Where to next? Photo via: Dennis Hamilton

If Sound Transit 3 wins in November, Sound Transit will have its hands full. It will operate Sound Transit 1 (“Sound Move”) services, execute the final seven years of Sound Transit 2 construction (including 18 new stations by 2023), and stand up project delivery for Sound Transit 3. This ambitious list of obligations will dominate Sound Transit’s attention for years to come. But even $20 billion in ST3 projects (in current dollars) won’t exhaust the imagination of activists. As the system expands, connecting to it becomes more valuable, not less.

Under current and proposed tax authority, ST3 consumes the agency’s entire fundraising capacity for at least 25 years, and bond repayments will continue for well over a decade after that. Unless there is yet more sentiment for additional legislative authority, this will be it for the working lives of most of the people reading this article.

“The overwhelming focus will be on project delivery,” says ST CEO Peter Rogoff, “and there is no room to take a breather.” After a win, Rogoff plans to “stand up a team right away” to examine lessons learned from ST 1 and 2, reform processes accordingly, and start hiring staff to support all the new projects.

If there’s anything to come that’s more exciting than steady execution, it’s haggling over the details of each alignment. ST spokesman Geoff Patrick said that ST3 “allows the board to make refinements to the representative alignments,” although the legal department believes “it is not legally doable” to build entirely new projects, like Ballard/UW, from tax revenue without additional voter approval. That still leaves plenty of opportunity to find budget space to bury sections of track, serve First Hill, or any one of a series of other improvements that interest groups might organize around.

Mr. Rogoff also noted “there haven’t been any board discussions” about what an ST4 might like look like. He couldn’t responsibly say much beyond that, but we’re free to speculate.

lrpThere are no immediate prospects for additional revenue authority. Even though ST3’s spine was a part of the original 1990s “Sound Move” vision, it came 8 years after ST2 and 21 years after the first Sound Transit public vote. The further out any action occurs, the harder it is to appreciate public opinion, the economic position of both the region and its component communities, and how transportation habits evolve. But is there anything we can say about what ST4 might be in the aftermath of a Yes vote this November?

We already have some idea what further projects the subareas want, because they’re in the Long Range Plan. The North King subarea’s infinite demands likely include, in the next round, a Ballard/UW line and Link to White Center. Together with East King, north-end cities are interested in rail on the SR 522 corridor. East King County would also probably like to extend the Ballard/UW line across 520 and/or finish Link through Kirkland to Totem Lake. South King would probably further enhance Sounder service, and may also invest heavily in a Burien/Renton line. In Snohomish County, the only remaining item is extending Link to Everett Community College. Similarly, Pierce County envisions extending the spine to Tacoma Mall.

The takeaway from these demands is that the subarea math is not at all well-balanced. Given this set of demands, another regional package with subarea equity will be unlikely. There are a few organizational ways out of this box.

The subarea framework has served its purpose in clearly delineating the benefits to each area’s voters. Optimistically, once most voters have access to the full ST3 system, they will see the collective gains from projects from which they don’t directly benefit. More likely, the unified structure of the Regional Transit Authority would break down, with cities like Seattle petitioning the legislature to tax themselves without raising taxes across the entire RTA. That way Seattle could build Ballard-UW without Orting or Lakewood’s assent.

With the spine dream complete, would suburban legislators and other leaders let Seattle chase its dreams?

The opposite reaction is to expand the District. As high-quality transit stretches further out, that will spur further demands in places like Olympia and Marysville. If regional voters view Sound Transit as essential by 2030, the risk of taking on even more sprawling voters may serve a hunger that balances demands in the core. The discussion won’t come in December, or 2017, or even 2020, but it will come.

93 Replies to “Life After ST3: If It Wins”

  1. I think two obvious improvements are express routes north and south that stay on the freeway and avoid detours.

    You could have an express train that avoids the rainier valley, follows a new freeway track south, and even adds a stop at georgetown.

    Once that is done, you could redirect the rainier valley track to serve renton.

    You could have an express route that skips paine field.

    You could have a branch that goes from Lynnwood or Mount Lake Terrace to edmonds.

    I think the list of projects in the region is pretty long.

    I agree it would be a mistake to expand the sound transit taxing district, as it will make it politically unwieldy. I think even with ST3 there is a problem where people in the different subareas don’t understand the projects in the other subareas.

    1. In Snohomish, service perpendicular to Link is probably best served by bus, though then there would be opportunity for bus improves like route 1 in Pierce. For light rail, look at BRT lines that would be upgraded to light rail if demand requires, in this case along the 405 corridor. But it really all depends on how the region grows and if any city other than Everett and Lynwood tries to build some urban density. For example, a line that terminates in Edmonds only makes sense if Edmonds is open to growing their downtown.

      Renton is probably best served by a Burien to Renton line that intersects the existing Link, to get a more gridded network and better connect South King to Sounder via Tukwila station. I don’t even see a need for a RV bypass, as a well functioning Sounder should be sufficient as the express option.

      1. We need to be ready for one new thing. There’s a good chance that in the next fifteen years a good many things, and ideas, will change in ways we haven’t seen for a long time. For the better, if we’re ready to take advantage.

        Judging by the people in their early twenties I’m talking with as this Fall,, compulsory lifelong debt for in return for unguaranteed wages is about to bring us some serious lasting force for
        Shock and Awe gauge regime change.

        Meaning we’ll have enough fresh voting power, and leadership, to bring an end to four decades of artificial fiscal scarcity. And with it the idea that the people’s machine tool, our Government, is as useless as, in reactionary minds, we, the people, are.

        Technically, a lot of necessary things will very likely become possible. When LINK is finished, as it should be, it will probably already be on its way to an arterial feeder for Sounder on electricity, and steroids. Those purple bathroom equipped stream liners in southern Sweden, for instance.

        But while we need to be prepared to build fast when we can, we also need a plan to stay in steady motion around obstacles, financial and geological. Plans to use the vehicles and lanes we can get, until we can get the lanes, bridges, and tunnels we need.

        Buses and joint-use held regional transit together politically for the last 30 years. Leaving us some good lessons for assuring that for the next 30, Slow Order needn’t mean Dead Stop.

        Mark Dublin

  2. Fully implementing Metro’s long range plan with BRT level service on the rapid ride corridors would be a great compliment to ST3. It would also give all the ST3 “smarter transit” detractors a chance to show that they really support BRT and aren’t just using it as a political prop ;)

    1. Hopefully this happens concurrently with ST3.
      If Seattle really does have infinite demand for transit, I’d much rather vote for more taxes to fund Metros long range plan than wait for the next ST4 package

      1. As a lifelong pessimist (which I personally believe to be nearly synonymous with “realist”), if I lived by this rule I would probably not be able to plan my life beyond 1 or 2 days. That being said, I have thought a lot about what it would look like if ST3 fails, as well as both possible outcomes of the presidential election.

      2. Joe, please remember that in the event of an ST3 failure, Link will be in Lynnwood in just five years. You and your “North By Northwesters” will have a very quick, ultra-reliable ride to the three destinations to the south to which most of them will want to travel: Downtown Seattle and the Duwamish Industrial District, UW, and the Airport.

        Yes, it would be great if Link went two stations farther to 164th, and maybe there will be an ST 2.5 to accomplish that, the WSTT, downtown Redmond and Federal Way/more Sounder.

        But even if there is not even that small project list, your Snohomians will be the best served of any sub-area overall by ST1 and 2.

      3. Lynwood Link will be great, but I’d say North King got the best out of ST1 … and I have very high hopes for East Link. Connecting the two downtowns of King County will completely change the way people move about the County during the workday & in evenings. Being able to get in and out of Seattle for a quick meeting or an evening out with be a game changer.

      4. “Are we going to have another post about “Life After ST3: If It Loses”?”

        I don’t know what STB authors are planning, but there may not be one till after the election. Some people think Seattle and ST have… reasons for not outlining a plan B at this point. Seattle Subway’s leader has said, if I remember right, that they have certain ideas about a plan B and a campaign strategy for it, but they don’t want to discuss it until after the election, in deference to the awkward position that could put the governments in, having to respond to that or ignore it.

        My own interpretation of all that is, it’s a fear that if the governments or the organized transit-activist groups float a specific plan B, it may do serious harm to ST3’s passage, and that the plan B wouldn’t be enough to fully compensate for the harm. Logically there are three possible alternatives: Seattle goes it alone, ST offers a significantly smaller package and leaves the rest to be decided later, or ST offers a significantly more Seattle-centric package.

        If Seattle goes it alone, it might be able to raise $1 billion from the monorail authority if that’s legal (it has a clause excluding light rail). That may or may not be enough for a Ballard-UW or Metro 8 line or a second downtown bus tunnel, but only one of them. Anything beyond that requires legislative consent, and that’s very iffy. The legislature might grant it and the other cities might defend it, but it’s a long shot, and we shouldn’t throw away a bird in the hand for two in the bush.

        If ST offers a substantially smaller package, then we’ll get fewer projects. Everett would be truncated, and because West Seattle is the city government’s highest priority, Ballard might be deleted or replaced with that Westlake-Fremont-Ballard streetcar. A second downtown bus tunnel or a Metro 8 line would be an uphill battle because neither Seattle nor ST have acknowledged it as a worthwhile project.

        If ST offers a more Seattle-centric package, then you’ll know hell has frozen over and global warming is no longer a threat. Because it would only happen if subarea equity were abolished and the suburban subareas (4/5 of the population, 4/5 of the boardmembers, and 4/5 of the voters) said, “Yes, Seattle, we’ll pay taxes for your lines because we’ve had a religious conversion and we understand how wrong we were, an urbanist-centric network is what the region needs.” (According to a report in an ST board meeting, ST doesn’t have to spend money proportional to the subareas’ revenue, but it does have to disclose to the subareas what percent of their money is benefitting them. It would be a long way’s to get them to see spending their money on Seattle’s lines as benefitting them.)

        Of course, individual commentators are free to speculate on what a plan B could contain, should contain, and its chance of succeeding.


        Would Pete Carroll let doubt like that get into the Seahawks’ heads?


        Do you win a football game in the first quarter?


        Do you win a football game in the second quarter?


        Do you win a football game in the third quarter?


        Do you win a football game in the fourth quarter?


        To the tune of: https://youtu.be/Wawvdqtk290?t=1m41s – GO SOUND TRANSIT! WE’RE GONNA WIN!

      2. Good, Zach, because people need to know what would be necessary to accommodate the coming traffic in the advent of a failure at the polls.

        In fact, Seattle is likely to be the least harmed, because it can simply slap a bunch of red paint down and buy more bus hours from Metro in the western corridor. It owns the bridges over the Ship Canal and Duwamish that the buses must use, so it can give them the priority required.

        It’s the suburbs which will quickly strangle in the exponential increase in traffic from sprawl that is baked into the future. The county doesn’t own most of the important arterials so it has to go on its knees to get bus priority from WSDOT, which is likely to be increasingly dominated by the rural minded legislature.

        Even in Governor Inslee is re-elected nothing will change at WSDOT because he is so nice. He’s reluctant to knock heads, so nobody is afraid of him. He needs to make the bureaucrats at DOT fear for their health care plans.

      3. @Anandakos: I thought the cities owned streets and WSDOT only owned the state routes (and even then, the cities can work on it)? At least in my area (NE King), any traffic light not next to a 405 on-ramp is city owned, and the cities are responsible for re-paving. Plus 522 has been expanded and moved around a ton by Bothell/Kenmore, so I think they have a good amount of control over it.

        In any case, at least in East King, I really don’t see how ST3 will help traffic anyway. The biggest issue here is 405 and 405 BRT is not going to do much. Nor will Issaquah LRT for that matter. 6 months ago the ETLs were fine, but now they’re getting more and more backed up. I don’t foresee them getting any better anytime soon, which means that 405 BRT will be unreliable and problematic to use.

      4. David,

        Bothell and Kenmore can’t declare bus priority on 522, no matter how much they’ve participated in widening and beautification projects. You can take that to the bank. Yes, WSDOT has been pretty supportive of bus priority in that corridor, but even there it’s shoulder running, interrupted by frequent right turns. There will, for instance, be no bus lanes for the BRT on 145th to get over to Link.

        I agree with your observations about the East subarea. You folks got yours almost in toto in ST2. I think most folks think the extension to Redmond makes sense, but the “Kirkland”-Issaquah hoo-hah, which doesn’t even penetrate Factoria or the residential part of either city is silly. The one good thing about it is that there will be half again as many trains through the “core” of Bellevue. But that’s a thin reed to lean $3 billion on.

      5. Yes, good point on 522 ownership. But, as you say, they have been generally supportive. On the other hand, I don’t know if there are any other bus lanes anywhere else in East King (at least not of this length), so that is a good sign.

        And I agree that East King did get a nice chunk in ST2, but that really only addresses E-W movement and not N-S movement. 405 and the bridges are the most complained about things here, so I really don’t see how ST3 will have much support in this area.

      6. I agree East King is getting more out of ST2 than ST3, but:

        1) The Issaquah line will penetrate the residential part of the city. It simply won’t go to the historical downtown, which is fine because that’s not where the growth is going to be.

        2) South Kirkland is the logical place to put a station given the ultimate direction of the line. It will allow for the line to turn towards 520 and cross Lake Washington or turn up towards downtown Kirkland – or do both. Extending from Wilburton to S Kirkland is a nice investment towards a future project, given East King had money to burn.

        3) I have high hopes for 405 BRT … and if it doesn’t succeed that will put to rest any arguments favoring BRT over rail.

        4) Factoria station placement can be improved, and there is plenty of time for that. Also, would you rather spend millions to move the Factoria station to south of I90 and have it cross I90 twice.. or use that money to get bus lanes on Factoria Blvd?

      7. @AJ The 520 crossing isn’t going to happen. It links from a bad connection to UW to the middle of nowhere on the East Side. If there is another lake crossing at all it’ll be at Sandpoint or (more likely) it’ll just go across the top of the lake.

        There won’t likely be enough demand in any of our lifetimes for two rail crossings that close together.

      8. “On the other hand, I don’t know if there are any other bus lanes anywhere else in East King”

        There are also bus-only lanes on SR-520 to serve the freeway stations.

      9. Argh – yes, there is nothing around the Transit Center now. The light rail is 20 years away – there’s reason it’s the last project to be delivered. Issaquah has committed to that specific space as a growth area. The council recently suspended development because they didn’t like the quality of projects, which is a sign of good governance. What happens around the TC over the next few years is irrelevant, what matters is the quality of development in a decade.

        As for 520 crossing, yes I agree that is best served by buses, even beyond ST3. South Kirkland is a superior terminus than Bellevue TC for buses coming from Seattle because buses will avoid the 520-405 interchange. It forces a transfer but improves reliability, which will be common practice by the time the station opens.
        On the Seattle side, Montlake lid is a set in the right direction but eventually we’ll need dedicated bus lanes between the lid and husky stadium, which will require replacing Montlake bridge – a project that will wait for a future funding package.

      10. The problem is we have no idea what the Issaquah TC area will look like in 20 years. More than likely, it will probably look more like it does today than what they think it will look like. Just look at Totem Lake – how long did it take for that to develop (such as it will be developed?). That’s the problem with selling this idea. There are too many examples of wishful thinking. Yes, if the economy continues at its current pace this may happen. But probably it will slow down at some point, and then you’re left with an expensive set of rails to nowhere. It is possible that somewhere like downtown Kirkland will also become a ghost town. But that’s far, far less likely than Issaquah not being developed.

        As for 520 buses, are you saying the plan is to terminate all buses at South Kirkland? That’s adding at least 10 minutes to every bus, which is absurd. The ramp to 405 S is rarely going to be so bad that you need over 10 extra minutes to get to Bellevue TC.

    1. Both for fighting spirit and effectiveness, I think best frame of mind for an approaching election is to be already at work on your own piece of the project.

      Which, for a project of this length, will yield equally useful progress, good for at least the next five years, whatever next month’s vote count.

      And best of all, your plan will be five years ahead of either a winning project, or the buildup to a successful successor. But, straight from a Republican whose lifelong transit work forever proved its truth: “Be sure somebody else gets the credit!”

      Mark Dublin

  3. If we’re going really long range, and expanding the tax district is possible, then why not lines to Bainbridge and Bremerton, via a multi-modal suspension bridge between West Seattle and Vashon Island?

    1. I’m confused, how is a multi-modal suspension bridge to Vashon capable of serving Bainbridge or Bremerton? Assuming you mean two bridges, one to Vashon from WS and one from Vashon to the Peninsula, I still don’t see how that gets to Bainbridge. That’s assuming they could even finance or come up with a design that would work. I also would suspect that the Port of Tacoma might take issue with both water ways having a bridge over it which could restrict the height of port traffic.

    2. Are ya freaking kidding me? That is a multi-billion dollar proposal that doesn’t have much merit and it has been talked about since the 50s. It wouldn’t be fiscally responsible in comparison to a UW-Ballard line. Heck it makes Metro 8 look golden by comparison!

      1. Matt, keep up your reading on developing civil engineering technology. We bored and cut a rail tunnel through the tightest part of Downtown Seattle in three years, stations and all, with the first year just relocating utilities. 30 years ago.

        Might want to check with an engineer about structural choices on that bridge, including what the pillars are going to be footed in. But one thing certain. It’ll be lighter and stronger than anything buildable now.

        And financed by a population and economy much bigger than now. Which continued immigration from places like Brooklyn, Chicago, and anyplace else where “Stupid” has two o’s in the middle instead of a u, and every statement answered with “Oh, yeah?” will render much more energetic.

        Dan and John? Take some pride in knowing that the spirits of Seattle’s former owners and residents are, literally, eternally grateful for your outlook. And justification may yet be yours. All the way around the Pacific, plate tectonics bats last.


    3. The Cross-Sound Bridge was shelved because the west Sound didn’t want it. They thought a bridge would bring growth like Bellevue and Mercer Island, and they wanted to keep people away who couldn’t fit onto the ferries or weren’t willing to conform their schedule to them.

  4. The Times’ story yesterday said the ST 1+2+3 taxing would give the agency a $50 BLN surplus by 2060 — with ST “+4” we easily could get it to $70 BLN by 2070!

    1. The taxes sunset when the bonds issued to pay for the projects itemized in the Proposition are liquidated. The Crimes, and perhaps you, are lying about this.

    2. The article says, “How long would the taxes last? … The last scheduled ST3 bond repayment is 2068, or 30 years after the last bonds would be sold, the finance plan shows. But long before that, the agency can accumulate surpluses, which Chief Financial Officer Brian McCartan’s model show totaling $50 billion in 2060. What if transit directors decide to pay off their credit card ASAP? An early bond repayment, known as defeasment, can be accomplished in the 2040s, based on a new analysis, said Spokesman Geoff Patrick. In that case, financial models say, all the ST3 taxes could be repealed in 2048, along with 11% of the sales taxes from ST1 and 2, according to Patrick.”

      First, we don’t know what the costs will be until the final design and EIS is done and all features decided on, and the orders are made and the bills come in. That will be in the late 2020s when most of the costs are solidified. ST purposely made a high estimate to account for contingencies, but it’s still just an estimate. We don’t know if the contractors will bid at the assumed level. We don’t know how the economy or regulations may change by the 2020s. We don’t know if ST will be able to get a reasonable deal with BNSF to increasing the Sounder runs and improve the tracks for it. If not, that’s a significant amount of money that will have to be reporposed to another South King/Kent Valley project or deleted from the budget. We don’t know whether federal grants will come in lower or higher than estimates. Only when all that is known in the late 2020s will we be able to say whether there’s a surplus and how much it is.

      I frankly don’t understand the $50 billion surplus quote. That’s almost the entire cost of ST3 in year-of-expenditure dollars. Is he saying the booming economy and population increase will almost entirely pay for ST3? In that case, as the article says, ST might choose to pay off the bonds early. That would reduce the tax rate several years early, so you’d be paying less taxes total. Or ST could legally use the surplus for the provisional projects in the ballot measure and to enhance existing lines and stations. Or it could treat it as a down payment on ST4. But all of this is way premature when we don’t know how much the surplus will be. Just “a model” says it might be $50 billion, which is like the weatherman saying there’s a 60% chance of rain on October 2, 2028. Maybe it’s right and maybe it’s wrong.

      Also, the $50 billion and $70 billion must be in future inflated dollars. The equivalent in 2016 dollars is around $20 billion. So if you go shopping around for trains today to see how much you can get, you have to use today’s prices, which means your budget is $20 billion.

    3. Rick, if I could figure out away to be around in 2070, I’d treat everybody and pick up the tab.


  5. Given the pushback against ST3 that I have seen amongst even the most progressive suburban/exurban voters, I fear that the failed delivery on promises made in ST1 & ST2 to the outer ring subareas (Federal Way ring a bell?) may doom ST3 to failure, and would argue that further extension of the ST tax area would be a grave mistake. Further, continued subarea equity is essential. While many of my neighbors commute to Seattle or the Eastside, many of us don’t. A lot of us work in Pierce County, and even I, a huge transit advocate, cannot support sucking tax dollars from South King and Pierce Counties to subsidize a Seattle-centric project list. It is bad enough that I pay extensive taxes to the City and County which is often sucked out to consultants based in Seattle and Bellevue, contributing to stagnant job growth. (Want to do work here? Open an office here, hire employees here, and pay taxes here.) I’m also personally not comfortable with the current tax scheme, regressively shouldered by the poor and middle class via sales and property taxes (just like everything else in our state), but see no other way barring an income tax, so I’ll support what is in front of me.

    I think that for Seattle to go on its own to pursue a Seattle subway makes sense. Properties are worth far more there, there is a population density and critical mass to support use, there is political consensus to support raising taxes for this service, and people there, on average, have higher incomes and the ability and will to pay more in taxes. ST3 may lose because of areas like Parkland, Puyallup, Lakewood, Sumner, Edgewood, Milton, Pacific, Algona, NE Tacoma, and Auburn. Areas like Parkland, Edgewood, Milton, and Pacific don’t even get an express bus, let alone light rail or Sounder. What is in it for these people??? ST4 would definitely lose if the tax area was expanded to include largely more conservative voters who stand to gain less than the people in the core of the service area.

    Let’s learn from past lessons. PT repeatedly tries to pass a levy and repeatedly fails. Urban Tacoma overwhelmingly supports it every time, but gets drowned out by the suburban voters. The suburban voters simply are not supportive of these measures.

    1. “I’m also personally not comfortable with the current tax scheme, regressively shouldered by the poor and middle class via sales and property taxes ”

      You’re absolutely correct about sales tax as being regressive, but please take a moment to recognize that property tax is what’s considered to be extremely progressive. Outside of a tax on simple acquired wealth, a property tax is as progressive as one can get in our country.

      While a graduated income tax is fairly progressive, there are plenty of ways to acquire wealth, outside of regular income – such as inheritance, property, or shares of stock – that aren’t counted with an income tax. However, if you happen to own a 10-million-dollar property on Lake Washington, you *are* going to pay 20x’s the amount in taxes that a $500,000 homeowner in Kent will pay towards property taxes. Outside of some exemptions for the elderly, indigent or disabled, property taxes are perfectly linear in their amounts, for both private citizens, non-resident citizen owners, trusts, charities and corporations.

      If you lowered property taxes and tried going for a State income tax instead, you’re handing a huge gift to any Chinese or Canadian national who’s investing in our local real estate as an investment buyer. The same for any corporate property owner.

      1. Agreed – property taxes are both economically efficient and progressive. There are some drawbacks for retired people who are asset rich & cash poor, but that can be alleviated with deferred payment schemes.

        I’d love to see more property tax & less sales tax.

      2. Steve,

        All points very well taken. Excellent clarification. All that said, I’m still a “yes” vote for ST3, still with the same reservations. Most households, rich or poor, are going to be paying a hefty increase in car tabs, middle class homeowners will carry the brunt of this with property taxes, and we’re still increasing the sales tax. Yes, I am full recognition that property tax, to an extent, can be very progressive, particularly when you look at the points that you made regarding investment owners. Still, a replacement of the SALES tax with income tax, while leaving the property tax in place would be the most progressive. Of course, that requires an amendment to the state constitution if I am not mistaken, and is an issue for discussion in the broader scope of state politics.

        Vote yes on ST3. In the meantime, have conversations with your state representatives and senators regarding state tax policy.

        Thanks for the dialog.

    2. I think even if ST3 fails at the ballot box then Seattle will have to go at it alone for your above mentioned reasons. I agree with many of the Seattle based critics of ST3 (Ross B.) on many points but I’ll still be voting yes. In my own self interest I may want to move to a more affordable part of Pugetopolis and continue to work here in Seattle.

    3. Engineer, you’re absolutely correct. But you know what? The legislature doesn’t give a damn about Seattle except to concoct ways to thwart it. There will be no “freedom to tax” granted to the City.

      This State is the closest thing on the West Coast to a plantation-mentality Southern one.


    4. What has ST1 & 2 failed to deliver on in Pierce, Snohomish, and East King?

      Pierce: was never promised a Central Link extension in ST1&2. It has all the Sounder and ST Express and Tacoma Link hours it was promised, doesn’t it? There’s one more peak Sounder run pair scheduled next year or so, then it will be done. Pierce has saved a lot of money for its Central Link extension, and that extra is also why Tacoma Link was free, (It’s still free because Tacoma is now subsidizing the fares.)

      South King: The Federal Way delay was due the recession. South King’s tax base was hit, so South King paid less taxes to ST than estimated. You can’t build things with phantom money, so ST deferred the part south of 200th. In return it promised Federal Way to complete the EIS to 320th so that it would be shovel-ready in case any stimulus grants or revenue increases appeared. Later South King’s tax base recovered enough that ST undeferred the segment to 240th. So what else is South King not getting that it was promised?

      East King: The one-year delay was because of the protracted design’/approval process caused by the Bellevue City Council, Surrey Downs residents, and Kemper Freeman’s lawsuits to stop Link. So the subarea should take responsibility for that.

      Snohomish: What is it not getting that it was promised?

      If you have a problem with how the ST Express service hours in Pierce were allocated, or its proportion to the other subareas, or how much money ST should have put into ST Express, you and the cities should talk to the board about those issues. You can’t just assume that ST1&2 meant Parkland, Edgewood, Milton, and Pacific, and Orting should get an ST Express bus. Didn’t ST and the county and cities decide together where the ST Express resources would be allocated?

      1. You might be right about less taxes being collected, but when you vote for a tax increase, you pay the tax increase, and then are told “Whoops! There was a recession so you don’t get anything,” you become quite skeptical on the agency’s ability to deliver.

        I’m voting for it, but I know a lot of people in South King/North Pierce who aren’t because “Sound Transit never delivers what it says it’s going to.”

      2. Mike,

        I wasn’t involved in politics back when ST2 was conceived, passed, or funded, so I really don’t know what discussions had or had not occurred. All I can tell you is this: people living in the neighborhoods not directly served by ST but still paying for it in taxes feel really alienated. The garages offered all fill prior to 6:30 am. Bus services to stations is either very slow or completely nonexistent.

        Go to this map: http://www.soundtransit.org/sites/default/files/documents/pdf/about/stdistrictmap07_10.pdf
        Now, go to this map:

        Notice anything funny? How about the way that no service is provided to any of the southern area of Pierce County? Yet, they still pay taxes for the system.

        Funny, Covington, Maple Valley, and North Bend were strategically excluded from the ST tax district, and they don’t receive any service. That’s logical. But a vast area of Pierce County was included in the system, but receives no service. That’s a misappropriation of funds, regardless of how ST1 and ST2 were marketed or sold to the voters.

      3. ST has to put services where it matches the most people’s trips: that’s a fundamental responsibility of mass transit. The bulk of the population is around Tacoma, Lakewood, and Puyallup, so that’s what ST has to serve first. There were discussions in the 2014 long-term plan revision and ST3 project candidates about services around Parklakd, Spanaway, and Orting. I think ST3 has a study for a future commuter rail to Orting but you’d have to check the final list to see if it’s still there. One of the Pierce boardmembers argued there should be an ST Express line around Parkland. But again, you have to serve the bulk of the population’s trips first. Some people think Pierce County was shrewd to get that much exurban land into the district so that it would have to serve it someday; that’s arguably catering to sprawl, and Kijng and Snohomish Counties were more responsible. As I said below, that may now be a problem for Marysville which may have been prematurely excluded (or conversely, Snohomish County was irresponsible for allowing growth outside the ST district when it should have been inside it). I can’t say anything more comforting to southeast Pierce’s taxpayers; I can only explain the background to the situation and let them go from there.

    5. Engineer, have to admit prejudice, because it was a really nice day to visit Wright Park. And have already picked out my favorite among at least six wonderful coffee places, starting with a five minute walk uphill from the 10th and Commerce LINK stop.

      But powerful emotional evidence that someday we refugees will not only take back Ballard, but create a shoreline classic City-State of overwhelming beauty, culture, and progress from Golden Gardens to the Thurston County Courthouse.

      In other words, Ballard, Hilltop, and Capitol Lake (well escargot COULD be really miniature) are already the same city. United by quest for legendary side routes I’m not going to tell anybody about ’til Pierce goes Positive, and Thurston is clawing for ST membership like a yowling kitten.

      In other words (got to be careful around here about analogies that can aggravate live volcanoes) the last five years’ pyroclastic (building-sized flaming boulders) rental forces are already taking care of subarea equity. Time for at least one survey before the election. Pretty sure at least Metronome will vote Pro.


  6. Beyond the east-west lines (Ballard-UW-Kirkland, Renton-Burien, 8 Subway), the real drivers of ST4 and beyond will be how land use shapes up in the region. Were will the people go? Answering that question will help illuminate future demand and use patterns for the ST network.

    1. Officially, people should be going to the PSRC growth centers. Within Seattle, look to urban centers and then hub villages.

      1. Yeah if you listen to the PSRC Everett will soon be a bustling cosmopolitain metropolis on par with San Francisco within the next couple decades…

  7. So here’s a thing I hear a lot from opponents:

    “Get ready for 70 years of taxes if Sound Transit 3 passes.”

    Getting to the substance beyond the hyperbole/click-bait, what they mean is something like this:

    “Sound Transit has millions of dollars for things like “debt service,” and will keep the full taxes long after ST3 projects are completed, and until it has paid off all of its bonds.”

    Of course, many people (like John Niles) theorize that either that time is practically never because it could be a very very long time (but 70 years?), or that it will be literally never because the proposal and passage of ST4 is all but inevitable (qualified by negative opinions about Sound Transit), and on to infinity with ST5, ST6, ST7 etc. It is primarily the bonds that they use to refute the legal stipulation that Sound Transit is required to roll back taxes after ST3 is done.

    What is the proper response to this? And what is a probable timeframe for ST3 and its bonds being fully paid off (which I imagine probably varies by subarea)? “Could” it actually be 70 years, or is that extremely unlikely?

    1. If there’s no ST4, then Sound Transit could start calling in the bonds in 2042 and pay off the last bond in 2047. Mike Lindblom’s article over the weekend linked to the schedule.

      If the financial model is as conservative as everybody believes, then the payoff and the last project delivery would be even faster.

      If there are future measures, then it would take longer. The last 30-year bond would be paid off in 30 years, so 2071. Still not 70 years unless they are counting from the beginning of Sound Move. And maybe they are if it makes for a better talking point.

      If we keep making investments in transportation into the indefinite future, then we’ll be paying for them into the indefinite future too. But that’s no different from roads or schools or a hundred other things. It’s not relevant to the measure that’s on the ballot.

    2. There’s a point of diminishing returns. We absolutely critically needed Lynnwood and Overlake to take on the bulk of transit trips across the lake and to the north end and within east Seattle. The south end is more difficult to judge because it’s wider and further away so Link can’t address a lot of it. I’d say SeaTac is critical for airport reasons, and Angle Lake may prove to be a godsend although it’s too early to tell. If we didn’t have Link we’d be dependent on the overcrowded and unreliable 71/72/73X, 550, and 512/511/4xx long-term. and Capitol Hill would be slogging on the 49 and 43. Sure, we could have done something different instead, but it would inevitably have involved tunneling, so let’s just use the light rail we agreed to.

      The Everett, downtown Redmond, Tacoma, Ballard, and West Seattle extensions aren’t as critical to the overall transit-network mobility as the ST2 core was. They individually never had the concentration of riders that downtown-UW, downtown-Lynnwood, downtown-Eastside do. Everett can get along with a feeder to Lynnwood, and Tacoma has several Sounder runs. Ballard can survive with a half-hour bus overhead to get to UW or Westlake stations, because at least those stations are there to get to. But we’re not trying to build the minimal survivable network; we’re trying to build a roubust network that will attract a lot of choice trips and make areas less dependent on cars and lane-challenged buses. That argues for building Ballard and West Seattle — the Seattle X geography. Snohomish, Pierce, and East King are more debatable what they should expect given their hard-to-serve sprawl. The ST3 arguments are reasonable, but there are also reasonable arguments on the other side (i.e., for frequent feeders from Lynnwood and Des Moines, and replacing the Issaquah line with an Eastside BRT network).

      So ST3 is less likely than ST2, and ST4 less likely than that. Martin outlined above why the subarea-equity coalition will probably collapse after ST3, and I’ll write more on that below. But if ST4, 5, and 6 pass, it will be because voters approved it — the same voters who might otherwise have approved a non-transit tax for the same amount instead.

      1. There’s a point of diminishing returns.

        Only if we assume population/demand stays the same.

    3. Hey, Alex, since every single criminal and terrorist now gets ventilated by the police after committing a crime he just announced in advance on Twitter, I’m certain the CIA has now given back those wet ironing boards because torture costs so much more than giving perpetrators an iPad and an account.

      But since, unlike the FBI, it’s not only legal but, as with the FBI morally imperative to lie to John Niles, would be great to see how many +’s or likes or whatever I can get for my plan to put parking tickets under every single wiper stopped on I-5 for more than three hours in a single rush hour. With payout projected for ST-3’s life-span.

      However, before I blow my cover and dive in, how can I tell if a + is really a swastika with the little end lines really short?


  8. Uh guys….

    I live near Columbia City Station. I like to go to Capitol Hill or Pike Place often.

    Today it’s direct route.
    Once the ST3 system is operating, it won’t be.

    ST3 will make my rail transit trips take longer because I’ll have to transfer or walk further.

    1. That will happen with the current operational plan. This plan might or might not be what they do.

      Even if it is, keep in mind East Link plus North Link will produce a fairly frequent combined line on this segment. Even on weekday evenings, this will probably not be a terrible transfer in terms of the time required.

      If the Central City Connector gets built properly, you may wind up
      with a faster trip to Pike Place than what you have now. Properly built surface lines can provide decent speed.

      In the end, however, I think ST and Seattle are going to have to face reality. The area north of Lynnwood doesn’t have the density to support the huge train frequency they are planning, and I just don’t see it happening any time soon. A four car Link train every three minutes? That’s SkyTrain type capacities into an area that has land use like Chehalis. You’d have to have one hell of a building boom to put Vancouver type density in the north end of Lynnwood.

      Once reality sets in, my hope would be that a more reasonable service pattern would develop. That includes more frequent trains in the Rainier Valley, as there are places that operate surface light rail lines more frequently that every 6 minutes.

      Ultimately, I think there will have to be off peak SeaTac to Northgate trains or some other service pattern that puts more capacity on the busiest section of the system. Ballard and SLU need service, but UW and surrounds are a whole different level, and West Seattle plus Bellevue just don’t have the development patterns to balance that.

      If they are unable to do that type of pattern, it should mean there is no space for more trains and thus frequency is so good that transfers won’t matter much.

    2. You’re putting your need for a one-station distance ahead of tens of thousands of travelers. Not that they’re all going from the south end to Ballard, but there has to be a balance between the two tunnels. If Lynnwood-1 didn’t go to West Seattle, then it would have to go elsehwere, to Ballard? And West Seattle would go to Redmond? It’s hard to reconnect them without reintroducing a Tacoma-Everett line, which is specifically what ST wanted to avoid as it would be a 2+ hour travel time and hard on drivers’ breaks. You also want to avoid splitting the doubled branch (Lynnwood) between different tunnels. Rainier Valley has a 6-minute headway minimum as long as it remains on the surface, and Ballard as a short destination has similar ridership and frequency needs.

      The doubled segment will probably be 3 minutes peak, 5 minutes off-peak, to avoid making service worse than it is now on any branch. Maybe they won’t run two lines to Everett full time; ST is contemplating 128th, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it were Lynnwood or Northgate. But that only affects people who live north of there. ST originally intended to send East Link trains to Lynnwood peak only and Northgate otherwise, but later it extended all of them to Lynnwood believing they’d be overcrowded otherwise. But it doesn’t matter now; we’ll see what ridership is after the lines open.

      If ST rebuilds International District Station right, it will be a quick level transfer from one platform to the other, and if you’re going north toward Capitol Hill and Lynnwood you’ll have a maximum 3-5 minute wait because two lines overlap.

      1. Has anyone actually seen an IDS diagram? I’ve seen sketches done by amateurs here, but what’s really proposed? It’s obviously going to be the most critical station in the entire system. I suspect that at least four platforms will be needed, and transfers in all directions will need to be easy.

        The station layout that I saw for Westlake last year looked like a giant maze, with two more levels of escalators below the current rail platform — which would be four levels of escalators below the surface.

      2. Mike, it’s not “my” need. It’s the need for thousands of people who will be inconvenienced. That includes UW area and North Seattle residents who want to get to the SeaTac Airport — and SE Seattle and South King residents who want to get to UW without transferring. The current ST3 strategy will force transfers for thousands who today (or by 2021) don’t have to transfer! Let’s not even begin to think about how inconvenient it will be for Issaquah and Eastgate travelers to get to the airport as they make double transfers.

        As planned, ST3 will make things more inconvenient for thousands of Link riders.

      3. I would like to see an analysis of on-off station pairs that are in the ST3 forecasts, with some effort given to reducing the number of transfers required between trains. I could speculate on different service layouts, but without data it’s not going to be credible.

        I would like to see a service plan that is more balanced to loads, because I believe that spending money running long, frequent trains to places that don’t need them is demonstrating a commitment by ST to a financially responsible operating scheme. It makes ST3 look like more of a toy train project and not the productive, cost-effective rail system that it should be. Some may be excited by a four-car train every 6 minutes to Tacoma or every 3 to 6 minutes to Everett — but others (even riders) are going to see it as an extremely wasteful amount of service, for example.

        I would like to see reconfiguration concepts of IDS that facilitates short, cross-platform transfers and have that made more public as part of the ST3 campaign. The station improvements are not specified nor highlighted in ST3 literature. ST spent millions these past two years studying new corridors yet didn’t apparently spend much money to study how to make current stations better. Many important projects in transit have involved station improvements and linkages — from projects in Philadelphia and San Francisco in the past, to Dallas and Los Angeles downtown transit projects in process today.

        I would like to see possible mix-and-match or short-supplemental routing scenarios, especially to and from the Eastside as well as within Seattle. Requiring someone to change trains twice to get to SeaTac from the Kirkland or Issaquah branches seems aggravating from a rider perspective. We’ll never have the ability to justify single lines (no branching) at high frequencies for the proposed long distances — lines longer than those in Paris and London (two systems that are mostly single lines with very little branching). I would point to Denver’s operating system layout or DC’s system layout (all with more extensive branching) as much closer to what I think would work best for Seattle. Even Manhattan has three lines on many trunk segments!

        In sum, ST3 seems more focused on merely extending and not operating a rail system. For persons who travel within the existing Link service, it’s pretty hard to find any specific benefit to ST3 outside of SLU and Seattle Center connections; in many cases, ST3 would make transit travel worse for existing + ST2 riders. ST3 supporters need to demonstrate benefit the existing markets beyond promising connectivity to more distant places that aren’t in most current rider’s destination choices.

    3. Al S., fact you live in Columbia City takes care of this for you. Because with some re-wiring and a half hour plumbing, you and your neighbors will be able to demand a street-food booth either on the mezzanine or even the platform (they used to have that in Boston at Park Street) at your transfer point.

      You might even get on the inter-cultural street food committee that you might want to get started right now. Gotta also think that a transfer point is also strategically placed for bathrooms. Those regional bullet trains will have restrooms, like they do in Sweden.

      But since LINK’s already standing room only….uh, let’s just leave that one alone. But be glad nobody will be collecting fares on board a bus, loading a wheelchair, or arguing with the driver about six different fares for the same group.


  9. Thank you Martin, for a very honest, thought provoking article. Those of us who believe that you are merely a shill for Sound Transit, or are blind to the weaknesses of our system should read this article. This an honest, realistic view of the predicament we are in.

    In short, this is it. It is really tempting to look at the ‘X’ in Seattle and assume it is just a stepping stone towards better things. It really doesn’t matter, in the grand scheme of things, when things get built. Eventually we get there. Eventually we build the things that are essential (Ballard to UW, Metro 8) even if, along the way, we build things that aren’t (West Seattle rail, extensions to Everett, Tacoma and Issaquah). But this really argues otherwise.

    This will be it for the working lives of most of the people reading this article.

    That is worth pondering. For the rest of my life, I won’t be any faster to get from Northgate to Ballard, Fremont or Wallingford. Oh, to be sure, it will be much faster when ST2 is built out, but if ST3 passes, it won’t be any faster. Central Area to Capitol Hill, downtown, South Lake Union or pretty much any part of Queen Anne will be more or less the same. Same with a trip from Greenwood or Phinney Ridge to Ballard, downtown, the UW or Capitol Hill. I think you can draw a huge area around most of the north and east end of the city (you too Lake City) and find that nothing much has changed, other than the addition of projects that are extremely cheap and will likely be built anyway (NE 130th station, bus improvements for 145th, etc.).

    To be fair, by then SDOT will have chipped away at the worst of our problems. Bertha will be done, which will greatly speed up the 8. Parking will be replaced by bus lanes in part of Wallingford, meaning the 44 will be significantly faster (although still not really fast). In short, Link will be largely irrelevant for many, many trips, just as it would be if ST3 fails.

    If you view ST3 as merely a misguided stepping stone on the way towards a decent transit system for the area, then I can understand why would bite the bullet and pay for an obviously wasteful and inappropriate set of projects. But if “this will be it” then I see no reason to vote for it. Eventually we will have to pay for the pieces we need, so we might as well get this agency to propose it, or find a different approach (which you suggest will be required anyway).

    1. This will not be it, there will almost certainly be an ST4 in the future, or some other set of more projects. As some wise person once said, “A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.” It may not be in your working life, but it will be someone’s.

      1. There probably will be an ST4, or King-only ST4, but unless the region really goes transit crazy, I doubt it will happen for at least a decade, if not longer. It may happen earlier, but it would require a substantial demographic change and a real push for density and transit across the region. I doubt anything in ST4 would get built before the 2030’s at the earliest, more likely the 2040’s. That means that unless you’re in your 20’s right now, you probably will not see ST4 projects for commute purposes.

        Which is why I, for example, am voting against ST4. I’m fine waiting if the projects were any good. But I’m not going to wait that long for lousy projects (especially the East King ones).

      2. Donde, one thing sadly missing in a relatively new place like Seattle, is the company of hundred year old hardwood trees. My favorite are walnut. But saw a tulip tree in Tacoma planted around 1894, a hundred feet high, with a trunk about five feet in diameter.

        Unbelievably restful just to be around them.

        But statement becomes sharper in another sense. A society becomes truly great when it learns to cut timber selectively. What you clear-cut for profit, you don’t deserve to life in. Or more accurately, do deserve to live in.

        Especially if somebody else planted it, and you decide that compared to what a view will bring you, your fine will be paid with interest. Or excused if you say your contractor made a mistake. A month from now, the outcome of a Presidential election could pretty quickly show how lousy somebody can make a country in the name of making it great. Again.


    2. “For the rest of my life, I won’t be any faster to get from Northgate to Ballard, Fremont or Wallingford.”

      A lot of people go from Ballard to downtown and West Seattle to downtown. And not just to downtown, but to the rest of the transit network where it goes. You’re cherry-picking corridors people like you might use. And more importantly, there’s no guarantee that if we vote down ST3 we’ll get those lines. You’re gambling a pretty certain thing for a long shot. And that I’m not willing to do because I don’t trust long shots, and I think about the people my parents’ age who might have voted for Forward Thrust but didn’t, and that put off high-capacity transit for twenty-five years until we started building Link.

  10. My guess is both of Martins predictions come true. Sound Transit will continue to exist as an operating agency for Link, Sounder, and ST express, with a tax base to pay for funding. The boundaries will extend to include Marysville, etc. as farther out suburbs want access to either cross county buses or Sounder. additionally,I think it is likely King County or perhaps Seattle alone with petition for tax authority to fund capital improvements to expand Link, as Snohomish and Pierce probably won’t need as much fixed transit infrastructure as King.

  11. The conversation after ST3 will no longer be about completing the spine, it will be about completing “The Ring” all the way round Lake Washington, plus Ballard-UW, Burien, and Tacoma Mall extensions, and MAYBE a Metro 8 subway. In a utopian dreamworld, we would also be talking about bridges to Vashon and Bremerton via Bainbridge.

    PS anyone know how ST3 is polling? I sadly have a bad feeling about it…

  12. “Pierce County envisions extending the spine to Tacoma Mall.”

    … and more Tacoma Link lines. Snohomish hasn’t thought that far yet, but when it does it might want the remaining Swift lines, and something Tacoma Link-like in Everett and/or Lynnwood. Of course it could cancel Sounder North to get a ton of money for other projects.

    “The subarea framework has served its purpose in clearly delineating the benefits to each area’s voters.”

    The purpose of subarea equity was to get the Spine built first, meaning Everett-Tacoma-Redmond. The suburban subareas didn’t want their money going to Seattle lines while theirs were delayed or never built. Now in ST3 it works both ways: the suburbs prevented all the money from going to Seattle without the full spine, and Seattle prevented the suburbs from getting the spine without the Ballard and West Seattle lines. As to why Ballard-downtown and West Seattle-downtown were prioritized above other Seattle projects, see McGinn, Murray, and the former and current city councils. But in ST4 the situation reverses. The suburbs can’t think of much more they want except small extensions and inexpensive projects, but Seattle still have several lines’ worth of needs. So at that point the other subareas might balk and and the ST3 tax model might collapse.

    Marysville is in a funny situation, because the counterpart to Marysville, Snohomish, and Monroe are in the Pierce subarea. Marysville has expanded so much it should probably get ST Express. As for Snohomish and Monroe, we have to think of the consequences of a large population emerging without transit. That would repeat the mistake made in Canyon Park and Bonney Lake and Spanway in the 1990s, where the transit was so minimal that the population got established essentially without it, and that colored their views on highways and parking in bad ways, not to mention that their kids and elderly and non-drivers can’t get around.

    At this point Marysville to Smokey Point is arguably large enough and urban enough that it should be annexed. That would address the imbalance with the Pierce subarea, set the stage for longer-term regional transit planning there, and also end the “free rider” problem of Marysvillites driving to Everett Station and taking subsidized trains. I wouldn’t annex Snohomish and Monroe that easily, but we do need to think about what they’re developing into long term.

    I would not annex Thurston County. Just set up a bilateral agreement that Intercity Transit or the state will fund an ST Express or Sounder extension. Then longer term we can talk with the entire county’s residents about what they’d expect from ST annexation, how much taxes they’d be willing to pay, and how willing they’d be to approve future ST# measures. (There already is an IT/state funded extension of the 592, but that’s northbound AM and southbound PM. What I’m talking about is bidirectional service, eventually all day and weekends.)

    There could be an argument for annexing Covington and Maple Valley, since they’re also like the outer part of the Pierce subarea.

  13. As for what I’d want in ST4, a preliminary sketch is the Ballard-UW line, “Metro 8” line, and a Lake City/522 line. In South King the Seattle-Renton corridor needs to be addressed, and either Seattle-Kent or Seattle-Renton-Kent. Burien-Renton can wait; just look at where the ridership from Kent and Renton is going. I could see a shuttle line from Rainier Beach to Renton, and possibly down the Benson Road to Kent East Hill and Kent Station. We should probably insist that Renton upzone part of its downtown around the new transit center, and Kent should upzone East Hill. The other priority in South King is half-hourly Sounder. That would obviate the need for a light rail line in the Kent Valley, and address the travel-time problem of going west to 99 for Link. Half-hourly Sounder would be enough to say, “That’s enough for the Kent Valley.” I don’t have any particular requests for East King, Snohomish, or Pierce. But my ideal would be for Snoho to finish the remaining Swift lines, Tacoma to get on with more Tacoma Link lines, and the Eastside to have a robust BRT network not just on 405 but e.g., Kirkland-Redmond, Bothell-Redmond, Renton-Bellevue College, an all-day Issaquah-Sammamish-Redmond route, etc.

    We can’t depend on the legislature changing the tax structure to let Seattle go it alone, or use less regressive tax sources. We can try for that but we shouldn’t hold up things waiting for it, because that would be like the kid who held his breath until he was blue in the face, and then maybe he’d die without getting anything. We need more solid evidence that the legislature is willing to consider it before we bet our future on it.

    1. “Eastside to have a robust BRT network”

      ST3 is basically all about rail. If ST3 passes, I fully expect ST4 to be 100% rail. They’d probably prefer to do LRT to Monroe over a reasonable BRT network on the Eastside. And even if they did BRT, it would probably be similar to 405 BRT – basically express bus service with fancy signs.

  14. Lets get some Mass Transit Now signs up around the region. I was in Totem Lake area and also the Paine Field area near the Future of Flight and those places are literally littered with packs of those White and Red No on ST3 signs

  15. I’m voting NO. ST can and will come up with a better package. A second downtown transit tunnel is not needed.

  16. Berlin has a population of about 3.5 million, or about the same as Puget Sound.

    Their rail system, neglecting the tram (streetcar) network, looks like this:

    Of course, you need population density to do that, but you can’t do the population density without transit to support it.

    1. Ok so you’re comparing the city of Berlin to the entire metro area of Seattle/Bellevue/Tacoma.

      Berlin is also the capital and largest city in Germany, which itself is the most populous state in the European Union. When you make these types of comparisons you are hyperbolizing to the point of absurdity.

      1. 3.5 million people is still 3.5 million people with the transportation needs of 3.5 million people.

        If you look at the actual satellite view you see that the city is surrounded by a lot of farm fields. It isn’t as if that “most populous state in the European Union” is a continuous piece of urban development. We’re not talking about a vast urban area that spreads out in high density in all directions. This isn’t a vast metropolis of New York – New Jersey.

        Yet, they have a whole lot more than a single primary spine.

        If you look at Seattle at a similar scale you see where there are obvious needs that won’t be answered by ST3.

        Furthermore, if zoning is chnanged so that it looks more like this rather than this there are going to be places that are going to require better transit than what is currently planned.

      2. According to Wikipedia the Berlin metro area is closer to 6 million people. Also you’re ignoring the part where I said it’s the capital and largest city of the largest economy in Europe… A much better comparison to Berlin would be Washington DC.

        Anyway, obviously Seattle is years (decades?) behind in transportation infrastructure investment but when people start comparing Seattle to places like London, Berlin, or NYC it just comes across as extremely naive.

    2. German city boundaries are more sensible;’ they weren’t determined by white-flight nimbys who wanted to avoid taxes so they blocked annexations. The cities cover more of their commute cachement area, and people are also culturally less inclined to move between them.

    3. Both the Seattle-Tacoma and Berlin metro areas have populations of about 3.5 million people, so this is a fair comparison. The difference is that Berlin’s metro area is physically half the land area, so most people live at transit-supportive densities.

      If the Seattle metro population grows to 7 million, without expanding the physical footprint, it would match Berlin’s current density and could then support a transit network even denser than Berlin. It may sound implausible, but it is definitely possible within a 100 year timeframe.

      1. Where are people getting this 3.5 million number for Berlin? The city of Berlin alone is about 3.5m but the metro area is just under 6m.

  17. I predict that ST3 will be the last large region, single operator transit tax measure here. Once the spine is in place, rail transit expansion will be considered a local issue. Operating buses and driverless shuttles will be a bigger part of the funding need. Bicycle, pedestrian and street maintenance will be more important.

    The reorientation is already happening. ST3 funds more non-ST projects than ST2 did. Seattle’s recent measure was multi-modal. We are moving to a time different than the ST methods that the old-timers are used to seeing. It’s a paradigm shift in funding.

  18. Martin, thanks for trying to clarify the provisional project issue . The lawyers generally win those arguments

  19. One of the best ways to think about where future lines will go is to look at where busy bus lines are today. For Metro, the top five is something like RapidRide E, D, C, the 7, and the 8. ST3 replaces D an C, and with a transfer, the busiest part of the 8. The 7 is a hard sell because of overlap with existing link service. That leaves the E line.

    There are other factors, too, of course. For instance, the 44 ridership isn’t nearly as great as the density of the corridor would suggest, because it’s so terribly slow and unreliable, but it’s exactly the slowness and unreliability of east-west streets in the area that would drive rail Link ridership (presuming its tunneled). Link expansion will alter the map, making things like a White Center extension and a Lake City spur likely.

    Another major factor is development potential, for which the Aurora corridor is unbeatable.

  20. I apologize if this has been asked before, but can someone tell me how to get yard signs in support of ST3? I live in the Mill Creek area and was highly dismayed to see signs in opposition to ST3 over the weekend. I’d like to get at least one sign for our yard. Thank you!

Comments are closed.