The future southbound Swift station at Paine Field

On Monday, Community Transit announced that it would accept a $43.2 million Small Starts grant from the Federal Transit Administration, completing the last of the $73 million in funding required to complete the Swift Green Line. Portions of the line have actually been under construction for a year, thanks to special authorization from the FTA, and many of the future stations in Everett are paved and ready for new canopy “skeletons” to be installed later this month.

The grant was approved by Congress last year, but was threatened in President Trump’s proposed elimination of the FTA’s Capital Investments Grants program. Sound Transit spokesperson Kimberly Reason told The Times ($) that the program’s grants for Lynnwood Link and Federal Way Link are “still at risk” and that full funding agreements would not be signed until this summer for Lynnwood and next year for Federal Way.

One of the Green Line’s main ridership generators will be the new passenger air terminal at Paine Field, which will be served by three airlines and a dozen daily flights to some short-haul destinations a few months before Swift buses start rolling. The new terminal, however, is a third of a mile away from the Swift station at Airport Road and 100th Street and connected by a narrow, uncovered sidewalk. The walk is fairly pleasant, assuming the weather cooperates, with the only obstacles being a few short crosswalks in front of empty hangar and office parking lots.

Near-term plans for the terminal don’t include a covered walkway or other major pedestrian improvements, but Community Transit says that they are working with Snohomish County and Paine Field to improve access to the Swift station. The terminal’s private operator, Propeller Aviation, said to The Herald recently that it was planning to accommodate Everett Transit service to the front door, which could mesh well with the agency’s long-range plan for frequent service between the airport and transit centers in South Everett.

Looking even further long-term, the extension of Link light rail to Everett via Paine Field could present a golden opportunity to build a larger passenger terminal that integrates light rail and makes it the most convenient option for flyers. Perhaps it would be shifted closer to Airport Road (requiring some hangar demolition and the closure of a short runway) and have a short skybridge connecting to the station’s mezzanine. Or the light rail mezzanine itself could be the terminus for a short train loop that travels to the check-in desks. Sound Transit’s master schedule states that such planning for Everett Link won’t kick into high gear until 2019 or 2020, which should leave ample time for Paine Field to take off as a secondary airport and warrant a larger terminal.

21 Replies to “Swift Green Line Moves Along, Now With Federal Funding”

    1. It’s Paine Field so the roads have to be wide for semi-trucks.

      Also I talked to a senior transit official recently. Rather not attribute who this is from, but it’s going to take some time before we get Paine Field workers to take transit. Pitched to both transit agencies involved having the drivers’ union talk to the Machinists’ union – you know, union brother/sister to union brother/sister.

    2. For each expansion of the Boeing plant, the county/city demanded another lane, I suppose. It’s wide enough to allow cars to pass each other while a semi-truck attempts a tight turn from the second-to-right lane.

  1. “The terminal’s private operator, Propeller Aviation, said to The Herald recently that it was planning to accommodate Everett Transit service to the front door, which could mesh well with the agency’s long-range plan for frequent service between the airport and transit centers in South Everett.”

    It’s good that private destinations are starting to support transit access. That’s what didn’t happen in the 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s, and we’re living with the legacies of those.

    1. What route would an Everett Transit bus be able to take to serve the front door without infuriating everybody else on the bus. A 2/3-mile detour full of stop signs and parking lot driving is going to add a lot of time. If the intention is for Everett Transit to operate a special route specifically for going to the airport, I don’t know where the money would come from. As we saw in our earlier post, they’re still struggling to get their core routes up to a 15-minute service frequency in the middle of rush hour.

      1. A lot of the buses in the area make a similar detour, to serve various Boeing plants, but your point is well taken. I just don’t see anything that would be frequent to the front door.

        One possibility is to split the 12. Alter the north end of that route to serve the airport (and end at the airport). The twists and turns are fine if they are at the terminus. The northern part of the 12 would be a good route. It would connect to the mall (which is a major transit station for Everett Transit) as well as Casino Road (which has a lot of people) and both Swift Lines.

        The bottom half of the 12 could then head to the Boeing factories.

        But as you said, I don’t see the bus route being anything close to frequent. The 12, even though it runs through a relatively densely populated area, and connects well with lots of buses and the big mall, only runs every hour or so. Hard to imagine 15 minute front door service anytime soon.

        Maybe a run from Mukilteo could work. Both the new 12 and Mukilteo to the airport route might do it. Each route runs every half hour, for combined 15 minute service. For Mukilteo, it connects you to this Swift Line. If they built what I suggested in a Page 2 post ( it would mean you would have fast service from Mukilteo to Lynnwood (via the route in red here: A two seat ride to Lynnwood (or a three seat ride to Seattle) from Mukilteo isn’t great, but a lot better than what they have now (the 113 is very indirect to Lynnwood). Time it right, and folks in Mukilteo have 15 minute service to Lynnwood, although one bus route would require a transfer and the other is slow.

        Still, with all of that, I doubt it. I just don’t see it working out for this airport. We’ll see, of course. Maybe in fifty years this will be a very big airport. But my guess it will continue to be relatively small, and merely a pawn in airlines’ efforts to squeeze more out of SeaTac (while providing a nice option to folks in the north end you always drive to the airport anyway).

      2. I generally agree with RossB that the Route 113 is for all intents and purposes a coverage route, meant to provide folks with some transit at the cost of speed. I disagree with folks always driving to the airport.

        Me, I take the Airporter or Sound Transit light rail to/from SeaTac or in the case of Boeing Field King County Metro Route 124 and obviously I take transit to/from Paine Field. But that’s me.

      3. I may have read too much into the word “accommodate”, thinking that at minimum it implies some bus stop facility but also possibly a financial contribution. I was thinking more about the financial contribution and co-planning part. I have no opinion on which ET routes it might be, I was assuming a future expanded ET network that might be different from the current one. For myself, I’ve found the current ET network useless: there’s never a bus when you want to take it so I end up ignoring the network and just using ST and CT. But in a future Everett network that might not be the case. I did not look at where a Paine Field route would go at the other end, nor at how much of a detour it would be on the way to Mukilteo. That gets too much into areas I don’t know or what the future network might be. I don’t have the energy to figure out what would be a good network for Everett, especially since I don’t live there and don’t know where residents go. I just know that I would vaguely want to get from Paine Field to Everett Station, although how direct it would have to be is a secondary issue. I’d mainly want the segments to be frequent, so that I’m not waiting a long time.

    2. Thanks Mike Orr, I lobbied very loudly to make sure transit access was part of the permitting process. It’s important to me [ot] Paine Field tenants are connected to transit.

  2. >> One of the Green Line’s main ridership generators will be the new passenger air terminal at Paine Field

    I seriously doubt that. Oh, there are people who work there, but not that many. Nor are there that many flights. Nor is it that difficult to park.

    It really is a minor part of this line. There are several, far more important ridership generators, such as:

    1) Seaway Transit Center. This is where a lot of the buses feed into Boeing (and other construction) jobs in the area. The same is actually true of the Paine Field area — it is likely more significant as a transfer point than a destination.

    2) Relatively high population density along 128th/Airport Road ( as well as decent density on other parts of the line, like SR 527.

    3) Connection to existing Swift line along SR 99. It is not a perfect complement to the Blue Line, but it is probably as good as you are going to get, given the street layout.

    4) Connection to Canyon Park, and in turn, I-405 BRT. Getting to Bellevue and even Lynnwood will be a lot easier for a lot of people in the Mill Creek/north Bothell area.

    5) Connection to 201/202 express into Everett, Ash Way or Lynnwood.

    6) All the businesses along the way. The airport is one of these, but even if it is the biggest one, it represents a small proportion of overall destinations and employment.

    I’m not saying the airport isn’t significant, but this line would make sense even if it wasn’t there. It basically just happens to be “on the way”.

    1. Airport terminal service always sounds good, but RossB is right that it won’t be major. Even at 20 flights a day with 150 passengers getting off a fully loaded plane and 10 percent of those using transit (very optimistic), that’s just 300 riders getting on a bus. Employees may add 50 more.

      Now factor in the time of day issues. If planes leave early in the morning, or land later in the evening, transit becomes very impractical.

      Now factor in how cheap parking will be. Seatac is much more expensive. The ratio of annual boardings at on Link at Seatac compared to annual boardings at Seatac is about 10 percent (and that includes passengers and employees) , so cheaper parking would reduce that significantly.

      My guess is maybe 100-200 boardings a day. For a line projected at 3300 boardings a day back in 2014, it’s likely pretty negligible.

      1. If I had to guess, they’re thinking about it in a long term sense rather than in the short term when the Green Line opens. Which I can see once the airport gets off the ground and is developed and expanded out a decent amount.

      2. Yeah, eventually the airport could become like Midway — a secondary airport that is nonetheless big. But I doubt that will happen before Link gets there (if at all). At that point, I would assume that the airport would have people movers between terminals, and would include the light rail station as one of the stops.

  3. I haven’t been in Everett for at least ten years. So, just so I can get in on the discussion- what changes would I notice? Remember one really disappointing thing. The college branch that had been in Everett Station closed. I think the coffee-shop too.

    But the town itself seemed still to be in a lot better shape than maybe ten years before that. But most important thing for thinking about any planned piece of service is, what are the most optimistic plans for the future? Any info, many thanks.


    1. Downtown Everett is pretty nice, though it has a drug problem.

      This line doesn’t really go to downtown Everett though. It goes by Mill Creek, which is kind of an upscale shopping and residential area.

  4. I will repeat, the biggest problem with this line is that it doesn’t connect with the 512, so it doesn’t form a good route for getting to Seattle.

    The main thing people ride the bus for in Snohomish county is to get in and out of Seattle. The many poorly orchestrated connections to sound transit buses are a problem that doesn’t get enough attention.

    1. Brendan, know you’re really only needling Shohomishians about lack of County spirit in their bus-riding. But you have to be prepared for the ever more rapidly approaching day when only reason people ride the bus in Snohomish County will be to go the jobs they had when they got run out of Seattle for failure to pay club dues. Soon to replace what will used to have been called rent.

      But isn’t there any State or Federal money (should end the sentence there ) that can force connection with regional transit? Unless the idea is to keep undesirables (well these people do have failure to pay dues formerly called rent on their credit score!) and their shopping carts from lowering value of every property Swift goes rapidly by.

      Good observation, though.


    2. >> The main thing people ride the bus for in Snohomish county is to get in and out of Seattle.

      I seriously doubt that. The 512 carries about 2,000 riders a day from Ash Way and the various Everett stops. That means about 1,000 northbound and 1,000 southbound. Add another 2,500 for the 510 and 513 (combined). So that is about 4,500 trips. I assume the other Swift line carries more, to say nothing of all the Community Transit and Everett buses, most of which don’t go to Seattle. This is a lot like the other Swift line, in that it connects to relatively densely populated areas along with lots of retail. In general, the farther out you go, the fewer people take transit into the big city. Lynnwood ridership to Seattle is bigger than Everett ridership to Seattle. Meanwhile, riders are trying to get around in the county, and this route does a pretty good job of that.

      >> The many poorly orchestrated connections to sound transit buses are a problem that doesn’t get enough attention.

      OK, I agree with that. But a big part of the problem are the stops that the 512 serves. South Everett is in the middle of nowhere. I can understand why ST serves it, but it creates a problem for connecting bus service. Everett Transit, and to a certain extent CT primarily serve the mall (in that area). This makes sense, as it is where the people are. But getting from the mall to South Everett Park and Ride is very difficult. The park and ride should have been closer to the mall, with a pedestrian walkway from the mall serving it (like Mountlake Terrace). But the mindset was all about park and rides, and South Everett is where you can put the biggest parking lot.

      Likewise it would be great if the 512 served 128th (even before this bus line is built) but doing so would take a lot of time. If they had built a freeway station there, then it would be great, but that don’t have that.

      It isn’t like there aren’t any buses to Ash Way as well as Lynnwood. But you are right, not very many from the south part of Everett (e. g. Airport Road). Everett Transit doesn’t go farther south than 128th, while the only Community Transit line is the 105. I could easily see the 105 being altered after this Swift line is in place. It could start up north, in the same place, but as it gets to 128th and Ash Way, simply head south on Ash Way to Ash Way Park and Ride (or Lynnwood). This would mean a two seat ride to Seattle, instead of a three seat ride that many people endure (albeit with fairly frequent rides each step of the way). From Airport Road and various parts of 128th, this is what you have to do. It is even worse on Evergreen Way, as folks there are looking at a four seat ride, unless they want to head north, to Everett, and then backtrack to Seattle.

      Hopefully things will change when Link gets to Lynnwood. This route remains a good one, but new routes should crop up, to enable the sort of trip you are talking about. I suggested some route changes here: The set of routes I had in mind would speed up Everett to Lynnwood (and in turn, Everett to Seattle) transit, while providing a one seat ride from much of the area to Lynnwood. It overlaps part of this line, as well as part of the other Swift line. Something like that seems affordable, and would not require any modification to this route. The two routes overlap some, but still complement each other. I could easily see something like that.

      Connecting the other part of this line (the part east of the freeway) to a Link Station (or an ST bus) is tougher, and arguably less important. If you are on SR 527, then you are looking at taking another bus, whether it is to Ash Way or Lynnwood. You could try and connect to Lynnwood, but I’m not sure it is worth it. If anything, simply running the bus as an express to Bellevue (once it gets to Canyon Park) would make more sense (assuming it could do so in HOT lanes the whole way). I think for the east part of this route, people are looking at three seat rides to Seattle and two seat rides to Bellevue. The nice part is that many of the rides (like Canyon Park to Lynnwood Transit Center) will be pretty fast and frequent.

    3. When Swift overlaid the 101, the highest-ridership local route in Snohomish County turned into the two highest-ridership local routes in Snohomish County. Swift did not cannibalize the limited number of Highway 99 riders; it generated more riders. The same thing happens in areas with 15-minute service: the 201/202, and 200th St SW between Lynnwood TC and Edmonds CC (where a lot of apartments have grown). It’s the same phenomenon as in King County, where Metro went from 60 to 30 minute service, or 30 to 15: those higher-frequency corridors make it more useful for more kinds of trips, and so more people use it. There’s a stereotype that Snohomans won’t take transit to Fred Meyer or the library or the mall, but only to Seattle or Bellevue. To some extent that’s true, but to another extent it’s because the transit is so skeletal. The whole point of Swift II and Lynnwood Link is the belief that the Snohomish population is ready to take transit more if only the transit were there, if they didn’t have to wait so long and walk so far, and if their bus didn’t get caught in freeway traffic and didn’t have to traverse congested streets between the highway and the stops. Swift II is explicitly for Snohomish County residents. It doesn’t connect to ST express buses as has been noted, but it’s being built anyway from the belief that there’s another latent transit market along the Bothell-Everett highway and its connection to 99 and Paine Field. That may or may not be accurate but it’s plausable.

  5. In the early 90s CT routes also had a lot of zigzags and turns, which made them take forever to get somewhere. I remember a woman in Mountlake Terrace saying she could walk her dog to Edmonds Community College faster than the CT bus. Fortunately these have since been straightened out. The current routes also tend to have strong anchors at both ends (e.g., MT TC to Lynnwood TC) so they can attract both people going from end, and from the middle to both ends. Really, I’ve been impressed with CT’s performance the past few years: the main problem is the long waits, but when the buses come they’re fast.

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