Everett Station will be the northern terminus of the Link light rail network in 2036 (Image: SounderBruce)

A week ago, the Everett Herald carried an Op-Ed by three Sound Transit Board members from Snohomish County. The authors, Paul Roberts, Dave Earling and Dave Somers, criticize Sound Transit for not completing the light rail spine as quickly as possible. They go on to argue the strict subarea equity policy, where Sound Transit investments go to the subareas that pay for them, should be changed. The end goal, of course, is earlier delivery of rail to Everett at the expense of projects in other areas.

The three board members argue that the transportation needs of the region are not contained within subarea boundaries. They may have particularly in mind the enormous daily flow of Snohomish County residents to jobs in King County. This burden is amplified by expensive housing in Seattle and the Eastside that pushes more households to commute from relatively affordable places in Snohomish and Pierce Counties. Lower income communities also generate less revenues, meaning the areas with the greatest socio-economic needs have the least ability to fund local transit improvements.

The crux of the issue for Snohomish County is that their subarea is small, contributing just 13% of Sound Transit revenues. Their major ST3 investment, a 16.3 mile rail extension from Lynnwood to Everett, is disproportionately expensive at just over $3 billion in 2014 constant dollars. (In actual year-of-expenditure dollars, Snohomish will spend $6.2 billion on light rail capital, including a ridership-based contribution to the downtown tunnel).

In the design of the ST3 plan, Snohomish’ demands stretched available resources and the political consensus. Any plan had to finish the spine, and also serve Paine Field, whatever the needed subsidies from taxpayers in other subareas. Lengthening ST3 from 15 to 25 years made it possible to meet those demands more or less within Snohomish’ tax capacity. The stretching of Sound Transit debt capacity accelerated timelines so Everett service was moved up from 2041 to 2036.

That doesn’t quite make Snohomish self-sufficient. With just 13% of ST3 tax revenues, Snohomish will nevertheless account for more than 26% of Sound Transit borrowing within the ST3 program. That raises questions about Snohomish’ contribution to paying down that debt in an uncertain ST4 program. Snohomish’ assumptions about federal grant support are more aggressive than other areas. Against that, Snohomish contributes just 2% of Bus Rapid Transit capital even as I-405 BRT extends deep into Snohomish County. Only 1% of the $780 million expenditure on State of Good Repair is funded by Snohomish County.

It’s hard to escape the conclusion that the principle of subarea equity has already been stretched very hard, and in favor of the Snohomish subarea.

Who Would Pay?

If Sound Transit funding priorities were reset in favor of Snohomish County, what other projects would be cancelled or delayed?

The Snohomish County board members point to “ST3 Core Priorities” adopted in 2015, which they characterize as “completing the Link Light Rail spine connecting Seattle, Tacoma, Everett and Bellevue, followed by prioritizing ridership and socioeconomic equity”. Those are constrained by subarea equity policies, but what if they were not?

On its face, ridership and socioeconomic equity would seem to paint a bulls-eye on the Eastside. However, the timing of Eastside projects, either very early in the cycle or far behind Everett, make them unlikely candidates for deferral to assist Snohomish County.

In a March interview with the Seattle Times, Ron Lucas, Mayor of Steilacoom and a Sound Transit Board Vice Chair, declared that he “would be an advocate to try and get Everett earlier,” and would consider removing infill stations. The stations at 130th St, Graham St, and Boeing Access Road are all scheduled to open in 2031. At a combined cost of $268 million, dropping three urban stations for a marginal acceleration of the Everett rail timeline is an obviously poor value.

Some Snohomish politicians have their eye on bigger game. At the County Council meeting in February where Paul Roberts was narrowly reappointed, Roberts repeated his “frustration that Ballard and West Seattle appear to be moving ahead of Everett”. Another Council member questioned “when did it become Sound Transit’s responsibility to transport people from Ballard into Seattle?”

Resetting Snohomish Priorities

In selecting ST3 projects, the Snohomish members demanded, and received, a rail alignment that served the Southwest Everett Industrial Center on its way to Everett. In doing so, they set aside more immediate traffic concerns. Today’s Paine Field lacks the sort of land use that makes transit effective, so rail is a bet that future development takes a more supportive form. There are significant trade-offs. Adding four miles of track and $1 billion dollars in capital, the deviation gains no net ridership, lengthens journeys between Everett and Lynnwood by ten minutes each way, and delays rail to Everett by several years. Even a spur rail line or BRT line from an I-5 alignment, could have been delivered earlier at less cost.

Snohomish County has considerable traffic challenges which light rail to Paine Field does not address unless land use in the area changes dramatically. If Snohomish County is serious about early rail to Everett to alleviate their considerable traffic challenges, reconsidering the Paine Field decision is a good place to start.

Smaller steps are possible. Rather than deliver Lynnwood-Everett rail as one project, a shorter extension to Ash Way and Mariner would enable excellent bus connections from all over South Snohomish County to the spine on an earlier timeline. Converting the congested HOV-2 lanes on I-5 to HOT or HOV-3 would move buses more quickly and reliably.

Snohomish leaders should also consider the overlooked I-405 corridor. That area has seen much faster growth than Everett. But Snohomish’ insistence on maximal resources for light rail left scarce capital dollars for stations on the single HOT lane section north of SR 522. As a result, BRT buses will run in general purpose traffic between Lynnwood and Bothell.

125 Replies to “Everett & subarea equity”

  1. It amazes me how people can argue that their city is more important than everybody else’s city (to the point where everybody else should subsidize them) with a straight face. We would get a lot more riders for the money if we turned it around and had Everett subsidize Ballard->UW.

      1. Tacoma has been saving up ST1 & 2 money for the extension so it has a large down payment. It has just been just waiting for Link to get to Federal Way.

    1. It’s based on their interpretation of ST’s charter and the ST1 and 2 votes in the 1990 s and 00 s, that Link’s primary purpose is for “regional transit”, or connecting King, pierce, and Snohomish Counties as represented by their largest cities, Seattle, Everett, Tacoma, and Bellevue. In their mind it’s not about favoring Everett but about getting the full value that Snohomish taxpayers were oromised and not letting it get whittled away by side concerns.

      The Paine Field detour has a slightly different reason, based on “if you build it, build it right”. I.e., it would be wrong for Link to not serve the county’s largest jobs center, and it’s critical for recruiting companies to it. That’s the way to reduce the commute imbalance of 70% of Snohomans working in King County: by having high-capacity transit to Paine, Everett, and Lynnwood jobs so traffic isn’t a deterrent.

      1. If ST3 is to be reconfigured to excise in-City lines — that IS what the gentlemen are advocating by questioning ST’s mandate — then the 2016 vote should be retaken. It’s hard to imagine Seattle being willing to tax itself enough to pass the measure.

      2. Give them BRT. It is within the budget of what they pay in. Maybe we can sell them some used RapidRide buses when we replace the D line with LR.

        And BRT is still regional.

      3. @Richard B,

        I completely concur. If the politicians in the burbs what to change what we voted on then let’s revote. I have no problem with such a thing.

        fair is fair.

      4. According to the ST Everett Link project web page, it’s going to take a rider 65 minutes to go between Downtown Everett and Westlake on Link. That’s about the same amount of time that it takes ST Express 510/512 today. Link won’t be any faster.


        In other words, there won’t be any travel time benefit to go between Everett and Seattle when it opens! Getting Link there faster may be the Snohomish goal, but they are ignoring that Link won’t be any faster on it gets there!

        Meanwhile, it Paine Field was built as a spur or a branch, Everett would be getting faster service — probably cutting the travel time into King County by 10 minutes..

        It really seems that these elected officials have missed the practical aspects of having a rail system. It seems to be more about image than reality.

      5. “Maybe we can sell them some used RapidRide buses when we replace the D line with LR.”

        The D’s hours will be redeployed into other Ballard RapidRides. Specifically the 40 and 44 and a Ballard-Lake City line (Fred Meyer – 15th – 85th – Northgate – Northgate Way – Lake City Fred Meyer).

        (The C’s hours will be redeployed into an Alki-Burien RapidRide, and an Express on Fauntleroy Way – SLU.)

      6. “In other words, there won’t be any travel time benefit to go between Everett and Seattle when it opens!”

        But it won’t be worse, and that’s the point. It will be immune to traffic congestion. The scheduled travel time from Everett Station to Westlake is 60 minutes, but the actual travel time stretches to 90 or 120 minutes when traffic is bad, or several hours when there’s a collision that blocks most or all of the I-5 lanes. Link will also run at 10-minute off-peak frequency instead of 15-30 minutes.

        The south end has it worse because Link to Federal Way and Tacoma will be around 15 minutes slower than ST Express’s average scheduled time. But FW and Tacoma have sworn up and down that they still want Link anyway because of the reliability and promoting jobs in the south end.

        Snohomish knew about the 10-minute delay to Everett Station and future downtown Everett, and wanted the Paine Field detour anyway. Well, be careful of what you wish for. But their argument is that connecting Paine Field to King County (for southern commuters) and to Everett Station (for northern commuters) is more important than the through travel time between Everett Station and Westlake. Go figure. They’re thinking about jobs in Snohomish County, and about shrinking the commute bias that has 70% of Snohomans working in King County.

      7. You point out the main problem here, Mike. A few elected officials decided what was best for ST3 in 2015-16, knowing that it wouldn’t happen until 2035. They also vetted the representative alignment very quickly for political popularity to get support by people that didn’t ride light rail in 2016.

        Now, rather than initiate station area planning strategies and things within their control, they now complain that ST is hurting them. It’s demonizing Seattle and ST – but showing no initiative to make it more compelling to change the construction schedule.

        Frankly, Link light rail is a fuzzy fantasy for these people. As awful as a delay sounds, having daily working rider experience from at least Northgate if not Lynnwood will help inform design decisions better. After all, it took real-time Link screw-ups like side platform stations, escalator skimping and at-grade street median tracks before many Seattle-area politicians better understood how rail operates. Waiting a few years to get insight is probably the wisest thing they could do.

      8. “In other words, there won’t be any travel time benefit to go between Everett and Seattle when it opens!“

        There will be intermediate stations though. Those intermediate stations allow people to go to Shoreline or Northgate. Or great gobs of north Seattle. All of that should become a bit easier and faster to access as intermediate stations have local connections that no longer require a long slow local bus.

      9. But, Glenn, nobody’s saying to cancel Lynnwood Link. Pretty much all the intermediate stations people want to go to are south of Lynnwood, so a frequent express bus to Lynnwood Link terminus would be no worse than the expensive Everett Link.

      10. William nailed it. This should be mandatory reading for anything wondering if Everett Link is a good idea.

        Everett Link and Tacoma Link are similar. Both projects were sold as a means to ease traffic or provide a connection to Seattle, but when you look at actual travel time it doesn’t do much.

        That is the crazy part about this. If you think of this as extremely expensive commuter rail, or city to city rail, it fails, because it is too slow. If you think of it as helping within those cities, then it is massively out of scale, and poorly designed. If Seattle didn’t exist, does anyone think that Tacoma would build a light rail line that went from SeaTac to the Tacoma Dome? It doesn’t even get to downtown Tacoma. Likewise with Everett. You are building a light rail system to serve the sprawling Boeing plants? Or to serve one tiny spot in a very small downtown area (with only a handful of stops)? It just doesn’t add up.

      11. Bingo. Snohomish County has been paying for it since the original measure in 1996 and still has no light rail to show for it, and probably won’t for another decade at least.

        So 30 year wait for a single line? Pretty lousy ROI for that area.

      12. Their current investments got them Sounder North and express buses.

  2. I generally think in return for hitting the pause button on West Seattle, home of many of the Sound Transit elite but also seemingly opposed by many there and, and making Paine Field a spur, we might have a deal.

    1. Not everybody’s, only transit-oriented-network fans. Snohomish will be coming after Ballard too, as Dan mentioned. I think the only ones that will be safe are DSTT2 and SLU, because they are so high-ridership, so regional, and essential to get people to those job centers. Because jobs are what pay for everything else. (Serving SLU implies and Interbay terminus so it’s not underground where it would have to be dug up again to be extended.)

    2. Indeed, the new Swift BRT line (which unlike I-405 looks to be actual BRT or close to it) is already going to Paine Field. Surely it could be upgraded enough to provide comparable travel time as the current Big Diversion Plan? Bonus if you can extend Swift to Mulkilteo! Only disadvantage I can see is that the BRT probably takes away from priority from cars (which are stuck in traffic anyway!). My understanding is that the Big Diversion adds around ten minutes to an Everett commute and increases the costs and perhaps construction time quite a bit. In light of the the increasing traffic congestion and Sno-Co’s disproportionate allocation in ST3, perhaps there is room for a deal. Perhaps it would pay for the Ballard high bridge, or some Rapid Ride lines that are being cut back from Move Seattle? At the very least, it should be on the table as an alternative! Or…can we get more Sounder North service?

      1. Berlin Tegel airport has no rail service, but decent bus service including an express to several train stations.

        I can’t imagine a scenario where Paine Field becomes as busy as Tegel.

        As popular as Future of Flight is, that could very well generate more riders than the airport terminal.

      2. Snohomish’s main concern is not the airport but the potential future jobs at the Everett Industrial Center. When they were showing the area to a German company, the company asked what kind of high-capacity transit it had. When they were told none, they were aghast because in Germany a company wouldn’t even be allowed to build a plant without a transit plan in place, either a station on a planned line or a spur to it. So the company was unlikely to choose Everett because of it. This shook Snohomish County politicians, and they decided that Paine Field must have high-capacity transit, and they’re going for a Link detour rather than a spur.

      3. There’s one other issue, Mike. The Industrial Center is very low density and very spread out — with free parking. St is only proposing 1 or 2 Link stations there. It’s not a practical walk from the station site to most of the possible development sites.

      4. I’m not endorsing the idea; I’m just saying why Snohomish is doing it.

  3. Because of course they were going to start gunning for everyone’s favorite punching bag, West Seattle…

  4. At the County Council meeting in February where Paul Roberts was narrowly reappointed, Roberts repeated his “frustration that Ballard and West Seattle appear to be moving ahead of Everett”.

    I guess if you ignore the fact that Central Link and U-Link are operational, Northgate Link is three years out and Lynnwood Link is just behind that, all critical pieces of Everett Link, and that even ordering the ceremonial golden shovels for the Ballard/West Seattle Links is almost a decade off, then I guess he has an argument?

    1. Those are in ST2. His point seems to be that if we postponed then until after Everett and put all that money into Everett first, we could finish Everett in 2030 instead of 2035.

      1. My point is that there’s at least LRT currently being built in the direction of Everett and the alignment is more or less straightforward (barring any Payne Field shenanigans). It will be a cold day in political hell before LRT gets cancelled to Everett.

        The Ballard/WS lines are all new infrastructure that can potentially be cancelled with the delete button on a keyboard if needed. Especially if the ST board were to ever become directly elected.

        He can’t say with a straight face that Ballard/West Seattle appear to be moving ahead of Everett.

    2. I think he may be referring to the ongoing alternatives scoping work being done for West Seattle/Ballard and Tacoma to a lesser extent, while Everett isn’t scheduled to kick off that process until 2020.

  5. No. This weekend I went out to the Olympic Peninsula. The roads are in perfect condition. They have public transit. The schools are in good repair and have playing fields. There are essentially no people.

    The demands for urban areas to subsidize rural at the expense of our own needs are never ending. It’s gotten way beyond ridiculous.

    1. Karma? Quite conceivable that in the near future everyone on here might be priced out of King County as well. Unless we can convince Seattle to remove their condo/apartment bans city wide.

    2. Please save this topic for an open thread. In the meantime, Everett is not rural.

    3. Moving, I used to pay urban and subsidize rural too, ’til a multimegaton surprise attack obliterated my residence in Ballard in a white hot flash of radioactive greed. [ot]

      Sound Transit’s birth name was Joint REGIONAL Transit Project. Maybe Raggedy Pout-Fit of Subareas And Transit Agencies That Hate Each Other wouldn’t fit on letterhead. Or in front of the X on Route 574. Because forty years ago, some Republicans looked worldwide and saw that only defense against mutual local impoverishment is to govern ourselves as a region. Roughly the range a purple southern Swedish electric bullet-train can cover in an hour and a half.

      After Ballard departure, not planning on permanent stay at present address. But one piece of shiny rail lining the concrete and tarmac-colored cloud. Unabating wave of ethno-econometric cleansing is forcing ever-wealthier occupiers into every county southeast of Clallam. Good chance their traumatized early age relocation will give a lot of them same view of SRS (Speculative Residential Syndrome) as mine.

      A disease whose cure will make the very size of a region into a force for wide-spread well-being and freedom. I like Paul Roberts, and Dave Earling used to be a neighbor of mine in Edmonds. So I’m more than willing to trade them some taxes of mine for their help moving ST’s southern border a river or two south. Coupled with resulting increased economic productivity, improving boring and elevating machinery should make Ballard and West Seattle part of this effort, rather than a permanent set of endlessly conflicting demands.

      Mark Dublin

      For about a year after I moved in, it was easy and enjoyable to take transit to Seattle. OIympia to Tacoma, Intercity Transit, and excellent bus line, one hour. Absent two route deviations, could’ve been forty minutes. Coffee stop by the History Museum. Streetcar to Tacoma Dome. To Seattle, either Sounder or my own favorite, ST 574 to Sea-Tac to LINK. 594 gets stuck at Spokane Street.

      Now, very enjoyable drive through Steilacoom, after a motionless I-5 mile between two ramps. Park near my favorite cafe in High Point. Above transit from there, starting with free streetcar ride. Dome parking lot full by 9. Love my car’s very low fuel and maintenance expense due to avoiding a barely-mobile linear wrecking yard 30 miles long. Don’t fret, though. Day by day, you’re getting ever less rurality to subsidise

  6. “dropping three urban stations for a marginal acceleration of the Everett rail timeline is an obviously poor value.”

    Well yeah, removing 130th street would be very bad. But the other two urban stations?

    Graham street is in the lowest ridership section of Link outside maybe Stadium station.

    Boeing Access Road is even lower than that at zero riders. Presumably there will be a few people going to Public Storage on Link there, but the rest Sound Transit will have to buy at 1-3 riders per parking spot they build there.

    I think the primary benefit of removing those stations wouldn’t be the cost savings, as they’re small, but time savings on the south part of the spine. Once built out to Tacoma, Graham street will slow down more people per day than how many people actually use Graham street in a year.

    1. BAR’s value is as a Link/Bus/Sounder/Amtrak multimodal transfer station. The only one between King Street Station and Tacoma Dome Station. Not to mention just a few minutes on Link from SeaTac.

    2. Tukwila pushed hard for BAR; that’s why it’s there. It wants to reorganize the A and 124 to terminate at BAR. It cited a new urban village at 144th, the museum of flight, and Aviation High School as reasons for BAR. Metro’s plans for the 150 terminate at BAR. (Plus a Seatte-Kent-Auburn express.)

    3. Tukwila has rezoned around Boeing Access Road station. I don’t know the specifics but Tukwila is making huge bets on density and proximity to Seattle.

      1. There is a very large amount of re-developable land around Graham and MLK that could allow more people to live or work near the Rainier Valley stations It has similar potential as Othello, and Mt. Baker. If only we could convince our council members to upzone it to a reasonable level. There is no reason why property along MLK from Orcas to Webster St. should have a height limit under 65′. Many areas should be even higher than that.

    4. For bus transfers, I don’t think there’s a compelling reason why they can’t be done at Rainier Beach. Metro’s LRP vision map shows the 150 and A-line terminating at Rainier Beach.

      How big of a priority is it to be able to transfer from Link to Sounder? To what, get to Seattle? Because Link is so slow due to (wait for it) the high number of stops?

      And the TOD thing may get some steam, but I’m not optimistic. As pointed out frequently on the blog, things like freewaytopia and parking land tend not to be very walkable or conducive to TOD, and BAR will be both. I’m not convinced.

      1. General question on subject of future use. Everybody in this discussion: How far ahead are you most comfortable thinking?


      2. Alex, the only reasonable bus turn-around/station at RBS is in the power line right of way, two stop lights and some hike from the platforms. If they were north of Henderson, it would be different, but they’re not, and WashDOT isn’t going to allow a bus every three or four minutes to stop south of Henderson on Martin Luther King Blvd. If ST built an elevated station over the light rail station, then “Yes! Build a bus intercept at RBS.” Otherwise BAR is better.

        At least there the bus stops can be directly alongside the escalators. Marginal Way at 110th is a much smaller street than MLK is.

      3. A small elevated Rainier Beach Transit Center integrated with a bus turnaround from NB MLK to SB over the tracks with a stairway down to (conveniently) a center platform at RBS would be awesome. Much cheaper and quicker to build than BAR station with possibly bad bus transfers.

      4. As more and folks from SE Seattle are displaced to SKC high quality transit connections between the two will grow in importance.

        ST3 will have some kind of Sounder improvements, likely frequency but it will depend on how hard BNSF tries to play its hand. If there is an ST4 whether King County only or regional, Sounder will likely be an even larger focus now that the spine is complete. And unlike actually building a line, service on existing ROW can start as soon as the equipment comes in.

    5. I was on my phone and couldn’t verify the LRP. The LRP has the 150 going through BAR station to Rainier Beach station. So those from the south will probably transfer at BAR because it’s elevated from there to Rainier Beach and no stops. The LRP also has five other routes at BAR station in addition the A and 150.

      1. Hmmm. Why not carry it on over to Rainier which will always be a bigger activity center. The hill to the west and utility right of way in the northeast quadrant cripple RBS’s opportunities for development.

      2. The reason we’re getting BAR is that the cities want it. Whether that’s the best bus routing or not, that’s what the situation is.

        Having the buses continue to Rainier & Henderson is a detail issue that can be pushed for when a concrete reorg proposal comes up. The first question will be, do people from all over south King County really want to go to Rainier & Henderson? Do they just love Beer Sheva Park and that particular Safeway? Seconds, is it worth the additional service minutes? Third, is there enough layover space there?

      3. I was writing specifically about the 150 which serves SouthCenter not every bus that might serve RBS if it is the bus-intercept. But your point about that being a question for another day is a good one.

        Basically I think BAR is a better location because there is the opportunity to build ramps from the center HOV highway to parallel 599 as far as East Marginal Way South. They’d have to drop down to freeway level before the Link overcrossing, but there’s room for it. That would mean buses from all over south King County would have HOV access to the station. To access RBS they’ll have to migrate across five lanes of traffic through those tight curves.

        BUT, with an elevated bus station as mentioned above it would be worth improving the ramps to MLK. There are more potential connections there than at BAR.

    6. Graham Street and Boeing Access Road each are near large parcels of land that can be easily developed as mixed use or higher density housing. Graham Street, depending on the exact position of the station, has shopping centers with parking. It’s a new urban village waiting to happen.

      130th Street, by contrast, has almost exclusively single family housing on small lots, as well as a golf course and a park. Sound Transit would have found better sites for future housing by following the north end of Aurora to Lynnwood.

      1. Aurora would have been better. And in fact I expect that if the flood of climate change refugees I expect do come Aurora will have its own line which will produce an urban center between 130th and 145th to rival Lynnwood’s.

      2. “130th Street, by contrast, has almost exclusively single family housing on small lots, as well as a golf course and a park.”

        There’s an urban village a mile to the east and another a mile to the west. And potential for upzoning the area near Rossevelt, which the city is interested in. Those are the reasons for 130th station. Without it those nodes of density would have a much longer trip to Link. And we’re trying to get the county to designate Lake City as a urban growth center like Northgate and Totem Lake, so that it would be must-serve for high-capacity transit.

  7. The blurring of geographies seems to happen lots with Everett. Are we talking about Snohomish County, the ST district in Snohomish County or Everett?

    Snohomish County and Everett have ST Express and Sounder North and that isn’t supposed to change.

    Snohomish County is planned to have two light rail stations hy 2024.

    Everett has a similar population to Renton (no Link), and less than Kent (only Link at the west edge).

    Everett could have Link years sooner if not for the Paine Field diversion — a low density area with free parking and only a few planned airline flights.

    I understand their current traffic frustration. Still, without encouraging high-rise buildings and paid parking, I am not convinced that there is any compelling need to change their current advantageous deal.

    PS. I expect the 128th St SW and Airport Road résidents to kick up a fuss.

    1. “Are we talking about Snohomish County, the ST district in Snohomish County or Everett?”

      All three. The county is saying this, the city is saying this” and these three board members represent the Snohomish subarea. You can look through the Seattle Times archives to find statements by Snohomish County and Everett.

    2. Kent has Sounder (he says while about to move a few hundred feet from Kent Station.

      1. Everett already has Sounder too! They just don’t ride it like folks in Kent do. Thus, Sounder offers only have four trips a day because there is no incentive to negotiate for higher frequency..

      2. The problem with Sounder North is that Everett is too spread out.

        Sounder North would probably get decent ridership if it were a Seattle – Bellingham train. Germany’s regional express trains that fulfill a similar role (long distance commute and short distance intercity) are fairly popular.

  8. The fact that Snoho is using up 26% of ST’s bonding capacity really points to the next major expansion being King County only.

    1. A lot of things could tear ST4 apart, but I think bonding capacity is too abstract for most voters.

      The main factor is how much each subarea still wants enough to put into an ST4 measure. The only thing Snoho has mentioned is extending Link to Everett CC. The only thing Pierce has mentioned is extending it to Tacoma Mall. East King hasn’t said much except vaguely Kirkland. So will they be interested in enough projects to pay for Ballard-UW and one or two other Seattle lines?

      Another factor is if federal grants dry up or shrink. That could cut Everett and Paine Field off right there. It could also cause scaling back of future or current plans.

      The main assumption is that once Everett and Tacoma have theirs (meaning Everett Station and Tacoma Dome), the differences between the subareas will become much greater than it has been, and that could make a unified ST4 measure more difficult. An alternative would be to split the tax district, but that would require legislative approval and splitting the board (or at least split which boardmembers vote on which projects).

      1. Why can’t Seattle send a bunch of money to ST for specific urban projects? Thinking a Move Seattle v.2 but for rail..

      2. It can and does. Seattle money expedited the Ballard-UW study, and that catalyzed advancing the rest of ST3 to 2016 instead of the 2020s. Seattle can give ST money for anything it wants; it just has to find the money. And of course ST can accept or refuse the work. Right now it’s likely to say its staff is maxed out through 2041, there isn’t enough slack in the job market to find more workers, and it may be reluctant to do anything that’s not in ST’s LRP or complementary to it. So Ballard-UW is OK, Lake City planning is OK, but Metro 8 maybe hell no.

      3. I think Seattle should spend its self-funded light rail line on something that’s popular in the city but unlikely to ever be considered by ST for a 3-county measure. This may or may not be Ballard-UW. Right now it’s under study by ST, so it very well could become part of ST4 because it’s a next logical step as far as ST is concerned.

        I think Seattle really ought to do is spring for a line that includes First Hill, since the FHSC is the sorriest excuse for a replacement for a light rail station you could possibly imagine, and ST does not seem interested in doing anything more for First Hill. I think ST would have no choice but to bow in under pressure from Seattle. If there is enough support from Seattle to independently fund this line and pass a measure (which I think would handily achieve 60%), then ST would be absolutely stupid to reject that, and the backlash would be huge (“ST stole Seattle’s subway”).

      4. “Seattle money expedited the Ballard-UW study”

        Sorry, I meant the Ballard-downtown study. McGinn championed Ballard-downtown and put city money into expediting the study. The other subareas said, “Oh really, we want to expedite our studies too.” That led to some six corridor studies being advanced, and Ballard-UW was one of them. But Ballard-downtown got the most extensive study with two open houses because of Seattle’s extra money.

    2. I’ve said it before: ST4 is probably going to have “fixes” for capacity and station issues. For example, South King could gladly pay partly for a Duwamish Bypass. Snohomish residents could will be willing partly pay for some sort of bypass to avoid the overcrowded trains and 16 stops to Westlake — like additional bypass tracks or a Ballard extension to interline or connect with North Link tracks.

      Having to wait until several trains just to finally squeeze onto a crowded Link train and stand awhile on a trip to Everett would be a powerful motivator. I wouldn’t be surprised if Everett-bound Link riders go backwards to ID Station just to get a seat (which happens in other crowded systems).

      1. Yep. But having a train that’s too successful is better than having a train that’s empty.

      2. News flash: I already do that coming down off Capitol Hill to catch the 512 to Everett at Union Station.

      3. Bypass tracks won’t be built. It is just too much money for two little benefit. There might be additional lines built, but they will have about the same number of stops/mike as the current system, and they are just as likely to be partially street running.

        But get the buses out of the DSTT and things get instantly better. Link can go to higher frequency, quicker transit times, interlining, etc. some options might require more rolling stock, but that problem is about to be solved too

        But we really need to get the buses out of the DSTT

      4. “South King could gladly pay partly for a Duwamish Bypass.”

        There was a Duwamish Bypass in the long-range plan in 2013. South King and Pierce were so uninterested in it that it was deleted from the LRP without even a yawn from then. At the same time they was insisting that Link must, must, MUST, reach the Federal Way Transit Center and Tacoma Dome in ST3.

        I wrote feedback saying the Federal Way travel time would be 50-55 minutes and Tacoma Dome would be 75 minutes. At first I thought they just didn’t understand it. But after the travel time warning was repeated again and again by transit fans I think they do understand it; they just don’t think it’s a problem, and they don’t think a bypass track in North King is worth it. Their assumption is that I-5 will get slower and slower and by the 2030s it will be as slow as Link anyway, and in any case they want their line to the airport and companies and workers and visitors coming to Tacoma.

      5. They’re also following the natural suburban tendency to think exclusive about rush hour when they think about transit. They figure I-5 will get worse enough during rush hour that people will still ride the train, even if it takes an hour; at other times, people can just drive down the freeway and let the trains run empty.

      6. I5 can get congested pretty much any time of day. It’s not just a rush hour problem anymore.

        But yes, the most compelling use case for Link is for commuters, which is true for … every big-city transit agency? Moving large amount of people in & out of job centers during rush hour is the primary reason Sound Transit exists. Seems logical to design the system with that in mind.

      7. Rush hour already spreads into the midday at random and will become an all day phenomenon.

        Even if there is no traffic the trains won’t be empty. People Wil ride a 10-minute grade-separated train more easily than they’ll ride a 39-minute unreliable traffic-prone bus, especially if they’re going to one of the Link stations outside downtown that would require an additional transfer and half-hour overhead on a bus.

      8. Pierce and South King are interested in this metric.
        Tacoma Dome to SeaTac Airport: 35 minutes.

        Time to get to Seattle or Everett or Bellevue isn’t that interesting, from the electeds perspective.

      9. All day and weekend Sounder possibly with DMUs will likely be both better transit and a better vote getter in SKC than the Duwamish bypass.

      10. Seattleite, and massively more expensive. Every “slot” will cost at least $50 million, so to run Sounder at a useful frequency of even every 30 minutes through the mid-day would cost on the order of a billion dollars. The bypass can be constructed as an elevated line for perhaps $200 million and at grade by taking a lane of Airport Way and the adjacent strip of land next to the rail ROW, less than $100 million.

        Grant that eliminates a South Park station but a Duwamish crossing for that small area is not a good investment.

        Big difference.

  9. Was ST’s approval of ST3 unanimous or did Roberts, Darling, and Somers vote no? If they voted yes, it’s kind if sour grapes to be complaining about the priorities now.

  10. It was suburbs like Everett that pushed so hard for subarea equity in the first place, under the perpetually incorrect assumption that they would otherwise be subsidizing Seattle.

    You reap what you sow. You wanted subarea equity, now you live with the consequences. You want light rail sooner? Then accept some compromises (revisiting the pointless detour to Paine Field, quit demanding the never ending scope creep along Lynnwood Link, etc.).

    1. Lol. I love that “scope creep” talking point. I’ll trade you $100 million for scope creep for $100 million of mitigation costs. (The University of Washington got $78.5 million in mitigation from ST, $10 million of which was due to the loss of parking spaces, some temporary and some permanent, at Husky Stadium. Where was the outrage then?)

      1. Yes, there was. Folks here give UW an F- for its current support for transit. It was great at one time, but the parsimonious legislature has forced it to make choices, and most of its choices favor wealthy alumni, tenured academia, and administrative bureaucrats.

        Students suck at the hind tit, especially as regards transportation.

      2. UW had great support for transit at one point?

        UW can’t blame it on money because it might have cost UW nothing to put the station on campus or to have bus stops or layovers closer to the station. Some alumni stadium parking might be lost; that’s not enough money to make a difference in UW’s budget. UW vetoed all alternatives up front before any cost estimates were made.

      3. It did. It originally paid for most of the cost of the “U-Link” service that Metro now runs on its own dime. Now that may have been the agreed plan, but it was greater support for transit.

      4. That was because of a state law requiring UW to get its SOV mode share down in order to expand, because more Montlake parking lots weren’t in the cards, not to mention the squeeze to the 520 interchange.

    2. The most shameful part of ST3 is the roughly 10 percent contingency for every big project. FTA recommends 30 percent for early planning. It probably would have killed the ballot measure if the board had to do it right.

      Just get ready folks! Cost cutting is coming!

  11. I have to wonder what the subarea equity would be if Shoreline and the 522 cities were added to Snohomish rather than be in North King and East King. I would think that there would be less money for Snohomish. The subarea line at the county already seems to favor Snohomish.

    1. I’m not sure that shifting the subarea boundary would make much difference at all. The North King subarea includes Seattle, Shoreline, and Lake Forest Park. The latter two cities have a combined 68,682 people according to 2015 Census estimates, while Seattle had 683,505 in the same year. Based on population alone, that would indicate Shoreline and Lake Forest Park should have about one Link station for every ten in Seattle. I think it’s reasonable to allocate Seattle a bit of a bigger share than this because of the huge number of jobs here, making it the destination for a lot of trips that start elsewhere.

      Even so, by my count the ST3 plan would have 29 Link stations within Seattle, two in Shoreline and none in Lake Forest Park. I don’t see any strong reason to believe Shoreline is getting an unfairly high portion of the North King pie, especially when considering that nearly half the walkshed of the southern Shoreline station is across the city limits in Seattle.

  12. Gosh. A lot to think about here. I want my tax dollars to serve as many people as effectively as possible, so spending the most money on the projects that serve the most people is important to me. But, as a taxpayer in a highly suburban area barely within King County, who has zero ties to Seattle, I definitely feel short changed. Pierce and Snohomish Counties both need to start seeing progress soon. 10 to 20 years out just seems so far in the future. Its frustrating when you were the one who got priced out of Seattle by a bunch of overpaid programmers who just showed up, have never paid into the system, and yet, I get to continue paying in, despite now not being able to use it for another 20 years. I know that the solution is to have better public financing of public-good projects like these and prioritization of the proper modes of transportation over roads-exclusively at the legislature, but that’s a different battle.

    1. Halt all WSDOT construction projects within King, Pierce, and Snohomish Counties and divert ALL of the dedicated funds to accelerating Sound Transit 3.

      1. So you’re proposing a constitutional amendment, then? Because that gas tax money is constitutionally dedicated to highways.

      2. I wouldn’t be opposed to an amendment to the state constitution. 1. Revise the gas tax allocation to “transportation” instead of “highways.” Auto travel is unsustainable. 2. Add an income tax so that the wealthy who benefit (rather than suffer) from our thriving economy pay their fair share of costs for things like education, transportation, law enforcement, and public ports. Lots of other states have more progressive tax structures that include an income tax. There’s no reason that we can’t have one and also be competitive.

      3. @Engineer, a state income tax is perfectly constitutional. It just has to be a flat tax.

        You can definitely argue a flat tax’s suboptimal, but it’s also almost certainly better than the current situation.

      4. Flat rate. Flat money – a poll tax – would be even worse than the current system.

      5. So the State of Washington can have a flat-rate income tax and that’s in accordance with its Constitution? Why in the world hasn’t that been adopted? Sure, it’s way less progressive than a graduated income tax, but if it’s 5% it taxes a person with a million dollar income $50,000 per year. Perhaps exemptions would be unconstitutional and that would be a problem for poor people, but where are the initiatives for a one or two percent levy? That would go a LONG way towards school funding.

      6. Voters voted it down several times and sent the politicians who proposed it packing. Most people are afraid that even if the state promises to lower the sales tax to make it revenue-neutral, it will eventually creep back up to where it is now, and then we’ll be paying a high sales tax and an income tax and property tax. That was the argument in the 70s, 80s, 90s, and 00s, when the middle class was doing all right. Now they’re really squeezed by high housing prices, medical expenses, and gas (which was less than $2 then) while the rich are getting off practically tax-free (and their national counterparts are busy slashing their own taxes and trying to dismantle the social-safety net), that there’s more support for income tax. But it’s iffy whether it will reach critical mass in our lifetimes.

    2. “Its frustrating when you were the one who got priced out of Seattle by a bunch of overpaid programmers who just showed up”

      They’re not the purpetrators. The purpetrators are the city councils that refused to upzone to match the population increase and prevent rents and condo prices from being bid up so drastically. If the zoning had been relaxed, rents would have increased at less than their early 2000s level. But the lack of upzoning created more competition for scarce units, and when new wealthy residents came they were able to outcompete existing residents. The new residents didn’t cause the problem: they weren’t here when the decisions were decided, and they may even support upzoning. Tell your city council that HALA is completely inadequate and they need to upzone the 69% of land that’s single-family only to lowrise, not just ADUs. That’s what Chicago has, and why its rents didn’t skyrocket when its population increased.

      1. What “my” City council does won’t influence Seattle. I have and continue to petition my City council to do what it can to densify the suburbs.

    3. Why do you think you will never have any ties to Seattle. Either you could get your dream job there, or your worst nightmare will come true when Seattle expands like a dying sun and eats your subarea.

      Whole purpose of regional transit is so you have widest possible choices where you live and work.
      With freedom to change both locations as easily as possible. I didn’t expect three weeks’ notice to leave Ballard- but decent regional transit would’ve left me hating Seattle-as-it-is a lot less.

      And for the future, giving me at least a chance to get back in there and fix it.


      1. I can assure you that I’ll never get a job there that’s worth the hell of a commute, or that pays enough for the difference in cost of housing PLUS for my spouse to uproot and spend months looking for a new job as well, plus closing costs on a home, etc, etc, etc. I actually earned a nice pay raise moving to Tacoma from Bellevue. I can only guess that firms offering similar services need to price competitively, and that the difference in cost of office space/rent is significant enough in a place like Bellevue that it noticeably cuts into employee salaries.

        Will the urban area expand and densify? Yes. Will Seattle annex everything down into Pierce County? Highly unlikely. Will Tacoma always be Tacoma. Probably.

        I don’t know of a scenario where I’ll be given three weeks’ notice to move. Foreclosures usually take months, not weeks.

      2. Seattle will not annex anything except maybe White Center and Skyway. Annexation went out of fashion in the 1950s after 145th was annexed, because the adjacent areas no longer wanted to be part of large cities.

    4. ST is not just Link. Seattle (and the rest of North King) saw zero Sound Transit rides for years while the first phase of Link was being created,while the other subareas got ST Express and Sounder. You don’t get to cry about it.

      1. Pre-Link, when I lived in Seattle, I took lots of ST rides. My job was in Bellevue, and cheap-ish rent was in Seattle. 540, 545, and 550 were routes that I frequently took to work. 564 & 565 to visit family on weekends. I’m trying to think of a time when Seattle got zero ST rides. Nope, I’m coming up with nothing.

  13. So, what authority do they have to “change the vote” of ST3 or their own votes in favor of the proposals?

    Can North King revote (particularly after the current threat from Amazon to halt construction because of the headtax) we could switch Ballard to downtown through Interbay into Ballard to UW? /s

    1. Right now it’s just hot air. But the three could make a concrete proposal to restructure subarea equity. I’m not sure if the board can do it on its own or if it would require legislative approval. Whether it can be imposed on existing ST2 and 3 projects is another legal issue that would have to be addressed.

      All of this depends on the exact legal basis underlying subarea equity, changing subarea equity, and substituting projects, and we might as well add extending the tax period. ST’s standard position is it can’t/won’t change subarea equity, and it can’t/won’t build non-voter-approved projects while voter-approved projects are unfinished. How much it really can’t is a question for a lawyer. But there’s probably a categorical difference between reprioritizing ST3 projects vs substituting a new corridor.

      1. The specific ST3 projects are voter approved, so to replace a project with something different would require a new public vote, with or without subarea equity.

  14. “Rather than deliver Lynnwood-Everett rail as one project, a shorter extension to Ash Way and Mariner would enable excellent bus connections from all over South Snohomish County to the spine on an earlier timeline.”

    It’s interesting to note that the first version of ST2 from 2007 included two more Link stations north of the Lynnwood TC, one at Alderwood Blvd and another ar Ash Way P&R. It was very shortsighted to remove the Ash Way station from the revised 2008 ST2 plan.

    Additionally, I posted some commentary last week on another thread where the subject matter of subarea equity came up. My purpose was to illustrate how the whole thing is kind of an accounting charade in practice when you actually look at the numbers. For example, for the eight-year period from 2009-2016, the SnoCo subarea has added $335 million to the general reserve, whereas the North King subarea has actually run in the red and drawn on the general reserve by some $89 million during this same time period. Of course, things are supposed to all balance out at the end of the ST2 financial plan.

    1. “Accounting charade…”

      Any given year’s cash accounting should look lopsided from a subarea perspective, shouldnt it? Current year funds should go to pay current year invoices. Some years that means U-Link, others it means Federal Way, others it will mean Everett. You have to build from the inside –> out. Otherwise you’d have absurd subarea outcomes, building guideway to nowhere in a county just because it has extra money that year, or halting a project just short of a subarea line because that subarea was short a million bucks while the next subarea a few blocks away lay awash in cash.

      Yes, everyone pays for the lines moving outward from the core, and then everyone pays all the way to their respective termini. Subarea equity ensures that expenditures are proportional to subarea revenue as forecast in the year of the ballot measure, and that it all evens out by the end.

      They’re basically getting 405 brt and maintenance for free and they will enjoy disproportionate access to debt compared to subareas with little need to bond, such as East King and Pierce. They lobbied for subarea equity back in the day, and they asked for Paine Field, and these are the consequences. As the article tactfully lays out, they’re getting a good deal.

      1. This wasn’t a “given year”. This is the data from the eight-year period 2009-2016. As I stated, it is intended to all balance out at the end of the ST2 financial plan in 2023, now 2024. We shall see.

      2. ST has said that subarea equity means it all comes out even in the end, not that it’s even at every moment. The law behind subarea equity, as it was described in a board meeting, is just a disclosure requirement: ST must disclose how much of the subarea’s money benefits the subarea. ST interprets that as the final accounting, not every intermediate step.

      3. @Mike Orr. Lol. Well, we are still waiting for that “final accounting” on subarea equity for Sound Move then.

  15. They could also get money to accelerate Link to Everett by killing Sounder north, with it’s $32/boarding subsidy. Not only is this not on the table, but they want to continue to run it forever, even after Link goes to Everett – even though it’s just a couple minutes faster than Link to King St. station, at best – Paine Field Deviation and all.

    1. Sounder North has been a disaster and should’ve been killed a while ago. I think it hasn’t been because of the exhorbitant amount of money sunk into the BNSF use rights. On this I think SnoCo’s ST board members need a reality check.

      1. Yeah it’s a huge waste as is. It either needs to be rebranded as something special (say full-service restaurant on board), something useful (say more stops like Interbay or Ballard), transferred to a regional rail agency to take it further north (maybe as far as Bellingham) or simple cancelled in 2036.

    2. ST’s argument is that it doesn’t want to cancel a voter-approved service, because it thinks it has a responsibility to run it forever. ST Express is defined as interim service, meaning it’s expected to be canceled when high-capacity transit supercedes it, but Sounder is a primary service.

  16. The regional Link spine has scoliosis, with its deviation to Paine Field. Link should serve pedestrian centers. Everett has a street grid and pedestrians. If I-5 travel times are too long, let’s ask the Legislature to impose variable tolling on the limited access highways.

  17. If ST3’s cost proves too much for the actual revenues and grants, then it will have to be scaled back. There are several good Snohomish suggestions in the article, and canceling Sounder North is another. In a best-case tradeoff we might be able to postpone West Seattle without affecting any other North King projects. The board and city council were adamantly against that in the run-up to ST3, just like Snohomish is adamently against reorganizing Paine Field or phasing Everett Link, but those objections may not be able to stand up over time. That’s a best-case scenario. In a worst-case scenario, North King would be gutted for Everett. In another worst-case scenario, all subareas would have to be scaled back to painful levels.

  18. What’s weird about Snohomish County is its small area in ST’s taxing district. Pierce County’s area goes all the way down to DuPont, though it’s only getting light rail to Tacoma. Snohomish County’s area tapers off completely at Everett, and light rail is planned to go basically to the edge. The next best example of this is Issaquah, which is getting light rail to the edge of the ST district, and in this case it can connect to an ST2 line within the same subarea (and it also doesn’t have a Sounder line in the same subarea either).

    I wonder how different this would look if Marysville was annexed into the ST district, in return for ST extending the 510, 512, and 532, building out Link one stop further to Everett Community College, and extending north Sounder to Marysville?

    1. If Marysville were annexed, it would be that much harder to get anything to pass at the ballot box. They’d vote “no” every time.

    2. The ST district is unbalanced. Pierce has a lot of exurban land but Snohomish has the opposite. So Spanaway, DuPont, and Orting are in, while Marysville, Lake Stevens, Snohomish city, and Monroe are out. Some have called that screwed maneuvering by the Pierce delegation and admirable restraint by Snohomish.

      Another interpretation is that Pierce is planning for reasonable growth around JBLMand the underdeveloped area south of Puyallup and Parkland.

      A third interpretation is that Snohomish failed to predict that its fastest growth would be in Marysville, or that it allowed its zoning to contradict its ST estimate, and so it has growing cities outside the ST tax district that will need indirect service (at P&Re in the district. Island County is another burden for Snohomish, since people from the Mukilteo ferry expect regional transit from the multimodal terminal.

      A fair approach to rectify this might be to bring Marysville and the Bothell-Everett highway into the ST district (the latter may be already), and more controversially Monroe. But the most acute need is Marysville. But if we bring them in, then we’ll have to extend at least ST Express to them, and there will be clamors for more. Sounder could be extended to Marysville. And the more we extend the boundary, the more No votes we bring in, so that could endanger any ST measure.

      1. Northwest and Northeast Seattle are a lot like Orting, only they’ve paid more into ST and have gotten nothing, ever.

      2. Northeast Seattle is about to get extremely reliable access to downtown and the Airport at three new stations. Transferring at Roosevelt and U-District stations should be much less traffic impeded and more comfortable than the current business at Husky Stadium.

        It would have been even better if there had been passageways under 65th and 12th so that riders wouldn’t have to cross those streets to access the station, but penny-wise pound-foolish Sound Transit refused to plan for them.

      3. Northwest and northeast Seattle aren’t cities, so they don’t count. Ballard-Fremont and Lake City should have been designated urban growth centers from the beginning, then they would have been must-serve by HCT just as Lynnwood was. But the county’s formula weighs jobs more heavily than housing. So when Lynnwood, Bel-Red, Totem Lake, Issaquah, and Federal Way were willing to upzone for a lot more jobs, they met the threshold, while Ballard-Fremont and Lake City, which have more of an even balance of jobs and housing, didn’t have enough jobs to meet the threshold. That’s why Lynnwood was a requirement for Link and 522 BRT but Lake City was ignored. I’m hoping the county can be convinced to improve its formula or give Ballard-Fremont and Lake City an exception. But it will be too late for ST2 and ST3.

  19. I give the authors credit. It is a clever argument. Attack subarea equity on social justice grounds. Implicit in their argument is that Everett to Lynnwood is a better value than anything built in Seattle (because … traffic).

    But that is simply not the case. By every measure, Everett to Lynnwood is a terrible value. Even by ST’s numbers, which tend to skew towards suburban riders, it is a bad value. In terms of riders per dollar spent, it sits well below every single project in Seattle (https://www.thetransportpolitic.com/2016/04/06/youve-got-50-billion-for-transit-now-how-should-you-spend-it/). In terms of time saved per rider, it is surely to end up being much worse. Many riders (e. g. someone headed from Everett to Seattle at noon) will likely *lose time* by getting on the train earlier. The costs stated are just capital costs. In terms of maintenance costs, they are again worse. The longer the system, the more it costs to maintain. The fewer the riders per hour, the less you get back with fares. The spine was a terrible idea way back when, and as the region has grown (mostly in the city proper) it has fallen farther and farther behind even mediocre projects in Seattle.

    The authors had a chance to propose something that helped way more of their constituents, but they failed. Instead they have focused on something few transit experts would embrace. If they had passed something better for the region (such as improvements in bus service, good integration with Lynnwood Link along with a lot more right of way) then I think they would have a case. But Everett Link won’t help that many people — there is no reason to move money around so that it can be built sooner.

  20. Interesting timing on this. After the ST3 projects are all done, and ST2 projects are well on their way, folks in Snohomish County want to end subarea equity.

    Of course they do. They get very little out of Seattle ST3 projects. They don’t benefit that much from Ballard rail, and benefit even less from West Seattle Link. I would have loved it if Snohomish County representatives pushed for Ballard to UW rail instead of West Seattle Link, but they basically kept out of it. They figured each area can build what is best for them (although we didn’t) because each area is paying for it.

    But now, after all that is built, they want to change the rules, which are arguably unfair to begin with. Put aside ridership (which is dominated by Seattle projects) or times savings (ditto) and just look at what parts are going to be used by people outside their subarea. Lots of Seattle people will take the train to Bellevue and Redmond. Some take it to the airport. But very few will ever ride from Seattle to Tacoma on the (very slow) Link, and even fewer will take Link to Everett. There really is no reverse commute right now. The buses work just fine if you happen to live in Seattle, and work in Everett. When Link gets to Northgate, they will work even better.

    In contrast, the part of the system that was paid for only by people in Seattle is of course vital to those in Snohomish County who use Link. Lynnwood to 145th would be useless without the Seattle line. Everyone should have chipped in for “Seattle Link”, but now, when the basic core (downtown to Northgate) is just about done, folks in Everett want to redo the rules. It is just a bad idea in every possible respect.

  21. Excellent synopsis, especially pointing out that Snohomish County leaders set aside more immediate traffic concerns and that Paine Field lacks the land use, something the former WSDOT Secretary did a series of articles on, and your ideas. It’s disturbing to me that the leaders have hidden their plans for the area, if any, which raises suspicion whether they had other motivation(s).

    BRT could have been delivered by 2020 by paying to extend the Swift Green line via 526 and Evergreen Way to Everett Station, using existing Swift Blue line stations in the extension and thus requiring zero right-of-way acquisition needs/costs. However, Snohomish County leaders, some of whom had never ridden BRT-and probably still haven’t-and dodged meetings on the subject, were dead set on the Paine Field alignment, which ironically won’t have a station at Paine Field airport. You’ll have to take a bus to get to that location!

    Snohomish County leaders appear to now realized that they blew it with ignoring immediate traffic concerns/commuters, many of whom will have retired, moved, or passed on by the time Link reaches Everett. The easiest “correction” of this “oversight” that could help them would be to complete the direct access ramp on the north end of Ash Way (164th), for the freeway overpass is already there (for the southbound ramps), and the ramps north are all that’s needed, and they would be almost level. Further, I’d bet the design work was already done for the north ramps when the existing structures were built, so dust them off! Today, buses going southbound and northbound must weave across all general purpose lanes to serve that Park & Ride. Put in the ramp and the need to weave disappears, improving the congestion between 128th and 164th immediately.

  22. To solve the mess, have ST annex the bordering cities of Everett (Snohomish, Lake Stevens, Marysville). Then the area around Everett will be served.

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