Sound Transit ST3 Map with Timelines

It tells you something about an agency’s workload when a $130m purchase of light rail vehicles isn’t the headlining agenda item. At Thursday’s packed-agenda Sound Transit Board meeting, the Board approved the vehicle buy, discussed the recent controversies relating to MVET valuations and Mercer Island litigation, and defended its record hiring disadvantaged businesses.

But the big news was a draft release of the agency’s blueprint for ST3, the System Expansion Implementation Plan (watch beginning at 51’00” in the video below). The plan details timelines for project development, design, and construction phases of all 24 concurrent projects, including remaining ST2 projects. Given the layer cake of local, state, regional, and federal jurisdictions with veto points over various aspects of construction, the report spends most of its ink discussing process improvements needed for further expediting of projects. These include streamlined permitting, earlier and more intensive public outreach, and significant internal shuffling for efficiencies. ST will also attempt to shave a year off of the time each project takes to get to an FTA Record of Decision (the final step in the environmental process), from 5.5 years to 4.5 years.

The plan retains the expedited-but-still-lengthy timelines presented in the final ST3 plan, and though there is more detail than previously presented, there are few surprises. One major lesson is just how much of late ST2 and early ST3 will occur simultaneously. The Lynnwood extension may look nearly done the day Northgate opens (Q4 2021), though it will be still 2 years away. Construction south of Federal Way (Q2 2025) is planned to begin just 4 months after Federal Way’s opening day (Q4 2024).  East Link will open (Q3 2023) a few months before Lynnwood (Q4 2023). One of the only projects with daylight between itself and others is the South Kirkland-Issaquah line, which won’t begin project development until 2027 and will be alone under construction in the late 2030s.

The timelines are still quite conservative, with planning and design work likely more elastic than actual construction. For example, planning and design is expected to take 5 years for infill stations, 6 years for for the North Sammamish Park & Ride, 7 years for SR 522 BRT, and 10 years for Lynnwood-Everett and Ballard-Downtown.

Working to make these timelines shorter starts now. It’s upon us to have intense but focused public debates about alignments and design details, minimizing the number of studied alternatives, and otherwise finding ways to give ST the green light while taking care of jurisdictional needs. And of course, ST3 will endure through 6 Presidential terms and a dozen state and federal legislatures, and at each point along the way ST’s revenue streams – taxes, bonds, grants, and fares – will need to be protected from malfeasance and sabotage.

92 Replies to “ST3 Kicks Off”

  1. To this day, I think that the ST Taxing Area needs to shrink. I attended a meeting this week in Edgewood and people, many of them progressives, feel cheated by ST3. Admittedly, I am a strong proponent for transit and am willing to support and pay for it, even when I get ABSOLUTELY NOTHING out of it, and, yet, I fully understand their concerns. Places like Edgewood, Bonney Lake, Milton, and Fife, are getting minimal, if any, real benefit from ST at this time, and, in most cases, can’t even use the system. Driving to a station leads to a parking lot that is full before 7 am, and bus service to a station or transit center does not exist. Even for the physically fit, the hilly topography makes biking to a station nearly impossible. This needs to change. Either these people need to start seeing a tangible benefit – neighborhood bus service via Pierce Transit – and very soon, or ST needs to cut them out of the equation. Otherwise, we’re going to start seeing backlash from the state legislature, and even stronger backlash than we’ve seen already. Lawsuits and changes to state law will burden projects in Seattle, where support for ST3 is strong, critical mass exists, and projects are well funded with the subarea equity program (unlike Pierce County). I sincerely hope somebody in the decision making process can use this perspective to help prevent the impending backlash. I support ST3. I disagree with the backlash. But, I am listening, the frustration is understandable, and this project is accountable to these (and all) voters.

    1. Even if these people don’t commute on Sound Transit every day, a big chunk of them still spend time in downtown Seattle or Bellevue, where they’ll be able to use light rail. It’s an imperfect system, because ST residents will also be subsidizing tourists, rural commuters, or folks who are just in Seattle for the day. That’s life.

    2. Fife will have an entire Link station. Not sure what more they could expect to receive.

      Bonney Lake has ST Express service to Sounder. I don’t think anyone has ever agitated for rail service to Bonney Lake, so again, not sure how they could demand more from ST with a straight face (though Orting does try)

      Milton and and Edgewood will get the same secondary benefits the rest of the region will get – as ST handles more of the core transit corridors, King County Metro will have the operational bandwidth to serve secondary markets such as Milton & Edgewood. Without ST, Metro’s budget would be fully consumed serving the primary transit corridors and have nearly nothing left over for these edge cities. People need to understand how ST is investing in the regional transit center benefits them, even if they aren’t directly consuming ST service.

      Saying Edgewood gets “nothing” is like arguing that Edgewood doesn’t benefit when WSDOT expands I5 because I5 doesn’t go straight through the city.

      1. Good point. In the LRP map, Metro has a route from Federal Way to Puyallup through Edgewood/Milton.

        Also, I think routes like the 2014-era 503/504 pilot projects would actually make sense with a Link station in Fife.

    3. I pay taxes that fund NASA, yet I’ll probably never get to go to space. Should we therefore wring our hands and cry to defund NASA?

      Your comment is spot on the typical, selfish baby boomer thinking, where if something doesn’t directly benefit them, that thing shouldn’t exist. Being part of society means that you’ll inevitably be funding things that don’t directly benefit you. If people can’t get over that, they should move to the most rural area they can find. Leave running society to the grownups.

      1. NASA isn’t a taxing district that exists to provide defined services to a defined population of people.

        I don’t have an issue with Fife, Bonney Lake, Edgewood and Milton being included. I have an issue with the southern reaches of Pierce County being included. It’s like paying taxes to a school district that tells you that you live too far away from the nearest schoolhouse, and must therefore pay for private school for your kids. King and Snohomish county boundaries are much more reasonable.

      2. Well, if you don’t have an issue with Fife, Bonney Lake, Edgewood, etc., but do have an issue with the southern reaches of Pierce County, that’s confusing since DuPont is getting more direct benefit from ST3 than Bonney Lake or Edgewood, with an extended Sounder line.

        There’s a fair chance that a new 594 truncated at Tacoma (for transfers to Link) would continue to DuPont as well.

      3. RapidRider — Typical baby-boomer thinking? What a disgraceful thing to say. So only people who were born after 1965 should have a say in how their tax dollars are spent? From what I can tell, you stand to have a much greater tax burden than boomers. I happen to disagree with Engineer for the most part, but his concerns are valid and need to be heard without being dismissed because of his age. There is a point at which people refuse to be taxed when they don’t see an appreciable return on their investment. It’s only natural. In Seattle we will receive a lot in return for our taxes, but in Pierce County, not so much. If I lived there I’d be just as concerned as Engineer is.

      4. RapidRider’s point is that some older people oppose taxes for schools because they don’t have school-age kids. That’s cheaper for them in the short term but society as a whole needs to educate the next generation or we’ll have a lot more problems in twenty years, so school taxes indirectly benefit the person who doesn’t want to pay them. RapidRider associates that mentality with boomers, which I’m not sure is fare but it is an assessment. I’ve heard contradictory things about boomers, that they took both their parents’ generosity (who put their time and money into their kids) while expecting their kids to pay for them too. Or conversely, that boomers are stuck in a sandwich with the loss of 1960s family-wage jobs and the rising cost of housing: that they’re often supporting both their parents and their adult children at the same time. I don’t know which is more accurate.

      5. Why is it confusing? DuPont is not even particularly close to the southernmost part of the ST district boundary.

      6. I correlate what I consider the selfish, anti-tax decline of our society with the coming of voting age of Boomers. Are they the causation? it depends on how how strongly you feel about correlation and causation. Are all Boomers to blame? Of course not, but they didn’t do our country any favors after their parents, the Greatest Generation, set us up with a financially sound country, albeit not as socially sound.

    4. The lead graphic to this post shows the problem clearly: nothing south of the airport is important.

      The map doesn’t bother to show any South King of Pierce subarea projects.

      1. “The lead graphic to this post shows the problem clearly: nothing south of the airport is important.”

        Which is precisely why ST is building Link out to Tacoma, and a separate Link line to TCC. And funding PT Route 1 speed enhancements. And extending Sounder to DuPont.

        Actually wait, Link does already go slightly south of the airport. And Sounder goes to east Pierce county. And a bus connecting to every single non-reverse Sounder trip (even the 10:48 trip!) goes even farther east. 580 connects Lakewood and South Hill to other Sounder trips. And ST serves Puyallup and Sumner 7 days per week! Sound Transit gets even better in Federal Way.

        Methinks Sound Transit realizes the importance of south of the airport.

    5. “Seattle … projects are well funded with the subarea equity program (unlike Pierce County)”

      What does this mean? They’re the same relative to their subarea tax base size.

      “Should we therefore wring our hands and cry to defund NASA? Your comment is spot on the typical, selfish baby boomer thinking, where if something doesn’t directly benefit them, that thing shouldn’t exist.”

      The issue is not whether their position is fair, it’s that they have this position and have the potential power to sabotage ST3. The grumbling about seceding from ST or opting out of its taxes is real, and their legislators are hearing it, and just because the legislature has failed to cut it off so far doesn’t mean it won’t do something bad later. In the end the whole of Pierce County needs to have a discussion about whether secession is feasable, whether the majority in southeast Pierce really want it, whether it can be done fairly to the people who remain (e.g., who wouldn’t want to subsidize Sounder for non-paying areas, but still want Sounder to Tacoma and Lakewood, and want to afford Link), and how Pierce County would manage its growth/congestion/transit needs without full ST.

    6. First, I’m not saying I agree with these folks. There are plenty of side benefits. What I am saying, though, is that this is a block of voters that has understandable frustrations. Local transit does not serve them. (No, go to Edgewood and try to find reliable transit. It is slow, unreliable, and not a realistic means of transportation for any commuter with obligations like a job – which allows them to PAY TAXES.) ST provides service along a corridor with not a single stop in their communities (nearest are Federal Way, Auburn, and Sumner) and with overcrowded P&Rs in adjacent communities. I’ll add, NO, they DON’T all spend time in Seattle. Last time I was in Seattle was… sheesh, maybe last November for one meeting that I was paid to go to for work. There are plenty of jobs down here, but we are stuck paying a bill for a transit system that is Seattle-centric. We’re stuck in the regional system together, but all routes lead to Seattle. There is absolutely nothing that I need in Seattle. Tacoma has me covered. I, personally, believe that the push for ST is necessary for the long-term viability of the region. I’d personally advocate for tripling the size of it. I am in this for the long game. But, the harsh reality is that I am in the minority in my community. I’ve learned (and we ALL should have learned this from last year’s election) that you need to spend as much, if not more, time LISTENING as advocating. So, I’m listening. What’s the solution? There are a few. State reps go to bat for them and get obstructionist policies passed. That appeases these voters, but few other people. One alternative is to get some useful bus routes down here. Maybe a Meridian Ave/Enchantment Pkwy express route. Another alternative is to cut exurban areas that, quite frankly, shouldn’t even be part of the UGA, out of the ST area. It preserves funding for central Puget Sound projects by making this a non-issue for alienated taxpayers and maintaining funding in the areas that show strong support. The downside for me is that, as a resident heavily invested in the Tacoma community, where I work and spend significant free time, will lost funding for transit projects. This is unfortunate, but probably the best compromise. P.S. my neighborhood – Auburn – shows strong support for ST. Many in my community – which, again, is not the area with complainers – would continue paying taxes. This is a lose-lose for me, as I’d continue paying and see funding for Tacoma drop; but I see it as the most common-sense compromise to keep the essential ST3 projects funded. Again, this is about LISTENING and making compromises. I hope this helps.

      Julie B, your analysis on South Pierce is well-taken. The meeting I attended didn’t include anybody from that area, but I suspect you are right.

    7. The thing is, I’m fine with people spending money on solutions that don’t necessarily directly benefit them. This is what happens in a democracy. Would you also want your federal tax dollars to stay in Washington state? No, they flow to poorer states like New Mexico and Alabama and benefit other citizens – and rightfully so. Do you also complain about your property taxes supporting disadvantaged public schools a few towns away? This fabricated concept of sub-area equity is really regressive and is keeping Seattle back from building a better subway.

      Tax dollars should flow to where the need is. The region honestly needs a lot more than it’s getting, and those who consider themselves to be have-nots in this equation should consider regional investments in transit the EXACT same thing as public investments in every other social program.

      1. People whose state taxes support schools in different towns also have schools in their own town that the children that live there can attend.

        I belong to a fire district. I pay separate property taxes specifically to fund them. Anyone who lives in my fire district can call 911 and they’ll respond. Including the exurban portions of Pierce County in ST is equivalent to having a fire district where the people who reside in the outskirts of it just have to watch their houses burn.

      2. There’s a good hard-nosed reason to be sure everyplace in the region gets best transit we can deliver: None of us knows for sure where- by choice- we’ll be living, working, and going to school.

        One of the automobile’s biggest and earliest selling points was its ability to let people live their lives over as wide an area as possible, in terms of both place and time.

        Now that the number of automobiles, by itself, is becoming people’s chief limitation on their freedom of choice when and where to be, transit has to be able to perform the same functions.

        And people’s freedom will also depend on their willingness to organize their land-use to take advantage. It will be the work of our generation (meaning everybody alive to read this) to transition from one pattern to the next.

        Easier accomplished by cooperating rather than competing people.


    8. “One alternative is to get some useful bus routes down here. Maybe a Meridian Ave/Enchantment Pkwy express route.”

      They can talk to Pierce Transit about that. ST’s mandate is regional transit between regionally-significant centers, not local transit. However, this overlaps with the same area that seceded from Pierce Transit a few years ago. So they did it to themselves, and they can get back into a Transit Benefit district if they want to (PT or their own). ST’s Sounder shuttles were previously PT routes and PT’s responsibility. When PT contracted, ST took them over only because areas begged it to, and to keep Sounder ridership up. (Because Sounder’s budget was predicated on their fare revenue.) Additional Sounder shuttles may be worthwhile, but if so, the community needs to talk about it with their city/county officials and the ST Board who will determine whether it’s really ST’s responsibility or somebody else’s, and get a unified and friendly message; i.e., something that says, “All we want is a few more bus routes”, not “ST is the devil and taxes are extortion.”

      “Another alternative is to cut exurban areas that, quite frankly, shouldn’t even be part of the UGA, out of the ST area.”

      The reason they’re there is the Pierce delegation succeeded in getting a lot of exurban land in the ST district, which none of the other subareas have. In Snohomish it ends at Everett and Mill Creek. In King it ends at Redmond, Issaquah, Kent, and Auburn. Snohomish has the opposite problem: Marysville was excluded but not it’s growing fast and needs regional transit. I don’t know how that happened, Snohomish must have been wishy-washy. Pierce got all that exurban land in partly because of expected JBLM-related population growth, and partly to get the development taxes. Well, now Orting is in. And Edgewood, where is that? Somewhere near Milton and Pacific?

      “they flow to poorer states like New Mexico and Alabama and benefit other citizens”

      We subsidize Alabama and Georgia because we’re liberals so we want them to have healthcare, safe food and water, transit, etc. They might think about the irony of this. They’re trying to cut off those things for us. They could at least acknowledge that the big blue cities are subsidizing them. But they believe they’re subsidizing us. Or at least they say they believe that. They can’t expect it to go on forever, them trying to restrict us and entrench poverty while we continue to subsidize them.

    9. The people that voted to leave the Pierce Transit service district shouldn’t be shocked that they don’t have awesome local transit service to connect them with our regional transit service.

    10. As a good example, mercer island. KCM provides abysmal service on the island. The park n ride is tiny. So most of them won’t see any benefit from it. All it takes is a small ramp inconvenience for them to start suing.

    11. Even if folks don’t use the services ST provides directly, they benefit indirectly. Thousands of people ride transit which frees up system capacity for other purposes like shipping freight and construction crews to help build out the region of boom! You may never drive on I5, but the stores you shop at are stocked by trucks that did. Transit makes this possible.

    12. @Engineer I live in Spanaway and agree with you. I even live off a trunk transit route and never use it because well, its crap. We pay ST taxes, and what service we receive with we are met with a 20-40 minute drive to a P&R lot, that typically is full, so you have to use a satellite lot which outside of train times is nearly impossible to get back to, yet we are paying just like everyone else. And why don’t I use the Trunk route? Something about it would take me an hour to get to 24th and pacific, wherein I need to spend another ten to fifteen minutes to walk over to TDS or take LINK if its running (which would involve a good wait) to get the bus to Seattle. Still not practical. Oh and Lakewood? yea I made that mistake once. Its closest of all, but by the time you add in the extra time to get there from TDS or Puyallup (30+ minutes) that you’ll never get back plus the 20 minute drive onto to get back home it makes it the most impractical choice of all. At the end of the day I don’t mind paying taxes for transit service, however I do want to see the fruits of my labor running in MY community, and not paying taxes, and getting nothing to show for it. Oh, I was going to add there is an ST III project for capital improvements on the Pacific Ave Corridor. However it has zilch for what we really need in this county – operations. All capital, no operations, everyone here is getting screwed.

  2. Exciting stuff! I’m happy that ST has heard the loud and clear demands for faster rollout.

  3. I wonder if there’s been any consideration of extending that 145th BRT line West of 145th St station, at least far enough to offer transfers to E an 5 riders. That seems like an easy win for a better grid/network for the NW quadrant, at what should be a relatively modest cost (1.5 miles, 2 stops–or possibly a 3rd in the meridian/burke vicinity).

    1. My thoughts EXACTLY. In fact, extending it all the way to Shoreline CC. would be even better. With stops at: Meridian, Aurora and Greenwood.

      1. I think the ROW on 145th is difficult. Metro’s LRP projects connecting Shoreline CC with Link using 135th or 155th rather than 145th.

    2. The 145th Station design is a shining example of how ST isn’t really integrating ST3 into its current projects. The design is almost finished – and the rollouts have been some of the worst access designs I’ve ever seen for a new light rail station. There has not yet been any public or board discussion on how to modify the station for the 522 BRT as well as improve its horrible layout! The Board and senior staff needs to face these kinds of specific problems and get presentations beyond the past success of an ST3 win. The menu is pretty much set; it’s time to think about how to best plan to create and serve the meal now that those in attendance has doubled.

      1. I’d argue that the station is optimized for 522 BRT at the expense of other uses. The station is set back from 145th with bus layover space, which will be perfect for a BRT terminus.

        The station is actually mediocre for pedestrian access and for any buses on 145th that don’t terminate at the station. So if anything, it’s over designed for ST3 projects.

      2. And same for 185th, which is well designed as the terminus for SWIFT but only so-so for walk up traffic.

      3. As long as the 522 buses have to make left and right turns to get to and from the station and then loop around at the bus loading area and then mix with all the other traffic to get in and out, it’s not optimized for BRT.

        This design was presented the same month as ST3 passage. Should it be changed?

      4. The buses need to make left & right turns to turn around and head back, anyways. Might as well give them dedicated layover space in a mini-transit center.

      5. @AJ — Right. Because there is no way that folks would ever want a bus that travels on 145th to go farther west than I-5. Connecting to our most popular bus (the E) or dense neighborhoods like Bitter Lake would be silly. No sense planning for the future.

        Sorry for the snark, but the whole thing is ridiculous. Serving Northgate (a transit center) is bad enough. But we really had no other choice. The damage there was done a long time ago, and putting a station at Northgate Way would have been more expensive, and people would have complained about the lack of parking. But 145th is brand new, and there is no reason the station couldn’t be put at 145th. It does make it a little bit harder to turn around there, but in the future, you wouldn’t want to turn around. It is crazy not to connect the bus route with some of our most popular buses, like the E or the 5. Even connecting to Meridian has merit, as a way to access Northwest Hospital.

      6. Actually, the ST2 Link station design at NE 145th Street was redesigned to make room for the ST3 dream of the SR-522 BRT. It needed more bus layover. Of course, it is all sub-optimal as the alignment and stations are in the I-5 envelope and next to a congested interchange. (Link should serve pedestrian places). I expect the SR-522 BRT will use East King subarea funds, so extending it further west would be politically difficult. From a traffic stand point, NE 155th Street would deal with less traffic congestion and be aimed at SCC and the Sears land bank.

      7. ST has a track record of poor integration in-between modes, poor design of transit facilities, especially bus facilities (Puyallup Station, too small & tight turns, South Hill P&R, poor platform design, Auburn station no curb and at same grade in-between roadway and platform, Kent Station, Layover issues, Sea-Tac Airport station, bus platform on one side of street only, and a dive of a stop across the street, TIBS, lack of layover space, and poor connection in-between services (560 goes right by, 574 stops short, necessitating a extra transfer from Sea-Tac airport station), Central LINK stations on rainier all have poor bus connectivity IMHO. Its a systemic problem with them, most likely driven by poor to non existent facilities design standards, a rotating group of architects and engineers for each different project, along with a general lack of experience running transit.

    3. Transit fans have been advocating extending BRT west to Aurora or Shoreline CC, but ST hasn’t acknowledged it. I think East King is paying for all of it, and what Kenmore and Bothell care about is access to the station, not Aurora or Lake City. That’s the suburban/freeway mentality that BRT is just an alternative to driving to the station, and they don’t intend to go to north Seattle neighborhoods and walk around and shop at small businesses. So the BRT is all about terminating at the station, and ST has done a curlicue TIB-esque way of impmenting it, and other buses would have that same detour. C’est la vie.

      1. I have no problem with terminating the current BRT plans at 145th, just as I had no problem with terminating Link at Husky Stadium. Eventually, of course, you go farther, but for now, it is fine.

        The problem I have is with the complete lack of vision when it comes to long range regional transit planning. Other than building a subway from Everett to Tacoma (longer than any line in New York, Paris or London) there is nothing. They have a vision, but it completely ignores any example of transit success anywhere. Even obvious connections (Ballard to UW) are made much more difficult, because the folks in charge never thought it would make sense to build the subway out that way. Stations that anyone who has ever read Walker’s book — or even just thought through the mental exercises therein — would see that a station at 130th is essential for a half way decent transit system. But ST sits there, dumbfounded, wondering why anyone would want such a thing. They have to be dragged kicking and screaming, driven by a handful of local activists and a bad-ass city council member before they finally get off their collective asses and build it. Except then they want to add the station years after the line is built!

        But I digress. Those are but a handful of profoundly stupid mistakes, and compared to most of them, putting the 145th street station at 148th is a minor mistake. But it is a mistake, and it will result in people needlessly spending extra time on the bus. Even when the bus line is extended to the logical terminus (Greenwood) it will spend an extra five minutes or so heading up and back to the station, when a simple stop on 145th would do.

        They simply should have put the station at 145th, and asked park and ride users to walk a bit farther (oh, the horror!). It should have been designed first and foremost with bus transfers in mind. In an area next to a freeway and across from a golf course, that is how most of the Link riders from the station will arrive. But it isn’t just Link riders, of course. The new subway should enhance the transit system, not simply try and replace one tiny piece of it. Build the station assuming we would have the good sense to eventually extend a westbound bus on 145th to Greenwood (connecting to an additional 6 bus routes, one of which happens to our most popular). For now have the bus turnaround on 1st, or better yet, Meridian. It isn’t much farther than the current turn around, and it at least connects to another bus route. For the bulk of the riders, it wouldn’t matter, as the bus would let them off and pick them off by the station — if only the station was there.

      2. Well said, Ross.

        I would add that ST seems to think that comparing and contrasting trade offs is stupid because it slows down the process. I reman stunned when ST leadership brags in this presentation about not taking a few extra months to actually have alternatives to study. It’s an attitude that they know what is best from the outset.

  4. Bit of a side note but I really am not a fan of the auto play on the video as well as the google ads that come with sound. Makes for a poor blogging experience IMO. I can understand that STB can’t control the advertisements to that level, but at least with the video tech, auto play is the herpes of the web industry. I prefer to watch a video on my terms, not the websites.

    1. It’s also worth noting that this ended up in the RSS feed, so tracking down which of 50 items on my RSS reader was causing autoplay was not a lot of fun.

      (And now I need to patch my RSS reader to not display IFRAME content…)

  5. Where is the operations plan? Building is sexy — but a rail system has to operate every day once opened. This is basically a construction program tied to funding availability and not a plan on how the system will operate.

    Some specific issues:

    1. Will an Eastside station now be modified so cross-platform transfers can happen when the Eastside line opens?
    2. How will the demand from the Tacoma line affect the frequency limitations and capacity of trains in the Rainier Valley as well as the tremendous demand coming from Ballard and SLU? Will UW and Nirth Seattle riders be able to board these trains will so many riders already on them?
    3. Will a cross-platform be created in SODO for a Tacoma/SeaTac – Weat Seattle transfer?
    4. What will be the best station to get from all of these places to SeaTac and what station improvements are needed at these?
    5. What capacity and access improvements at existing stations are needed to accommodate the demand from new stations, like more elevators and escalators?
    6. What new communications and safety system enhancements/ expansions/ refinements are needed to make sure that the lines can open on time, and what is the number of vehicles needed at opening day step along the way?
    7. What are the anticipated staff sizes along the way for not only drivers, but also maintenance people, fare inspectors and other jobs?

    This rollout is mostly just rehashing the ST3 campaign literature. I expect a better effort than this at this point. Let’s see something that shows a little more strategic planning than a timeline and a list of projects!

    1. It looks like they are working on it!

      There’s a section titled “Involve Operations Staff Early in Order to Design for Operations and Maintenance” on Page 12 of the System expansion implementation plan under Strategic Initiative 2. It says “the Operations Plan will be developed in 2017 and 2018.”

      1. This points exactly to my point, Oran. We are getting underway with East Link and Lynnwood Link construction and probably Federal Way construction before this plan is ever presented. The specific operations plan is needed NOW to not only inform ST3 projects but to also possibly modify ST1 and ST2 projects. Since many ST2 projects are close to breaking ground, these urgently to to be informed by an operations plan – before we spend tens or hundreds of millions of dollars in inadequate design! The lack of having an operations plan NOW is likely a major ST fail.

    2. Building is sexy …

      1. Will an … ?
      2. How will the ?

      This rollout is mostly just rehashing the ST3 campaign literature.Let’s see something that shows a little more strategic planning …

      You’re not from around here, are you? That’s not the way things are done in ST land. As it turns out, you answered your own question in the very first paragraph. Building is sexy. Whether it actually makes it significantly easier to use transit or not is less important. What matters is the pretty trains going by.

      1. LOL. I’ve lived most of my adult life in cities with heavily-used transit systems other than Seattle, Ross. I have seen how bad design hurts a city of decades and makes any fix 10-20 times more expensive.

        I may seem like I’m a cantankerous griper at times. Still, I speak up because I don’t want ST to make the mistakes that I think they are making.

        We are going to have to live with this rail system for 100 years. We need to make sure that it works right on a daily basis. Every escalator, platform configuration, pedestrian connection and drop-off point has to be done right or everyone will regret it for 20 to 100 years. It’s a legacy that we leave to future generations.

        I’ll note that the basic questions I’ve asked are something that an experienced rail commuter on a major rail system would likely ask. Does anyone dare to answer them or just accept ST platitudes of teamwork and co-location?

        It is really telling when the ST peers listed in the presentation did not operate rail transit before 1980. Why are we avoiding asking questions of systems that have been around 100 years? A new system is too fresh to have them freely admit lessons from their design mistakes; an older system is more willing to be more circumspect about mistakes to avoid.

      2. >> I may seem like I’m a cantankerous griper at times.

        You and me both. I often feel like I do nothing but gripe about the mistakes they are making (or have made). But griping definitely has it’s value. It may be the only way we make this system better. You are 100% correct — little things make a big difference. I don’t think this should be that hard. There are a lot of decisions that shouldn’t depend on public input — that the folks in charge should just do. The public should keep them on their toes and make sure they didn’t forget anything, but I’m afraid they have a long history of forgetting some very important, and many would say obvious things. So keep griping. We just have to figure out how to gripe to the right people (and in the right way).

  6. I don’t understand why the NE 130th station doesn’t even start design until Lynnwood Link is completely built. Surely it will save money to do them concurrently. Not to mention the 8-years-sooner delivery time.

    1. Agreed.

      I guess we need to create a movement, instead of relying on Sound Transit to do the obvious. Seriously. That is the only reason NE 130th is even going to be built. I know, it sounds absurd, It is pretty freaking obvious when you look at a map. Numerous articles were written about the subject and I’m sure any transit professional would have put that in (or asked why in heaven’s name it isn’t there) but believe it or not, NE 130th wasn’t part of the original ST2 plan. They had far less important stations (Shoreline, Mountlake Terrace, etc) but it somehow escaped their collective imagination (oops) to put a station in a stop connecting the biggest community north of Ballard and build an actual function grid for the north end. It took a handful of citizen activists and a bad ass city council member (Juarez) to force Sound Transit to build what is obvious. Now we need to do it all over again and force them to do the obvious — build it sooner. Unfortunately, the lead activist in this fight has left town so it might take a while for us to reorganize.

  7. Engineer, area from I-5 to the Cascade foothills is worst place in the world to travel in either cars or transit. In a whole region that is rapidly joining the same club. Where transit isn’t doing so well either.

    During rush hours, meaning first bus in the morning, Intercity Transit is another barely moving car. Last year, could sneak up the shoreline and leave car at Tacoma Dome. Which is now often trafficked- in. And Sounder performance bulletins discouraging.

    My only sure shot to keep an appointment in Seattle is to drive 70 miles back roads to Angle Lake. I like driving. Which “freeway”But presence is not. More like detention subject to unannounced lock-down. But after all these years, no pleasure in present motor-sport of pre-dawn road rally.

    Engineer, we’re one set of simultaneous freeway crashes from having this whole region blocked solid, instead of only Eastern Pierce County. Including every emergency vehicle that doesn’t have rotors. Buzzards will soon be too fat to fly either.

    So might be better idea to start giving Bonnie Lake a better return for its taxes, in terms of bus service and the lanes and signals to run them. Leaving them untaxed and motionless isn’t going to make them any easier to serve in future ST’s.

    And Don, whatever that awful green pickle the other day was supposed to do for senior citizens, the ad didn’t even have the decency to use a Kosher Dill! Let alone a corned beef sandwich, like Cleveland light rail has at Shaker Heights. So here’s my transit-related compromise.

    Remake! That really beautiful freckled model named Olivia can become MISS PROOF IF PAYMENT! Too bad Gene Kelly’s dead. Anybody under sixty know who’ll be the cute Fare Inspector?


    1. Mark, your suggestion for improved transit in places like Bonney Lake, Edgewood, and Milton are great. What do we do to get those included, though? We need to remake how we determine subarea equity. We can’t keep pointing towards Seattle with the argument that a route that goes from a subarea towards Seattle automatically benefits the outer subarea. It doesn’t. If we can get money allocated fairly, i.e. money raised in Pierce County stays within Pierce County, money raised in South King stays in South King, Seattle can fully fund everything within its corporate limits, then we can probably get the marginal amount of money needed to add a few express bus routes down here to connect some dots that aren’t really on the map right now. Get those residents some service, and maybe they’ll change their tune. New routes: SR 7, SR 161; coordinate with Pierce Transit to ensure adequate service levels. All-day service on 580, 592, 596. Thanks for listening.

      1. Shouldn’t thank you for enabling [OP] (Off Planet) references, but Miss Proof of Payment has this relevance: Though never directly mentioned, “On The Town” had World War II for background music.

        Equitosity is also beside the main point for anything regional, especially transit. Point being that every wheeled thing from Everett to Olympia and Colman Dock to Snoqualmie Pass is a half-hour’s worth of crashes from the World’s Fairest and Most Balanced immobility.

        Where the money and emergency mandates can come from is, at long last legitimately, from the National defense budget.

        Because decades-old self-inflicted ruin costing trillions in lost productivity per region. And mass graves won’t vet their occupants for North Korean ordnance or civilian domestic rusted rebar.

        Strongly suggest that the Democratic Party visibly and vocally get to work on this category of programs. One, for the first time since “On the Town”, we’ll have a massive defense-related program that provides a whole generation’s worth of well-paid badly needed employment.

        Two, the louder their opponents, most of whom also hate transit, yell against it, the more they’ll have to deny-or-defend conditions already intolerable to everybody stuck in them.

        Five years ago, possible to argue for more roads. Now…seems that more people are demanding their fair share of transit. Because every passing rush hour makes it clear that number of automobiles is our chief threat to freedom.

        And three…They’ll Never See It Coming. Meaning the establishment of both major parties. Any Precinct Committee officers reading this?


      2. ” We can’t keep pointing towards Seattle with the argument that a route that goes from a subarea towards Seattle automatically benefits the outer subarea. It doesn’t.”

        The subareas chose their own priorities! Pierce prioritized getting to Seattle on top. It could have had Tacoma Link lines and BRT all over the county instead if it had wanted them. As I said, the entire Pierce County needs to talk with each other and their city/county officials and ST board members and PT about whether its purported priorities are accurate.

        Pierce has been heavily hit by the recession and by secessionist anti-taxers. That’s why it doesn’t have as much effective transit as the other counties. Plus its physical distance from Seattle just makes transit more difficult to provide effectively. Pierce “should” recognize the distance and develop more of a separate job/commute market, as it had before 1990. (In the 1980s it was still really uncommon to commute from Auburn or Tacoma to Seattle.) But that’s not what it told ST during ST1/2/3 planning, so changing course will be somewhat difficult. As Pierce recovers its job base, Pierce Transit will have more revenue, and then it can implement more comprehensive and frequent buses.

      3. Just to review here: Pierce County officials proposed transit projects that a lot of people (myself included) think are really a bad idea. The voters in Pierce County voted against ST3.

        >> It could have had Tacoma Link lines and BRT all over the county instead if it had wanted them.

        For all we know, they did. For all we know, a majority of the county (or at least a plurality) wanted to spend money that way. It reminds me of the SR 99 tunnel project. You could say “Seattle could have had an alternative to the tunnel, but it wanted the tunnel”, except that simply isn’t true. Only the public officials wanted the tunnel. The voters explicitly rejected that option (it came in third in a non-binding resolution). Meanwhile, in Pierce County, in a simple up down vote (do you want this transit project or not) voters rejected it.

        Unlike the tunnel, there really wasn’t much discussion. There was no advisory ballot, with options like the one you mentioned. Voters had only one choice — to accept this plan or reject it, and in Pierce County, they rejected it. But it will be built anyway.

      4. Ross: we know the Deep-Bore Tunnel was supported only by the city government and the state because it was reported in the papers and we were part of the opposition and offered an alternative. We don’t know that Pierce County residents did the same. They elected leaders who supported ST’s spine approach continuously from 1990 through now. If they wanted something else instead they should have made it a campaign issue, put articles in neighborhood blogs, organized an alternative proposal … something. But there was nothing, at least nothing I know of. You can never say for sure why a vote went one way or another without a really complete poll. It could just be that they always vote no on taxes.

      5. Well, there was a region wide organization that pushed for a bus based system from the get-go (Smarter Transit). They were organized, had their own website, articles in the paper — all of that. I’m not saying I preferred their vision, but for Pierce County, I would have.

        But that misses the point. People shouldn’t have to organize and form their own movement just to build what makes sense to build. It never was a campaign issue, because — as we’ve talked about it before — no one ever runs for the ST board. Do you really think the average Tacoma resident would rather have a public transportation wonk instead of a competent manager as mayor? Half the people who comment regularly on this blog (including you and me) would make very good members of a transit committee, to say nothing of those with more formal experience or education. But I for one would be totally incompetent when it comes to running a city like Tacoma. Police, health and human services and the like are all way more important than where the light rail line ends. If it came down to voting for me as mayor of Tacoma, or Marilyn Strickland, I would vote for Ms. Strickland.

        Which is a problem. I think most of the people on this board made the same mistake those in charge of the SR 99 project did. They failed to fully consider alternatives and engage the public. In the case of the SR 99 project, the mayor rejected the findings of his own committee! In the case of Sound Transit, there simply was no committee, and when folks did hire outside, independent firms (such as in Kirkland) again, the recommendations were ignored. But in all those cases, it doesn’t mean the representatives should be removed, because in the grand scheme of things, it is largely unimportant. Folks might end up with a terribly wasteful transit system, but at least the rest of the city will run OK.

      6. I commented that ST III should have been more operations focused, however the powers that be (the mayor of the City of Tacoma) pushed hard for Light Rail and that’s what they got above all else. The pushback from areas like Spanaway, Parkland, Midland, Graham, Fredrickson, Milton, Edgewood, Orting are not surprising. It does not take much thought to realize there is a disparity in service in Pierce County vs. the rest of the ST system. And like I have said before, people in these affected areas are met with long drives to distant, and mostly full P&R lots. Its no wonder why these people are upset, and granted there’s nothing that can be done today or tomorrow to immediately resolve this situation, there’s also nothing in the plan for ST 3 that would accelerate existing ST 2 projects – or provide any relief at all. All day Sounder service would be awesome, but if you cant access the service because the P&R lots are all full it doesn’t do anyone any good.

  8. Some thoughts:

    #1. Nice attempt at a kick-off, right until Tacoma Mayor Strickland made a sloppy reference to the People’s Republic of China. At least Mayor Strickland had a point. Keep the link in mind when you hear the anti-ST noise machine.

    #2. I’m going to keep in mind STB Comment Policy and say this as carefully as I can but [nope!].

    #3. I for some time would be unsurprised if Pierce County made an attempt to exit ST3. I think we need to consider the upsides versus downsides of this. If hope for this is gone, then the Pierce political class needs to tell their people that on right wing talkback radio and why and to maybe pay a little better attention come election time when future tax increases are before them.

    #4. All the best to Sound Transit staff in executing ST3. This is going to be all hands on deck and props to CEO Peter Rogoff & other senior staff for including the rank & file staff in changing the implementation plans. Really wish the employees of Sound Transit to take collective & personal ownership for executing ST3 and protecting the Sound Transit brand – I would like to see more passionate ST fans & constructive critics as well in return.

    1. #3. Pierce can exit ST for all the rest of us care. The only people hurt will be those going down to Pierce, and those who are displaced to Tacoma due to Seattle housing prices. (We care about them, and Pierce should care about them too.) The low-density exurbs made their own bed so they can lie in it. We can truncate Sounder at Auburn, because Kent/Auburn ridership is as significant as the Pierce market. The Link to Tacoma segment would just go away, along with the 59x and Tacoma Link, and all the problems associated with them. Mark Dublin would have to keep driving from Olympia to Angle Lake (soon Federal Way).

      1. That’s not a practical solution. It’s way past the point where you can make changes like that.

        The larger lesson is to take care when developing taxing district boundaries. Don’t place people into districts unless there is a realistic way to provide them with the services for which they’re taxed.

      2. Mike, this heroic rolling defiance will only survive until ETB (Eastern Pierce Blight, the world’s most contagious crop and tree disease) sweeps all the way from the mountains to the sound.

        If all my routes (which I’m keeping secret so I won’t have to kill everybody reading this) become packed traffic signaled arterials lined with Targets and Fred Meyerses, last resistance will have been crushed.

        Seriously, though, I do think that my idea for transit itself to start buying real estate and offering transit-oriented developments complete with grooved rail and catenary could start the tide turning. By at least showing a possible choice.

        No downside for us. If the idea bombs, we can just “flip” the land, and use profits to afford a system that’ll serve places whether they vote for it or not. Especially places that voted against.

        Citizens United says we don’t even have to say who we bribed to get back every dime of lost taxing authority.

        Meantime, the rails and wires past the drugstores (that have “Malts” instead of weed) speak for themselves. Greatest tactic will be to let as many children see trains and then have their parents drag them away.

        Generational revenge when these kids bring back an actual street rail showpiece for their anti-transit parents’ funerals.


      3. “It’s way past the point where you can make changes like that.”

        I don’t want to make them, it’s part of Pierce that wants to leave. But the reason it won’t happen is it would throw Pierce County’s growth management/congestion management plans into a tailspin and there’s no alternative.

    2. I just want Pierce folks and politicians to either get on the train or not. I also agree that if Pierce were to exit ST3, it’s going to create a massive mess for Seattle commutes.

      Oh and one last thing… since it is a Pierce County State Senator leading the charge to make the Sound Transit Board directly elected, why isn’t he also fighting for Pierce Transit Board to be directly elected as well? Hmmm….



      1. I saw in the Tacoma News Tribune today Lakewood/PC was studying exiting the PSRC for perceived disparity in-between Seattle/King county needs and the needs of PC, along with the PSRC not recognizing JBLM as a major employment center which would bring more $$$ down here. I think you will find that PC wants to “be on the train” however, the train that has been sent down here leaves so much to be desired that people are questioning its usefulness, which I have previously commented on.

  9. I really, really hope the “Ballard” end isn’t the actual end for the green line, namely at just 15th and Market. To come so close to Ballard High School, all of the apartments that are getting built directly on and adjacent to 15th, and (as a stretch) the 85th/15th area is…frustrating.

    Metro can help a lot by working out how to run all day (24-hour, not “7a-7p” all day) transit in northwest Seattle that ideally connects Ballard and Northgate Link. I can tell that this is going to be one of my hobby horses for the Metro LRP: keeping some form of high-frequency service on 15th and Holman between those two Link stations without wandering through western Ballard/Loyal Heights/Sunset Hill to get there.

    1. You’re absolutely right. The light rail should not stop at Market, or even 85th. It should continue all the way to Northgate, Lake City, and the towns along the northern end of Lake Washington. We need a network, not a hub-and-spoke system, to serve the many vibrant neighborhoods and end our reliance on autos. One of the richest cities in the world’s richest nation should be able to pull this off.

    2. Its my understanding that this is exactly the mid term plan for D Line… Extended all the way to Northgate, partially replacing the 40 (which gets rerouted to Northgate via 85th through Greenwood).

      Also, I believe that all in-city rapid ride lines are targeted to become 24-hour running lines with the changes to night owl service. The late night service (between midnight and 5 am) gets down to once per hour though.

      1. I think hourly deep-into-the-night service is appropriate, but Metro must must MUST make sure that there are timed transfers at connection points.

        The good news is that there’s precedent for this. Right now the 80s routes have two trips, where the first trip on each route (2:15) meets the second trip on the others (3:30 – 3:33). With the exception of 84 because it’s so short (resulting in a half-hour wait to transfer), it works fairly well. It’s a nice change from suburban hourly routes, which seem to be randomly timed.

    3. ST implicitly expects it to continue north in a later phase. There’s a line ST’s long-range plan from Bothell to Northgate. It wouldn’t take too big a nudge to connect the two if it seems useful and affordable later. There’s debate on whether the Holman Road area can provide enough ridership to justify it. Of course, the line could turn east to UW instead, but ST’s predisposition seems to be to leave it pointing north rather than east. Of course, that still raises the issue of how to integrate the east-west line. But ST hasn’t been very good about preparing for those kind of things (cough, U-District Station). Hopefully it will all work out.

      1. I wouldn’t turn the line. Eventually you want two lines — one north-south, and one east-west, crossing at 15th and Market.

        But I wouldn’t go north all the way to Northgate, as that really doesn’t get you much. The transfer between two trains at Northgate would be extremely expensive and very time consuming for riders. You would have to tunnel under I-5, which means that you are connecting an elevated line to an underground one. There is no sign at all that the Northgate station is being designed for this, either. One of the key benefits of such a line would be to extend it to Lake City, but again, that is very expensive and the transfer makes it tough. Most of the time, a rider heading downtown would be better off just taking the bus to 130th (assuming that the transfer there is made is in a sensible fashion).

        But north to 65th or 85th would probably be a very good value, as it could be elevated (assuming that it is elevated to Market). Adding a station at 65th gives us a chance to improve the grid, by adding service on 65th. Even if you can’t send a bus up and over Phinney Ridge, a bus could travel from 32nd to 8th, and then turn south.

        Meanwhile, the east-west line should start at 24th NW. There is plenty of density there (more than there is east of UW, for example).

        The dynamic is different as well. It gets complicated, but “rounding the horn” would be more popular at the UW than at Ballard if both were offered. The really popular stops are clustered close to downtown on the Ballard line (or in Ballard itself) and the ride from the U-District to downtown is quite a bit faster than the ride from Ballard to downtown. In most cases a rider would be better off just transferring at Westlake.

      2. If the Bothell line ever gets built, I suspect a 145th alternative would supercede the Northgate concept. It would be a shorter track and avoid problems with hills and narrow ROWs.

    4. I hope there is some discussion about where best to put the Ballard station. A block east or west or north or south can make a big, big difference for local access. The way in which the rail line crosses the ship channel (both over or under as well as east or west or at the location of the current bridge) will also likely weigh heavily where the stop goes.

      That said, the demand from SLU through to the International District Station on this line appears to be so heavy that this line could easily be split into two lines and riders could still have 6 or 8 minute frequency. I hope that the designers anticipate the possibility of a branch — which is something that Northgate Link did not.

      For example, a branch could wrap back around after the LQA station to end in Belltown. A branch could split north of the ship canal to eventually end up at UW and the other continue north. A branch could split north of the ship canal to head west to the Chittenden Locks with the other continuing north.

      I would even go as far as to say that without a branch, reversing a train at a Ballard station could be approaching a logistically impossible situation if a three or four minute headway is desired and the full demand presented in ST3 is achieved.

      1. I don’t think 3 to 4 minute headways on the green line is possible on this route because the at-grade rainier valley section can only handle 8 minute headways.

        Under this plan the new downtown subway will probably be fairly underutilized. It’s the problem with connecting a high capacity subway to at-grade rail. It creates a bottleneck… so the whole green line is only as good as the worst part.

      2. @Brendan

        With well designed turn around points in the SODO/Stadium area the could certainly make better use of the second tunnel even before other lines open.

        I expect in the long term though that the new tunnel will eventually have additional branch lines on both ends.

      3. @ Charles B: would agree that a second branch at both ends makes sense.

        The key problem is that ST has yet to discuss this. You are a step ahead of what ST has ever publicly discussed. There are a variety of solutions that can be examined. All of the solutions involve track and station design so they need to be publicly discussed now.

        It’s why I criticize ST here for not yet going beyond the discussion of project delivery to a initial, honest discussion of daily operations, especially with ST2 projects now breaking ground. There has been no discussion how we could need ST2 design changes because of the ST3 program. It’s like building a new floor on a house and then agreeing to add another floor at the same time; to not review and moodily current designs for the first new floor is just plain stupid.

      4. It certainly is worth considering, but compared to previous branch possibilities, I see less value. Branches make the most sense if each part of the branch has roughly the same demand, and the shared section has twice as much demand as either branch. That was the case with a Ballard to UW subway. Ballard to UW (with very fast continuation onto downtown) has roughly the same demand as north end to UW (with continuation to downtown). UW to downtown has twice as much demand as either route. So, for example, each line would have 6 minute headways, while the core has 3 minute headways.

        Unfortunately, I just don’t see the dynamic working in as part of a future system. To take your examples, Belltown might work, but you have geographic issues if you turn at lower Queen Anne. If you split there, it would make sense to ride the train if you are headed to lower Queen Anne, South Lake Union or Denny, but heading south, you are probably better off just walking or taking a bus to Westlake. Just to be clear, it has potential, just not enough to warrant a split (and thus reduce service to Ballard).

        Splitting at Ballard (as part of the Ballard to UW line) also has potential, but not as much as splitting at the UW. There wouldn’t be that many that would take the curve through Ballard and by the time we finally built Ballard to UW, we will want to extend it west, to 24th. I really think there was only one place in our system where splitting made sense, and that was at the UW. However, now the case for that is weakened since folks from Ballard will just take the train through Interbay.

        I think the big thing that we need to build in is not necessarily splitting, but multi-platform service. It is bad enough that the line at the UW doesn’t allow splitting, but it won’t be easy to simply send a train underneath the station either. Likewise at Ballard. We really should build that station (at 15th and Market) so that it can serve a line heading north-south, as well as east-west. Oh, wait – the station in Ballard will be elevated, so really, it is moot point there. A Ballard to subway line would of course be underground, so a transfer would be awkward no matter how you do it.

        But for the rest of the system, it isn’t clear where we would have crossing lines or splits. Take the Metro 8 for example. It is pretty easy to see how you could have a Metro 8 + WSTT connect up the entire area (with good stop spacing and fairly straight lines). It is also obvious how you could start with the Ballard train line via Belltown, then connect up the whole region with a mix of that plus a Metro 8 (*). Even if you built things out of order (and we probably would) you would eventually have a fairly efficient system. But now I don’t see anything obvious. Where would a Metro 8 subway end — Capitol Hill? That is certainly affordable, but you still have the “four seat ride problem”. For example, to get from Fairview and Republican to 15th and Republican is probably a four seat ride (or it involves a lot of walking). Even though it is exactly a mile, and definitely “South Lake Union to Capitol Hill”, it is simply awkward with trains and buses can’t be part of a grid (because of I-5). Without building what could be considered excessive, you have a lot of trips that just aren’t any better than today.

        Then you have Belltown, as mentioned. It makes the most sense to split at Westlake, then head north, to Lower Queen Anne. But from there you have a problem. If you tie in with the Ballard line again, you would cut into the South Lake Union headways. If you don’t, then where does the train go? You could go north, but man, that’s really expensive for the number of riders who would save time. You could try and swing around to the Metro 8, but I see very little in the way of good new stations.

        All in all, I just see no long range vision. You have some big holes, but no easy way to fill them. About the only thing I see that makes sense to build — that is really a good value — is a Ballard to UW line. Everything else will likely be based on bus service, and we will muddle along like cities that spent way less on a transit system.

        * I hope the map makes sense. There is a layer that lists the BRT options as well, but that tends to just clutter things up. The main point is that serving Ballard via Belltown (a simple trade-off that is close to 50-50) means that it is much easier to imagine a Metro 8 coming around later, and providing not only subway service to the Central Area, but a well functioning transit network for the central core of the city.

      5. RossB, Your “Metro 8” map makes a lot more sense than having a second downtown tunnel right next to the first. The north end of Metro 8 could simply terminate under Queen Anne somewhere. A more radical idea is to extend the south end of Metro 8 under Beacon Hill, over the Duwamish on its own bridge, and up to West Seattle, serving South Seattle College on the way. That would be the desired West Seattle line. People going from West Seattle or QA to Downtown would have to transfer at one of the intersections–Capitol Hill, Judkins Park, Mount Baker/Beacon Hill. This is not as hard as it sounds–in London, for instance, it’s totally normal to change lines at least once.

        So the main line through the existing downtown tunnel would have two branches north–Lynnwood and points beyond, and UW-Ballard and points beyond. South out of the tunnel there would also be two branches, one to SE Seattle and the airport, one to the east side. The Metro 8 would serve completely different neighborhoods, with at least 3 connections to the main lines. A network like this would serve more neighborhoods and probably cost no more than ST3 plans to spend anyway.

        But it’s all moot–ST3 passed. Unless ST’s revenue sources get severely crimped, no one in authority seems likely to engage in innovative thinking along these lines.

  10. This must be the first Link article that doesn’t have two hundred comments arguing over whether the alignment is right or wrong.

  11. I know it’s kind of nitpicking, but ST’s map has the legend labeled wrong. The orange thin lines are not BRT. Express busses running on expressways are great, but it’s not BRT. RapidRide type service is not BRT either.

    1. Why not? To me the essence of BRT is guaranteed very frequent (5-15 min), stop spacing between a half mile (RapidRide) and two miles (Swift), and ideally some ROW improvements (priority lanes and signaling), and emphasis in the transit map. In other words, something more frequent and faster than a regular local bus, i.e., more like a train. Whereas an express I’d call something with nonstop segments longer than two miles, where it’s not simply crossing a lake or anomolus industrial area (Link in Tukwila). So the main distinction between ST Express and this “BRT” is filling in the frequency, not having long nonstop segments (which some ST Express routes have and others don’t), and more in-line stations (not detouring and crossing traffic lights and waiting to re-enter).

      Off-board payment, fancy stations, and real-time signs are important but they don’t have as much impact as being able to go to a stop anytime, reliably catch a bus within a few minutes, and get to your destination faster than on a regular route. It has been argued ad nauseum that RapidRide is not BRT, but I find it more useful to just refer to a scale of levels of BRT and leave it at that.

    2. Swift is actually one mile. (20 blocks = 1 mile, not 2.) My two-mile mark is mainly to distinguish routes like the downtown-UW expresses (3 miles, real express) on the one hand and Swift, the former 7X, and a theoretical route on Aurora stopping at 85th, 105th, 130th, 145th (more limited-stop routes than expresses)

    3. There is no such thing as BRT. People claim to have seen it in far off exotic lands, but when you actually get there it turns out it’s actually no better than rapidride.

      1. Nonsense. That is like saying that all light rail lines are as good as our streetcar. There is a way to rate bus service, and ITDP does. You can’t say the same thing about subways, unfortunately, and as a result, people spend billions and often make the same mistakes.

    4. Is our system “light rail”? I mean, parts of it definitely are urban, and have good stop spacing. But running express train service alongside the expressway isn’t light rail. It is commuter rail masquerading as a subway.

      Sorry, but I find the whole discussion silly. They are calling it “BRT”, and since they already have plenty of express bus service, i would assume they are trying to differentiate between the two types of service. Right now, the express bus service is often frequent, runs in HOV lanes and makes very few stops. I can tell by the general design that this will continue to be suburban in design, so I can imagine a few things that would differentiate it, such as:

      1) Additional right of way. I would imagine this will be the case with the 522 project.
      2) Off board payment and level boarding. I think this will be part of every line they are calling “BRT”.

      I have no idea whether this will meet the standards of ITDP for “real BRT” and if so, what level (gold, silver or bronze). But as I implied in my first paragraph, we don’t seem to worry too much if “light rail” does or not. I’m sure if there were a rating board, they would give our light rail line pretty good marks for avoiding traffic, off board payment and the like, but knock us down several notches for skipping urban areas and even urban stops (e. g. First Hill).

  12. Tacoma Link to TCC was pushed up to 2039 from 2041? When did that happen?

    It’s an improvement, but it’s still 17 years after the extension to hilltop. There’s probably 10 years between when feet start boarding trains on hilltop and when property acquisition just starts for TCC.

    If heavy Link to Tacoma ends up getting delayed for budget reasons, I think it would behoove Sound Transit to speed up delivery of TCC line to the early 2030s to compensate.

    1. The schedule is based on when chunks of revenue come in and the cost of the earlier projects. Only cheap stuff is front-loaded because 2/3 of the revenue is still going to ST2 projects. After 2023 the full revenue stream can be dedicated to ST3. Federal Way is especially quick because the planning is already finished. Tacoma Dome is quick because the Pierce subarea has been saving up for it since ST1 and has a big down payment. In North King, Ballard is held back because it depends on DSTT2 being open. The projects at the very end are the least productive ones. Are you sure Tacoma Link was originally 2039 and not 2041? That may have happened in refining the details and realizing 2039 was too optimistic. There does seem to be a large gap between Tacoma Dome and 19th Ave where Pierce doesn’t appear to be spending on anything, but that may be when the Sounder improvements are slated.

      1. “Are you sure Tacoma Link was originally 2039 and not 2041?”

        The opposite actually. I thought that at the ballot, Tacoma Link was 2041, but the map in the PDF (which is admittedly not a canonical source of information on this) shows 2039.

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