Sound Transit’s latest batch of options for Ballard and West Seattle kills off many variants, but controversies remain. The options are grouped into three concepts, although ST is free to choose bits from each alternative. All we have is maps, but that won’t stop us from having a detailed look.

Representative alignment

The “representative alignment,” which voters approved in 2016, remains in play. It’s a pretty good alignment if you don’t mind elevated track, with stations on both ends in the sky. There are nits to pick. Alaska Junction station points west, which doesn’t help a future extension to Burien. Delridge is a bit far north, putting more industrial land in the walkshed and lengthening the bus ride for most people. Midtown is under 5th rather than 6th, reducing the combined system walkshed. The new Westlake is under 6th, worsening the transfer with the existing one.

On the other hand, this is within the budget. Alaska Junction is just to the East of California, where the new density is going in. Smith Cove and Interbay have locations that are about as promising as they could be (not very). 15th is a good spot for Ballard Station.

The “elevated” option is a tweak of the representative alignment to fix some of the most glaring errors. Alaska Junction turns south. The downtown tunnel runs under 6th Ave and Mercer St. By (expensively) extending the north end of the tunnel and using the BNSF right-of-way, the Ballard line almost entirely avoids 15th Ave. Regrettably, Smith Cove and Interbay stations are in the middle of nowhere, and the line finds its way to 14th Ave in Ballard, which is a bad place to end up. I guess cruise ship passengers will like it.

The “tunnel” option presumably blows the budget, and still has a lot of problems. They couldn’t settle on a Alaska Junction location, including one that overshoots the density to the wrong side of California, bordering the sprawl. Delridge Station is a bit off Delridge, making those critical transfers worse. South Lake Union is far enough south (at Harrison) that it arguably doesn’t serve a lot of South Lake Union. Smith Cove is in decent spot, but Interbay still isn’t. They also couldn’t resolve a 14th or 15th Ave site for Ballard station.


What’s the best for future riders while remaining within budget? The elevated option fixes the problems in West Seattle. It’s hard to get too excited about one block shifts in downtown Seattle proper, so ST should do whatever is cheap and put the money into good transfers at Chinatown and Westlake. In South Lake Union and points north, all this process has come up with worse alternatives than the representative alignment. Rather than pointlessly extending the downtown tunnel or marooning riders in a railyard, ST should just run down 15th and actually serve people. (As long it’s high enough to not be a frequently opening drawbridge).

It would be foolish to increase financial and project risk to bury the line at either end. However, if those neighborhoods have the leverage (and the supplemental funding sources) to tunnel, Alaska Junction should be below 41st or 42nd avenues. The Ballard Line should stay on 15th, whether above or below ground.

111 Replies to “ST3 Level 3 Alternatives”

  1. I’ve been saying this for years but why not zone the Interbay locations so that they can actually build housing…that’ll make the 2 stations there a much better investment. Between the light rail, Expedia’s new HQ, Whole Foods and close proximity to downtown that area could be desirable. Yes, the train tracks and 15th ave aren’t great but no worse that having I-5 or Aurora Ave in your backyard.

    1. They are rezoned. That isn’t the problem. The problem is that:

      1) Smith Cove borders the water on one side, and a green belt on the other.

      2) Interbay has to deal with the railroad yard, 15th and golf course/park. I say “railroad yard” instead of just “tracks” because the area just north of Dravus is a railroad yard, with the area taken up by the trains very wide. You could put the station to the south, but then you are putting it next to the park/golf course. Actually, moving it off of Dravus north or south is profoundly stupid, since the only way that folks in Queen Anne and Magnolia can access it is via Dravus (by foot or by bus). Every inch you move it away from Dravus means that *every rider* who isn’t in Interbay proper (hereby defined as between 15th and the railroad tracks) has to walk farther to the station. Thus building on Dravus is the only reasonable option.

      You aren’t going to do really well unless you move considerably far away from the area (e. g. 11th Ave. West) and then rezone. That would be really expensive, and it is unlikely the folks there would go for a rezone. Sliding it between 22nd and 14th does very little. You gain some from one side, but lose it from the other.

      To be clear, I should say most of the area has been rezoned. You can see by this map that most of Interbay proper has been rezoned, and most of the area to the east and west is zoned for apartments (or already has them). You can see some of the recent development there ( The only exception (the only area that isn’t zoned for apartments) is a tiny strip, abutting the railroad yard. This makes sense, as railroad yards and industry go together. It does take up an unfortunate bit of land, but that isn’t likely to change (it is very hard to convert industrial land to residential). The only mistake would be to put the station especially close to there, since that would mean it would be both off of Dravus, and next to industrial land.

  2. I suspect the preferred alternative will end up being the elevated option, which would mean a Ballard Station on 14th. I think there are a lot of problems with that, including the fact that it makes extending the line to the vicinity of 85th and 15th (a very logical extension that would have great bang for the buck) a lot more difficult. 14th runs directly into Ballard High School and an elevated light rail train cannot possibly make the sharp turn required to get to 15th and continue north. Is that not even something they’re considering? Maybe they could put the station at the current Safeway site as an angled station between 14th and 15th that then curves onto 15th?

    The other issue is the Magnolia station for this alignment sucks as well. I think they should merge the elevated alignment section from West Seattle to Queen Anne with the representative alignment section between Queen Anne and Ballard.

    1. I seriously doubt that the City of Seattle wants a parade of elevated supports down the middle of Elliott and 15th West taking a lane of traffic. That’s very likely why every option lay to the west of 15th West and the “elevated” option extends the tunnel to Prospect.

      So far as shifting to 15th NW, if an elevated structure on 14th curves into a station directly in front if BHS and then into 15th NW the low speeds necessary would not be a penalty; the train would already be stopping,

      And extending the tunnel to Prospect is not terribly expensive and places the LQA station a bit farther north, providibng more all-day walk-up demand.

      1. “I seriously doubt that the City of Seattle wants a parade of elevated supports down the middle of Elliott and 15th West taking a lane of traffic. ” Why not? It seems to work just fine on 5th Ave downtown. Elevated track down the middle of wide streets is pretty common is most major cities, once you get outside of the CBD.

        Given the center lane on 15th is generally a center turn lane, it should be pretty straightforward to put in supports in a way that still allows for turning traffic for most driveways & cross streets.

      2. There is already a station there in the LRP. And what exactly fo you want from Seattle’s Light Rail System? More BART?

    2. ST’s motto should be “We saw what Vancouver built, and we want something far less effective at moving people, for far more money”. So that means we don’t want to extend it along 15th, even though it would be relatively cheap. We don’t want to put the one and only station in Ballard anywhere near where the bulk of the people or destinations are, even though it would be cheaper. We just want to focus on building things that sound good, or look pretty good on a map, as long as the map isn’t too detailed. You know, a map that shows 14th and Market as “Ballard”, the same way it shows 5th and Madison as “First Hill”.

      Fun fact: It is actually closer from the new station at 5th and Madison to First Hill ( than it is from the heart of Ballard to the nearest station ( Thus we should all celebrate. Everyone from the First Hill Improvement Organization ( to this very blog should release the confetti — we got a First Hill Station! Yay! Yes, I know, it is a bit farther down the hill, but it is every bit a part of First Hill as Ballard’s station. Hurray!

      1. RossB,

        When you were measuring distances from the station, were you using how a bird flies on a map, or measuring the distance of the actual walks, including accounting for more distance due to the higher angle of First Hill?

  3. I really think it’s reckless to think that we should be getting close to a preferred alternative at this point in time.

    – We have seen no detailed ridership projections — especially the numbers of rail- rail and rail/ bus transfers.

    – The environmental impacts of things like tunnels have not been fully analyzed. Native American sites? Underwater habitats? Important, unmovable utility pipes? We just don’t know. Tunnels are always riskier environmentally that above ground or at-grade.

    – Adding a tunnel for the last West Seattle station increases that segment’s cost by 40 percent. Shouldn’t the alternatives be more cost-neutral? It’s not a fair comparison unless alternatives do this. If West Seattle tunnel is in one, than another should include an escalator bank up First Hill to show the cost trade-offs being made.

    At least a future Board is free to change what gets selected.

    1. How much leeway will we have to delay, though not abandon, facets of the project? Or let subareas mile-stone dates if all sides agree?

      Because every project like this is a succession of unforeseeable variables.Cheaper to steer around than crash into. State police consider a missed variable worse than a whole servers’ worth of LOL’s and OMG’s!

      Also, reshape “Subareas” into corridors and networks, instead of real estate. The way both West Seattle and Ballard passengers live our travel lives. No question the Westseattleite Ballardian Commonwealth will always be into the shorts of the Lynnwoodkski Downtownerite Empire.

      Not going to link the one with those Polish guys with the wings on their armor and the Ukrainians with horse-tails growing out of their heads again- though they really did keep hate speech directed at their ethnic groups under control. But at least in that branch of warfare, everybody was always moving.


    2. Yes, we’re running into a collision between ST’s desire to select the preferred alternative early in the process to reduce costs and time in preparing the EIS, and multimillion-dollar additions coming out of the woodwork that weren’t anticipated when the schedule was set. Where were all these tunnel-or-bust people when the ballot measure was being finalized?

      And this 14th Avenue option seems to have come out of nowhere. It really needs to be stopped. It’s bad enough to miss Ballard Avenue/22nd/17th, but are we going to miss 15th too? That’s like missing the center of the urban village and the second-best and landing in the fringe. If it were the U-District we’d say it missed University Way and Roosevelt and landed in… I-5 or Latona?

      1. I can speak for the no new drawbridge to Ballard or bust people… we were lied to by the campaign and told ST could change the moronic drawbridge to Ballard idea in this process without a lot of push back or impact. But that’s what you get when a campaign doesn’t want rail fans to jump ship.

      2. When did the campaign ever say that a tunnel option wouldn’t have a significant cost hurdle? The ST3 budget was scaled for elevated and a drawbridge. I assume a higher fixed bridge wouldn’t add substantially to the cost, but a tunnel would.

    3. “How much leeway will we have to delay, though not abandon, facets of the project? Or let subareas mile-stone dates if all sides agree?”

      A lot. ST1 and 2 projects with tunnels generally take fifteen years, with the first five devoted to planning and engineering. Taking 2036 for Ballard and working backward, that means planning would start in 2021 and end in 2026. West Seattle is earlier, but there’s no reason the West Seattle stub can’t be rescheduled behind part of DSTT2. The opening dates are based on revenue accumulation and ST’s self-imposed bonding limit, so they can’t be advanced substantially without new revenue or streamlining (and these multiple expensive alternatives are the opposite of streamlining).

      So the net result is that ST is trying to set a systemwide preferred alternative in 2019, when it could set Ballard and West Seattle in 2021 or possibly even later. The main reason for front-loading the preferred alternative is to give certainty and to streamline the following stages. That early certainty may or may not be a good thing when we’re heading up to a possible 14th Avenue decision and a commitment for expensive West Seattle tunnels. Once ST decides those a later board will be more reluctant to undo them, and we’ll be sitting with the “certainty” of suboptimal doom coming. On the bright side, it would make developers more willing to build better TOD around the preferred station locations, and that may prevent a bad building from being built.

    4. We have seen no detailed ridership projections — especially the numbers of rail- rail and rail/ bus transfers.

      I can just imagine ST. “Ridership projections, we don’t need no stinking ridership projections”. Seriously, they don’t. They don’t care. This isn’t being built to be useful, it is being built by folks that just want to say “look, we built something”.

      1. With comparisons of ridership for various station locations (14th, 15th, 20th, etc.)? I would like to see that. Just the decision to move the Interbay station to Thorndyke should reduce the number of riders significantly.

      2. Yeah. Where are the ridership projections? Are they going to come out before the board decides?

        If so it would be nice to know that.

        And why isn’t there a community outreach person at ST whose job is to engage with the public, monitor boards like this, and get us some answers!

        I’m not impressed with ST at all right now.

      3. What AJ said is correct. Ridership projections were a key part of the Environmental Impact Statement for all of the lines TriMet needed them for (they are needed for federal funds so the red line didn’t need it). When an agency does the alternatives analysis the change in ridership caused by the various alternatives has to be part of it.

        You don’t get a good comparison of the alternatives otherwise.

      4. The argument is that detailed ridership estimates cost money and time, like detailed engineering, so they don’t want to do it for an option that might get thrown away anyway. The EIS requires detailed ridership estimates and an outline of surrounding bus feeders, so those will be there for all feeders. So the thing to do now is to make sure that all options you like and think they might pass the future ridership estimates are included in one of the alternatives. When ST chooses a preferred alternative, that will probably be what’s built, but ST can and I think sometimes does borrow a feature or two from the other alternatives in the EIS. So the goal at this point is to get all the good things into the alternatives, and not worry too much about the rest. That’s why I’m concerned about 15th possibly being dropped from all the alternatives, which I think the Stakeholders’ and Electeds groups did but it’s still hanging on for now.

      5. Mike Orr, 15th is the representative alignment. It’s still there. Buses that aren’t duplicative are only coming from Whole Foods, SPU and Magnolia and can integrate with the Interbay/Thorndyke station. For SPU it would require a new connection under 15th Avenue to Nickerson Street, which there is plenty of room for.

      6. I met feeders at strategic transfer points like Northgate, 130th, Market Street, and the three West Seattle Stations. Feeder potential at Dravus and Smith Cove are so marginal that I doubt it’ll even be required. Giving Sand Point, Lake City, and northwest Seattle transfer access at 130th is a big deal, and a Sand Point bus would otherwise have to travel far to the U-District or Northgate as it does now to access the regional system. Magnolia is small, and its distance from downtown is so short that it’s not as big a deal if buses overlap Link there, and conversely forcing everybody in Magnolia to transfer for a short two-mile trip where a half-mile is on a bus may be excessive. That would be like taking a bus from the Central District to Broadway and transferring to another bus to downtown. Some people on the margins will have to do it, but expecting everybody in the entire neighborhood to do it is excessive. Transfers should be for longer trips, L-shaped or complex trips, and marginal trip pairs.

  4. The ST3 representative (E-W orientated) Alaska Junction station is the best location. No need to waste money curving the track to N-S in ST3, it just needs to be designed so the track can curve south in the next expansion. It is more important that the Ballard side can be extended northward which makes more sense in the long run.

    It does seem like the alternative process was a waste of time. Without no money available for modifications (and Piece/SnoCo officials gearing up to oppose any additional spending) it isn’t surprising that the representative alignment is still a leading candidate.

    1. We could orient the Alaska Junction station E-W, but why should we when the residential density of West Seattle is oriented N-S? I think it’s short-sighted not to design the system with an eye towards expansion, even with the planned completion of the Alaska Junction station decades away. Even if you think the North Seattle lines should be extended first (they probably will be), there’s no reason not to consider the theoretical “next stop” when designing this station, or any terminus. It is basic planning.

      1. Plus putting the station N-S on 41st pretty much solves the Junction “neighborhood character” issues. Jefferson Square already ruined that block. (Redeveloping that mess in conjunction with the station could actually improve things quite a bit)

        Curving south from Alaska/California would be a lot harder given the amount of large multifamily going up over there. 41st sets things up for easily running elevated down Fauntleroy and heading into a tunnel at Morgan.

      2. Given a limited budget, I would rather cut the part that only influences a hypothetical future line rather than the present line. The curvy part of the line requires a ton of property acquisition.

        There are also a TON of other priorities within Seattle that would rank above extending West Seattle link southward into the suburban land of no density. So I’m not even sure an ST4 would include it when other lines like Metro 8, UW-Ballard, Lake City, etc. will be on the table. All those higher density areas should receive light rail before we run another line to the airport.

      3. “It does seem like the alternative process was a waste of time.”

        It’s a requirement for federal grants. A grant requires an Alternatives Analysis and an EIS so that the feds can feel comfortable that all reasonable options have been studied and disclosed.

      4. West Seattle is not entirely a “suburban land of no density”, but certainly the area of West Seattle west of Alaska Junction is lower density than the residential areas along the California and Fauntleroy corridors. And again, that Seattle has higher priorities for transit projects right now doesn’t mean it makes sense to disregard the future in designing the line in West Seattle. I don’t think it has to cost a ton of money to orient the station in a way that allows for southward expansion, as there are many ways to do this that don’t require additional property acquisition.

        Ron, I think Jefferson Square would be a good location for the light rail station, but I’m assuming that parking lot is privately owned property and there may be some difficulty in moving the line back to Fauntleroy from that intersection without a tunnel. I’m pretty convinced Fauntleroy and Alaska is the best location for an elevated West Seattle station. It provides access to the old Junction, new density and stakes the terminus in a location where southward expansion along Fauntleroy would be possible in the longer term future. A cut and cover tunnel along California Ave would be a better choice in my opinion, but we’d need a lot of extra funding to come from WS to get any kind of tunnel, not to mention the possibility of pushback against the disruption of construction projects like we’re seeing in the ID.

      5. Joe, there is one important caveat: There is no guarantee that a ST4 would prioritize the corridors that make the most sense from a density and ridership standpoint. ST3 sure hasn’t! For better or worse, there will be quite a bit or inertia to extend West Seattle Link down to the Westwood Village and White Center, if not all the way to Burien. Maybe even Renton via TIBS, and the airport is a one station transfer? The current line should be designed to make this logical extension as doable as possible, as the orientation of the terminus is a pretty irreversible thing.

      6. “There are also a TON of other priorities within Seattle that would rank above extending West Seattle link southward into the suburban land of no density.”

        South King would be influential in the decision because it impacts Burien and a Burien-Renton line. South King would also pay for it south of Westwood Village and maybe even Alaska Junction, depending on how much Morgan Junction and Westwood Village are North King priorities vs South King.

        “So I’m not even sure an ST4 would include it when other lines like Metro 8, UW-Ballard, Lake City, etc. will be on the table.”

        Ballard-UW is next in line. Its corridor study was done in 2015. Lake City is also in the long-range plan but hasn’t had a corridor study yet. It depends on how people feel about replacing a just-built BRT line with a light rail line. There’s also some uncertainty about where it and Ballard-UW would go. One alternative for Ballard-UW had it going north to Lake City and Bothell and bending back to Kirkland. The most certain thing we can say is that Ballard-UW will probably be in ST4 because ST has prepared the way for it, and that is in some sense an implicit promise or commitment, or at least some politicians will argue that. It’s the same reason that Ballard-downtown and West Seattle-downtown are going now (because of the monorail precedent), and Everett and Tacoma (because Snohomish and Pierce think they were implicit when ST was created).

        Metro 8 is not in ST’s long-range plan and ST has never acknowledged it as a worthwhile idea, so it’d be a long way uphill. ST will update the LRP for ST4 and it could add Metro 8 then, but it’s hard to see how it could overcome the stakeholder momentum for Ballard-UW. And when has ST built a project that it didn’t study in the previous ST phase?

        “All those higher density areas should receive light rail before we run another line to the airport.”

        Nothing is happening with the airport. A West Seattle extension to the airport is not in ST’s long-term plan, and has never been suggested that I’ve heard. Instead, ST studied downtown-West Seattle-Burien-Renton as a unit. (And the study said Renton-downtown travel time would be 45-50 minutes, so close to the 101 which is 40 minutes.)

        A Georgetown bypass to the airport is very unlikely in ST4. Some transit fans think it’s essential, but ST deleted it from the long-term plan in 2014, and South King and Pierce did not raise one word in its defense, even though it would theoretically benefit them. It might come back if the Aurora line gets any traction, or even Metro 8, but it’s very unlikely at this time.

      7. Mike Orr:

        West Seattle is not a South King priority. We’ve got our own job centers, our own neighborhoods, and our own shopping centers. If you want a blue collar good job, your better bet is the Port of Tacoma, not the Port of Seattle. Boeing just announced that it is moving a few thousand jobs to Kent. I don’t anticipate anything changing, as Seattle continues to become more and more unaffordable for the working class and for young people, especially with skyrocketing student debt among new grads. Perhaps with HQ2, those people not raking in gigantic salaries will see some relief, as some of the Bezos clan will migrate to the east coast. One can only hope! But, relief won’t come overnight.

        Moreover, nobody in South King wants to take a scenic detour of West Seattle to get downtown. More direct routes exist.

        Higher priorities:
        1. Improved frequency on Sounder – 20 min headways throughout the AM & PM peaks, hourly all day and evening
        2. Federal Way Link – no explanation needed
        3. Improved bus network to get to Sounder & Link – partner with Metro for neighborhood routes coordinated with Sounder, then sell off the park & rides for dense development
        4. Improved routing and frequency on Express Buses – connect all of the South King cities + Tacoma, Puyallup + Seattle, and offer routes that bypass cities if ridership is high enough.

        Getting some express buses from Auburn and Kent to downtown Tacoma would be a higher priority for a sizable chunk of South than a DT Seattle via W Seattle route, given that the combined populations of Federal Way, Kent, and Auburn is about double that of Burien and Renton.

        As long as we are paying in to the system, we will be writing to our elected board members asking to serve our communities, and not to divert funds to Seattle. I make it in to Seattle just a few times a year, often against my will, so improving the commute there only benefits me to the extent that it improves the value of my home, takes cars off the road in my own city, and benefits my friends & neighbors, only a few of whom make the long commute to Seattle. I have no problem with Seattle, Amazon, and Microsoft teaming to build an extensive North King light rail network, but it shouldn’t come on the backs of people who won’t benefit from it and, too often, have a difficult time affording the homes that they live in.

      8. Engineer:
        So I guess South King won’t prioritize that Burien extension and Burien-Renton line in ST4. Then it’s mysterious why theyve prioritized them up until now. They said that Burien-Renton was their highest priority after Federal Way, and got ST to study that corridor. ST wouldn’t have bothered if the South King boardmembers and pressure from the South King community insisted on it. South King could have pushed for something else instead, like the good things you suggest, but it didn’t. I would have preferred better access to Kent instead. So some of your neighbors are pushing for this and they’re the loudest voices. If you want something different you’ll have to be louder than them, or elect different officials who will then be on the ST board or be influential to it.

      9. Joe, there is one important caveat: There is no guarantee that a ST4 would prioritize the corridors that make the most sense from a density and ridership standpoint. ST3 sure hasn’t! For better or worse, there will be quite a bit or inertia to extend West Seattle Link down to the Westwood Village and White Center, if not all the way to Burien.

        That sounds like a solid argument for an east-west alignment. Make it more difficult for Sound Transit to continue the stupidity.

        In general, I am with Joe on this. It is crazy to spend extra effort to enable an extension that will likely never happen. The size and scope of the existing rail project is unprecedented for a city this size. We will not only have the largest light rail system in North America, but more rail than all but a handful of cities. New York City and Mexico City will have more, but we will be up there with Washington D.C., the Bay Area, and Chicago (at over 100 miles of track). But we will have nowhere near the ridership of those cities. We simply aren’t that big of a city, and unlike, say, D. C., it wasn’t designed to maximize ridership, but to please ignorant shareholders. Sooner or later, the bill will come do (it always does). We will be spending a huge amount on maintenance, making broken escalators and cracked tracks seem like the good old days. That wouldn’t prevent the agency from continuing with the stupidity, and building very low performing sections first (since ST4 would occur well before the bill), but it would make it a very bad idea.

        Mike is right. Ballard to UW is probably the next thing. Furthermore, it is probably the only thing that will be built. It won’t involve Lake City, or Kirkland, or Sand Point, but be merely a line that runs between Ballard (with two stations) and the UW. It would be cheaper and have more riders per dollar spent (on maintenance or construction) than anything in ST3.

        On the other hand, if it is very cheap, then I see no problem with orienting north-south. But it would be very strange for ST to basically say the train needs to point south so that it can eventually go that way, while making a train serving 65th and 85th in Ballard too expensive to bother with. Neither 65th or 85th are great stops, but an elevated line to them is way more cost effective than any possible extension of West Seattle Link.

      10. South King may be already walking away from Burien and Burien-Renton. If I remember the studies showed a particularly high cost per rider between AJ and Burien and maybe in the Burien-Renton corridor, so that may be part of why South King was remarkably quiet about those projects afterward. If so, Engineer may be getting his wish.

      11. If the City of Seattle thinks so little of Metro Route 44 that it gives it only three very short queue jumps, then why in the world should the taxpayers of the Central District, Shoreline, Capitol Hill, West Seattle, and the Rainier Valley pay to build a subway few people will be able to access because of its pitifully few stations?

        The Metro44 should be a semi-surface tramway along the Burke -Gilman. It’s cheaper and MANY more people would be able to walk to and from it, even with the truncated walkshed.

      12. It’s not that Seattle doesn’t value the 44; it’s that Seattle prioritizes cars and the councilmembers are in fear of getting unelected if they squeeze cars and parking more than a little bit. The merchants on 45th say losing street parking would drive their shops out of business. The Burke-Gilman is not a good corridor because east of Fremont the density is around 45th which is an annoying walk uphill from the Burke-Gilman. The B-G has little walkshed on one side because of the Ship Canal. Also we have a nationally-renowned bike trail which is so popular it has congestion peak hours, and all those bikes would be displaced. (Meaning some of them would fill the streets, and others would stop biking.)

        The issue of not building a subway because the city doesn’t prioritize buses is that it’s like shooting yourself in the foot. Taxes don’t exist in a vacuum like the anti-tax people tend to imagine. They pay for things, and the proper evaluation is whether those things are worthwhile and necessary. Good non-car circulation improves the economy and people’s quality of life. So we need to base transit decisions on what the city really needs, not on how minimalist or backward the current officials are.

      13. @Tom — The 44 was part of the MoveSeattle plans, as one of its “RapidRide+” projects ( But improvements like that aren’t cheap. As it turns out, the former mayor and SDOT chief lied to the public when it came to those improvements (it will cost way more than what they said).

        I will also caution you against assuming that just because a bus line lacks eye popping ridership, doesn’t mean it wouldn’t make an excellent subway. There is a difference between a bus and a subway alignment ( The 44 is particularly slow — one of the slowest buses in our system. Even at noon that corridor is slow, which means that a subway would be faster than driving just about any time of day. You can see what difference this makes even within our, very limited system. The 43 used to carry about 7,000 people a day — respectable, but by no means outstanding (for our bus system). Yet that exact corridor (with limited stops) makes up a very high portion of our ridership. Just the Capitol Station itself has more riders than the old 43, which is extraordinary, in that it is only one stop, doesn’t connect to the U-District as well, and the 43 takes some of its peak ridership. The Capitol Hill stop will increase substantially as Link goes further north, and would be much higher if there were more stops between the UW and downtown. That is what happens when the trip becomes faster than driving, all day long.

        … why in the world should the taxpayers of the Central District, Shoreline, Capitol Hill, West Seattle, and the Rainier Valley pay to build a subway few people will be able to access because of its pitifully few stations?

        I don’t know what you mean by “pitifully few stations”. A Ballard to UW subway would have a station at 24th, 15th, 8th, Fremont (upper or lower), Meridian, and the U-District. That is six stops, five of which are new. West Seattle Link only has three new stops. Ballard has six. So basically, this would have the same number of new stops north of Westlake as Ballard Link. I suppose you could not count the existing stops (Westlake and 15th) but that still leaves four new stops, and much better connections for people.

        The stop spacing on those stops are much better as well. With Ballard Link, the stops are clustered together, followed by huge gaps between stations. In general this gets expensive, and is thus not as good a value as stops roughly a half mile apart (which is what Ballard to the UW would have). Ballard Link does save money though, by running elevated much of the way. However, now the budget has increased even further, as they explore an expensive underground tunnel for only one stop, that just so happens to be in either a poor location (15th) or a horrible one (14th).

        As for benefiting other areas, that gets complicated, but here goes:

        Shoreline — Like all of the areas north of the ship canal, they benefit by avoiding the very long detour down to Seattle and back again to get to Ballard.

        Capitol Hill, West Seattle, Central District, Rainier Valley and Shoreline — All benefit by much easier access to areas between Ballard and the UW (Wallingford, Fremont, etc.) as well as the 24th Avenue stop (which is much closer to the heart of Ballard).

        Some would benefit more than others, but it is clear that everyone would benefit one way or another. Even if you are directly north of the line, you would be able to get to the UW faster (which means places like Greenwood and Crown Hill would benefit). This in turn means that the buses they ride to downtown would carry more people, which in turns means that they would run more often.

        You could make the same sort of argument with Ballard Link as well (that very few stops benefit them). Wallingford, Fremont, Greenwood and Phinney Ridge don’t have a faster trip to Ballard, nor downtown. That means only a handful of stops (basically Lower Queen Anne) benefit them. Same with Westlake and Eastlake. In many cases, they gain very little over just taking a bus, especially when buses can cross Aurora at Harrison. For the UW (and all areas to the north) they again don’t benefit from having the Ballard stop, which means they only benefit from the handful of stops between there and Westlake (again, mostly Lower Queen Anne).

        Meanwhile, very little of the city will benefit from West Seattle Link (including not that many in West Seattle). Three stops, only one of which is close to a moderately popular destination. The only time an existing bus to the exact same location is significantly slower is during morning rush hour. That means trips to places like Alki and South Seattle College, as well as various employment areas will be slower (since they will require a transfer). Unless you spend the night in West Seattle, you aren’t going to get anything out of West Seattle Link.

      14. Ross, if you can get all those stations — and massive upzones around them to make them worthwhile — then sure, a Metro44 would be a winner. But that many subway stations would be on the order of 3 billion themselves, plus the 1+ billion for the tunnel itself.

        Do you really believe the folks in the southern parts of Seattle and in Shoreline — heck, the folks north of 85th in Seattle itself — will vote for this as the headline North King project for ST4?

        It just doesn’t benefit enough people for the cost.

        I know you think everyone wants to go to Ballard for tonight’s meal, but it isn’t the Gaslight District.

        It’ll be a subway with stations at 15th, Aurora/Fremont, Wallingford and Brooklyn as studied for ST3 or it will be surface rail adjacent to the BGT.

      15. “There are also a TON of other priorities within Seattle that would rank above extending West Seattle link southward into the suburban land of no density.”

        Joe Z,

        I don’t think the lack of density west of California Ave SW merits priority over the multi-story housing at Westwood and the apartments on Ambaum that are allowed to be built because Seattle won’t annex the area. If you are worried about property acquisition costs, then we may as well jettison Alaska Junction Station, serve the Triangle, and have the line turn south to serve the affordable housing further south on I-35th instead.

      16. “But that many subway stations would be on the order of 3 billion themselves, plus the 1+ billion for the tunnel itself.”

        The ST study put it at near a billion if I recall. It’s short compared to other segments so there’s not a lot of miles for costs to add up. ST’s study said it would cost less and have higher ridership than Ballard-downtown. (Although the latter was rerouted through SLU at the last minute and that should raise ridership significantly.)

        “Do you really believe the folks in the southern parts of Seattle and in Shoreline — heck, the folks north of 85th in Seattle itself — will vote for this as the headline North King project for ST4?”

        What would they support more? 45th is the densest and highest-ridership east-west corridor in north Seattle, or anywhere not between Denny and Jackson. A cross line generates more ridership than a parallel line because it supports not only straight trips but also L-shaped trips in every direction, such as Wallingford to Roosevelt and Wallingford to Capitol Hill.

        So what would they get more excited about? Lake City? Metro 8? Georgetown? Everybody goes to 45th at least occasionally. “Lake City, most people never go there.” “Georgetown, I’m not building a whole second line to save ten minutes to the airport, and very few people live there.” “Metro 8, huh? Downtown already has lots of lines.” Two hundred transit fans would vote for it, but it hasn’t reached the public’s radar yet. Most people aren’t even aware of the difficulties of getting to First Hill or the CD on transit because they’ve never tried, and their first instinct is not to spend money on a line so close to downtown when other neighborhoods are further from Link. Plus, ST has not even acknowledged it as a worthwhile project, It will take a new generation of boardmembers or support on the city council to get it started, and they would have to sell it to the North King residents.

      17. “the apartments on Ambaum that are allowed to be built because Seattle won’t annex the area.”

        Isn’t Seattle still planning to annex North Highline? The preparation is going slowly but I haven’t heard it was stopped. Initially Burien was a stronger suitor because it’s suburban and they’d be a higher percent of the population so they’d have more influence on the city. But since the recession Burien has been feeling poorer and so Seattle may have a stronger chance now.

    2. Depending on the timing of ST4 in relation to Northgate Link and East Link openings (and maybe others), I predict that operational “corrections” will be on the table as part of the measure. In particular, better existing station access (including things like a First Hill to Midtown connection), perhaps train cars with more rider capacity, tail tracks and sidings and things like that. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Duwanish Bypass or some kind of bypass near Shoreline evolves if the measure happens in 2028 to speed trains and give Seattle riders more space if trains are too crowded.

      Future users and elected officials don’t see any problems yet — but they will become acutely aware of them within a few months of opening days. It’s only been two years and see how the unanticipated UW escalator issue has played out, as an example.

  5. I’m not a fan of either of the specific “improvements” either. But “ST should just run down 15th and actually serve people” seems to gloss over the fact that riders only care where the line runs at the point it reaches a station.

    Near the Helix Bridge would be a perfectly good station location, but it would be just as useful to Interbay residents/employees on the railyard side as it would as an elevated 15th Ave station, and probably significantly cheaper.

    And splitting the difference between Magnolia and Interbay further seems like it could expand the walkshed to a large part of (admittedly currently low-density) Magnolia.

    1. These alternatives make the ST3 representative alignment look pretty good. They did some good work when developing the ballot proposal. Now let’s just build it!

    2. ““ST should just run down 15th and actually serve people” seems to gloss over the fact that riders only care where the line runs at the point it reaches a station.”

      The riders are concentrated in the triangle between Market Street, Ballard Avenue, and 15th. 15th & Market is one corner of that triangle. That’s why it actually serves people, and why 14th is worse.

    3. But “ST should just run down 15th and actually serve people” seems to gloss over the fact that riders only care where the line runs at the point it reaches a station.

      No, that is not what Martin is getting at. He doesn’t care where the tracks run, he is concerned about the stations. Putting a couple of stations in very bad locations is the problem. No one said that 15th and Dravus or 15th and Market were great stations, but they are a hell of a lot better than Thorndyke or 14th and Market. Let me go over them, one by one:

      Thorndyke — The problem is not that the station has been moved west, but that the station has been moved north. This actually makes the walking distance from Magnolia farther! It is only one minute, but they gain nothing. Meanwhile, Queen Anne residents lose five minutes. That means a five minute walk becomes a ten minute walk, and a ten minute walk becomes I’m just driving.

      Many will ride a bus to the station, but again, that is worse. It is rare that you manage to make a station worse for just about every walk-up rider, as well as every bus to train rider, but putting the station well off of Dravus manages to do just that. (In case you don’t follow, it is important to note that from Magnolia as well as Queen Anne, the only way to access anything in Interbay is via Dravus. This means that riders who are actually a stone’s throw away from the proposed station have a long walk:

      14th — This station simply doesn’t understand where Ballard is. The center of Ballard is not 15th and Market (making the three minute walk to 14th less of a big deal) but somewhere around 22nd. It is worth pointing out that 14th is a bit of a misnomer — it is a significant distance from 15th ( It is not one block, but more like two and a half. This pushes it well outside the center of Ballard, which in turn means a lot of people simply won’t walk to the station. The walk along Market (and crossing Market) is not pleasant, which doesn’t help things. This in turn means that we will have built yet another bus dependent rail station. I love bus dependent rail stations (Yeah 130th!) but that is no way to build a subway. Remember, the whole reason this is being built *here* is because it was supposed to be cheap. By building right next to an expressway, and then requiring the bulk of riders to transfer to the train, you have gained little to nothing. If I’m at Ballard High School, and want to get downtown at noon, right now I take the frequent and fairly fast D bus. That is not really better, but I’m not the main customer here. My ridership is just a bonus. But now my ridership is *the main thing*. We have built a system that was designed to be cheap, but somehow managed to spend a lot extra (first on unnecessary elevated rail, then on either a tunnel or a move to the east) while making it worse! I was the first to admit that a bus tunnel approach made more sense for West Seattle than Ballard, but now the Ballard proposal is the same thing! If I’m at 24th and Market, and just want to get downtown, then I would like an 18 that runs all day long. Instead I will be too far away to walk to the station (as most people will) and wait for my bus to cross 15th (which does take a while) before I then wait for the train that will eventually get me to downtown. Just as with West Seattle, the vast majority of riders will be better off with express bus service, because the vast majority of riders will need to transfer.

      It is worse for the vast majority of riders and it costs more. It is idiotic. The only way you can explain it is if you assume that the ST board simply doesn’t give a shit about the people who will ride the damn thing.

      1. Ok, move the station closer to Dravus. But Interbay is the Magnolia bus connection station. No buses are coming from QA. And the current Magnolia Bridge structure won’t be there. Thorndyke is much better for all KCM LRP bus interactions. And much cheaper and easier to get to. With the added benefit of catalyzing a new connection from Interbay to Nickerson under 15th for buses to SPU.

      2. Thorndyke north of Dravus is a terrible location to get to from buses or by walking. There aren’t going to be enough buses going north and south on 15th for this station to integrate anything to, so it means all of the buses going to Magnolia will have to deviate going north a few blocks, which will add quite a lot of time to the routes for them to go into or out of the station area. It’s basically just a duplicate of the Mt. Baker station mess.

        On foot, the station location is terrible too. Dravis is quite difficult to cross on foot in that area, as it basically functions like a freeway interchange to 15th. The only crossing east of 15th with a light is all the way over on the other side of the BNSF main line at 20th.

        The location also consumes some of what little developable land is in the area, while putting the station above the BNSF at Dravus would consume less as it puts the station above land that is already being used for other purposes.

      3. No buses are coming from QA.

        Sorry, bus that is ridiculous. It would be crazy to not modify the 31/32 to serve the Interbay station. Of course buses from north Queen Anne (e. g. SPU) would serve the station.

        It is pretty simple, really. A bus from Magnolia serves the station, and then keeps going. The obvious direction is north, around the horn of Queen Anne (going up the hill would gain you very little). That enables bus riders in Magnolia to get to SPU (and Fremont) easily, while providing a connection to Link. You know, like a real transit network.

        Thorndyke is much better for all KCM LRP bus interactions. And much cheaper and easier to get to.

        Another ridiculous statement. A bus that goes from Magnolia to Thorndyke will literally pass by 17th and Dravus (a reasonable station) before having to make a *left turn* to serve Thorndyke. Then, when it is done serving the station, it will have to go back to 17th and Dravus, and make another left turn, to continue its journey.

        Look, I really have no problem with *any station* on Dravus. 15th, 17th, 20th — they all have trade-offs that aren’t obvious (and I haven’t spent the time analyzing them, nor do I know anyone who has). But moving the station off of Dravus onto Thorndyke, is terrible. It means that everyone who walks to the station has to walk farther. It means buses have to spend extra time getting to the station (and back). Sure, if the city spends a bundle on new infrastructure the bus situation could be mitigated, but why bother, when all that ST needs to do is just put the station on Dravus?

      4. I think that while the major ST3 theme was the “spine”, that ST4 could look at “ribs” as part of ST4.

        There are last half-mile connection issues across the region. Today, we assume feeder buses — although frequency can be an issue. Some places may resort to free shuttles.

        What else could be considered?

        1. Low-speed driverless shuttle vehicles like Easymile are being rolled out in several places.

        2. Unmanned cable-pulled systems (sort of sideways elevators) could work. A Queen Anne gondola or funicular?

        3. More escalator or elevator banks or pedestrian bridges could work. Imagine more “skywalks” like the Northgate Station pedestrian bridge or a 150- foot elevator tower at Midtown Link station that has a skywalk landing at 9th and Marion or 9th and Spring.

        A comprehensive package could be developed for these “rib” projects to go into ST4. Using the monorail taxing authority is another option.

        The first thing is to identify what ribs are generally needed. Once categorized, the various technologies can be assessed and different technologies will probably be preferred from corridor to corridor. Then they could be packaged as a larger regional program to generate broad support for approving additional referendum funding.

      5. The Spine project will be practically finished in ST3. The only additions the subareas have asked for are short extensions to Everett CC and Tacoma Mall. So ST will have to switch to a post-Spine paradigm, and it hasn’t thought systematically about that yet. It will probably just say “Finish the long-range plan”, which implies Ballard-UW, Lake City-Bothell, Totem Lake, White Center, etc, although it’s unclear which alternatives and interlines would be chosen. That would give you some ribs, although not a complete rib-based paradigm. There’s enough time until then that some new modes could be considered, especially since driverless bus transit may advance sufficiently by then. In any case, we should draw up our suggestions so that we have them as reference to wave in ST’s face.

      6. Some other things that may happen by the 1930s when people consider ST4:

        – A new generation of boardmembers with different ideas.
        – A different political climate.
        – Enthusiasm for SOVs and P&Rs have have peaked and started declining.
        – People see transit as more critical as the population rises and congestion worsens.
        – People start understanding what the environment is like for pedestrians using transit, and the necessity of having station entrances within convenient walking distance of activity centers.

    4. You’ve “go[ne] over them” ad nauseum already. Don’t you understand that you can bang a drum louder and longer but people only hear the same noise? If they were going to be convinced, they would already be convinced.

      Just link a former comment for new readers.

  6. Who does the Level 3 screening, i.e. who do we need to put pressure on in order to ensure that the heinous 14th Ave NW alignment in Ballard is not selected? The website says that “The Level 3 evaluation results will be available for public review in early-2019” – does that mean ST will decide on the alignment by then?

    1. It means we’ll go through a Level 3 comment period like we just did for Level 2. ST hasn’t done the Level 3 study yet; it just got the alternatives to study. After the Level 3 comment period, ST will presumably select a preferred alternative candidate, and then there will be another comment period, and then the board will make the final decision. So that might be in mid 2019.

  7. Hello white men of STB,

    I’m glad there is some push-back against the suburban west seattle comment. Like wouldn’t it be great if high quality transit could actually show up in a low income neighborhood (i.e. White Center), to serve the people it would help most before that neighborhood is gentrified??? Instead we have a multi-year long planning process for some fake BRT….

    Agreed, Jefferson square is a great spot, but is privately owned. Maybe one of the free parking lots??? They aren’t located as ideally, but perhaps the one at 44th and Alaska. I believe they are publicly owned (or jointly owned by the junction businesses or something). Plan ahead, make the turn south, I’m somewhat bitter about that Avalon stop existing at all because it is so close to the junction, but it is very high density residential.

    1. The White Center ship sailed when they decided to summit the hill up to the Junction (to appease wealthier West Seattleites) rather than do the cheaper and more logical route and go down Delridge. Getting the line from the Junction back to White Center just doesn’t make geographical or financial sense (try drawing it on a map). I agree it’s a real shame–a Delridge Line could have gotten close to Orchard (to serve High Point) with ST3 money and an easy two-stop extension to Westwood Village and White Center would have been feasible.

      Now that we’re stuck with the Junction alignment, it is crucial that the Avalon Station does not get cut–cutting the Avalon Station would be a major loss for the High Point/Roxhill area which can easily get to it via Route 21. Delridge and Avalon stations with easy bus transfers are of utmost importance for the areas south–it’s the best they are going to get for a long time, regardless of whether the line is ever extended south or not.

    2. Alaska Junction is the largest urban village in West Seattle, not just a wealthy neighborhood. Going down Delridge would serve a relatively high-ridership lower-income area but it would not “serve West Seattle”. There were two competing goals: serve the West Seattle core (a short distance from most parts of the penninsula), or serve the high-ridership but peripheral 120 corridor.

    3. Hello white men of STB


      The big problem with ST3 (and ST planning in general) is not that it is biased towards any particular group in particular, it is that folks don’t know what they are doing. West Seattle is suburban not in the sense of being particularly white (because it isn’t) but being both low density, and far away from significant and continuous destinations. This makes the area poorly suited for light rail, but well suited for a big expenditure in bus infrastructure (which will never happen). Instead of the half-assed “BRT”, think about a busway from West Seattle to 15th Ave West, with stops downtown and Lower Queen Anne ( You would need to improve the freeway situation, but that wouldn’t be too expensive (a little work on the Spokane Street Viaduct, a ramp, and you are good to go).

      That would mean that a rider would not experience congestion (i. e. encounter only buses) from the moment they left West Seattle until maybe the Ballard Bridge. It would mean a rider from Delridge would just keep riding their bus, as it quickly delivered them to downtown (or lower Queen Anne) instead of being forced to make a transfer, and wait a while for the train. It would save time for the vast majority of riders in West Seattle (who live nowhere near a station). That means places like High Point, White Center, Alki or South Seattle Community College (my alma mater) — in short, the vast majority of people and destinations of West Seattle — would have a faster ride.

      Of course there are trade-offs. Building a bus based “spine” doesn’t make sense if the destinations along the way are just as important. For example, the connection from the UW to downtown (by far the most important transit connection in our state) was a great candidate for light rail because it added stops at First Hill and Capitol Hill. It is the combinations of stops that make a subway system work. A Northgate rider may miss their express trip to downtown, but in return they get a very fast ride to Roosevelt, the UW and Capitol Hill (the last being faster than driving at noon).

      As it turned out though, the hugely expensive subway to West Seattle has very little of that. The Junction to Avalon? Avalon to the least populated part of Delridge (right by the freeway)? Those are meaningless connections, while literally nothing is being adding between the freeway stop and downtown. There is on fundamental advantage to an express trip. This makes it fundamentally different than most subways, and most of what we have built in the past (or are building with ST2).

      Nor can you say that the buses will be stuffed, with little to be gained by increasing frequency. West Seattle is simply not that densely populated. Building a subway system there, with all of those fundamental problems, was a really stupid idea, but par for the course for Sound Transit.

      They should have built a busway, or should have simply built a different subway. A metro 8 subway, for example, would connect more people (and more people who have been historically red-lined) while providing trips that again, would be faster than driving at noon. Too late now.

      1. I expect Ross to be handing out pamphlets for the Westside Seattle transit tunnel at the opening ceremony of the Alaska Junction station.

        A 2nd rail tunnel is needed to serve the downtown core, particularly by adding subway stops to SLU & LQA, and to free up regional capacity in the existing tunnel. I suppose we could built a 2nd tunnel and have it end in SoDo, or head towards Georgetown?

        And aren’t the C-line buses crush loaded at peak? I think there’s a long-term need for additional capacity, even with modest but consistent growth in West Seattle.

        Save your bus tunnel arguments for ST4, when Seattle is looking to solve the Aurora corridor (E & 5)

      2. The C-Line is crushloaded through the whole of both morning and afternoon peak, with people packed tighter than on the 545 (the other crushed route I know). It has me wondering if all these people treating it like a low-ridership embarrassment have ever even taken the damn thing more than once. It’s got respectable ridership outside of peak too.

      3. Yep, the transit ridership is West Seattle is impressive (given the lack of density) because a huge percentage of West Seattle works downtown and transit is faster than driving if you live near a bus route. C Line + 120 + 21 = 25,000/day weekday boardings, most of them coming to/from West Seattle. The ST Link projection of 32-37,000 is reasonable although it could easily end up higher if the bus feeder system is efficient. West Seattle isn’t that different from NE Seattle–a good network of buses feeding Link in commute times will generate big numbers.

        The stations need to be located at the transfer points since people will not be using Metro to get to them–so Delridge, 35th, and California are where you want the stations (as ST wisely planned them). A loss of any one of those stations means a loss of significant ridership since one of the major bus transfers with thousands of daily riders will get screwed up. There’s no added benefit to extending the line beyond the Junction Again, look at a map and try to draw the next 2 or 3 stations down the line…good luck getting it back to White Center and still being faster than the Rapid Ride 120 will be down Delridge.

        And yes, the C-Line sucks but is massively popular anyway. Because it’s the best there is. A valuable lesson for transit planners…it doesn’t have to be good, but if it’s better than the alternative it will be used.

      4. Some one-seat rides will still exist. The 120 will be upgraded to RapidRide so Delridge won’t be a forced transfer, and an all-day express will run on Fauntleroy-WSJ-SLU (via the car tunnel so not directly downtown). So it’s really only 35th that will have 100% forced transfers. (Which reinforces the importance of the Avalon station, hmm.)

        But. …Link will be exponentially more attractive for non-downtown trips like Capitol Hill, UW, north Seattle, and the Eastside. Currently for those you have to take a bus downtown and transfer there, and that means more overhead and slowdowns and unreliability compared to transferring to Link in West Seattle, which will seem like a godsend in comparison. Especially because, you know, the fast bus viaduct is going away.

      5. What’s the point of sending the 120 and C-line downtown after Link opens? Those bus hours are needed for the feeder network.

        I see the benefit of an SLU express to take advantage of the tunnel, but it seems like the downtown express buses should go the way of the 71/72/73/74 after UW station opened. As in NE Seattle, the focus should be frequent, all-day service on major arterials feeding Link.

      6. @Mike — If they keep the 120, then I think ridership will plummet for West Seattle Link. There just aren’t enough potential walk up riders in the three stations. Capitol Hill station, for example, has 8,000 riders a day, almost all of whom walk to the station. It is hard to imagine The Junction or Avalon being even close to that, while the Youngstown stop makes SoDo look fantastic. You just aren’t going to get that many riders walking to a station — the line is highly dependent on bus to rail transfers, with the 120 being a huge part of that. Anyway, I hope you are right (for the sake of those riders).

        The viaduct is going away, but I’m not sure how much difference that will make after this transition year. My understanding (and I’m too lazy to verify this) is that there will be lots of bus-only lanes on the surface. That might not be as fast as the viaduct, but might be close (time will tell I guess). As far as folks making the transfer early, some will, some won’t. There is a tendency for riders to get as far as possible on their journey, even if the transfer is easier somewhere else. It also isn’t clear that it will be that much better (again, time will tell).

      7. Oh, and fellow white men, if these buses are really crush loaded, then how will simply eliminating a stop or two solve the problem? Since the train is supposed to be so much better, won’t the buses still be crush loaded as they arrive at the station?

        I’m sure 25,000 a day sounds like a lot of riders, but Third Avenue handles twice that, and it has traffic lights, the occasional delivery guy and lost driver mucking it up. Bus tunnels can handle way more buses (and thus way more people). If you have crowding prior to that (as you do with lots of buses within our system) the answer is to add more buses. Eventually you can add express buses, which work out great for riders (as riders have the option of taking a bus into some place like the Junction, or taking an express to downtown). Right now, of course, you have the opposite, as the 128 actually funnels riders to the C, treating it as if it had larger capacity.

  8. Seattle Light Rail is so quiet that I dont see where elevated is much of a problem. If it is much cheaper as is claimed then that is the way to go. Seattle needs to adjust to the coming days were gobs of money for transit expansion are not available, being prudent now is a good idea.

  9. This process feels like a sham. From the start ST knew that only if Seattle came up with extra money would they be able to deviate from the representative alignment.

    Seattle, since Durkan took over, has known that they wouldn’t be able to come up with the large sums needed either.

    So we are left with what seems like a zero sum game where the only likely changes (ie 14th) occur because of special interests (the port).

    1. I think you’re somewhat misunderstanding the public process and the scope of the EIS. Yes, with a rigid budget it is a zero-sum game, and ST tends to side with other government entities, and the port is the most unusual government entity (i.e., what role should it play compared to a city)? We knew that all along. Some of the demands by tunnel supporters are delusional if they think there’s a bottomless checkbook or the region will in some unknown way pay for what those neighborhoods think they deserve. That doesn’t automatically mean those features should be excluded from the drafts at this stage. The staff probably doesn’t have the authority to make those high-level judgments; those are board decisions. And the staff is charged with listening to and incorporating what the community wants in at least one of the alternatives. What the staff is preparing is a menu of options for the board, the same way that it drew up a list of potential projects for ST3. It’s up to the board to say which features or tradeoffs are acceptable, how much over the budget estimate they can go, and how much financial risk they’re willing to take on. That will all happen at the end of the process when the board chooses a preferred alternative. There’s an interplay between those factors: the board would be more willing raise the budget if a compelling case can be made for something. West Seattle activists may or may not be a compelling case. I assume not because the Pierce and Snohomish boardmembers have already expressed skepticism. (But that wasn’t an official vote or a direction to staff; just individual boardmembers expressing a preliminary opinion.) What I expect at the end of Level 3 (i.e., my quality standard), is an “improved representative alignment” consolidated into one of the alternatives, with 15th rather than 14th. What the other alternatives have I don’t care as much. They could include expensive options that would require tradeoffs elsewhere, or additional funding the board would have to identify, or an inter-subarea loan. Those are all things the board can decide.

      My expectation of the board is that, if it chooses an unfunded expensive option, it will make it easily severable if the funding doesn’t come through. That means declaring that it’s contingent on the funding, and having a graceful fallback. For instance, KDM Station was uncertain during the recession, but it was a secondary end station so easy to truncate. A half-funded tunnel can’t be severed as easily: the alternative would have to be elevated, and that would require parallel preparation so that the elevated can be substituted when necessary rather than delaying the line five years to re-engineer it. I really don’t want to see the West Seattle tunnel become a “Bertha crisis” where we have to scramble for completion funding because canceling it or switching to elevated would be so politically objectionable. Likewise, I really don’t want to see Alaska Junction or Market Street truncated or Avalon deleted.That would be a horrible severability plan. Or maybe not. Having Link reach Smith Cove and 35th-or-Delridge may be something. But deleting inner stations sounds very shortsighted, such as deleting 35th to save Alaska Junction. That’s just saying we don’t support bus feeders from the largest lower-income area. If the remaining stations can be positioned so that all the feeders from California, 35th, and Delridge can get to a station without undue travel-time penalty,then maybe it could be OK, but we’d need a guarantee of that, not just the existing vague assumptions. But in any case we’d need a package with good severability and a good community understanding that that’s all we can afford.

  10. I’ll say it again the Interbay stop on 15th is a terrible stop. No one from Magnolia will use it and only a block or so of Queen Anne will until the hill becomes too steep for people to bother. So that leaves just the 3 apartment buildings directly along 15th&Interbay to provide riders for an entire station. For all the talk about TOD the location inside Interbay along 17/Thorndyke has by far the greatest potential if the Interbay triangle ever gets converted from light industrial to residential or mixed as well as pulling in some riders from Magnolia (more if a tight bus loop that goes to just the station is established).

    Not to mention keeping construction off of 15th as much as possible.

    1. So would you leave a stationless gap between Smith Cove and Market Street? When does a gap become too large?

      1. How far is it from Tukwila International Boulevard to Rainier Beach? Is that too far?

        I’m not sure if it is fair to compare the area around the station that should be at Boeing Access Road, and the area around the possible Dravus station, but they don’t seem all that dissimilar.

        So, while I’m not advocating that they defer a Dravus Station, they could…

      2. Rainier Beach to TIB is all industrial and highways.Nobody lives there, few people work in any particular location (there’s no Boeing plant), and you can’t carry industrial materials on a subway. Interbay has some houses, and more importantly, a commercial cluster zoned to be a mini urban village.

      3. I think they could cut an intermediate station on 15th, because it is has a limited walkshed and the likelihood of it appearing is low. I mean, sure, stop on the way to Ballard, but I don’t see the Dravus or Smith Cove being busy stations except during Expedia rush hour. These stations will probably be like Stadium and Sodo – usually empty, but there are a few busy times.

      4. Stadium Station is interesting, because while average ridership is the lowest in Seattle, on game days several thousand people use it all at once, and the streets become traffic-jammed with cars (worse than rush hour!), throwing off the north-south buses like the 131/132 (and impacting their through-route pairs 26 and 28). One of the purposes of high-capacity transit is to scale to large crowds, and to bypass traffic congestion. I feel sad for southern neighborhoods like South Park that lose any 132 reliability on game days, but in consolation the 60 goes to Beacon Hill Station and doesn’t get caught in the 4th Avenue or I-5 traffic. But if there wasn’t a line going through Stadium, then Beacon Hill Station wouldn’t exist. I go to Costco through there, and Link takes me to SODO, although it’s an exact “last mile” from there to Costco where only the 131/132 are available, so I’m impacted on game days either fully (if I take the bus from from downtown) or partially (if I take the bus from SODO or walk).

        I don’t know how big Expedia is but i doubt it will have the crowds of a stadium or UW or Microsoft. So Link’s crowd scaling advantage is not as significant.

    2. Dude, you gain nothing by moving the station to Thorndyke. Nothing! Holy cow, look at a map. There is only one way to access Interbay (I should know, I used to live there, back when you could count the apartments and houses on one hand). That street is Dravus. Moving it off of Dravus means that folks who walk *from either side* will have to walk farther.

      Meanwhile, you obviously haven’t been there lately, but most of Interbay has been rezoned. It was rezoned a while ago. You can see those new apartment buildings that have been built. Here, look at a map ( See, all those places now zoned residential/commercial (which means apartment buildings). The only exception is the tiny sliver *that is precisely where Link wants to put the station*.

      Maybe some street maps will help. This is a 7 minute walk from a Magnolia apartment ( That goes *up* to 8 minutes as you get to Thorndyke (even though you are closer as the crow flies). Here is a five minute walk from many of the apartments on Queen Anne ( Now it is ten minutes ( From every direction it is a longer walk.

      Is 7 minutes too far to walk? Is that why folks in Magnolia won’t walk there? OK, then how about folks *in Interbay* who are being asked to walk there ( You are saying folks won’t walk 7 minutes, but will walk 6. That is crazy.

      Look, walk share doesn’t work like that. Everyone has their own limit, and as you go farther and farther out, you lose more and more people. But somehow this manages to lose people, while gaining no one! That is because there is nothing there! Even if you rezoned the area, it is right next to railroad tracks, and farther away from *both* Magnolia and Queen Anne! It wouldn’t make much difference to Magnolia, but for Queen Anne it is a killer. Five minute walks become ten. Ten become fifteen. Those riders will just drive, or make do with connecting bus service.

      That will be worse! Every connecting bus has to either navigate their way to Thorndyke (making turns along an area that you hope will have lots of pedestrians, and will certainly have lots of cars) or just walking in the middle of their journey. Either way it costs people a lot of time, while gaining absolutely nothing.

      It isn’t about the zoning, it is about the planning. Sound Transit doesn’t seem to care. They are mostly about pleasing parochial interests (know-nothing underpaid port representatives, well paid but transit-ignorant city representatives and wealthy, selfish business interests). No one on the board seems to be focused on transit itself because no one on the board knows shit about transit. They all assume someone else does, and as long as no one doesn’t complains too loudly, they just keep building. Meanwhile, ignorant voters keep assuming this is the best we can get, forever wondering why transit just seems to be more difficult here, despite the huge amount of money spent on it.

      1. Honestly, is there a good choice for this stop? Or is it just picking the least worst choice? The walkshed sucks no matter where it goes.

      2. @Brad. Yeah, pretty much. The key is to have a stop on Dravus (pretty much anywhere on Dravus) so that you have a good bus intercept and deal wit the weak walkshed as best you can. It isn’t that much different than 130th, 145th, etc.

  11. Remember when folks said “I know ST3 is mostly crap, but the Ballard line is good”? Ha, those were the days.

    I think it is funny that the best station in the entire ST3 package is actually redundant. For a few million we could fix up the monorail and provide the best part of one of the most expensive transit projects in North America.

    Just to review the projects here:

    Issaquah rail, Lynnwood to Everett rail, and SeaTac to Tacoma Dome rail are all very expensive projects that will provide very little. West Seattle rail was a mistake, which will either force the bulk of their riders to transfer (right before their bus was about to get on the freeway) or Metro will have pity on the riders, and the trains will run mostly empty. So that leaves Ballard Link, of which there are seven new stops. Might as well go through them:

    Midtown — Very close to the existing stops, which means no one will bother to transfer to it.

    Westlake — Exactly the same as an existing station.

    Denny — Now this station is closer to Westlake. This again means no one will bother with a transfer there.

    South Lake Union — This makes a nice connection with Aurora buses, but every Aurora bus will be headed downtown. Will anyone bother to get off the bus, when they will be at their destination within minutes? Very few, I would imagine.

    Seattle Center — The best station, but one served by the monorail.

    Smith Cove — An area particularly bad for development, with waterfront on one side, and a greenbelt on the other, with railroad tracks and a major express way as well.

    Interbay — Never destined to be a great station; the railroad tracks, 15th and the park take up too much space. But valuable as a bus intercept for Magnolia as well as west and north Queen Anne. Add in a few riders from Interbay as well as east Magnolia and west Queen Anne and it could at least be decent. That is, before the decision to move the station to Thorndyke. That moves the station away from the bus stops, and away from people who want to walk to the station (you can only get to the station via Dravus). Interbay itself (a tiny area) is mostly zoned residential, yet this also manages to abut the industrial land. It is rare that you move a station and somehow mess it up for every possible use. Bravo!

    Ballard (or should I say, West Woodland) — By moving it both deep in the ground and farther away from the bulk of the people (you know, the people in Ballard) ST has managed to upstage their horrible Interbay station placement. It is actually worse for riders, worse for those who transfer via a bus; just plain worse. Just when you think they can’t outdo themselves — they do! Except this time, there are way more riders involved. Ballard is one of the most densely populated parts of the state (I know, it might not look like it if you haven’t been there lately) and they managed to skip it entirely.

    Folks in Ballard will thus be in the same position as folks in West Seattle — forced to make a transfer, and wondering if this really is better than if they just redid some of the bus routes.

    1. It’s worse than being redundant.

      Putting in the operational split between the SeaTac/ Rainier Valley Line and the UW/ Northgate/ Snohomish line actually makes ST3 worse for many trip pairs within Seattle. Suddenly rides are going to have to do an added transfer after 2035 unless a different operational scheme is introduced (and I don’t see that happening).

      Even getting to South Lake Union will require a transfer for most people — just like today. The only direct rail service will be from SE Seattle (and points south of that).

      I have to say that given the cost of building a tunnel underneath the Ship Canal makes me wonder if it would have been cheaper to end this at Smith Cove and bore a new tunnel from the U-District station for a shuttle to Ballard with stops at Wallingford and Phinney Ridge..

    2. You missing other purposes for some of the stations.

      Midtown: So people on the line can get off there. The same reason University Street and Pioneer Square Stations exist.

      Westlake: To transfer between the lines. Where else will the transfer? Intl Dist, SODO? Don’t a lot of people expect to transfer in the center of downtown, the center of the retail district, and to the Capitol Hill buses?

      Denny, SLU: people going to the Denny Triangle and SLU will get off there. Many of them will even transfer to the Ballard line (at Westlake) to get to them.

      “Putting in the operational split between the SeaTac/ Rainier Valley Line and the UW/ Northgate/ Snohomish line actually makes ST3 worse for many trip pairs within Seattle.”

      It makes it better for others. Who’s to say which trip pairs are most critical? With the Eastside to north Seattle it’s more clear: a large number of Eastsiders go to UW and North Seattle and Lynnwood because they’re economically and culturally similar. They don’t go to southeast Seattle nearly as much because it’s dissimilar, and West Seattle is out of the way and small. But for somebody in North Seattle or Lynnwood, who’s to say whether they’re more likely to go to southeast Seattle or the airport, or to West Seattle? I can’t tell. They may be more likely to go to West Seattle because again it’s more economically and culturally similar. Rainier Valley is more similar to Renton and Kent than to West Seattle (although 35th and Delridge may beg to differ), so it makes more sense to connect them (by the 106, a Judkins Park-RV-Renton Link, etc).

      In any case, Everett-Tacoma is split because ST considers a 135-minute run too long for drivers. So Everett can’t be attached to the south line. What other combination would you like?

      1. Sorry to remind you of this, Mike, but ST2 is creating an Eastside to Downtown to Lynnwood Line — not ST3.


        Not all Tacoma trains have to go to Everett. ST is free to operate all sorts of schedule configurations. That’s a good thing because someone getting on at Roosevelt heading to Downtown Seattle may not be able to squeeze on because the train would have stopped 13 times already.

        I see nothing wrong with half of the Tacoma trains going to Ballard and half to Northgate, half of the West Seattle trains turning at Everett and half at Ballard, and half of Redmond trains reaching Everett and half reaching Mariner — as long as crossover tracks are built in SODO. A rider can choose to wait 6 more minutes or get on the next train and transfer, as opposed to the current operation that makes everyone transfer between SE Seattle / Tacoma and North Seattle / Snohomish.

        Keep in mind the current Board has yet to axe a deep tunnel station at ID. That option will add several minutes anyway.

      2. I don’t buy that West Seattle is “culturally closer” to North Seattle than SE Seattle is. I can’t see the future making that happen either. SE Seattle has added thousands of new units in the past ten years too.

        Seattle will certainly look different in another 18 years. Are you suggesting a continuation some sort of de facto transit rider segregation is driving the operations plan?

      3. The rich parts of West Seattle still bear the marks of redlining like North Seattle does. There’s quite the divide between Delridge/Avalon and the Junction/Admiral/Alki.

      4. “Sorry to remind you of this, Mike, but ST2 is creating an Eastside to Downtown to Lynnwood Line”

        I know that. I was saying that East Link from the Eastside to North Seattle and Snohomish County represents the dominant trip patters. The other line, which in ST2 goes from Lynnwood to Angle Lake, will in ST3 go from Everett to West Seattle. I’m saying there’s no obvious reason why that’s worse than any other combination, and that the question of what to connect Ballard to similarly has no majority answer. Some people have suggested that East Link should go to Ballard instead. But how do you do that without creating Everett-Tacoma which ST doesn’t want.

        I’m not sure about your multi-branch approach; it’s complicated to figure out how it matches everybody’s trips. My biggest concern is that Tacoma trains are limited to 6 minutes by MLK, so cutting that in half would mean they’d go to Ballard only every 12 minutes, which is less than my minimum of 10 minutes on every branch. Would the trains from the Eastside fully make up for that, with evenly-spaced headways? I dislike systems like BART and MAX and VTA that run each branch at 15 minutes rather than 10 minutes; that seems substandard for a subway. In cities with real subways you never wait more than 5 minutes daytime or 10 minutes evening until late night.

      5. People’s impressions of neighborhoods last far longer than reality. Many Eastsiders think it’s still unsafe to go to Rainier Valley, and that gang shooting are as common as they were in the 90s. Even if it’s no longer reality, they make their decisions where to live and shop and go based on that. In time that will change. There have been Mercer Island lawyers and Eastside tekkies living in the valley since at least the 2000s. And all the newcomers look at the new houses and apartments and say “Great price!” and don’t know about the history, and their reports and growing communities will eventually reach the ears of average Eastsiders. Maybe in ten or twenty years their impression of the valley will be completely changed; they’ll see it as indistinguishable from North Seattle and West Seattle. The people I know and meet sometimes go to Remo Borrachini’s , but are unlikely to go to Columbia City or Rainier Beach, especially alone.

        Another anecdote, although this one is from the 80s, my friend worked at the Bellevue K-Mart and sometimes other branches. People often came in and asked for something that wasn’t in stock in Bellevue. He’d say it’s available in other branches, but they were only interested in suburban ones. He’d say there are stores in Delridge and Aurora that are closer to them, but they weren’t interested. Because Seattle is run down and such. This avoidance of all of Seattle is diminished but it’s not gone. The avoidance of Rainier Valley is a subset or microcosm of that.

      6. For the rider at the platform, it’s not waiting for a train every 12 minutes. It’s only waiting 12 minutes if they don’t want to transfer The rider gets to CHOOSE whether or not to wait up to 12 minutes or to be willing to transfer and wait only up to 6 minutes! Without a split approach for Ballard/Snohomish on the north and West Seattle/South King/Pierce on the south, you take the choice of transferring or not away.

        As for rider “confusion”, I’m sure most can figure out — just like they do in New York, Denver, Berlin, Stockholm, Atlanta, Copenhagen and many other multi-line rail systems around the world. The only thing it might require is more line colors — which wouldn’t be that important if the lines also had a number of letter or name.

        All East Link trains would travel to Snohomish in the suggested scheme. It is based on modified version of a Zach Shaner STB concept linked here:

        In my proposal option, half of the East Link trains would end at Everett and half at Mariner. Half of the West Seattle Link trains would end at Everett. Half of the Tacoma/SeaTac trains could end at Mariner or at Northgate, depending on how ST wants and needs to manage potential overcrowding. While the lines themselves would be at 12 minutes, there would not have to be any track segment with less than six minute service — period. None. Nada.

        Places that do this often even have station announcements that say something like “For Ballard-bound riders, take this Blue Line train and transfer at Westlake, or wait for the next Green Line train to Ballard arriving in X minutes.”

        It’s really not that hard.

      7. “As for rider “confusion”, I’m sure most can figure out”

        I wasn’t talking about confusion although that’s a secondary issue. I was talking about what the majority trip patterns are. Do the lines match the majority trip patterns (maximizing one-seat rides), or do they cut across them forcing the number of transfers to rise above the natural level? This is a case where some simple tweaks could improve the usability of the network (meaning making it more convenient for the aggregate population). As I’ve said, East-North is justified by the number of Eastsiders going to Capitol Hill, UW, and North Seattle. East-Ballard may be emerging as SLU and Ballard grow. The other combinations I’m not so sure of; I don’t see any clear difference between one combination or another in terms of where more people are going.

      8. @Mike — I think you are missing my point. Of course you have stations on this line at places like Westlake, so folks can transfer. But my point is, that, in itself, does not add value. There has to be sufficient destinations — on each side of the line — to make it worth it. Other than Lower Queen Anne (which could be handled reasonably well with the monorail) this lacks that. You can’t really count those stations as value added for the entire system, despite the fact that they cost a bunch of money. I ask it again — who is going to transfer to the midtown station? Practically no one. That is a lost opportunity that very few, if any cities have made.

        Put it another way. Pretend the BS issue with capacity is not an issue, and imagine this line just reusing the other tunnel. Would anyone prefer the new tunnel? A handful at most. Again, no one does this. No one.

        Likewise, by putting the so called “South Lake Union” stop so close to Westlake, you lose riders who would otherwise transfer. It just isn’t worth it; I might as well walk (if the stop is in between the two stations) or take a bus (if the station is beyond it). Even if my destination is right, smack dab by the entrance to the station I think I’ll just walk, especially if the other train is running every ten minutes (which is likely to be the case more often than not).

        Meanwhile, for Ballard, it was never worth transferring if you were at the UW. If you were farther north (Northgate) then you were better off taking the slow 44. But now things are worse. Imagine I’m at Lake City, trying to get to the heart of Ballard. I have to take a bus, then a train, then another train, then another bus. Call me crazy, but I think I’ll just do what I do today, and slog my way via a bus that goes through Northgate Transit Center (or drive). Better yet, I’ll ride a new RapidRide version of the 40 that extends into Lake City (while the D heads to Northgate). That is sure to come on line years before this.

        Even for Capitol Hill you have to wonder. These are the two biggest residential/entertainment areas in the city outside of downtown and the UW. It is quite reasonable to assume that lots of and lots of people travel between those two place, and that lots of those people use transit. But now, I’m not so sure I like my options. I can go north, then cross on the slow 44, which hopefully will be made a little bit less slow. Or I can go south, transfer, then transfer again, to get to Ballard. Either way I’m taking the 44, so if they just do half the work they want to do on that corridor, I’m heading north. When people say “a station at 14th means that it only works for commuters”, this is what they are talking about.

        Trip pair after trip pair is thrashed by ST incompetence. Yeah, I know, a tough word, but there is simply no evidence to suggest that ST has ever worked with experts. Even when experts were hired (at presumably great expense) by the city of Kirkland, ST simply ignored their studies, and did things their own way (thus we will eventually have the marvelous South Kirkland to Issaquah subway). You would think that an agency with no expertise on the subject would actually listen to a paid expert, but nope, that ain’t their style.

        Just to be clear, it isn’t horrible. This will add value. It is just that for the money, it really is terrible. ST3 isn’t cheap. This is a massive investment in transit infrastructure that will be half-ass, because the folks in charge either assumed that transit issues were simple, or didn’t care if they weren’t. With ST2 they really were simple. Yes, obviously they made plenty of mistakes, but most (like a 130th station) are easily fixed. But the basic idea — a train to Northgate and Bellevue and beyond — is solid. But now that the situation gets a little trickier (Ballard to downtown via Interbay or the UW) they simply failed, and are prepared to fail even worse.

        Thus I go back to my original premise, that the only great stop along here is called Seattle Center. Would I transfer from the main line to get to the Seattle Center stop? Hell Yes! That stop is great. Lots of people will use that stop. It just so happens, though, that the monorail pretty much serves that stop (although admittedly not as well as this will). Just about everything else looks bad — really bad.

      9. Jesus, Ross, if you use that Midtown logic then we should close Pioneer Square and University Street since relatively few people transfer there. The point of Midtown is to bring bankers and other movers-and-shakers to work and take them back home.

        And not to put too fine a point on it, but it will be the preferred transfer between Link and Madison BRT, if it is built.

      10. Oh, I misunderstood. You are saying that few people will transfer from one of the DSTT lines TO the Green Line to disembark at Midtown.

        That may be true, but so what? Do you believe that no one from Ballard and the Rainier Valley and points south will want to go to the Financial District? Sure, many come from the Eastside and some from West Seattle. But I’m confident that there will be plenty of users of Midtown when it opens

  12. “For the rider at the platform, it’s not waiting for a train every 12 minutes. It’s only waiting 12 minutes if they don’t want to transfer”

    It’s also people walking in to the station. They’re most likely to do so if they know they’ll never wait more than 5 minutes for a train, or 10 minutes in the evening.

    1. That is, a train going to a large hub like downtown or the U-District or a strategic transfer station. When a station has multiple lines going to different areas it gets more complicated. If they both pass through the biggest hub (downtown) then it may be fine if each line is 10 minutes giving 5 minutes combined to downtown. From Ballard to Bellevue I wouldn’t say that Bellevue is close enough or large enough to require a Ballard-Bellevue train every 5 minutes, but I might howl if it were every 12 or 20 minutes. It depends on the situation. U-District to downtown should be every 3-5 minutes because that’s an urban expectation. Roosevelt to SeaTac or Roosevelt to West Seattle, well, 10 minutes seems reasonable. Roosevelt to Redmond, 10 mintuues would be good, and maybe ten minutes plus a transfer would be OK. These are just my estimates.

  13. Hopefully, the extension out to Issaquah will be reconsidered: an extension from there to South Bellevue to Renton and ideally continuing on to Tukwila Station would make far more sense.

    1. I suspect that people in the 2030s will have second thoughts and might modify the Issaquah-South Kirkland line and the Tacoma 19th Avenue extension before construction starts. In that case, the could potentially replace the Issaquah line with an express bus to Bellevue or reroute it to South Bellevue. But Bellevue to Renton is not in the cards because ST has determined that sufficient ridership won’t emerge there until later. That was part of the fringe considerations for the Burien-Renton light rail study, the Renton-Bellevue commuter rail study, 405 light rail planning, and the relative value of the Bellevue-Renton corridor compared to other Link corridors. All that is what led to 405 BRT and deferring Link for later. When 405 gets Link (or the general north-south corridor), it will go north from Bellevue first. The Issaquah-South Kirkland line is implicit preparation for that, because a second phase might go north to Totem Lake. (Either that or cross the lake to Ballard.) Link south of Bellevue wouldn’t happen until later. Presumably as an extension of the Burien-Renton line starting at Renton Landing. But the Burien-Renton line itself may be deprioritized, as I said above. South King got remarkably quiet about pushing it after its study came out.

    2. And all that is what led to 405 BRT being selected. It was always a long-term plan, ever since WSDOT revised a 405 Master Plan several years ago. But the failure of Bellevue-Renton Link, Bellevue-Totem Lake Link, Bellevue-Bothell Link, or Burien-Renton Link to be viable in the ST3 timeframe or near after is what led to 405 BRT being selected.

      1. I wonder if as part of the study they looked at Puyallup to Bellevue. i would guess not.

        Because I can see how Renton to Bellevue ridership wouldn’t be there, but the evidence of my eyes tells me that there are people down south who use 167 and 405 who might just consider taking transit if a grade separated option existed.

        The other problem though, is that there really is no good route from Renton to Bellevue. 405 is hemmed in by the lake on one side, and cul-de-sacs on the other. Getting a route over to Newcastle (assuming it upzoned) and then down through Coal Creek to Factoria looks very difficult.

      2. ST has not looked at rail on 167 that I’m aware of. The existing 566/567 have unpromising ridership so I’ve heard. There have been requests from Pierce for a Tacoma Dome to Bellevue express bus, but ST hasn’t done anything about it.

        I have made my own suggestions for a Link line from Rainier Beach to Renton and Kent (the 169 corridor, and either 106 or 101). Another variation would send it up to Judkins Park Station, Garfield HS area, and somehow to Belltown (the Metro 8 line, crossing Broadway somewhere between Swedish and Capitol Hill Station).

      3. Oh, were you referring to Sounder rather than Link for Puyallup to Bellevue? No, ST never considered a Sounder line like that. It was purely from Bellevue to Renton. The termini may have been all the way to South Kirkland and Tukwila Station; I didn’t look that closely.

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