeping views of Mount Rainier, Vashon and Maury Islands, and approaching aircraft. And in a welcome turn from previous practice, the station graciously lacks a mezzanine. If Tukwila International Boulevard could be described as “Big Station, Small Parking”, then Angle Lake is just the opposite, with a much smaller station footprint but nearly double the parking (1,050 stalls). The adjacent garage will offer paid permits from Day 1, in addition to free general parking. To discourage airline passengers from using the parking facility, the standard 24-hour limit will be enforced, though CEO Peter Rogoff said that no effort will be made to discourage airport employee use. This sets up potential conflicts with the spirit (if not the letter) of state Commute Trip Reduction requirements for the airport, its airlines, and its contractors. Widespread employee transit use is a big reason why SeaTac’s ORCA Business Passport rates are the highest in the region.

In operational terms, neither frequency nor span of service will change upon Angle Lake’s opening, just as with ULink. The primary difference will be the addition of 1 trainset to the rotation, for a max of 19 trains during peak hours. This exacerbates Sound Transit’s shortage of Link vehicles, and slightly reduces their flexibility to add 3 or 4 car trains as demand dictates.

Photos below the jump… Continue reading “Sound Transit Previews Angle Lake Station”

News Roundup: Hiring

King County Metro Breda Trolley 4201

This is an open thread.

Blocking the Train Stairwell is Rude x 10


Sound Transit has a series of ads and art wraps out on Link Light Rail trains reminding passengers not to hog space in various ways.

When someone takes up two seats, either by putting their belongings on the adjoining seat (if the stuff could have fit under the seat or on their lap), or taking an inner seat next to a vacant outer seat, they probably know they are being rude. But this is happening less and less.

Sound Transit spokesperson Bruce Gray proclaims, “Folks have really responded well to this latest [ad] campaign.”

Blocking doorways as riders are trying to get in and out is problematic, but often a result of the train being packed, and somebody blocking the aisle leading to the center articulation zone or the stairwell to the raised end area. Stairwell blockers, consider this: Ten riders could be standing on that raised area. All too often, nobody is standing there, and the entryways are full of standing passengers. Please, let them by, or move to the end of the raised area. This stairwell blocking behavior is the equivalent of taking an inner seat, and putting one’s stuff all over ten other seats. The same thing happens on buses, resulting in riders being passed up.


Gray added that, “We are looking into adding some marking on the platforms to encourage folks to stand aside where the doors open and give those deboarding a clear path off and away from the trains before people start boarding.”

Something else that could help in the downtown transit tunnel is moving all the buses to the front quarter of the platforms. This has already happened on the northbound side, with the elimination of Bay B and consolidation of King County Metro routes 41, 74, and 255 at Bay A. It could happen on the southbound side, now that Metro route 106 will be re-routed out of the tunnel in September. There could potentially be enough space for ST Express route 550 at Bay C, joining less-crushloaded Metro routes 101, 102, and 150. That would get route 550’s long passenger queues out of the way of those trying to deboard and board the train.

WSDOT and City of Tacoma Kick Off Construction of New Amtrak Station

Local officials standing in front of a rendering of the new station

The planned move of Tacoma’s Amtrak station to Freighthouse Square, already home to Tacoma Dome Station, moved closer to fruition on July 13, as local officials celebrated the start of construction. Secretary of Transportation Roger Millar was joined by Tacoma mayor Marilyn Strickland at the Tacoma Dome Station plaza, and both spoke about the change that the new station will bring to the city and how they were welcome to embrace it.

The new station is part of the Point Defiance Bypass project, which will create an inland route for passenger rail between the Nisqually River and Tacoma Dome, increasing reliability and allowing for additional daily roundtrips on Amtrak Cascades between Seattle and Portland. When the station opens late next year, Amtrak will abandon its current 1970s-era station on Puyallup Avenue, and be located in close proximity to Tacoma Link and Sounder service.

The ceremony also honored the contributions of a citizen advisory committee that played a key role in the design of the station, suggesting a slew of incremental improvements to the initial concepts presented by WSDOT. The new station will integrate the existing warehouse on the site, which was built in the early 20th century for the Milwaukee Road, and instead build a glass facade next to the current Sounder entrance; an earlier plan had proposed a complete demolition and replacement of the structure with a modern steel-and-glass station and was met with backlash from Tacomans.

The project has, however, not been without controversy. Negotiations with the owner of the Freighthouse Square mall stalled earlier this year after he attempted to raise the price of land on the station site, resulting in WSDOT considering the use of eminent domain to acquire it; a month later, the owner backed down and signed an agreement with WSDOT, allowing for construction to move forward while the final price is determined at a later date.

August 2016 Primary Endorsements

These are Seattle Transit Blog’s endorsements for the August 2, 2016 primary elections. As always, we choose candidates entirely based on their positions and record on transit and land use. The primary only decides initiatives and races with at least two candidates, so that’s what we cover here.

Yes for HomesSeattle Proposition 1, The Housing Levy Renewal: YES. The only way out of the housing shortage is to build more units, both subsidized and market rate. If we hadn’t spent the last several decades suppressing housing construction, we would only need taxpayer dollars to house the very poorest sliver on residents. But we did suppress it, so Seattle needs it all. The housing levy renewal will build more units. Vote yes.

No123Seattle Initiative 123, The Waterfront Viaduct Park: NO. After the monorail debacle, we should forever put to rest the idea of creating and managing new public assets by initiative. The proposal to build a mock version of New York’s High Line on the future Alaskan Way lacks institutional support at all levels of government, contradicts city and state plans for the waterfront, and threatens to reinstate the one silver lining of the deep bore tunnel: the removal of the viaduct. It is a poorly thought out project whose primary funders have since abandoned and even donated to the opposition. Put the idea to rest and vote no.

Jay InsleeGovernor of Washington: Although Jay Inslee‘s full devotion to highway expansion disappoints us, he has also been on the right side of statewide transit issues. When discussing Sound Transit 3, his opponent simply regurgitates anti-transit talking points and has no interest in building high-quality transit. Bill Bryant is happy to endorse BRT when there’s rail on the ballot, but in the same campaign says he wants to let more general traffic into bus lanes. The other candidates have no chance.

Patty MurrayU.S. Senate. It’s not often that a federal officeholder makes a really big difference for regional transit and land use. But Patty Murray has certainly done that over her four Senate terms. She consistently delivers dollars for critical Puget Sound infrastructure projects, and has the seniority on the Senate Budget Committee to keep it coming. With her help, the highest-performing ST3 projects could enjoy billions in grants.

Brady WalkinshawU.S. House – 7th District. It’s refreshing to see a candidate eschew the “all of the above” boilerplate common to Transportation Issues sections of campaign websites. Yet new highways are nowhere to be found on Brady Walkinshaw’s page. Instead, he explicitly calls for reducing car volumes, a fix-it-first approach to maintenance, and more federal funding of Seattle transit projects.

43rd Legislative District, Position 1: The 43rd race is crowded with many good options, Thomas Pitchford envisions a Dan ShihSeattle without I-5 and stands alone in opposing rent control.  Nicole Macri and Sameer Ranade mostly say the right things about transportation. But forced to make a decision, we noted that Dan Shih seems more ready to acknowledge the importance of more housing units, and in particular the continued importance of market-rate housing alongside subsidized units. That’s a shockingly rare insight in the 43rd, and enough to earn Shih our endorsement.

Rick TalbertThe Pierce County Executive controls 4 of 18 Sound Transit Board seats. Rick Talbert is the chair of the Pierce Transit Board, and we believe he would be a vote for continuity from Pierce County.

Pat JenkinsPierce County Council Pos. 2: Pat Jenkins gives every indication of thinking transit first as a solution to congestion, and is positive about ST3. His opponents don’t mention transit at all.
Linda Farmer
Pierce County Council Pos. 6: Linda Farmer also suggests improved mass transit as an answer to congestion, which is more than her opponents have to say.


In the suburban Eastside, the key transportation issue before the Legislature in 2017 is HOT lanes on I-405. Under pressure from a noisy SOV commuter lobby, few candidates remain willing to forthrightly defend the HOT lanes. Our endorsements are for those more likely to advocate balanced policies. The express lanes are critical to future transit investments in the corridor, and offer an affordable alternative to the hamster wheel of ever-widening freeways.

Guy Palumbo1st, Senate: Guy Palumbo supports added general purpose lanes on I-405, but also supports BRT and has not taken a position against the HOT lanes. Luis Moscoso, currently vice-chair of the House Transportation Committee has declared that “he stood up to his own party to demand changes when the 405 HOV lane experiment failed. He will always stand against tolling 405.” Mindie Wirth wants a “time out on tolling”. She voices support for BRT, but in unmanaged 2-plus HOV lanes.

Derek Stanford1st, Position 1: Derek Stanford supports greater spending on highways, and was a sponsor of a compromise bill that removed tolling on nights and weekends. But he’s preferable to his likely opponent, Neil Thannisch, who views tolling as “social engineering and adding unearned taxes on commuters”.

Shelley Kloba1st, Position 2: Shelley Kloba is a sitting Council Member in Kirkland whom we’ve previously endorsed for supporting transit and resisting Kirkland’s onerous regulations on multifamily parking. Her most competitive opponent, Jim Langston, supports more spending on highways and believes “it is time the state realize cars are what we drive”.

Matt Larson5th, Position 2Matt Larson has three terms as Mayor of Snoqualmie, shepherding the city through a period of remarkable growth, and has served as President of the Sound Cities Association (the 36 smaller cities of King County). He favors “transit in high growth communities in east King County”.


The STB Editorial Board currently consists of Martin H. Duke, Zach Shaner, Dan Ryan, and Erica C. Barnett.

Metro Seeking Input on (Automobile) Parking Management

On-demand bike eLockers at Aurora Village
On-demand bike eLockers at Aurora Village

King County Metro has put out a survey on managing their parking at park & rides.

Metro needs a push from the public to take the leap into doing management programs even as tepid as what Sound Transit has done, and are fully aware people also use their parking lots to go to businesses nearby. In fairness to Metro, Sound Transit’s permit parking program just became permanent last year. (This is an example of getting movement out of one agency where another fears to tread, as a counter-example to those calling for one monolithic transit agency.)

Though it is not the primary purpose of this survey, you can chime in about bicycle parking (or dearth thereof), pedestrian access to park & ride bus stops, and bus routing at these stops (especially when serving the park & ride with an off-street stop costs ridership up the line and does not save any time for riders boarding and alighting at that stop).

Between Metro and Sound Transit, there are just over 500 leasable bike lockers at 40 sites around the county. (Compare that with the 26,000 stalls planned for parking cars, just along the proposed light rail spine.) There are also 76 on-demand eLockers at 11 sites, all operated by Metro, but none of them at current light rail stations. However, there are now cages at Beacon Hill Station (holding 48 standard bikes) and Tukwila Sounder Station (holding 40 standard bikes), both operated by Sound Transit. Angle Lake Station will feature both eLockers and 4 bike lockers and a bike cage that can hold up to 24 standard bikes. All Sound Transit stations and major Metro facilities have bike racks.

The deadline to do the survey is Friday, August 19.

Bertha Delayed Another Year, $223M in New Overruns, and Higher Tolls Expected

Roadway deck taking shape (WSDOT Photo from June 23)
Roadway deck taking shape (WSDOT Photo from June 23)

After a couple years of being coy about inevitable overruns, yesterday the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) informed lawmakers that 4-year delays actually do cost money. WSDOT Acting Secretary Roger Millar said that the new best-case scenario is a $223m cost overrun and an additional year of delay, putting the tunnel opening into early 2019.

The costs are mostly related to additional administration and a more deliberate digging pace, including two new maintenance pauses underneath downtown. The tunneling itself has gone well lately, with Bertha easily chewing through 40′ per day prior to the recent planned maintenance stop.  Mike Lindblom’s Times coverage has been comprehensive throughout this saga, and I encourage you to read his piece ($).

The $223m overrun is not only operationally optimistic (assuming no further delays or stoppages), but also litigiously optimistic, as it assumes that WSDOT will prevail in court against contractor Seattle Tunnel Partners, whose outstanding legal claims against WSDOT exceed another $200m. If WSDOT loses in court, taxpayers would ultimately be on the hook for considerably more.

The overruns aren’t budgeted by the state, and there is no contingency to draw upon. So the money will have to come from new state appropriations, and assuming no new revenue sources, the funds will likely come from reductions in projects elsewhere. Millar said Thursday that he will ask for $60M in immediate needs in the next legislative session, with the remaining $163M needed at a later date.

WSDOT also said it will now study a much higher toll ($2.50), double the previous consensus of $1.25.

With the Viaduct not coming down until a year or more after tunnel opening, it’s looking ever more possible that Northgate Link will be running before the Viaduct comes down.

County Approves $87M for Station Workforce Housing

Cal Anderson House,  built by non-profit Capitol Hill Housing
Cal Anderson House,
built by non-profit Capitol Hill Housing

On Wednesday, July 20, County Executive Dow Constantine and the King County Council held an event to celebrate passage of a proposal to spend $87 million to build workforce housing near train stations and other transit centers. The plan will raise the money from bonds backed by hotel/motel tax revenue which will start to be available in 2021. It will build over 1000 housing units over five years.

At least $24 million is earmarked for construction in Seattle, focused in SODO and Northgate. Another $32 million could end up in Seattle, depending on where partner non-profits decide to build.

2016 Solidarity Summit on Affordable Transit, July 26

Imagine you’re a woman, living with a husband and two kids, your elderly mother and disabled sister. Your husband works full-time and often overtime, perhaps as a security guard; he makes more than minimum wage but not a lot more. You would get a paying job too, but your time is taken up with caregiving. You have a car, which your husband needs to get to work. During his long shifts, the rest of you rely on public transit.

To give everyone in the family independence to travel freely by bus and train, you’d like to buy unlimited passes. But that would add up to $234 per month – assuming your family qualifies as low-income, making you eligible for the ORCA LIFT rate of $54. You can’t afford that expense on top of car payments, insurance and gas. So instead, you pay as you ride, and bus fare becomes one of those things you never seem to have enough money for. You plan your day to minimize the cost of travel, and your kids and mother and sister have to limit their trips, too.

ORCA LIFT has proved a resounding success. As of June 2016 over 31,000 people had enrolled; more than 3.7 million trips were taken in the first year of the program. But ORCA LIFT doesn’t help everyone who is feeling the squeeze of low incomes and rising living costs. Most very low-income and homeless people cannot consistently afford a $1.50 fare, and low-income youth, seniors and people with disabilities have seen their bus fares double or quadruple in the past six years.

The family described above may be imaginary, but their situation unfortunately is not. The freedom and mobility that our public transit system should afford remains unaffordable for tens of thousands of people in our communities, and the result is lost opportunities and diminished quality of life – not to mention tensions between riders and bus drivers and conflicts with fare enforcement and law enforcement when people ride without paying.

Fortunately, transit riders are rising to the challenge. Public school students, college students, workers, low-income and homeless people are organizing – and winning! But there is much work yet to do to realize the vision of universally affordable and accessible public transit.

On Tuesday, July 26, the Transit Riders Union is proud to host the 2016 Solidarity Summit on Affordable Transit. We invite everyone to come hear from people and organizations that are leading the way on affordable transit, participate in workshops, celebrate progress made and build momentum for new victories. The event will be held 12pm – 3pm in downtown Seattle, 215 Columbia St. RSVP not required but appreciated. You can register on TRU’s website,

News Roundup: Out in Force

Amtrak Cascades at Mt. Vernon Station

This is an open thread.

Westneat: Link’s Growth a ‘Tipping Point’

Capitol Hill Escalator Queue (July 19)
Capitol Hill Escalator Queue (July 19)

Seattle Times columnist Danny Westneat was out with a piece yesterday – “At Last, Seattle Loves Its Light Rail” – ($) that describes Link’s 83% ridership jump as a tipping point from our “recalcitrant” Lesser Seattle instincts to our inevitable Big City future. It’s a good piece, and I encourage to read the whole thing, but here are a couple key passages:

But there’s something deep-seated going on, too. Back in the early days when we were debating this system, I wrote a story about Seattle’s cussed resistance to rail, unique among all big American cities.

A tipping point has been reached, it seems to me. The train is no longer an academic urbanist talking point, or something like broccoli that we know is supposed to be good for us. The recalcitrant city now is embracing rail with a zeal that seems to have startled even Sound Transit. It took damn near 50 years of arguing about it. But we finally love it.

Is Westneat right that a major cultural shift is happening, or have we simply unleashed demand that was there all along from our dense neighborhoods and major institutions? Or maybe a bit of both?

I resist the idea of Seattle as a recalcitrant “bus city”, as our failure to build rapid transit over the last 3 generations seems more procedural than principled. Forward Thrust earned a majority ‘Yes’ vote, but stupidly required a 60% supermajority.  Citizens were so desperate for rapid transit that we spent nearly a decade trying and failing to build it ourselves. Then we created an agency (Sound Transit) that nearly imploded from mismanagement, but that has since recovered to do damn good work.

So I’d argue that Link isn’t necessarily converting principled holdouts that had been holding us back all along, but rather simply that we’re finally reaping the inevitable dividend that comes with serving dense areas with fast, reliable transit.

Yes, we’re slow. We have always required quality for our systems, to the clear detriment of quantity. We built a bus-only subway in the late 1980s when no one else was doing so. And we rightly resisted the temptation to lay down low-quality, low-frequency light rail that would have won us unearned and misguided praise as a ‘rail city’. So are we seeing unprecedented excitement? Sure. Are the naysayers wrong? Mostly, yes. But a massive cultural shift? I’m not sure that gives previous generations of advocates enough credit.

Bike + Transit Meetup Saturday Afternoon

IMG_2096 4
Eastlake BRT Open House

Designs for Move Seattle’s “RapidRide Plus” will be rolled over the next few years. It has become clearer of late that the “Plus” meant “Rapid Ride Plus Other Things”, not plus as in “better than Rapid Ride”. SDOT views these not as transit corridors, but as multimodal corridors (something that wasn’t necessarily clear to voters last fall). But overlaid promises (Move Seattle, the Bike Master Plan, etc) require all of us to recognize that there will be both wins and losses for bike and transit advocates on these corridors.

If the recent Eastlake/Roosevelt outreach round was any indication, there is the potential for conflicts between bike/transit advocacy interests, especially on the narrower corridors. If you believe those nascent divisions are unnecessary and want to find ways to rally around shared goals (like reducing on-street parking, or resisting excessive general traffic lanes), come out this Saturday from 1-3pm for a “Multimodal Meetup” at the Impact HUB (2nd/Washington in Pioneer Square).

From the Facebook event:

How can Seattle’s transit, walking, and biking advocates work together to create a safe and reliable transportation system?

This meetup is a first step towards cooperative advocacy.

We’ll be using the Move Seattle Levy as lens. The levy promised to implement 7 Rapid Ride Plus corridors by 2024. The levy also promises to implement walking and biking safety projects along some of these corridors and along other priority transit corridors (such as Pike/Pine). We’ll be looking at these corridors and discussing potential ways to work towards bold solutions that prioritize people who walk, bike, and take transit.

Co-sponsored by the Seattle Transit Blog, Seattle Neighborhood Greenways, Cascade Bicycle Club, Transportation Choices Coalition, and Feet First (contact if your organization would like to be involved).

Mapping ST3 Parking

Angle Lake Parking (Sounder Bruce - Flickr)
Angle Lake Parking (Sounder Bruce – Flickr)

Though the light rail projects in Sound Transit 3 (ST3) took up most of the oxygen during the run-up to the Board vote to put the measure on the ballot, there was less public discussion about station access. Advocacy groups won $100m for a Station Access Fund (consisting of things like sidewalks, signalization, bicycle lanes and parking, and transit restructures), but lost their broader goal of parity between access funds for cars and all other modes. Parking still took the lion’s share of access funds, with $600-700m for vehicle parking.

So I thought I’d put together a map to visualize the extent of onsite, publicly provided parking at Link stations following a full ST3 buildout. Private paid parking (such as at Mount Baker) is not included, nor is nearby public parking that will likely see light rail use (such as Green Lake P&R for Roosevelt Station). ST3 would boost Link station-area parking by about 45%, adding roughly 8,300 new stalls (at $80,000 per space) to roughly 18,000 existing spaces from ST2, Sound Move, and other prior agency projects such as Northgate.

The resulting map comes with many caveats, first and foremost that final parking tallies are dependent on later project development and design considerations, and are thus subject to change. The map includes parking built prior to ST3 as well, such as at Tacoma Dome or Everett Station, so the map is intended to be a cumulative total rather than just ST3-funded projects. I’ve attempted to subtract net new stalls from existing totals, such as when a surface lot becomes a structured garage, but it’s likely I made some mistakes along the way.

The system we’d get would be similar to DC Metro in many respects, fully tunneled and zero parking in the urban core, fully traffic-separated, and with both poor land use and gobs of parking on the exurban periphery. Like DC Metro, there would be the occasional urban-ish station, such as Downtown Redmond. Unlike DC, we’d have historic cities (Everett/Tacoma) anchoring the ends of the lines. The scope of our Everett-Tacoma spine would be unprecedented, equal to straightening out DC’s Red Line and then doubling its length.

Continue reading “Mapping ST3 Parking”

Sound Transit 3: Final and Ongoing Projects (2039-2041)


After studies, drafts, public comment, more drafts, amendments, and so on, you might be a little confused about what exactly is in Sound Transit 3 (ST3). This is the third of a brief ST3 reference series (2019-2024 here, 2030-2036 here) about what’s in the package that we’ll vote on in November. Today, the two last projects in the delivery schedule, plus various mostly-small projects with indeterminate delivery time.

All costs are in 2014 dollars.

In 2039, ST delivers the Tacoma Link extension. The $478m project would extend the terminus westward by 3.5 miles to Tacoma Community College, at-grade except for an elevated crossing of SR16.  Unlike every other rail project in ST3, some stretches of this would mix with traffic, like elsewhere on the line. There would be six new stations, at TCC, Stevens, Union, Sprague, Pearl, and Hilltop. To support 6-minute peak headways, the project will double-track 0.9 miles of the existing line between Union Station and the Tacoma Dome.

issaquah_sk Continue reading “Sound Transit 3: Final and Ongoing Projects (2039-2041)”