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…

69 Replies to “Sound Transit Previews Angle Lake Station”

  1. Is that their new standard paint scheme for the LRVs now? I kinda like and dislike it.

    1. I don’t know. I’d like to have tiger-shark teeth the noses of some of them. And others patterned like North Coast First Nations totem poles. And also some others with black sides and rivets like an old steam locomotive, dry-ice steam and all.

      Audio electronics could give them a whistle off those giant mile-long Union Pacific locomotives with 16 driving wheels that finished up steam freight service in the 1950’s. Getting all their car windows blown out once or twice would definitely cure drivers of left turns in front of trains.

      And with those front-end-of-car video screens, every five year old future vote would carry a lifelong image of why trains are better than cars.


    2. I’m a fan of the new blue forehead. The old white one, while nice looking, often got dingy looking with bugs and grime.

    1. We already have been charged, and will continued to be charged, for parking there. We don’t need a pay a third time for something we’ve already paid twice for.

      – Sam. Eyewitness Transit News.

      1. I believe ST borrows money to build most things, so if they charged users (like they do for the train), the tax burden on the rest of us could be lowered / service improved.

      2. Allocation and provision aren’t the same thing.

        That said it sounds like you only want to pay for garage operations and maintenance. you haven’t paid for that. That’s a start.

      3. In that logic transit users have paid three times for the chance to ride.

        The only difference here is that ST’s mission statement is be storage company versus a moving people company.

        And those transit riders that paid three times are not getting a good return on their investment.

    2. You realize ST works for us, and not the other way around, right? Them charging us to park in the garage that we paid for, and will continue to pay for, is like your gardener charging you to mow your lawn, then charging you a lifetime fee to upkeep your lawn, and then on top of that, charging you extra for each time you want to walk on your lawn.

      – Sam. Award-wining transit journalist, and founder of Commenters Without Borders.

      1. No, it would be like charging for a ticket to board the train. We’ve already paid for the train, but user fees make sense for myriad reasons. Even more so for parking than for riding the train (the latter is something that should be encouraged; the former not so much).

      2. User fees are already built-in to the act of owning and driving a car. The fee has been paid. Twice.

      3. Or like paying a toll. We’ve already “paid for” the road, and the car. But by setting a price for use, you accomplish two things. One, people who actually use the service pay for it, not the general population. Two, you encourage more efficient use of transportation infrastructure, by nudging people to carpool or to talk alternative forms of transportation to their destination. Parking is the most convenient, least scale-able form of station access, and therefore it need to be priced.

        Charging for parking ensures that spaces are there for those who “need” the parking more, as signaled by their willing to pay for parking. Without prices, parking simply goes to those who wake up earlier.

      4. Yeah, the guy in the $4000 suit is going to be taught about parking by commenter on a local transit blog. Come on!

      5. The guy in the $4,000 suit won’t be taking public transit, he’ll be using a cab or a limo.

      6. If ST and Metro do their job right, and build a great system that gets people out of their cars, then Link parking lots won’t be full. If they do a poor job (which I don’t expect ST cheerleaders to point out), and don’t build a great network that gets people out of their cars, then there won’t be enough parking. I suspect you people want paid parking to mask ST’s visible failure at getting people to give up their cars.

        “But Link wasn’t meant to get people out of their cars, Sam!,” I suspect one of you rail fetishists and comment section know-it-alls might point out. I would agree with you. ST doesn’t want that, because continued congestion, gridlock and reliance on cars is a never-ending revenue stream for them.

        When ST starts doing a great job, their station parking lots won’t be full. Don’t blame car drivers for ST’s poor performance.

      7. To eliminate the need for P&R in suburban areas would require a change in land use, which ST and Metro have zero control over. ST’s mandate is to serve PSRC job centers & growth areas, which in theory are areas of denser land use with more opportunity for people to travel without needing a car. When ST is building a station with parking in a suburban area, it is typically “on the way” in a corridor between growth centers.

        If ST does a great job and builds a network that is fast, reliable, and gets people where they what to go … many people will get out of their cars AND the parking garages will be full.

        Insofar as we have significant 20th century suburban residential areas within the ST service territory, P&Rs will remain an effective tool for serving that population, albeit an expensive tool. Some areas simply cannot be served effectively by bus networks, not everyone can live within walking/biking distance of a station, nor can everyone walk/bike.

        There might be a future where car sharing / self-driving cars means no one drives themselves to a rail stations … but given commuting demands (demand one-way, and during specific peak hours) and basic geometry, there will still need to be a facility to store all these vehicles during the day. But to build to system around this futuristic vision is unfortunately both too speculative in 2016 and fails to meet the needs of the existing population.

      8. I think arguing whether one has paid once or twice or more is besides the point. There are two relevant issues:
        1) how does a payment scheme influence behavior, and
        2) who are the losers and winners of the current scheme

        1) If you fund “free” parking through taxes then you encourage people to use more parking than what they would otherwise do. If you charge the full price, then you will be able to increase the supply where demand increases.

        2) In case of tax-funded free parking, the winners are those who pay little taxes and park a lot in these facilities (poor; driving to station), and losers are those who pay a lot of taxes but don’t use parking (rich; does not use station parking).

        As a side note to 1, part of the issue is related to the fact that there is (almost) no road tolls. Hence if parking gets more expensive, people may drive more because road use is still charged below the marginal costs.

  2. From what I can see from the ground, there are two tracks south of the station, but not enough room to cross over. Are those simply for storage? Did they mention storing a couple trains there overnight?

    I assume the switch is north of the station, meaning a slow approach until the extension to Federal Way opens.

    1. They are for storage only. I don’t believe it will be a slow approach.
      P.S trains won’t be stored there overnight.

      1. If the trains have to switch north of the station, how would the approach be faster than it has been at SeaTac Airport Station?

      2. Brent,

        It will be similar to airport, that happens at all end of the line stations.

    2. Unlike at SeaTac Airport, ST built longer tail tracks at Angle Lake to allow both faster approach speeds, because there is more margin to overrun if you have a braking issue, and also to more easily facilitate future southward expansion without disrupting service.

      The switch is north of the station at roughly where 28th Ave S curves west to become 26th Ave S. They could also switch trains through the pocket track just south of SeaTac Airport, but I doubt they do that for operational reasons (push a broken train into the pocket, store a gap train, etc.)

      1. That is correct. But because of the curve as train approaches the station, speed will be reduced.

      2. Thanks! ST is getting better and better at getting these architectural details right.

  3. Late August start of a month of testing … September ends on Friday the 30th … plans are to open in September … Does this mean September 30th could feature not only the last Friday Mariners game and the first home conference football game for the Huskies, against Stanford, but also an Opening Day Party? 100,000 riders in one day, here we come! And some will complain that ST is wisely going to spend lots of money on crowd control that day.

    1. Given those crowds, I’d imagine they’d want to schedule the party on a different day to not strain the system. Plus, Saturdays are better for public parties?

  4. “In operational terms, neither frequency nor span of service will change upon Angle Lake’s opening”

    Technically, that can’t be quite true. Due to the extra running time, either the last southbound trip will have to be a few minutes earlier, or the nightly maintenance window will have to be a few minutes shorter. As the line continues to expand, this is going to become a bigger issue. Hopefully, the expansion of service to Lynnwood won’t force the last northbound trip to the UW to be half an hour earlier.

    1. I was really disappointed that I wasn’t able to catch Link home from the airport when my flight arrived at midnight. Having the last full service train from SeaTac depart at 12:04 is kind of a joke.

      1. Right, and if, in 5 more years, the last full-service train leaving the airport has to be pushed back to 11:04, to allow the train to go all the way to Lynnwood and back to SODO again, it will become even more of joke. If the line extended to Everett, it would get even worse, which explains ST’s proposal to send the south line to Ballard, instead.

      2. Here’s a link to the Google driving directions that a night bus would have to take to serve every Link Station on the way between Westlake and Lynnwood.

        Driving time would be 1 hour, 6 minutes, without traffic or intermediate stops outside of the Link Stations. The cumulative time involved with exiting the freeway and looping around the bus bays would really add up.

        To switch over to this, instead of Link, as early as midnight, would be a huge letdown.

      3. Or Metro could simply extend the 124 to the airport, so that people don’t have to wait for the A, take it a mile to TIB, and wait twenty or forty minutes for the next 124.

      4. Exactly. One difference between the west coast and the rest of the country is that, because of the time zone issue, major west coast airports have large banks of flights in the early morning and late evening. Even a huge airport like Atlanta is nearly dead by 9:30pm (flights west have departed, very few eastern flights because the arrival would be so late at the destination), so late night transit service there is not a necessity. Here it’s a different story. There are a large number of arrivals AND departures from SEA after 10pm (and before 7:30am). Even if the last train from the airport were at 1am, most people arriving at the airport would be able to count on the train–even if they were delayed a bit (1:30am would get just about everybody). If you can’t be sure you’ll make the train on your arrival, you’re not going to take transit at all.

      5. Interesting point: if Link to the airport was so important, why isn’t it important for these first flights and last flights?

      6. Here’s an idea for the 124 after Link’s last run: layover at TIB, make the first northound stop there, then go down to the northbound 176th stop (perhaps via the airport freeway), and continue north bypassing TIB again. That would require a bit more gas, but maybe not more service hours if the layover is already longer than the minimum driver’s break.

      7. Not sure why, Mike–it’s kept me driving because I’m often on one of those late-arriving flights when I travel. Not interested in a lengthy bus ride after midnight and then a transfer downtown, and other methods don’t pencil out all that well unless it’s a very lengthy trip. I’d love it if they could extend the schedule by an hour or so (even on Sundays, when a lot of people return late–the train just isn’t much of an option at all for Sunday evening arrivals). So–I’ll park instead and get home at a semi-reasonable time. :(

  5. Loading onto a waiting train is a convenience now for boarding riders at the Airport station. When trains begin arriving from Angle Lake, airport riders with all their luggage will most often extend dwell times beyond 20 seconds.

    1. That’s an interesting point by Roger. On the other hand, folks who need more than 20 seconds to carry luggage onto a train are probably winnowed out already, by the 1,000 feet or so walk from station to air terminal. Related to this, the day of reckoning is near for Sound Transit to either ban peak-time bicycles or offer a third railcar with many seats removed.

      1. A bike ban would be too unpopular I would think. We need the cattle car. I rode on Caltrain a few times this spring with my bike on their cattle car and it was super packed but poorly thought and designed (just a heavy rail double decked w/o seats in the bottom). Hopefullt ST will look at better designs.
        Interestingly when I got back to UW medical center where I work I found out that none of my co-workers are using the LRT because they say its too slow from the south end, they actually prefer complaining about being stuck in freeway traffic and paying $125/month for parking than sitting on a train, weird.

    2. Frankly that wait is a nice thing as it provides a fully sheltered station. If a train isn’t there and the weather is bad waiting at that station is a miserable experience. The wind whips around the garage and terminal and gets funneled right into the station. Breezy, and if it’s windy enough wet. Tough experience for exhausted tired arrivals who may not be properly attired for the local climate. :-P

      I suspect we’ll see improvements from SeaTac at some point to the access to the station (e.g. moving sidewalk). The station should have been built with a more enclosed structure in the first place like Tukwila though. The palatial Tukwila station has always been ridiculous.

  6. No mezzanine? Where am I supposed to watch the train leave without me?

    Although most stations do have mezzanines, it is quite nice that some of those stations (UW comes to mind) have elevators that run from street to platform, allowing you to skip the mezzanine. I don’t get why elevators at TIBS don’t do this. It makes sense in places like the DSTT because there is downtown Seattle above the platform, but in the case of Tukwila, I don’t get why they didn’t decide to run one elevator from street to platform over the two elevators (meaning double operation cost and double failures) they have now.

  7. Wow… that’s a huge parking lot! It makes the one at the end of the Orange line in Portland look tiny in comparison.

  8. Will there now be security at SeaTac station ensuring that the cars are emptied? Or will people who “accidentally” find their way to Angle Lake station just have to ride back to SeaTac station?

    1. I’ve sure security will sweep the train, just as what used to happen at Westlake Station.

      1. So all passengers will have to get off at SeaTac and the train will continue empty to Angle Lake.

  9. I think paying $340 million to facilitate driving and status quo land use in South king county, along with free parking for airport employees, makes tons of sense.

    Sound transit is a failure.

    1. The light rail extension cost $340M including the parking garage and station. Not just the parking garage. (I’m assuming you aren’t calling an extension of Link a facilitation of driving, etc., sufficient to make the whole of ST a failure…especially since Angle Lake is to be extended to Kent/Des Moines and beyond, providing an alternative to driving and all…)

    2. The status quo land use isn’t going to disappear overnight.

      Yes, this needs to be coupled with changes to land use, but one egg is already laid and hatched, we have to deal with the chicken we have, and encourage it, and its offspring to change.

      1. Nick Barnard, you are poetic.

        Yes, land use change is a slow and painful process. Elect leaders who will push back against developers who wish to do minimal improvements.

      2. If you’ve ever spent any time exploring the Angle Lake walkshed you’ll notice that the station is located at the end of a very busy runway. The air often reeks of jet fuel, there’s an incredible amount of airplane noise and because it’s located at the end of a very active runway, it isn’t a great place to build TOD, particularly high-rise TOD. If ST is going to build Park and Ride lots, Angle Lake is the perfect spot for those P&Rs because it’s a horrible place for TOD.

      3. “Elect leaders who will push back against developers who wish to do minimal improvements.”

        It’s the zoning codes that are holding developers back. Developers will build whatever the market wants. Higher density is more profitable because there are more profit-generating units per land expense. (Although there are lquantum evels at 6, 12, and 40 stories where they have to switch to more expensive construction techniques. But blocks of narrow 6-story buildings would go a long way in aleeviating the housing shortage. And Pacific Highway would be a great place for it: no SF nimby neighbors on either side.)

    3. The point of transit is to capture at least part of the trip, in this case mostly Angle Lake to downtown. The last-mile problem and the P&R is due to the nature of the suburbs. It’s better for people to take transit part of the way than to drive the entire way. Hopefully in the future the suburbs will become more walkable and denser and less car-dependent, and then we can convert the P&Rs to something else.

      1. The whole point is missed. I understand there is demand for parking in the burbs. That is no reason why it should be provided free and taking away from building a transit network. Why is it free to store a personal car in expensive transit adjacent property and then it costs money to put your body on the train?

        Why can’t sound transit answer a simple question like this or even explain why and where they build parking?

      2. They build parking because the cities and counties and suburban voters won’t approve ST3 without it, and to minimize hide-n-ride (which is considered a negative impact on the neighborhood which ST must mitigate).

        As for why it’s free, I don’t think ST has promised it will be free forever, so it can switch to an all-paid model anytime. It has started down that path with monthly reserved spaces. Having pay-per-use would introduce its own costs, for readers and ticket machines and enforcement staff. I don’t know what the right balance is between revenue for reserved spaces vs revenue for pay-per-use vs costs. I think the monthly reservations are popular.

  10. If the train is ready to go before the parking garage is finished, does the station open for a few weeks without the parking, or is the opening of the station artificially delayed until the parking is finished?

  11. Is the parking garage all of the parking? The one picture shows a huge surface lot. Is that part of the station, or is that another lot for something else?

    1. I recall there being a temporary leased surface lot until the next station opens.

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