Photo by the author
Photo by the author

At a press conference this morning, Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff and Sound Transit Board Chair/King County Executive Dow Constantine announced that Angle Lake Station will open on Saturday, September 24th. Alaska Airlines is sponsoring the opening ceremonies to the tune of $25,000, with total costs for Opening Day expected to be just north of $50,000, more than an order of magnitude cheaper than ULink’s festivities.

At the risk of stating the obvious, no one would claim that the area around S. 200th Street in SeaTac is a booming regional destination. It is surrounded by highly regulated/inaccessible uses such as prisons and airport operations facilities, on the west by a wooded ravine, and on the east by the sort of mid-century sprawl so familiar to SR 99. Its inclusion in the transit network is minor enough that it didn’t merit any restructures or bus deviations to the station, and transfer activity there will be minimal. Those coming from the south on RapidRide A may want to switch to Link at Angle Lake instead of SeaTac for the guarantee of a seat, but access will mean crossing two signalized intersections rather than the direct access to SeaTac/Airport at 176th.

But with Angle Lake Station set to be Link’s southern terminus for the next 7-8 years, what is there to do there? Who are those likeliest to use the station? Here are 6 reasons to use the new station.

  • Park and Ride Commuting: With 1,120 stalls being built, park & ride behavior is expected to be the most common use. In addition to drawing in peak-hour drivers from the Des Moines, Midway, and SeaTac areas, the station will also open up far better off-peak options to Seattle for those currently caught in between Link at SeaTac and Sound Transit 577 in Federal Way. Angle Lake may also peel off a few peak hour riders from Metro Route 122, as Link will be a few minutes faster to Downtown and run far more often.
  • Reverse Commuting: The new station opens up one-seat rides for reverse commuters from Seattle to the six Alaska/Horizon headquarters buildings (5-7 blocks away), the Federal Detention Center (2 blocks west), and the 10 or so hotels between 188th and 200th.
  • Daytrip Flying: If you’re the type who takes personal or business trips of less than 24 hours, nothing is stopping you from using Angle Lake as free airport parking. Overnight parking will be permitted, but the 24-hour limit will be enforced.
  • Cycling the Des Moines Creek Trail: If you’re looking for a lovely, uncrowded bike trail, the Des Moines Creek Trail is an underrated gem. At just 2 miles each way, it’s very short, but it’s a great leisurely cruise down to the Des Moines Marina and Beach Park. You can extend the trip a bit by heading a couple miles south to Saltwater State Park.

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  • Angle Lake itself: Though most access to Angle Lake is privately held, the eponymous park on the west side of Angle Lake offers a boat launch, picnic area, and more. If you’re the type that has a small inflatable kayak or wants to swim in a place less crowded than Green Lake, Angle Lake could be a good choice.
  • Planespotting: Angle Lake Station lies just 1/2 a mile from end of Runway 34R, SeaTac’s longest and the one most commonly used for jumbo jets on international flights. Aviation geeks lingering on the platform may give security staff headaches, but the view of descending aircraft and Vashon Island is superb nonetheless.
View looking west from the station
View looking west from the station

53 Replies to “Angle Lake Will Open September 24th: 6 Reasons to Use Link’s Newest Station”

  1. Remember that news stories a couple months ago about that Ethiopian restaurant who’s business had taken a hit because of the construction? How about a meetup there for opening?

    1. That’s TIB. We could go there afterward. I want to go to Angle Lake whatever we do. If the restaurant is with the shops I’m thinking of, kitty-corner from TIB in the strip mall with a pancake restaurant, I tried to go there once but it had the feel of not being sure if it was open or if they wanted an English-speaking gringo infidel customer. It would be nice to go with someone who’s perhaps more familiar with the culture.

    2. Because I’ve never heard of the Bull Pen. Below it says it’s a bar and grill that’s closed due to a fire. That made me think of Randy’s restaurant which has its own following, but it’s up near the Museum of Flight so it would be more appropriate for a Boeing Access Road station opening.

  2. To be fair there are a few construction projects near the station. The retirement community finished up and there’s a few hotels.

    Lots of room for densification if a developer bites.

  3. I would add another reason: The station is going to be the most convenient one to I-5 once opened. That will attract some additional drop-off and pick-up activity as well as be more attractive to people who live in South King and Pierce Counties when they want to park and ride transit into Seattle for special events.

    1. Yup… besides the 9-5 P&R commute, afternoon or weekend sports games are the only use I see for this thing.

      1. Or any other non-workday event in Seattle – not just sports events, but also festivals, concerts, etc.

        Could also get use by people going into Seattle just for shopping or going out to eat.

  4. I’m surprised that there is no mention in this article that Angle Lake station will dramatically improve transfers between Link and the RapidRide A-Line, since it’s the only station on the A-Line with no mezzanine, and it is quite close to International Blvd.

    1. Well, they sort of did, but only for going north. Note that going south, you only need to cross one signaled intersection (although in practice, nobody drives on that section of 26th Ave S, so you could pretty much just cross that section), and in both directions, you get a head start advantage (Link is faster, making it more likely that you will make that southbound A-line or northbound Link when the transfer is tight than if attempted at airport or TIBS).

    2. I personally think the transfer is far better at SeaTac/Airport, at least in the northbound direction. The light cycle at 200th is LONG for pedestrians. Southbound, Angle Lake is probably better.

      1. I beg to differ based on the fact that it’s probably a quarter mile of walking to get up to the Link station. The elevator there is horrendously slow, so slow that it may usually be quicker to ascend the 2-3 flights of stairs on foot, and after that, you’re halfway to the Link station.

        Plus, keep in mind that the A-line leaves a lot to be desired in TSP. What does this have to do with transferring to Link? It means that upon arriving at S. 200th street, the light will turn yellow just as the bus stops, and you will be able to cross International boulevard immediately.

        Ok, the second part was kind of a joke.

        Of course, between the airport and Angle Lake Station, the A-Line has 4 stops, versus 1 for Link, so a lot of it depends on whether the bus is going to make it through S 200th, S 195th, S 188th, and S 180th without stopping. Link has a max speed of 50 mph versus the A-line’s 45 mph, but it takes much much longer for Link to speed up and slow down than the A-line. Dwell time comparison is a tossup, mainly because it’s quite common on the A-line for people to hold up the bus because they are slow to deboard.

        So while there is a clear advantage for Link in terms of speed, my preliminary opinion is that this advantage would on average more than make up for a longer crossing at S. 200th street, but we will have to see how well this works in practice.

        Anecdotally, I remember quite clearly just missing trains at the airport station by a second, entirely because of that horrendous elevator.

      2. You can compare SeaTac to TIB. Link is faster. The A can make you feel like “should’ve taken the train”. And the TIB bus bays aren’t a pleasant place to wait with that concrete cave and car sewer feel. But if you do it often you might use TIB occasionally for variety, just as I usually took the express buses from the U-District to downtown but I sometimes took the 43 for new scenery.

  5. Your map needs a dot where the station is. I know it’s at 26th Ave S and S 200th, but a marker on the map would make it much quicker to find.

  6. I know there’s talk about shortening the Seattle express buses to the closest station, and I’ve been thinking –

    I’d be willing to give up my 595 going into Seattle in exchange for all-day service both ways. Ditto with other Tacoma-area routes.

    1. I think Metro should give this a test with route 157, which could be truncated at Angle Lake station with minimal travel delay in comparison to longer-haul I-5 routes. Then it could take 157’s abysmal 4 morning and 3 afternoon trips and more than double them. It certainly wouldn’t be enough to make 157 an all-day route, but it could be a precursor to that.

      1. Problem with the 157 is that it comes up via Orillia Road (S. 188th St), thus missing S. 200th St. (Angle Lake Station), unless the route has to backtrack (It could be routed via Military Road to S. 200th St as a possible routing to get to Angle Lake).

      2. Tukwila Sounder Station seems like an easier place to truncate route 157.

        Regardless, there ought to be a speedy all-day connection between Kent Station and Angle Lake Station.

    2. Route 180 needs to be split. It is long and tortuously winding. Truncate the Burien half at TIBS. Truncate the Auburn-Kent half at Seatac Airport since there isn’t a logical re-route to Angle Lake. I see massive South King reroutes in the future when Link runs further south, which will, by necessity, include the Auburn-Kent half of 180.

      Truncate 574 at Angle Lake, no-brainer, it is a lot fewer traffic lights and bus stops, and a shorter trip, than what this bus currently encounters in the trip from I-5 to the airport station to get to Angle Lake station instead, which will pay for the time lost in a transfer.

  7. Parking in a 24 hour limited structure and then relying on an airline to get you back there in time feels liek a way to get your car towed.

    1. I wonder what the impact of Angle Lake is going to be on the schedule. Because of the increased running time, the last trains will have to either leave the UW Station earlier or arrive at the SODO maintenance base later than they do today. It would be quite disappointing if the opening of Angle Lake Station means that the last downtown->UW train is quietly pushed forward from 12:42 to around 12:30.

  8. How long do you think it will take for the garage to fill to regularly fill to capacity? I’m betting 1 week.

    1. I don’t know. Most peak-hour commuters to downtown have bus options at other P&R’s which would get them downtown faster, but some might choose Link anyway if they know they’ll be staying late. For example, if someone wants to watch a Mariners game after work, Link’s frequency at 10 PM is much better than the 577/578.

      There could also be a larger market than we think for people who work at the airport. Regardless of where they’re coming from, they could drive to Angle Lake and ride Link one stop just to save on parking money. I don’t know enough about the exact amounts that the port subsidizes parking and transit for its employees to know if such a scheme would make financial sense (for instance, if they offer a huge subsidy for parking, but next to nothing for transit, it wouldn’t).

    2. I give it 24 hours.

      The garage will be full Sunday the 25th for a Seahawks game. Starting Monday morning, the 26th, at or before 7 AM, the garage will be regularly full every weekday morning until at least the Highland station opens up 7 years down the line.

  9. Living near the station isn’t one of the reasons to use it? Very telling. Remember what I taught everyone. Look for what isn’t being said.

    1. That’s because the area hasn’t had the development yet where a lot of people live near it to be that notable to be included as a bullet point. If you do, however, it’s perfectly fine to use.

      1. There are some houses and one mobile home park within walking distance of the station. However, crossing highway 99 as well as 28th means that distance is going to be walked pretty slow, overall.

        Redevelop a few of those parking areas to include a pedestrian walkway that connects the station to the places where people live, and you could probably have much better station use by those that live near the station.

      2. That’s a pretty big “that’s because,” in my book. Let’s plunk a light rail station down in a sparsely populated neighborhood with almost no bus connections and that is not considered an employment center and and cross our fingers and hope one day more people live near it is a dumb way to conduct transit planning.

      3. It’s an unfortunate reality with the way land use is in the USA.

        Where in that corridor would be a better place for a station? Really, there just isn’t anything much that won’t require changes in land use.

        At least there is a hotel reasonably close, and the is some stuff you can get to around the station.

        There are far worse station locations that are the result of terrible land use practices and political efforts.

      4. Two reasons for the station.
        1) An interim terminus needs a P&R for everyone south of it. SeaTac was not suitable for this because airport parking would overwhelm it and there’s supposedly going to be a town center there someday.
        2) It’s on the way to Des Moines and Federal Way.

      5. Also, I’ve heard that 3) The FAA/TSA/other three letter acronyms did not like that trains laid over so close to the airport, hence the federal funding to accelerate S 200th.

      6. That may be the first time I heard the Sea-Tac Airport Link Station referred to as somehow perilously close to the airport terminal. At worst, a terrorist act aboard a Link train might put a small chip in the far corner of the airport’s parking garage.

      7. @Crunchy: ST and about 99.9999% of the region wanted the station closer. The fact that it’s where it’s at now is almost a miracle.

  10. Looking at bus transfers, I could see re-routing the 156 to provide a connection between the Des Moines downtown/waterfront and S. 200th station. Currently there is no bus connection between these two destinations.

    1. The original plan was to have the 156 come up on S. 200th then down TIB to 176th. However, this routing would have missed a portion of 8th Ave S/Des Moines Memorial Drive that the former 132 served (and the 122 still serves) missing the residential area there, plus a significant school. Thus, the 156 is routed via S. 188th instead (current route).

  11. Next bullets:

    I can call a cab from Angle Lake just as easily as I can from SeaTac, but it is closer to home and hence a cheaper cab ride. It’s a way to save a few bucks going to or from the airport. (In my case, it is an estimated $17 savings on metered taxi fare to go to Angle Lake instead of the arrivals or departures terminal at SeaTac.)

    1. It’s not just the metered fare – it’s also surcharges associated with being picked up at the airport. On Uber, for example, I believe the airport pickup fee at SeaTac is something like $15.

      Furthermore, it is quite common to observe long, snaking lines for the pick-up/drop-off lanes at SeaTac airport, which can lead to frustratingly long waits for anyone being picked up at the terminal at a noisy, smelly road, filled with diesel exhaust. This is why I have, so far, found Zipcar’s one-way airport service unattractive. It is much easier to ride Link to a Car2Go (and be somewhat on the way) than to ride a parking shuttle to a Zipcar and have to wait who-knows-how-long for that shuttle to show up.

      1. Zipcar, Car2Go……. we don’t have those out in the suburbs. We get the overpriced Shuttle Express and Metered Taxis. If we are lucky, there might be an Uber driver available, but I certainly would not count on it. Metered taxi is the only measure that is meaningful to me.

        It also makes asking a friend for a ride to or from the airport a bit easier, as it is a much shorter trip with a much less congested pick up area. You can call from the terminal when you arrive and while they are driving to pick you up, hop on the train and ride down to Angle Lake.

      2. On a related note: SeaTac desperately needs better signage at all the pick-up locations. I took a hotel shuttle not too long ago and I couldn’t figure out where the hell to go. I was running back and forth like an absolute madman. Uber pick-up spots are just as confusing.

  12. Next bullet:

    You are a visitor to Seattle and need a cheap hotel (i.e. not the prices charged downtown) with access to transit since you won’t be getting a rental car. You’ll be staying at one of the many hotels that are walking distance to Angle Lake so that you aren’t tied to an unreliable airport shuttle and have easy access to both Seattle and the airport via fast and reliable transit.

    1. That would be a rather long commute to the city to do each day, but I could totally see it as a place to crash the last night before an early morning flight. Take the train out to the hotel the night before, sleep, then either ride the train one stop or take the hotel shuttle to the airport (depending on how early the flight is).

    1. And I do think this is a genuine public service. A lot of states are really fairly inhumane when it comes to the families of prisoners, moving prisoners who committed crimes in a city hundreds of miles away from their city homes to prisons located deep in rural areas. (New York is a dramatic example.) It’s actually much more appropriate to keep them in prisons where their families can visit them without excessive costs.

      1. Not to mention that remotely sited prison’s have a lot of cost for the prison service as well as visiting families. That’s why the feds shut down Alcatraz, it was just too damn expensive to run those damn boats out there.

  13. As someone that works down in the Kent valley and frequently does bike & bus commuting I was hoping this station would be perfect for me since I work off S 190th St on the Green River. Unfortunately after looking at maps it isn’t a straight drop from the valley because I-5 & the terrain does a pretty good job restricting the crossing locations. The two available routes would make my bike route 3.8 & 4.9 miles away! Not worth it considering I can take the 150 bus that drops me off less than a mile from my business. Bummer, I love options but I don’t think this will be very useful for me.

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