Last week, Sound Transit kicked off a summer of public events centered around SR 522 BRT. “Project Refinement” will be done in early 2019, the board selects a final project for preliminary engineering in January 2020, and the line should actually open in 2024. This phase collects input on station locations, parking location and type, road and sidewalk changes, access, branding, and connections to other transit.

Daytime headways will be 10 minutes between Bothell and Shoreline; only every other bus will continue to Woodinville. Service would be 19 hours a day, except for 17 on Sundays.

Moving West to East, the level of priority treatments will vary. On N 145th St, there is currently no bus lane, but the project will add these around stations.

As the bus turns North onto SR522, there will be a new northbound Business Access and Transit (BAT) lane to compliment the existing Southbound one. Through Kenmore, there are already BAT lanes both ways. Through Bothell, there is currently nothing but BAT implementation will be only partial.

All of these improvements are a significant step forward. Yet they serve as a reminder that there is no free lunch in the real world of North American transit planning. When agencies make the decision to economize down from light rail, whether to BRT or some other cheaper measure, the most expensive piece of that investment — right-of-way — has to give way.

On the other hand, At the moment, ST is assuming light-rail like off-board payment along the line — meaning there would be a ticket machine at each stop, and no means of paying on board. It’s still quite early in the process, so these preliminary ideas are subject change. Nevertheless, 100% off-board payment is relatively low-hanging fruit and it’s good that wasn’t value-engineered away.

ST Spokeswoman Rachelle Cunningham says ST is working on a distinct brand for I-405 and SR522 BRT to separate it from both ST Express, Metro, and Community Transit services. This would add a seventh bus brand to King and Snohomish County.

50 Replies to “ST Releases SR522 BRT Details”

  1. I don’t understand why it doesn’t extend to HWY 99 to connect with the frequent bus service there and to provide those folks a way to get to light rail.

    1. Because the East King subarea is paying for it, Shoreline is in North King subarea, whose money is already committed to other projects, and East King doesn’t care about getting people to Shoreline.

      1. That’s another way of saying that having two BRT operators operate in one area (and one is funded by a specific project referendum) structurally means a less optimal system for riders.

    2. That’s not to say a Shoreline->Light rail connection won’t exist. Most likely it will, but it will be a bus run by King County Metro, rather than Sound Transit.

      1. Swift will also go to 185th, so there will be an Edmonds/Shoreline -> Link connection a bit further north as well. Metro’s Long Range Plan has a number of routes converging at 147th, née 145th. But yeah, Broadview/Bitter Lake to SR 522 cities will likely be a two-seat ride.

      2. Why not just get KC Metro into the mix and get this hashed out before planning is too far down the road? The aurora -> link connection is mandatory, so let’s just get it done here

      3. Because Metro won’t commit to an alignment until a year before Lynnwood Link opens. We’ll get the first proposal two years before, if it follows the pattern with U-Link. It also depends on the budget which is unknown now. If a countywde transit measure passes and/or the Prop 1 funding which expires in 2020 is replaced, then Metro can build out the full plan, Otherwise it will have to cut back, and west 145th seems to be at the bottom of the priorities. In that case it might be able to be added if something else is economized.

        There is another way to access the station from the west that we all missed. The 65 will be extended to Shoreline CC, turning from 14th to 5th, then 155th, Aurora, and 160th. That’s just ten blocks away and it’s the center of the 155th urban village. We could possibly get the 65 rerouted to 145th & Aurora, but that may be a hard sell because it’s between two urban villages (130th and 155th).

      4. Well I don’t know about you, but I didn’t miss the 65. It is pretty obvious with Oran’s awesome map: It think it is highly likely the 65 will be extended to the 145th street station. The 73 could be sent over there as well (although it is more likely to be altered substantially or maybe even replaced). Either one could be sent farther west. It is also likely that the 330 would run more often, and be altered slightly to serve 145th.

        No matter how you cut it, though, it wouldn’t be as valuable as running this BRT line to the west (to Greenwood Avenue). If this stops by the freeway, then a substantial portion of the potential ridership for this major bus line will have to make three trips. This will be the premier transit service for Lake Forest Park, Kenmore and Bothell. It will tie those communities into the rest of the region. It would be a shame to force riders along the Aurora, Greenwood or Meridian corridors to deal with two transfers when so much effort has been put into this project.

        Put it another way: Sending the BRT line to 145th is controversial. While most of the riders of a northbound 522 board downtown, about 10% board along Lake City Way (south of 145th). Those riders now have to make two trips. You gain some back on 145th, but still not as many. From a connectivity standpoint, it is clearly weaker than if it went further south (assuming it still connected to Link). You miss out on many of the buses than run though Lake City.

        But if this extends all the way to Greenwood Avenue, then the situation changes. You pick up more one seat rides, and connect to way more two seat rides. In general, I would say it is the ideal routing. Seattle will eventually run buses across NE 130th, which means that both corridors have good service. It seems about as good as you can get — about as close as you can get to a good grid — as is possible for the area.

        But if you stop this before it gets to Greenwood Avenue, you don’t have a grid. You have a mess, no matter how much you try and patch it up with other bus service.

    3. Because it’s not a priority for the project’s primary constituents in East King, who want to go downtown. Some of them probably have never gone west of I-5 and can’t imagine they ever would. North King’s budget is already squeezed with two light rail lines, a downtown tunnel, and two infill stations.

      1. Subareas? Different operating agencies? Warring funding sources? Why in Hell will any of these tire-shredding potholes still be tolerated at all in 22 years, let alone accepted as best we can do?

        Or to put it another way: Commenters willing to settle for the service envisioned here – do you really think you can stand to ride it in 2040? The less time Nature gives you for anything, the less time you have left, to wait stuck in traffic every few blocks. On the system you gave your working life to build.

        There’s a reason my political side including transit has been getting the organic fertilizer kicked out of us all these decades. As we sit here Lane-BATTing and Bus Branding, (great bus rodeo events! ) our enemies are letting design contracts for public-funded private jet helicopter corridors over the tent-cities we’ll all live in ’til next we get “Swept”.

        Aren’t we discussing pretty much same amount of time between now and State Legislature containing many of our friends gave Tim Eyman the power our Supreme Court had just denied him? Who’s mind was already at full rev on thirty years’ civic destruction?

        While our side’s attention was on whether their 30-second anti-diarrhea pills would get them down those marble Capitol stairs in time? Like I tell anyone I care about that voted for present Pennsylvania Avenue tenancy: We’re Better Than That!

        Of course we start future transit corridors with the buses we have starting today- especially the ones we know we’ll replace with trains ASAP. On fully-reserved and signal-friendly lanes down the center of every arterial we use. Prepped for grooved rail when they’re poured.

        If 522 passengers and their reps don’t go for it immediately, no harm done. Every Bothell bus this evening will eventually get there. While some highly-visible efforts at a promised First Hill station will yield two certain benefits. Good start for at least planning LINK future, any time-frame.

        But mainly, incentivizing Business Access/Business Access lanes across 522 traffic from the tracks. …And strong transit-reservation region-wide can also create permanent alliance with a guaranteed- future industry:

        Present BRT-brand (Oscar Mayer) will have to go. But fare inspectors get to trade their Star Wars uniforms for black top hats, and card-readers that look like 1890’s typewriters.


      2. Because Bothell and Kirkland don’t want to pay for Ballard to Northgate or Ballard to UW, and they want their lines first. The suburban mindset is that only lines from suburbs to job centers or that parallel freeways are important.

    4. SWIFT is planning to have a direct connection to Link via the 185th station.

      South of 185th, it’s tricky – do you invest in moving people east-west to transfer to Link, or do you simply invest in the E-line to move people north/south? It’s a both/and, so the tricky part is how much investment in each.

      1. We are moving towards the double transfer using Link for one station hop service design. It has rider disadvantages — exascerbated by the rumored removal of down escalators at designed Link stations there.

      2. Double transfer for who? We have to be clear what trips are impacted. Lake City, Bothell Way, North Seattle College, Shoreline CC, and the Swift stations will have a one-seat ride to Link. Greenwood and Ballard will join in in the second phase. That leaves out 135th & Aurora, and 175th & Aurora if it’s not close enough to a Swift station. That’s some people but it’s not necessarily a huge number, and they’ll still have the E.

      3. Transferring from Swift to Link at 185th and from Link to 522 BRT at 145th is a double transfer.

        Sure most people aren’t making that trip today, but double transfers in suburban locations make using transit much less desirable any time in the future.

      4. Yes, moving perpendicular to major service corridors may result in multiple transfers, or relying on local bus service. It is both hard and expensive to directly connect two low density nodes, which is why our network focuses on connecting high density nodes and simply serving low density nodes that are along the way.

        There’s good reason no subway runs directly between The Bronx and Queens.

      5. Sorry, I was thinking that Swift and 522 BRT were going to the same station but they’re going to different stations.

        The Swift-522 gap is mainly because of geography and trip patterns. There are no bus-accessible roads east of 15th Ave NE between 145th and 205th, so Swift would either have to continue south to 145th or go east to Mountlake Terrace Station and southeast to Bothell Way. The former would spend a lot of Snohomish County’s service hours in King County, and the latter would break Swift-to-E transfers. Since Community Transit is paying for it, the issue is what Snohomish County residents want to spend their money on, and they would probably have other service than a 2-seat ride to Bothell. The right way to get to Bothell is to extend Swift 2 (Paine Field – Canyon Park), and have more east-west routes connect to it (e.g., from the Hwy 99 area). Swift 3 (Edmonds – Silver Firs) will connect to it in Mill Creek, thus giving access from Lynnwood TC.

        There’s an acknowledged desire to extend Swift 2 to UW Bothell but no funding, and since over two miles of it and is in King County with downtown Bothell in the middle, there are squabbles over who would pay for it.

      6. It is both hard and expensive to directly connect two low density nodes, which is why our network focuses on connecting high density nodes and simply serving low density nodes that are along the way.

        Right, except this doesn’t do that. 145th and Aurora is a bigger node than anything on 522. Given its proximity to Link, it would stand to reason that it would have the premier service (BRT) but it won’t. Per dollar, the section from Link to Greenwood Avenue would clearly be a better value than anything else on this line. Not only are there more people there, but it crosses two major transit corridors, and a minor one.

        The result is, as Al said, a lot of three seat rides. Northwest Hospital to Kenmore — three seats. Bitter Lake to Bothell — three seats. Lake Forest Park to Greenwood — three seats. These are all fairly common trips that would take two seats (neither one of which would involve Link) if the bus just went a mile and a half further west.

        No, the only reason the agencies are doing this is because this project is in between them. This isn’t run by Metro, or it would certainly go that far. It skirts Seattle, so you can’t expect them to pay for it. ST, meanwhile, is a fractured agency that isn’t really trying to solve the region’s problems (as you might assume) but is more interested in pleasing each fiefdom. Seattle wasn’t willing to pony up for an extension (it was more interested in politician pleasing low value projects like West Seattle light rail) while those to the east prioritized getting to Link.

        The nice thing about bus service, though, it is that it is very easy to extend. Some day, if the area gets a little bit of money, this will go all the way to Greenwood Avenue. It would just stay on 145th the whole way. Except that it won’t. That is because unlike bus service, stations can’t be easily moved, and ST put it three blocks to the north.

      7. “The nice thing about bus service, though, it is that it is very easy to extend.”

        The not nice thing about bus service is they get stuck in traffic, and it’s very difficult to get road diets with transit lanes. Example: 23rd.

        “That is because unlike bus service, stations can’t be easily moved, and ST put it three blocks to the north.”

        Even if the station is two blocks further north than it should be, no bus will ever get from 145th to downtown in eighteen minutes in the daytime, except Sunday mornings and when traffic is randomly light.

      8. >> The not nice thing about bus service is they get stuck in traffic,

        So do trains. How many times must we be over this? Jeesh. There is nothing magical about trains that allow them to avoid traffic. Maybe you are confusing helicopters with trains.

        >> no bus will ever get from 145th to downtown in eighteen minutes in the daytime

        That’s because no bus goes from 145th to downtown. But buses that pass by there routinely go from 145th to downtown (via the express lanes) in less than 18 minutes.


        I am not trying to argue that bus lanes to downtown would be better, or that we should make do with mediocre bus service.

        My point is very simple: If you make a mistake with a BRT line of this nature, it is easy to fix. If you make a mistake with a rail line, it is expensive to fix.

        The I-405 BRT line is a first step project that will continue to get better. But it will forever be hampered by the fact that they made a mistake with the train station!

        Look, let’s say 10 years from now they do an independent audit of this project, focused on making the bus go faster. What if they find that traffic isn’t the biggest problem, but waiting for lights is. It seems highly likely that they would then implement some sort of signal priority system, because that is cheap. Maybe it was a mistake to not include that in the first place (it would have saved a lot of money if they just started with that). But the mistake is solved very quickly and easily.

        What if they find that most of the congestion occurs in a small stretch on 145th, close to Lake City Way. Again it seems quite possible that they would spend the money and make the bus go faster. Another initial mistake, but one easily fixed later.

        But what if they find that simply getting from 145th to the station costs the riders three extra minutes? Do you really think they will move the station? Of course not.

        It is not really a complicated point, Mike. I really don’t understand why you want to twist what I say and go into some rabbit hole conversation about buses versus trains from 145th.

      9. Because people use that argument “buses are more flexible” to argue against grade-separated trains. And I was talking about grade-separated trains like Link, not like the sorry excuse for a streetcar on First Hill.

      10. In a sense, if it’s that easy to move, is it really BRT? Changing “light rail on wheels” would involve the same process as changing light rail, minus the tracks. Just look at how much of the downtown bike lane expense was really reconfiguring the roadway. And then do this with a bus track (well, at least in this case it’s not in downtown!). Just a reminder that “light rail on wheels” this is not.

      11. That’s the point: it’s easier to get elevated ro tunneled rail approved than it is to convert GP or parking lanes to transit or BAT lanes. The few successes like Madison are very few, and didn’t succeed on Roosevelt, 23rd, Aurora, or anywhere in West Seattle or its bridge. 45th is still unknown but past experience makes it hard to be more than slightly optimistic.

      12. >> Changing “light rail on wheels” would involve the same process as changing light rail, minus the tracks.

        That’s a big minus.

        I get your point though — if all of our light rail operated like it did on Rainier Valley (on the surface, which is common for light rail) then station mistakes or omissions would be no big deal. Adding Graham Street Station won’t be that expensive, while adding First Hill will likely never happen.

        Likewise, add additional stations to the bus tunnel (when it was still a bus tunnel) would have cost a bundle (and probably never would happen).

        My point is that freaking out about particular weaknesses of a surface BRT alignment is wasted energy. Sure, it is better to do it all right the first time. But it can be fixed later, and not at great cost.

        On the other hand, freaking out about the 145th Street Station is justified. Once that station is built, it will never be moved. That will cost riders a substantial amount of time, and we will just be stuck with it in perpetuity.

      13. That’s the point: it’s easier to get elevated or tunneled rail approved than it is to convert GP or parking lanes to transit or BAT lanes. The few successes like Madison are very few, and didn’t succeed on Roosevelt, 23rd, Aurora, or anywhere in West Seattle or its bridge. 45th is still unknown but past experience makes it hard to be more than slightly optimistic.

        The biggest problem is our funding system. Without money, you can’t do anything. ST has money, the city doesn’t.

        In many cases, all it would take is money to get buses to run a lot faster. For a couple hundred million or so, you could widen the Spokane Street Viaduct and buses wouldn’t face any congestion from the ramps in West Seattle to the SoDo busway. It wouldn’t be that expensive to add a bus stop under Dravus, thus making the D substantially faster. There are plenty of projects like this that are really not controversial, but only need money.

        At the same time, there have been numerous cases where bus lanes were added (because they can be cheap). In general it is much easier to convert parking lanes to bus lanes. Converting general purpose lanes to bus lanes is much more difficult, as in some cases it could screw up traffic on other streets (streets where buses run), thus being worse overall for transit. In other cases, the street simply isn’t widen enough, unless you make it a transit mall.

        That was the problem with the Roosevelt RapidRide. The parking was the first to go (that was easy). But then bike lanes were added (for good reason) and you simply didn’t have enough room for buses. We could have spent a lot of money building a bypass for bikes, but then we wouldn’t have enough money for other projects.

        That is why I say the biggest problem is money. Spend half of what ST is spending on light rail to West Seattle and you could have miles and miles of faster buses. That doesn’t mean that you would have 100% grade separation at every corridor, but that is true of many light rail systems (including ones that are extremely popular).

    5. On the west side of the station Metro’s 2025 plan has a frequent route from Mountlake Terrace to Meridian Ave, Greenlake, and Roosevelt (on 145th between 5th Ave NE and Meridian Ave N). The 2040 plan has a second Frequent route starting from the station and going west to 3rd Ave NW, 8th Ave NW, the Ballard bridge, Dravus-Gilman-34th in Magnolia, to Ellott Ave W.

      East of the station the 2025 plan extends the 65 to Shoreline CC (on 145th between 35th Ave NE and 5th Ave NE. The 2040 plan is the same.

      None of Metro’s plans involve a route on both sides of the station. But the plans are still subject to change.

      1. I don’t understand this at all – how does Metro not have a route planned by 2025 that will connect Broadview-Aurora-Link along 145th? This seems like it should be a slam dunk by the time Lynnwood Link opens.

      2. I assume it’s budget limitations, because the fact that there is a route in 2040 shows that Metro thinks there’s demand. The west side of 145th is at the bottom of Metro’s North Seattle priorities, so it’s filling other service gaps first.

      3. The plans are definitely subject to change. They say that clearly in the documentation. Even real proposals that are designed to be final (as in, “the buses will run this way in three months”) are subject to change. Metro changed the plans for the north end and Capitol Hill quite a lot after their initial proposal.

        Anyway, the problem is that Metro really can’t solve the problem without overlapping the BRT line extensively. Consider the three trips I just randomly thought of up above:

        1) Northwest Hospital to Kenmore
        2) Bitter Lake (NE 130th and Aurora) to Bothell
        3) Lake Forest Park to (85th and) Greenwood

        You can’t serve all three with two seats unless you run a bus from Greenwood/130th to Bothell. You could serve them with extra buses that all turn at 145th, but that is a lot of extra service (what do you do if you just want to keep going north? Do you run another bus that way as well?).

        This is why grids make sense, and why the bus should eventually end at Greenwood Avenue. In Human Transit, Jarrett Walker talks about this. Not only does he mention that a grid is the most efficient way to get coverage, but that all trips involve two seats.

      4. What really should happen, as someone said above, is ST should extend the BRT line West to Greenwood. Sub-area shmub shmarea. Can’t they for once do something that very obviously makes sense and probably wouldn’t add that much cost?

      5. ST probably would say that an extension to Aurora or Greenwood is “not consistent with ST3” — just like they have been saying about lots of other planning issues lately.

        I’m even wondering when the inevitable inability to meet the deadlines comes about, ST is suddenly faced with the concept that opening 4 years late is “no consistent with ST3”.

        This is the big problem with ST3 content and language. It’s too specific. It was a combined package of political promises made by certain elected people drawing on a map — many if not most of whom don’t understand issues around light rail and transferring and transportation needs to certain hubs like hospitals and medical centers.

        So, unless ST can somehow administratively agree to abdicate the 522 BRT project into the RapidRide program and come up with a segment cost-sharing method, the corridor ends are forever stuck where it is until the next referendum. No realignments. No extensions. We’re stuck with it — including the jog invisible on the diagram to 148th.

      6. I don’t think it is likely to happen for a while. But Seattle is paying for extra service to Metro, so I could easily see Metro pay ST to extend this line. Even Seattle could pay for it, but that would be weird, since the line straddles the border. But as the Seattle Times reported this morning, we (are about to) pay for more service on the E, even though it spends a lot of time outside the city.

        The biggest problem is our stupid funding system. If we had a normal government (where the city representatives could just raise taxes) then we would have a lot more funding for transit (and other transportation needs).

      7. “If we had a normal government (where the city representatives could just raise taxes)”

        That’s exactly what the state is trying to protect us from. :) They call it runaway district taxes, and are concerned not only about protecting your pocketbook, but about one district raising taxes so high it crowds out other districts from being able to raise the taxes they need.

        OK, but we need services too, and a decent level of them. A unified transit authority or transportation authority that could both design what we need and raise the money to implement it without getting vetos from cities and neighborhood associations would allow us to have a transit system like Vancouver or Germany. But there’s another part too: the agency would also have to propose something like Vancouver or Germany would, which means they need people sensitive to best transit practices in positions of power, and not full of false myths like P&Rs and peak-commute service will solve everything and transit infrastructure and density are a negative impact that must be mitigated.

    6. Right. It’s all subarea-specific thinking, ignoring positive network effects (and dismissing E-W travel needs). The E is the busiest route in the system! It’s right there! 145th has no E-W service! It’s so obvious, but our Balkanized subarea thinking is such that they can’t see it.

  2. “On N 145th St, there is currently no bus lane, but the project will add these around stations.”

    Sounds like bus pull-outs.

    (I mean, it’s possible this could involve useful elements to keep buses moving when they have to merge back into general-purpose traffic. But it sounds like bus pull-outs.)

  3. Funny how the chat desont talk about the trip times FROM Seattle.

    1.Are thé removing escalators at the Link station? That adds time.

    2. How hard will it be for a bus to get out of the transit center — through an intersection shared with exiting pick-up and drive-away traffic — then turn left at congested 145th intersection? That will add time too.

    1. Funny too how the schematic shows the Link station at 145th rather than 147/8th.

      Funny too how the biggest segment with new bus-only lanes, as if the project is all about a 145th widening.

  4. Metro’s 2025 Service Network does not show frequent or even local service along 145th between Broadview and the 147th Link station. Only when you click on “2040” does it show that service. This is crazy – it should be on Metro to provide a fast, frequent connection to the station from points west. What excuse could they possibly have for not having that line running within a year of when Lynnwood Link is expected?

  5. I was at the Lake Forest Park meeting last week, along with a few of the LFP Safe Highways meetings (which deals with widening SR522). ST didn’t provide much detail since the project is in the early stages. Overall people seem supportive. The main concerns seemed to be:

    What happens to the current 1-seat ride downtown – ST/Metro strongly hinted that the 522, and maybe also the 312 will go away, but the 309 will be made all day. Also the 372 will be upgraded to RapidRide level.
    Parking capacity – fears that people from north of SR522 will “steal” all of the new parking spots in LFP/Bothell.
    Local access – while most people want bus lanes, if the fight is between bus lanes and sidewalks on both sides of the road, or bus lanes and a treeline, support will drop considerably.

    ST made a pretty big deal about queue jumps on 145th. We’ll see how that will work.

  6. I find the schematic very confusing. I understand that it is advertising (New and improved!) but what assumptions are they making to come up with the numbers? How long will it take to transfer to Link, and what will the wait time be? Where exactly are you going downtown, anyway?

    It seems to me that they should just list the time it takes to get to the 145th station. Or, at the very least, they should include it somewhere.

  7. Yet they serve as a reminder that there is no free lunch in the real world of North American transit planning. When agencies make the decision to economize down from light rail, whether to BRT or some other cheaper measure, the most expensive piece of that investment — right-of-way — has to give way.

    That is a very misleading statement, because it implies that the same sort of cost cutting doesn’t occur with rail. Of course it does. The only reason we don’t have the First Hill station (as part of U-Link) is because we didn’t have the money for it. It is the same reason we will only have one Ballard stop or one stop in Kirkland (and a very weak one at that). It also is why Ballard to UW rail is not on the way.

    There is only so much money. Right-of-way is expensive, and it only makes sense to spend a bunch on it when you can reasonably expect lots of people to travel through that corridor. That is true regardless of mode. It made sense to spend the money for the bus tunnel or the light rail tunnel from downtown to the UW, but not for a minor corridor like this one. Bus tunnels make more sense in a branch and trunk system, while rail tunnels make more sense for a high use single corridor. This is neither. It is just one corridor, and a relatively minor one at that.

    Problems arise when you spend oodles of money on fairly weak corridors, while short changing similar, or more important ones. That has happened routinely with ST, but really isn’t the case here. They are actually spending about as much money as they should for this thing.

    One nice thing about making improvements in this way is that it is very easy to fix it later. If it turns out that the buses are extremely popular, but spend way too much time at a particular bottleneck, then we can easily fix the bottleneck and add a few buses. Unfortunately, we really can’t easily fix the First Hill problem — it is unlikely that we will ever backfill that station.

  8. They can’t easily add BRT lane(s) to 145th. The estimates they used years ago required them to use eminent domain to take 21-54% of all the properties on 145th St, and an additional % of partial properties. This number is so large because so many of the homes on 145th are within 10-15 ft of the roadway as it exists now, if a lane is added to even one side, it almost guarantees the homes will need to be demolished. There are also sections of the road near Jackson Park golf course that have steep drops of 25-30′ right where the existing sidewalks end, and it is also over Thornton Creek.

    145th was a poor choice for a ST station. The roadway is already overcongested, and it will become a parking lot with the light rail station and parking garage.

  9. I’m curious why ST didn’t consider using Lake City Way down to Northgate Way and terminate there? It seems more natural given it’s 522 BRT and Lake City Way is 522 when you enter Seattle. In fact 522 doesn’t end until Lake City Way collides with I-5. Today the ST 522 express also takes that route to the express lanes. Seems like Lake City Way would have been a much easier cooridor to add BAT lanes to than 145th and it’s also less miles to cut over to Light Rail from Northgate Way versus 145th.

    I’m probably missing something obvious though, since 145th to me seems like the option you take if there’s no better ones.

    1. It’s a very reasonable question, Jon. I pointed out last week (on another 522 article) that it would have been faster for riders to extend the BRT down through Lake City Way and end it at Roosevelt. That’s one reason it’s so laughable how the travel time savings are presented as so important! The bulk of the travel time savings is on riding Link between Roosevelt and Downtown — yet the project makes it appear that the 522 BRT is the segment where the speeds are gained. The “no project” condition with service on Lake City Way and transferring Roosevelt would probably be faster!

      The justification seems to involve these issues:

      1. The Eastside cities pushed for the connection, so it was a subarea political choice and not a systems choice. It was a group of cities that defined the project, and no transit operator was leading the discussion.

      2. It’s very possible that a big ulterior motive of the project is to find a way to fund a winder 145th. The street is notoriously narrow and congested, and has a messy jurisdictional problem with the street actually owned by Shoreline, Seattle, King County or WSDOT in different places so getting it widened is messy from a funding source standpoint. It’s been talked about for a few decades. The map above indicates that 145th is getting the bulk of “new lanes” — which means that ST can contribute to the funding of the project. It’s basically using transit money as a front for improving things for other modes.

      3. A third reason could be that the sponsoring cities didn’t want those “Lake City folk” on their buses. While 145th has a wide variety of economic levels along it, Riders are going to be more “people like us” in character to those people.

    2. It’s mostly 1990s inertia. 145th is where a P&R is so it seemed like the natural choice, plus a fear that going to Roosevelt might lead to a longer travel time to downtown. It’s not so much to exclude Lake City riders but that Lake City is not a place they go to much.

      One of largest lower-income complexes is just off 145th a block west of Lake City Way.

      As for Northgate Way, I hope you don’t mean going to Northgate. That would mean going through the Northgate traffic. It’s also up a steep hill, which is slow for an articulated bus.

    3. There are trade-offs with every corridor. Basically:

      145th — The closest connection between the northeastern suburbs (Lake Forest Park, Kenmore, Bothell) to Link. If extended to the logical end (Greenwood) it would cross every major northern corridor, and connect all of them quickly to the northeastern suburbs.

      130th — Very fast with high density, and if there was only one big route in the area, it would probably be the ideal. But it is highly likely that NE 130th is likely to have its own crossing connection (there are several possibilities from the densely populated greater Ballard area). Such a bus could keep going (and serve the corridor) but then it is an extremely long bus. As it is, I could easily see a Ballard/Lake City bus being *more frequent* than this bus, given the higher density along it. Anyway, NE 130th is still not slated for the distant future (for some stupid reason).

      Northgate — It is very difficult to actually get to the station. You have several turns, a fair amount of congestion, and only so much you can do (as buildings and sidewalks now crowd the area). Once you get to the station, it is very hard to keep going to the west (Greenwood) because the station lies so far south of Northgate Way.

      Roosevelt — It would be difficult to actually get there. Traffic bogs down as you get close to the freeway, and again, there is little that can be done there. I think the only way you can avoid traffic is to head down 15th (where you might be able to lay down bus lanes). It wouldn’t be cheap — you would still need to buy up some land just to make that turn. Either buy the computer store or Pagliaci’s ( just so you have the space for a (bus only) turn lane. You would also need to move the utility pole. Even if you did all that, and the bus managed to get to the station quickly, it would take a long time before that same bus got to 85th, and crossed Aurora and Greenwood. That would make a trip from, say, the E to Kenmore a very indirect route, which means you would want some sort of northern crossing bus any (on 145th). That puts you back where we started (with three seat rides from, say, Bitter Lake to Bothell).

      I sure with they had studied other options, but I don’t think this route is inherently flawed. The only major flaw is that it stops at the station, and doesn’t go to Greenwood Avenue. Fix that, and it actually looks like the best possible alignment overall (for the region).

  10. At least one of Metro’s senior transit planners advocated for the 522 line to connect at 130th, Northgate, or Roosevelt, but the politicians wanted 145th, which has been a mess traffic-wise for at least 40 years which they’ve come to realize also doesn’t have the right-of-way…you’d think they would’ve asked that question before deciding, but these include the folks that voted on a 145th station before walking that street to learn how fraught with problems it is for motorists and pedestrians alike. But, the alignment is set, and Shoreline gets what it wanted: 145th to be fixed up, to the best it can be given restraints. I find it hard to believe that the time savings will be as significant as projected given the lack of BAT lanes on 145th. I also don’t understand why there isn’t a stop planned for the “Wayne curve” in Bothell, where there is a protected bus lane.

    1. I thought they did study it. I seem to remember a bunch of specific plans that involved adding lanes, wider sidewalks, all of that. I can’t remember if the plan was to take land from the golf course or buy up land on the other side, but I thought the idea to go that way.

      All that being said, they really should have studied other options.

      1. From my previous comment. They can’t easily add BRT lane(s) to 145th. The estimates they used years ago required them to use eminent domain to take 21-54% of all the properties on 145th St, and an additional % of partial properties. This number is so large because so many of the homes on 145th are within 10-15 ft of the roadway as it exists now, if a lane is added to even one side, it almost guarantees the homes will need to be demolished. This includes the low-income housing along 145th. In today’s housing market, the cost to buy all of these properties will be astronomical.

        There are also sections of the road near Jackson Park golf course that have steep drops of 25-30′ right where the existing sidewalks end, and it is also over Thornton Creek which includes some environmental concerns.

        The only way to really add BAT lanes would be to put 145th on a road-diet of one traffic and one BAT lane each way.

  11. Where did ST come up with these travel times? 50 minutes from Lake Forest Park to downtown Seattle? ST’s own website currently shows the 522 takes 19 minutes to make that trip at non-peak times, and about a half hour during rush hour. Using not very advanced mathematical techniques, I calculate that the 38 minutes it will take with the BRT-light rail combo is longer than the current trip time. Sure, I agree it’s because the 145th St station is in a bad spot. It’s also because the light rail line winds around and makes several stops on the way to downtown, unlike the 522, which is as straight a shot as you can get.

    And what about us poor slobs in Lake City? We have excellent one-seat rides to downtown on the 522 right now, with four stops in Lake City, then none until downtown. It’s going to be pretty hard to beat that. Oh wait, I see they aren’t even going to try. There appears to be no discussion at all about getting Lake City residents to any sort of light rail.

    Whatever tiny fraction of the $54 billion is going to this BRT, it’s too much.

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