by SEATTLE SUBWAY

#ST4Seattle Map by Oran

People love riding Link. The more Sound Transit builds, the more Seattle votes with our feet. But planning and building expansions can take decades. It’s clear that we need Link expansion beyond what is currently planned, and our rapidly growing city and the burgeoning climate crisis demand we take action without delay. That’s why it’s time for Seattle to start working on ST4, the next round of Link rail expansion.

Looking ahead to the completion of ST3’s Seattle expansions in 2035, we see a city that has made huge strides building high quality transit but still lacks a comprehensive subway system. It’s a system that will still have frustrating gaps, lacking stations in our densest residential neighborhoods like Belltown and First Hill.  We must think bigger and bring service to the entire city. A true Seattle Subway means being able to catch a train in Georgetown, Wallingford, or White Center and take a ride to Lake City, Crown Hill, or Fremont. ST3 is a huge step forward, but it falls well short of the vision of ST Complete, the vision of a Seattle fully connected by high-quality transit. 

Seattle can’t afford to wait; it is imperative that we take charge of our future. Seattle is adding more residents than all King County suburbs combined. Our next expansion vote should come in 2024, on the heels of the opening of major expansions to Northgate, Bellevue, Redmond, Federal Way, and Lynnwood. More people than ever will be riding Link. More people than ever will be asking: Why can’t we have Link in our neighborhood? We must be ready with the best possible answer: You can.

Sound Transit’s regional process has worked very well at creating political space for investments and will pay huge dividends for generations to come, but it has come at a glacial pace. The Sound Transit Long Range Plan lacks critical Seattle lines that would have extremely high ridership. Meanwhile, the rest of the region is unlikely to be ready to move forward with expansion until sometime in the 2030s. 

There are very serious risks in planning subway expansion piecemeal instead of as a system. Stations that should be built for eventual transfers have to be built that way from the start. Tunnels that should allow for future expansion have to be built that way from the start. If Seattle doesn’t authorize further expansion in 2024, we fear that the brand new subway tunnel Sound Transit is building as part of ST3 will just be for a single, solitary line that won’t ever live up to the potential of the huge investment we are making. This will mean far higher costs and longer timelines and possibly stopping expansion to some neighborhoods.  

So how do we pay for it? There are options: The City Transportation Authority (CTA) and the Seattle Transit Benefit District (TBD) are existing funding sources that have potential. The CTA can be used as-is, but can be greatly improved with state action. Please join us in urging your state legislators to improve the CTA

We stand now at the same spot we stood when we started working towards ST3 in 2011. The need is clear but there is a lot of work to do. We’ll need to select a funding source and get politicians on board but the very first step is the same as it’s always been – get people excited about what is possible. 

For that, we need your help. Come join Seattle Subway. Help us write our coming series expounding on the merits of each potential ST4 line. Help us get the word out at farmers markets and community events around Seattle. Help us by letting politicians and Sound Transit know you want more expansion.

What we said when we first started our work in 2011 is as true today as it was then: Traffic is over – if you want it. 

179 Replies to “Seattle: It’s time to start work on ST4”

    1. The trip to the airport will always be hamstrung by having to travel down MLK. A more direct should be considered.

      1. An express bypass of the RV would be nice, but is hardly a priority for the region. Even South King subarea, which arguably would benefit most from a faster ride to downtown, isn’t particularly interested.

      2. If we ever get all-day semi-frequent Sounder, a shuttle between the airport and Tukwila Sounder station could provide a faster, premium transit option from the airport to downtown. New York’s JFK airport advertises both a “cheaper” transit option (AirTrain + subway to Lower or Midtown Manhattan, $7.75) and a “faster” transit option (AirTrain + LIRR at Jamaica to Midtown Manhattan, around $15).

        Tukwila Sounder station is a bit of a trek from the airport, but it’s closer than Jamaica LIRR station is to JFK.

      3. A bypass around the Rainier Valley will become more popular when the trains get too crowded. Overcrowding will drive building support for a bypass, and Rainier Valley residents will be out front pushing for it when that materializes.

      4. We can’t build a Georgetown bypass when entire populated neighborhoods don’t have any Link service, not unless South King and Pierce want to pay for at least 2/3 of it. The areas that need Link the most on this map are, in order, Metro 8, Madison, 45th, Lake City, Aurora, White Center, and then a Georgetown bypass. The bypass would save 10-12 minutes; say it again, 10-12 minutes. We could also lower the MLK segment into a trench to increase speed and capacity, and that would serve several times more people than Georgetown.

      5. Airport trips are overemphasized when discussing Link.

        I fly 1-3 times a year, and pickup/drop-off people at the airport a couple times a year. I expect this is typical usage for anyone who is not a frequent business traveler, or an airport employee. (Moreover, many airport employees live in South King County and would see little benefit from a line that bypasses Rainer Valley.)

        I just don’t care very much if I shave a few minutes off a few airport trips each year. The pictured Ballard U-District, Metro 8, Ballard Lake City and Aurora lines would save me a lot more time and do a lot more for my mobility, because I’d be using them monthly/weekly/daily.

        The stations that a bypass would skip collectively have more than twice the weekday ridership that Seatac Airport Station receives, though I would guess that that the disparity is smaller on weekends.

        A bypass that cut a few minutes from DowntownSeatac trips might pick up a small number of new riders, but these effects seem too small to justify prioritizing a bypass while we have multiple other potential subway lines that would do much more to increase mobility. (Plus we need more bus service hours too!)

      6. Also, if we do decided to speed Airport trips, it would be better to spend the money grade-separating the MLK segment. This would make Link more reliable by cutting out service interruptions following collisions and eliminating the odd occasions when Link has to stop for lights. It would also relax the 35mph speed limit on that segment, so we might get a (small) time savings. More substantially, grade-separating MLK would allow ST to cut peak Link headways in half, reducing wait times, and doubling the line’s peak capacity.

      7. The Georgetown bypass was in ST’s long-range plan and was deleted in the 2014 update. None of the boardmembers or subareas stood up to keep it. People pointed out that it would shorten Link’s travel time to the airport, Federal Way, and Tacoma, but South King and East King weren’t interested; they were busy thinking of the jobs and shoppers the southern extension would bring to those areas (from south King County, not from all the way downtown). As for the benefits to the north end, that has never had any organized voice.

      8. Thanks for the background, Mike!

        It’s just one more anecdote demonstrating the lack of understanding about overcrowding on light rail for the Rainier Valley line segment.

        While four-car trains are coming, the frequency will drop to eight minutes in 2023. That’s a bit more hourly capacity than exists the day.

        Then in 2025, Federal Way Link riders get added. Then in 2030, Tacoma Dome Link riders are added. Maybe in 2030, the stub version of West Seattle Link riders may also get added (although that will mainly affect the SODO segment).

        It’s not clear if the return to six minute trains will return before the line splits and goes to Ballard in 2035. Going more frequent than six minutes will cause a huge headache for MLK, especially because it can take a pedestrian 40 seconds to cross MLK.

        We are so enthralled about expanding coverage that we don’t think about overcrowding. We fail to consider the political implications once tens of thousands of daily riders can’t get comfortably on trains. A new line south is going to be inevitably more popular of a concept if or when overcrowding happens.

    2. You don’t bribe in Seattle. You “lobby” in private.

      You become head of a mega-corporation with enough power to get private meetings with elected individuals to ask for what you want and get support.

      Even though that’s effectively bribery, it’s not only considered legal — but it’s what the Seattle political culture expects!

    3. The Madison-520 route is ingenious. It reflects the historical cable car+ferry route (art ideas there), and it answers the dilemma of whether we really want to route the 45th line to 520 (as was ST’s original assumption, and WSDOT’s assumption in making the bridge rail-capable). A 45th-Kirkland line would change the relationship between north Seattle and the northern Eastside (which has never had a fast connection), but the pink line partly addresses this by allowing an Eastside-Phinney trip which at least gets you to 45th.

    4. It’s ludicrous to think that dozens of Federal Way and Tacoma buses can be dumped onto Link at the same 6-minute frequency when the current 3-car trains are already almost full.

      Metro plans to take over the 577, probably partly because of Link’s travel time and partly because of this capacity issue. (And because Federal Way is privileged because it’s next to I-5 and has always had express buses.) There has been no word from Pierce Transit so the 59x and 574 will probably just be truncated with no replacement. But ST may find it can’t stop running express buses if Link gets overcrowded.

  1. I agree with the general concepts and would prefer any ST4 be a for-Seattle, by-Seattle, of Seattle and paid-for-by-Seattle programme.

    From Skagit looking in, I’ve said this before but I really want the Rainier Valley elevated. That should be an alternative worthy of study in scoping, and then we’ll go from there. Willing to be reasonable if you guys are.

    1. I’m glad you’re willing to be reasonable, coming from a place that pays exactly $0 towards Sound Transit.

      1. Hey now, the sales tax Joe pays while visiting the ST district is more than enough to justify adding a seat to the ST Board to represent out-of-district interests. \snark

      2. If I recommended in the Skagit Valley Herald that we raise taxes in Skagit County, where Joe lives, to add HOV lanes on I-5, he’d say that it’s none of my business, and he’d be right. That’s because it’s easy for me to say, as I wouldn’t be the one paying the taxes. Similarly, for at least ST-3, Joe stuck his nose into the voting process in the ST district to recommend how people who would pay those taxes should vote, which I amongst many here bristled at. In both cases, there’s something that feels wrong about that.

        On the issue of elevated trains in the Rainier Valley, it’s an opinion about a concept and not a tax, so I don’t bristle, and it’s coincidentally one that I agree with, for the at-grade nature of the present line risks people making their flights daily and was slower, on average, than the wonderful Metro #194 from downtown to the airport. At the very least, that alternative should have remained. I also agree with him re: letting Seattle pay for its own city lines. I feel the same way about Ballard and West Seattle spurs, neither of which is in the spine yet have completion dates at or ahead of Tacoma and Everett, which are in the spine (though I strongly disagree with the needless Everett-Boeing dogleg, which BRT serves today).

        I also think that Ballard to University, a heavily-traveled corridor for at least 40 years, was preferable to Ballard to downtown, for folks could transfer (what a concept) at University if they wanted to go downtown, and no water crossing was needed. Further, commuters go north as well, and they would have been served, as well as folks commuting to Ballard. The other “miss” on ST-3 was not going the length of the Eastside, or at least from Bellevue to Tukwila, passing through Renton, a city with nearly 3x the population of Issaquah, but without representation on the ST board when the decision was made. Water under the bridge, but examples of where the composition of the ST board needs to be elected, not selected.

      3. The 45th line would have been better because a cross line can serve more trip combinations than a parallel line, and a Ballard-UDist-downtown transfer would still be comparable to the 15X, both because of the short east-west distance and because an underground train can ignore the street grid and narrow right of way.

        But McGinn really wanted Ballard-downtown and championed it. And it does have some advantages, because SLU really needs high-capacity transit, and a PSRC report said downtown would run out of circulation capacity if it didn’t significantly increase north-south transit, and the second tunnel gives us guaranteed capacity and room for expansion. We’re lucky that the DSTT was built a generation before Link so it was out of the ST1 budget and costs were lower; that may have been what made Link politically possible in the first place.

      4. Joe can certainly say as a passenger what he thinks, and as a transit fan what he thinks, and as an aviation geek who exercises the Boeing tourist corridor (which Snohomish wants to promote) what he thinks. He just can’t say “You have a responsibility to build what I want.” And he’s not saying that.

        Part of Snohomish’s motivation behind Link and Sounder is actually for out-of-district riders like Joe. Snohomish hopes people from the north will park at Everett Station and take Link to the Everett Industrial Center to reduce car congestion in south Everett. Believe it or not. I don’t think it’s going to succeed but it was part of Everett’s stated reason for Paine Field and Everett Station. And Sounder’s Mukilteo Station is partly for commuters from Whidbey Island.

      5. I see so many mistakes made because local elected officials and inexperienced staff don’t listen to lessons learned outside of Seattle. Parochialism needs to stop!

        Even here on STB, people who have lived or do live in other parts of the country and world identify problems that our ambitious transit expansion ignores and needs to consider.

        I’d gladly trade the prominence of whiny, fear-driven, protectionist, status-quo neighborhood activists for enlightened observations from people in other areas to help us avoid mistakes as well as inspire us to see what is possible.

      6. Pat,
        I think one seat for those out of district who pay sales tax and fare is reasonable. Reasonable.
        I’m not asking for two, and two would allow me and a compatriot to place motions on the table almost if not automatically.
        The WSDOT Secretary is more a potted plant than an advocate. Total waste of the current WSDOT Secretary’s time and talent.
        Respectfully;
        Joe

      7. Joe
        Even if it were a good idea to add a seat for out-of-district interests (and it’s not – no transit board works this way, and it’s only “reasonable” to some NEET in Skagit desperate for a government sinecure), you almost certainly would not be the one in that seat.

      8. I travel to London a lot (have family there), spend a lot of money each time, pay my VAT, pay my fare to ride the Tube and buses, etc. Perhaps Transport for London will let me sit on their board. Maybe I can even apply for citizenship.

        Having opinions is great and there are a lot of good ones on this site, and often from people who don’t live here (in fact that is a plus). We’ve had frequent posters from Portland and Vancouver BC as well as Skagit and elsewhere, and some from folks who have moved away. They are all valuable contributors that I’ve learned from. None of them should sit on a locally elected board any more than I should get to do so in London, Mount Vernon, or Zamboanga.

        This country should have never dumped civics classes.

      9. So Scott & Pat, you want to do away with the WSDOT Secretary on the Sound Transit Board then?

        Because I am 100% fine with that also and maybe we can find grudingly common ground there. IT’s a waste of taxdollars to have a high salaried person sit there and do almost nothing. A professional parliamentarian can be contracted in to run the Sound Transit Board hiring Board Chair & Vice Chairs every year for a lot less.

        It’s our money and if I were on the Sound Transit Board as the statewide rep, I’d make sure to remind the Board & Staff of this. Every minute wasted tolerating off-agenda racist ranting or dollars on fancy stuff for moneyed West Seattle elites is one less dollar for working persons’ transit.

        Either/or works for me. As long as we work together towards that end.

  2. 100% agree that 2024 is the year to go for it–Link will be really popular assuming a successful rollout of Northgate and East Link.

    That means we need to be working right now on ways to secure new streams of revenue. I’m a big transit supporter but if I was presented with another increase in sales tax or MVET I would probably vote no. No more regressive taxes to pay for transit.

    Secondly, planners will have to think about additional ways to make the above map more equitable. The above map has ~24 new stations north of I-90 and only 4 new stations south of I-90. We can’t add another layer onto historical lines of racial and economic inequity in Seattle.

    So either North Seattle will need to pay higher taxes for the extra transit or there will have to be additional investment in south Seattle. Spending a couple hundred million to fully build out the bike network in south Seattle would be a good start. The purple line needs more stops and should be directed at lower-income areas in Skyway and Renton after serving South Park.

    1. We should definitely look at future stations and investments with an equity lens. Nearly ever vision extension on this map will enable far better connections between lower income/transit dependent neighborhoods and wealthier neighborhoods and jobs.

      The distribution between north and south is almost exactly proportional to population. Six stations south of I-90 to go with the existing 8 and 4 planned for a grand total of 17. There are 26 stations on the vision map (planned/existing/vision) north of the ship canal.

      South of the I-90 has just shy of 2/7 of Seattle’s population and north of the ship canal has just over 3/7.

    2. Purple line connection to south king county towards federal way is critical for making the service competitive against bus and driving as with new Boeing station will add even more time to get to Seattle from federal way or Tacoma through link. If my calculations is right although frequency matters Tacoma and federal way will take longer to get to than taking a bus or sounder because it goes through grade crossings

      1. Purple line connection to south king county towards federal way is critical for making the service competitive against bus and driving…

        Why should we should spend a fortune serving a very small set of potential riders? Don’t get me wrong — I’m sympathetic to Federal Way riders who wish they could get to Seattle a few minutes faster. But the number of people *within* Seattle who have much longer delays greatly outnumber them.

      2. An express line to the airport is another project that ultimately serves the interests of North Seattle. The Federal Way travel times could be solved tomorrow with some buckets of red paint on I-5.

      3. @RossB I’m from Tokyo where I know how beneficial it is to have faster than any other form of transportation -look up chuo line. When you give a option to suburbians with faster than car train service they will take it and I understand that it’s not dense as Tokyo but if we don’t consider bypass for st4 southking will never have real fast all day commute service. Also George Town and South Park is really political and not sure if two station are necessary at all

      4. When you give a option to suburbians with faster than car train service they will take it …

        Yes, but not at the same level that they would inside the city. You are basically suggesting very expensive commuter rail service to a very low density suburban area. No matter how fast you make it, a relatively small number of people will use it.

    3. South Seattle is a smaller area. From I-90 to Rainier Beach is four miles, while from I-90 to 145th is eight miles. And the north end is more heavily populated. There’s nothing equivalent to UW, Ballard-Fremont, Capitol Hill-First Hill in south Seattle. Much of the corresponding area is south of the city limits so beyond the scope of the current suggestions, and it’s industrial so it has a low population.

      1. I agree those lines are higher priority but they simply can’t be funded by a citywide regressive tax if there are not proportionate investments in south Seattle. Since wealth is concentrated in north Seattle a progressive tax would be a great way to fund these lines–especially the Ballard-Laurelhurst one.

  3. Let’s be real. Before getting hot and bothered about looking for new tax revenue we need to get a picture or how much revenue the board has to play with as is.

    How much revenue is projected for the North King subarea, including debt capacity, prior to the tax rollbacks? The second rollback now is scheduled for 2053, as indicated on page 38 of the 2018 financial statements:

    https://www.soundtransit.org/st_sharepoint/download/sites/PRDA/ActiveDocuments/190620%20FAC%20-%20Sound%20Transit%20Financial%20Statements.pdf

    When fare-backed bond debt capacity is added in, coupled with the longer “max rate taxing” period due to the recent Parity Bond sales contracts, there will be billions more projected revenues than the “$16 billion” figure for North King used in the ST3 ordinance.

    1. The board will likely not be interested in another regional package until the 2030’s, regardless of debt capacity.

      To fund critically needed lines in Seattle, we’ll need the legislature to fix the existing CTA to make it better — or failing that, the CTA can be used as is.

      1. No vote on any package — citywide or regional — is needed to enlarge the system if the revenues are there.

        Because the projected revenues for North King will exceed by more than 5% what the ST3 measure anticipated for North King ($16 billion) no further vote is necessary to use those additional revenues to enlarge or enhance the light rail system. That’s part of the ST3 financial policies.

    2. What people seem not to understand is the additional projected revenues — the amounts the board must allocate to North King projects and services that are well beyond the $16 billion identified in ST3 — can be used to enlarge and enhance the light rail system. The 5% threshold undoubtedly has been met:

      https://st32.blob.core.windows.net/media/Default/Document%20Library%20Featured/8-22-16/ST3_Appendix-B_2016_web.pdf

      That means additional stations, and enlarging the Seattle subway. It’s likely the board could afford all of a Ballard to UW line with two stations, assuming a reasonable fed grant.

      1. There is no spare Sound Transit revenue until the late 2030s. Even then, would need a ballot measure to allow spending on more extensions.

      2. Dan, read the financial policies (link above). See where they describe how extensions and enhancements can be provided if the 5% threshold is met? No new ballot measure needs to happen for that provision to be effective. Also, there is much more debt capacity available immediately, both tax-backed and fare-backed.

      3. It doesn’t say what you claim. That language is just contingencies for moving stuff around in the event of short-run surpluses or deficits. It’s not a blank check to build anything not in the plan. Sound Transit’s legal guidance has been crystal clear on that. As has their regular financial reporting that they expect to be debt constrained until most ST3 projects are done.

      4. Dan look on page 4: “[When a] subarea’s actual and projected revenue to be collected until the system plan is completed will exceed its actual and projected expenditures by five percent r greater[ ] then Sound Transit may use such surplus funds to complete, extend or enhance the system plan”

        You are misreading that. Contrary to what you say, it is not a “blank check” — it’s a directive to use available funds. It’s not “short term” — it’s a directive to enhance or extend the system if the 5% threshold is met.

        What is this “legal guidance” you think exists? I haven’t seen that. Also, the “regular financial reporting” does not report subarea debt capacity — you are confused about that.

        Look, we have to leverage the provisions of ST3 voters approved to get the most benefits possible. That requires determining how much projected revenues will be in each subarea, then making sure the expenditures soak it up. What are the projected revenues, including debt capacity, for North King?

  4. With regard to racial inequality, which part of south Seattle are you referring to? Presumably not west Seattle. And, the Rainier Valley already has Link. Are you saying that Crown Hill or something else should be cut to pay for a second line through the Rainier Valley (e.g. a replacement for the 36 or 7)?

    1. The Gold line could come back across the beacon hill and over to north Delridge and then down towards Burien then down to DT Des Monies and Normandy Park. or shift the Purple line over to go south down Delridge and move the gold line over to go down where the purple line is.

  5. I’m all for ST4, just not the version Ballard Subway has mapped out here. 3 lines to Ballard, give me a break. I know the folks at Ballard Subway think they’re special but they need go on a pt diet. They can’t even get their tunnel, what makes them think they need or will get billions of additional overly subsidized lines.

    1. The North half of the Purple line seems like a waste. I would want to see up-zones in Wallingford, Phinney ridge and Westwood before we invest billions in to those neighborhoods.

      1. IMO a Bothell-Lake City-Fremont-DT would be a high ridership, low subsidized line and would suffice for North King. The West Seattle-White Center-Burien for South King would draw a crowd. Other upgrades would have to be either BRTs or Link or Sounder to Marysville, or out of area additions such as Sounder to Olympia.

      2. Agreed. People in Ballard will have to go north to Northgate and transfer or south to Westlake and transfer to get to the UW

      3. The purple line subway exists as a concept more because Ballard and the UW are big trip generators, and the places along the way happen to get stations because they’re on the way. I’d drop the West Woodland station entirely, but the Wallingford biz/retail district might be a big enough trip generator and the N 45th corridor is slowly densifying. I’d also end the purple line at U-District. U-Village is a car sewer and will probably remain that way (there’s a new parking garage going up there), and a Sand Point crossing is pure fantasy. There’s nothing on the north Eastside that could justify a third lake crossing.

        By the 2040s Seattle could (/will, hopefully) look really different. Two decades of pro-urban city councils and mayors could potentially lead to pretty significant increases in density. I don’t expect the suburbs to change much, though.

      4. The Ballard-UW line has two things weighing against.

        1) trip miles. The 4.5 mi trip is not an efficient run A Bothell to DT line would be a much better investment. 4.5 miles is better served by bus.

        2) Ridership. Would only carry a fraction of the riders of say a Bothell to DT.

      5. 1a) The 44 bus, respectfully, sucks ass whenever there’s traffic, and I don’t think meaningful bus priority or dedicated lanes are going to happen. This country has shown itself incapable of actually building successful gold-standard BRT (don’t you bring up Albuquerque).

        1b) Subway’s map shows it as an extension of the existing Ballard line and routed into DSTT2. So your issue with the line length is moot.

        2) Ballard-UW has all-day demand. The 44 is fairly slow and unpleasant to ride, but still has high ridership. A Bothell-DT line would be completely empty north of Lake City outside of commute hours, which like most commute-oriented routes would just eat up subsidies. It’s also not clear what routing you’d take between Lake City, Fremont, and DT, but I don’t believe the Lake City to Fremont travel market is that large (there’s not even a bus route that does that), and Lake City-DT and Fremont-DT trip pairs will already be decently served by Northgate Link and Subway’s proposed pink line, respectively.

      6. Point is mute? Who in their right mind is going to go from DT to Ballard to get to the UW? The map is fools gold.

        44, 32 and 31 are not that bad for such a short trip. Makes no sense to spend billions because of a short inconvenient ride.

        Ride the 372 sometime and then tell me there is no demand from Bothell, Kenmore, Lake Forest Park (intersected at Roosevelt), onto Green lake, Fremont and DT. This is 4 times the distance of a Ballard-UW line and much more efficient use of funds. Line would not have to run 3 min headways from Bothell during non-peak, therefor not needing subsidies.

      7. Also, take the 62 and tell me there is no demand from Roosevelt-Greenlake-Wallingford-Fremont to downtown.

      8. I think it’s probably fair to assume that major upzones will definitely have happened by the time this has any hope of being constructed (2040? 2050?)

      9. Of course no one would take that trip, but that’s because another, more direct subway exists there. I don’t understand why you think that’s some kind of gotcha.

        The 44 carries more people than the 372 on fewer platform hours, so you’ve got a weird understanding of “efficiency,” my dude.

      10. Roosevelt/Greenlake-DT will already have a fast trip by the time ST2 opens.

        Wallingford-DT would be served really well by the Ballard-UW line.

        Lower Fremont wouldn’t, but there are better ways to serve it (see: pink line) than throwing some ludicrous line out to Bothell.

      11. The purple line ought to be part of a two way inner loop line that includes a rail/pedestrian/bike bridge from Sand Point > Kirkland > Redmond > Bellevue > Downtown Seattle > SLU > Ballard > Fremont > U District > Sand Point. Tech hub loop would have a lot benefits/usage beyond simple commutes.

      12. “Subway’s map shows it as an extension of the existing Ballard line and routed into DSTT2. So your issue with the line length is moot.”

        So your saying Ballard needs extra runs from downtown so it can justify its line to UW? You want to run extra ghost runs? There certainly won’t be any riders from downtown who want to travel to UW via Ballard, so how is this ideal?

        “The 44 carries more people than the 372 on fewer platform hours,”

        Dude, I’ll wager my Seahawks tickets that the ridership-miles for a Bothell-Kenmore-Lake City-Roosevelt (transfer) – Green Lake – Wallingford- Fremont-DT will far exceed anything a dwarfed Ballard-UW segment has to offer. My guess would be 3-1 when you consider the 372, 62 and the other NE lines that run via Lake City Way.

        “Roosevelt/Greenlake-DT will already have a fast trip by the time ST2 opens.”
        Ballard too will already have a Ballard-UW line, it’s called the 44.

        “Wallingford-DT would be served really well by the Ballard-UW line.”
        This presupposes Ballard get its 3 one seat ride lines and NE Seattle gets screwed.

        “Lower Fremont wouldn’t, but there are better ways to serve it (see: pink line) than throwing some ludicrous line out to Bothell. ”
        Great, lets create two ill-advised lines. Pink line would best be connected to Ballard via Greenwood.

      13. >So your saying Ballard needs extra runs from downtown so it can justify its line to UW? You want to run extra ghost runs? There certainly won’t be any riders from downtown who want to travel to UW via Ballard, so how is this ideal?

        Fine, truncate it at UW and Ballard and make people transfer. I don’t care. It’ll still be an exceedingly cost-effective line that’ll transform N Seattle crosstown travel.

        >Dude, I’ll wager my Seahawks tickets that the ridership-miles for a Bothell-Kenmore-Lake City-Roosevelt (transfer) – Green Lake – Wallingford- Fremont-DT will far exceed anything a dwarfed Ballard-UW segment has to offer. My guess would be 3-1 when you consider the 372, 62 and the other NE lines that run via Lake City Way.

        First, the bulk of ridership on your proposed line would occur south of Roosevelt. The northshore cities already have 522 BRT (which, by all accounts, should be a pretty fast bus) to get them to Link, and Lake City will have something running down Lake City Way to get them to Roosevelt to transfer. So then your line is basically just the 62 in light rail form, and more people ride the 44 than the 62, which is amazing because the 44 doesn’t even go downtown.

        >Ballard too will already have a Ballard-UW line, it’s called the 44.

        >implying the 44 is fast

        >This presupposes Ballard get its 3 one seat ride lines and NE Seattle gets screwed.
        Just like your scenario presupposes we set piles of money on fire by running light rail to Bothell. I live in NE Seattle, dude, and we are totally not screwed.

        >Great, lets create two ill-advised lines. Pink line would best be connected to Ballard via Greenwood.

        Frankly, I find it hard to envision serving Fremont any other way. If ridership is your concern, turning the county’s most popular bus line (the E) into light rail is probably your best bet instead of running another line to Roosevelt, this time via Fremont.

      14. The Ballard-UW line has two things weighing against.

        1) trip miles. The 4.5 mi trip is not an efficient run A Bothell to DT line would be a much better investment. 4.5 miles is better served by bus.

        Well that is certainly a contrarian viewpoint. You won’t find many transit experts making that argument. Smaller, urban lines tend to be better values than long, suburban ones the world over.

        It has to do with cost and ridership. The cost of a system is largely dependent on its length. There are exceptions, of course. Running above ground is generally cheaper than digging a tunnel, and running on the surface is much cheaper than both. But in general, the longer the line, the more expensive it is. I don’t see anything in the Green Line that makes it look particularly cheap. It looks roughly as expensive per mile as the Purple Line, which means it would be a lot more expensive (since it is much longer).

        Ridership is more complicated, but it generally comes down to the stations. The more you have, the higher the ridership. But ridership per station varies greatly, based on several factors. In general, stations with high population density or high employment density do really well. The relationship is not linear — if you double the density, you more than double transit ridership. There are other factors. One is proximity. Even relatively dense suburbs don’t perform as well as areas close to the city. Another (closely related) issue is speed in comparison to alternatives.

        When you add it all up, it should be clear that the Purple Line would have much higher ridership *per dollar spent* than the Green Line. The stops are all urban, and close to other densely populated areas. *Per mile*, ridership would be much higher, which means that ridership per dollar spent would be higher as well. Since, as Pat mentioned, the 44 is very slow (heck, just driving from Ballard to the UW is very slow), the time saved per dollar spent would be higher as well.

        To be clear, the Green Line has merit. But the Purple Line (especially if it ended at the UW) would be a much better value.

      15. Toronto’s subway really isn’t particularly long, but it serves a vital connection point for the entire transit network. This would serve a similar purpose due to the huge number of north-south bus routes that it would tie together and to other link lines.

        The same was true of the first SkyTrain line.

      16. This is 4 times the distance of a Ballard-UW line and much more efficient use of funds.

        You are stating a weakness as a strength. It is four times as long, which means it is (roughly) four times as expensive. It costs four times as much to build, and four times as much to run. There is a reason why boardings per mile is a such an important metric, and high numbers are universally applauded. Do you really think the line would have four times the number of riders?

        Look, it isn’t a bad line. It isn’t crazy, like the bypass idea. Connecting various neighborhoods is always great. But if you look at in more detail, it just isn’t as good.

        First you have the three stops north of Ballard. All are worthy and probably could be built fairly cheaply (assuming it is elevated). That is probably the only part of this that will ever be considered seriously (assuming those in charge evaluate system improvements using reasonable metrics).

        Then you have the stop at Aurora. This connects riders from the E to Ballard as well as Northgate, Lake City, etc. Fair enough. But the Phinney/Zoo stop is clearly better, as it connects to Ballard and the UW. If you are headed to the UW, you are going to stay on your bus and make one transfer, not make two (and that is assuming you started to the north). Every other transfer from the E (the main point of that stop) is going to be small in comparison.

        Now consider the eastern most section. History tells us that ridership in the suburbs is likely to be lower than that in the city. If you look at ridership on the 522, this is certainly the case. The four stops on Lake City Way (in Seattle) have more riders than Lake Forest Park, Kenmore, Bothell or Woodinville. Here is a chart (sorry for the sloppy formatting):

        Seattle 1223
        Lake Forest Park 221
        Kenmore 688
        Bothell 590
        Woodinville 268

        So now consider just the section between Aurora and “Briarcrest” (145th and Lake City Way). Just that section is longer than the core Ballard to UW line. Yet it doesn’t add a huge amount. No one is going to ride the Green Line from Lake City all the way to downtown. So it works for two things. First, as a way to to connect to greater Ballard from 105th and Aurora, Northgate and a couple places in Lake City (something a bus can do adequately, given the demand). It also connects those stops in Lake City to the main line. But with only two stops, and the relative distance involved, this is actually something a bus can do quite well. Someone who lives in an apartment here (https://goo.gl/maps/WfQwhuJ8QshqhDeHA) or here (https://goo.gl/maps/vdL1qwZrDuFr2Z7L9) is not going to take the Green Line to get to the main line. That means if they are going to the UW, downtown Seattle or downtown Bellevue (the three biggest destinations in the state), they will take a bus to NE 130th or NE 145th.

        Building this eastern section of the Green Line (from Aurora to “Briarcrest”) would likely cost as much, if not more than a line from the UW to Ballard. Yet it would only add three stops, and the key connection (between Aurora and Link) could be done with done much more cheaply (and much better) with the Purple Line.

        It just doesn’t add up. Again, I want to be clear, the Green Line has its merits. But in terms of ridership per dollar spent, or time saved per dollar spent, clearly the Purple Line is much better.

      17. Let’s also not forget that the 44 would be really difficult to improve significantly. Median running BRT that looks like light rail is just never going to happen there.

    2. What makes you think the board won’t have sufficient North King revenues to pay for (at least) one tunnel as part of the ID/Chinatown to Ballard LINK extension? The board must allocate all the North King projected revenues to North King projects and services, and we don’t know what the extent of the projected revenues are now (but they will be much more than the $16 billion estimated for ST3, a figure derived in late 2015 using very conservative tax revenue estimates and an anticipated initial tax rollback date 12 years earlier than what it will be).

    3. I’ll just re-post my comment above Les.

      The distribution between north and south is almost exactly proportional to population. Six stations south of I-90 to go with the existing 8 and 4 planned for a grand total of 17. There are 26 stations on the vision map (planned/existing/vision) north of the ship canal.

      South of the I-90 has just shy of 2/7 of Seattle’s population and north of the ship canal has just over 3/7.

    4. The purple line is not just about Ballard. The 44 is a terrible bus yet still has very high ridership, so there’s clearly demand for East-West connectivity in North Seattle.

  6. I notice a tail needlessly tacked-on to the Ballard to UW line. Gerrymandering something out to the desolate Sand Point in order to later lobby for that wasteful Sand Point Crossing? You’re not fooling anyone.

    Sam. Chairman, Comment Section Editorial Board.

    1. Unless it is Kirkland-Sandpoint-Ballard I don’t see how it can be justified to subsidize the line for the next 100 years.

      1. The primary purpose of the Ballard/UW line is crosstown trips between dense destinations. It’s not particularly different than what the 44 does, very slowly, now. We’ll make the separate case for each line in individual posts over the course of the summer.

      2. BART gets from SFO to Oakland without its own separate Bay crossing, and the Bay Area’s population is 7 million. Kirkland’s population is 90,000. I live in low density Kirkland. We don’t need our own separate billion dollar tunnel to get to north Seattle. Express buses are the correct mode for our lightly populated suburb.

      3. “Yes, and a Kirkland-Sandpoint-Ballard line is absurd.”

        [ad hominem]

        If an area of the population of over 100,000 to UW is absurd then it just solidifies my argument that a Ballard (50,000)-UW line is absurd especially when considering passenger miles traveled.

      4. Ok, now compare how many stations and miles of track you need to pick up all 100,000 people on the north eastside vs how many you need to pick up 50,000 people in Ballard.

        Miles travelled is in the denominator of ridership/mile – the more miles you have to travel to pick up riders, the worse the line is. By your logic, Denver RTD and Dallas DART are more efficient light rail systems than Link is, because they carry slightly more riders than Link while having 3-5x as much track mileage.

      5. Do you thing ridership per station would be a better way to compare systems across different geographies. It would normalize between short systems with lots of stop and long systems with a few stops. It would just look at how efficient the station placement was.

      6. Because we have transit options today, I think a great metric is daily rider minutes saved. That would be multiplying the ridership by the time savings. That would also help to factor in the inevitable extra time to go into deep subway stations more appropriately.

      7. If an area of the population of over 100,000 to UW is absurd then it just solidifies my argument that a Ballard (50,000)-UW line is absurd especially when considering passenger miles traveled.

        First of all, Seattle is much bigger than Kirkland (and growing faster, by both relative as well as absolute size). But all of that is irrelevant. Subway lines don’t serve cities — they serve neighborhoods. Population density is much higher in Ballard neighborhoods than it is anywhere in Kirkland. Furthermore, a crossing would be extremely expensive, and gain no additional riders, since there would be no stations in Lake Washington (fish don’t ride the subway).

        Thus costs would be extremely high for a line from Sand Point to Kirkland, while ridership would be relatively low. That means ridership per dollar spent (building the line) would be very low. The extra distance means that ridership per dollar spent *operating the line* would be low as well. This also means that time saved per dollar spent (the metric Al mentioned) would also be very low. It would be one of the least cost effective improvements we could make within the system (although still better than the silly bypass idea).

        In contrast, building a Ballard to UW line would have high ridership for the various stops along the way, while not costing that much (to build or operate). It would be one of the better performing lines in our system.

        Oh, and while we are at it — who is supposed to pay for this new chunnel across Lake Washington? Do you really think Seattle is the least bit interested?

        Do you think Kirkland, a city of less than 100,000 people is going to spend billions upon billions building that? Seriously?

    2. I agree with Sam. U-Village, Children’s and Sand Point are all too small to justify an extension. The line should be extended the other way — there should be a station at 15th NW as well as 22nd NW. (It isn’t clear from your map where the one “Ballard” station is, probably because ST hasn’t decided yet). Regardless, an east-west line should add the other station.

  7. I think the removal of the Capitol Hill connection from the Metro 8 in Seattle Subway’s LRP is a complete non-starter. It’s an alienating move that would have real usability impacts down the line. In fact, I’d prefer having it turn south and tunnel underneath the existing CHS tracks, and have a double-level center platform for two sets of tracks, at which point it could turn west directly toward Belltown.

    As for First Hill, I’ve always thought that a First Hill line would be better with a spur from the south rather than the north, breaking off from the DSTT north of Pioneer Square Station, and having a few different stops in first hill, snaking over to Madrona and finally to Madison Park. It could be served by the blue line. Some nice things about this is that it connects First Hill directly to Sounder, and it takes a section of track where service is doubled up compared to the rest of the line because of the way East Link enters downtown, and redirects that second line to a dense place in the city which isn’t served today. It seems very elegant.

    1. This is very much part of our point. Capitol Hill station *can not be* a transfer station. It was under built and will struggle to even handle its future loads as-is.

      We need to be planning a system as a network, not a series of regionally lead one-offs. If we don’t pass something in 2024 it may be impossible to build the Pink Line or the Denny station will also be built without consideration for the future.

      That said – if they build the line as we show, it will end up being a functional slow drip transfer station with people walking the 1/4 mile or so in order to switch trains. This is similar to station setups in Manhattan that are shown on the map as a transfer station but are actually a bit of a hike.

      1. Underbuilt, as in, not enough space for people waiting for the next train (narrow platform)?
        It’s one thing to say that when we’re running 2 and 3 car trains over reasonable capacity at peak. People boarding can only utilize 1/2 or 3/4 of the length of the platform. Things will improve considerably with 4-car trains. Not to mention that once ST3 is built out, there should be two lines at that station providing a combined 3 minute headway, meaning on average, half as many people are waiting for the train at a given time. That exacerbates the elevator/escalator problem, but ST doesn’t have to move mountains to put in very fast and reliable elevators, like many buildings have. But people need to fight for that for ST to listen.

        But even supposing that a transfer at CHS is impossible, then there should be consideration for an infill transfer station near Volunteer Park. The U-Link tunnel is deepest there, and the tracks are probably very close together, so the station would probably have be a center platform on top for the Metro 8, and side platforms on the bottom for the red and blue lines, a lot like the L’Enfant Plaza station in DC. Now THAT seems like a really good idea to me.

    2. I agree Alex. I really don’t see a Metro 8 subway line being successful without the obvious connection at Capitol Hill. Without that connection, places north of the ship canal (which includes the big one, the UW) can’t access those stops in a reasonable fashion.

  8. I have some minor complaints about the stop density and pie-in-the-sky lines to far-flung low density places (AHEM Woodinville), but I like the focus on crosstown lines in the city. Too many urban transit systems are downtown-focused.

    1. Woodinville would be a great place of a large maintenance and storage yard and then some of the others maintenance like DT Seattle yards could get re-purposed. Woodinville would not be built for 50 years though so it is hard to say what it will look like then.

      1. It would actually be a terrible place for a yard, as trains would have to deadhead for quite a while before reaching their assigned lines.

        I don’t know why ST can’t just do what every other transit system does and establish yards at line termini.

      2. “It would actually be a terrible place for a yard, as trains would have to deadhead for quite a while before reaching their assigned lines.”

        Trains do that today though. Generally trains have to deadhead to the end of the line, in which case, the farther out the base is, the shorter the deadhead. This is why there are some trains that start or end at SODO or Beacon Hill stations, and limits the potential span of service, because all the trains need to get back to the middle of the line.

        Also, note that in the Chicago example you point to, it’s at the end of the red and yellow lines, and it’s relatively close to the end of the purple line as well. I think its the proximity to the end of many lines that makes this placement good.

      3. Howard is a terminus for the Red, Yellow, and Purple lines. The Purple Line only runs south of Howard during rush hours. So yeah, the Howard yard is really in the ideal spot. I guess Purple and Yellow trains have to deadhead to Skokie and Linden respectively to start their southbound trips, but those lines are relatively short. The Red Line has another yard at it’s southern terminus, so the first northbound train can come from that yard instead of deadheading all the way from Howard.

        All of the CTA’s yards are at or near the ends of the lines that the stored trains run on. I agree that this is a good idea. A hypothetical Woodinville yard should only be used for hypothetical Woodinville trains, not as a central yard for all the lines like I believe Ian was suggesting. Are the eventual trains for Lynnwood and Everett Link going to have to deadhead all the way from SODO in the morning?

      4. There’s a yard at Linden/Wilmette at the end of the Purple line (“Evanston Express” back when I rode it). So, no, the CTA does not need to deadhead trains north from Howard.

      5. Trains don’t have to deadhead. The last runs from Angle Lake server all stations to Beacon Hill and are on the schedule. The bus 44 runs to the base have always been used for short trips to Broadway and are now on the 43 schedule. A Woodinville base would allow for extra late-night runs northound and early-morning runs southbound. Not many people will ride it but it’s really helpful for those traveling after midnight or at 4am, which includes everybody going to late-night shows or bars or flights or having early-morning work shifts or flights. A base at a minor corner of the network would have some higher costs compared to another location, but it’s not all dead costs or necessarily an unacceptable cost.

      6. @Robert

        Right, my bad. I’ve never had to ride the Purple Line north of Noyes, so I’ve never seen the Linden yard in person. I assumed it was short enough that they could get away with just storing their railcars at Howard, like the Yellow Line does.

        @Mike
        Looking at the weekday schedule:
        The last in-service N/B train leaves Angle Lake at 12:45 AM, but S/B trains arrive at Angle Lake at 12:54, 1:09, and 1:24. Similarly, the first S/B train leaves UW at 4:45, but the first N/B train doesn’t arrive until 5 AM. Unless there are trains being stored at Angle Lake and UW, there has to be some deadheading. I wonder why they don’t just put those deadheading trains in-service.

  9. I think it is possible that Seattle will go it alone, and expand Link without the help of other cities. But to do so, I think they will need to focus on projects that are relatively cheap. There is only so much money, and there are other transit needs, let alone other city needs. The project(s) need to be very cost effective as well. I see three key characteristics:

    1) You need to have enough demand to justify rail.
    2) You can expect much faster travel times (and thus higher ridership) with rail.
    3) It should complement the bus system as well as the existing (and future) Link lines.

    Much of what is on the map fails one aspect or another. Georgetown and South Park, for example, are nowhere near big enough to justify rail. Likewise a southern extension of West Seattle rail wouldn’t have many riders and would be tough politically (if it was above ground) or tough financially (if it was underground).

    The pink line is really two lines. The western half (which includes Aurora) is flawed, because there are not enough stops along the way. You are tunneling under the canal again (to reach Fremont) and the main benefit is two stations (Fremont and Dexter). Both are worthy, but that is a lot of money for those two stations. North of there you are covering an area that has relatively fast service right now, and any big improvement in speed is likely to come at the expense of stops (something that can be done a lot cheaper by overlaying express bus service). The eastern part of the pink line is quite short, and likely better covered by the BRT (since it would have more stops).

    The Green Line looks OK, but it should have a lot more stops, otherwise it would be a very bad value for the money. As it is, I don’t think it will pencil out — it isn’t clear how you get from Aurora to Lake City without spending a bundle. If the Ballard line turns out to be elevated, and runs on 15th, I think there is a possibility that the line could be extended to Crown Hill. But I doubt it would go any further.

    That pretty much leaves the two lines that Seattle Transit Bloggers have been talking about for years: Ballard to UW and a Metro 8 subway. Without a connection at Capitol Hill, the value of a Metro 8 subway goes way down. I honestly don’t know the best way to get from say, Roosevelt to Garfield. Then there is the possibility of the line deviating to the west, to include First Hill. I applaud your inclusion of Belltown, but in general the Metro 8 line has so many questions and possibilities, that it seems bound to fail (especially in a city that has failed far easier tasks).

    If Seattle does anything, it is likely to be a Ballard to UW subway (a line that should have been included with ST3). Ridership would be solid, time improvements dramatic (i. e. faster than taking a cab at noon), and most of the choices are fairly simple. The map has it largely correct, except that it omits the heart of Ballard (assuming that ST3 won’t serve it). It would be crazy to end an east-west line at 15th (or even worse, 14th) when it would be very easy to just keep going, and serve 20th (or 22nd). That leaves the connection between Aurora and the line as the only tricky part. It is not easy to serve both Fremont walk-up riders and those on the E trying to transfer to the UW or Ballard. I think it could be done, but it wouldn’t be cheap or easy. But even if it sacrificed one group for another, the line would still be a cost effective addition to the system, and likely the only new line we will add for a very long time.

    1. I bet you could get the East Side subarea to chip in for the light rail across the 520 -bridge that would pick up the central district and First hill maybe with a few extra stops it would be high ridership and a bigger pool of money the east side is going to be flush with cash based on property values Redmond and Bellevue have been growing at roughly the same rate as Seattle

      1. I bet you could get the East Side subarea to chip in for the light rail across the 520

        Seriously? They can’t even chip in for decent bus service across 520. Despite having extremely fast speeds across the lake (as fast as a train) there are only three all day lines across the 520 bridge. Only one bus goes to the UW.

        It makes way more sense to just wait until the new bridge shakes out (and see if the last mile problem from 520 to the station is better). If not, then solve that problem (even a small tunnel for buses would make more sense than adding a brand new train bridge for 520). Either way, the area needs more bus service, so that it is easier to get to the UW from the East Side.

      2. I bet you could get the East Side subarea to chip in for the light rail across the 520

        There is already a rail line across the lake to the key Eastside cities. It’ll be full and need supplementing with a second line about, maybe, 2200.

        For the trips that are sufficiently out-of-direction that East Link doesn’t cover them, buses in HOV lanes work great. It needs some work in Montlake and elsewhere, but the lake crossing is not the bottleneck.

    2. I agree that Ballard to UW must be included. One alignment to consider is a curve down to Fremont with an elevated line on Leary Way NW and N 36th St. A west Fremont stop would be around Greenwood Ave N, and an east Fremont stop would serve Aurora near a tunnel entrance at Troll’s Knoll Park. This is convenient because the hill between the Statue of Lenin and the Fremont Troll rises up to meet the track, and that stretch of 36th could be closed without major traffic impacts. From there the alignment hooks north to a stop at 45th and Wallingford, then continues to the UDistrict.

      To build the political coalition for this to pass, lines will need to be built in other parts of the city as well, so I wouldn’t write off the Metro 8 dream. I think a hybrid of the gold and pink lines makes sense: Mount Baker – Judkins Park – 23rd & Jackson – Garfield – 23rd & Union – 23rd & Madison – Madison & Pike/Pine – Madison & Boylston – Madison & 9th – Midtown – Westlake – Belltown – Seattle Center.

      Lots of elevation changes here, so this would probably need to be elevated with some kind of rubber tire tech (*cough cough* monorail *cough cough*). Additional service to Belltown could be done with a streetcar extension on 1st, at proper headways and with dedicated ROW of course.

      1. When it comes to advocacy, “Seattle ST4” would be more successful as a broad high-capacity transit package. In addition to the light rail extensions, it should include overhauling the streetcar (separated ROW, frequent headways, realignment, expansion) and elevated bus priority (transit mall on 5th, red paint). It would be even more popular if transit was made free for all Seattle residents.

        I understand this won’t all fit in the CTA, but that process could be made simultaneous with a levy or legislative campaign, with the movement coalescing behind them all like a single package.

      2. Yeah, I think putting a station (or at least an entrance) next to the troll makes sense. I wrote a little map for an idea that includes that: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1V7SVqymYwyy29rdVEz5Spw0XZPouoD7y&usp=sharing. It has two symbols for the Fremont Station (each one would be an entrance). The station would be close to the surface, so the entrance towards Fremont Avenue would involve a short escalator. The other side (by the troll) would involve a long set of escalators (like many of our stations). From the troll, it is actually a pretty short walk up to Aurora.

        There are other issues. One is that a stop for the E would have to be added. This doesn’t look that difficult, but it probably isn’t trivial. It would make sense to spend a bundle on that station, just because it kills two birds with one stone. You serve a lot of walk-up riders (from Fremont) while getting plenty of riders transferring from Aurora as well as Phinney Ridge.

    3. I”m deeply confused by the Pink line. Are they suggesting that the new downtown tunnel has a junction both in SLU and in Midtown?

      I agree with Ross, the Pink line is really just the E and Madison BRT. Improving those routes to make them more rail-like is great, but routing them through a rail tunnel is won’t be designed for them will be horribly disruptive. Additionally, one of the features of Madison BRT is that it goes all the way to 1st, providing a key connection to the ferry system. Through running that route with the E is a poor idea.

  10. The future of ST4 will need to fix mistakes of the past. That includes redesigning stations to handle more riders and building better access to stations. That means more escalators and elevators. It probably will mean finding more money to build ST3 too because it’s going to end up costing more than we have planned.

    It’s not as sexy as a multi-colored map, but when riders face daily hassles using Link, they will be popular elements to consider. Consider too that the list of major regional destinations not on Link is relatively short and many can be served by last-mile technologies like cable-pulled systems (diagonal elevators, funiculars) and driverless small shuttles.

    I love the enthusiasm and visioning of Seattle Subway. However, I also see the naïveté of just showing the pretty map. After 2025, the rider wish list will include rethinking elements of our existing stations and operations. ST4 planning is probably best once we have more of our system in place and riders get what operational solutions are needed after riding Link each day for a few years. I would suggest looking to 2028 or 2030. Otherwise, it’s like shopping for the next car/house before most people have gotten a chance to experience the first one on a daily basis.

    1. Yes. It’s most likely that post ST3 capital investments will need to be focused on making fixes to existing infrastructure: both fixing design problems and making repairs. Also as the system builds out, there will be a bigger focus on operations and maintenance of all that new infrastructure and the associated challenges that brings. This has been true for any large transit system.

      Politically, don’t assume that suburban board members will easily go along with ST assuming responsibility for more Seattle projects before ‘theirs’ are complete, even if Seattle pays for all the costs. You are starting to see some of those tensions now.

      Finally, even though passing ST3 is a big deal itself, don’t make the mistake in assuming that just because it passed all the hard work is done. Rather than spending scarce political capital on trying to push leaders for something that might happen in 2050, consider using the next several years to make sure the best possible ST3 projects get delivered.

  11. Ballard-UW will never pass a regional vote. It shouldn’t pass a city wide vote. It is easily the worst rhought out line Seattle Subway has (and keeps pushing despite its issues).

    Look. The distance from East Ballard to West U District is 2.2 miles. That’s it. There are 3 stops planned for those 2.2 miles, for an average of 0.7-0.8 stops per mile. We’re talking about current levels of downtown Seattle coverage. But for whom?

    Take the 44 Eastbound past Wallingford. What do you see? SFHs. Everywhere. No TBD options. No masses shoving their way to light rail. Just a light rail stop surrounded by single family plots, likely all 1/10th of a acre.

    Now I will admit this area has a traffic issue. But before we go building luxury limo light rail, let’s look at the cause of the traffic issue. The mess is mostly caused by a single intersection. The I-5 onramps. They’re the issue. Not traffic volumes. Substandard freeway access planning.

    Ballard to UW is and always will be A Bridge Too Far. Even if Seattle internally votes for it, it will still be throwing good money after bad. It doesn’t address the real life issues of the communities involved.

    TLDR: You can more meaningfully impact traffic along 45th with an intersection change than you ever will with a subway line.

    1. It is well-established that the 44 is one of the highest ridership lines in the King County Metro system despite extremely unreliable service. I live right off of it in the UDistrict, and my personal experience supports this. The surrounding land uses certainly need to be improved, but there is immense demand, full stop.

      I agree that large improvements could be made to the reliability of the 44, including the complex interchange with I-5. But there are many other bottlenecks as well: the interchanges with Aurora and 15th Ave NW, the single lane through Wallingford, the lack of bus lanes in Ballard and the UDistrict.

      We should certainly try to address these, but what they lack in financial commitments they make up for in political lifting. As such, none of them preclude the potential of a Ballard-UW line.

      1. What political lifting? Any support you gain will be more than erased in the proposal that ST pays for an intra-Seattle line. ST1-ST3 all proposed inter-Seattle lines or extensions to inter-Seattle lines.

        All the bottlenecks you mention are issues pretty much everywhere in the city. A bad arterial crossing. Single lanes of traffic insufficient for current volumes. Not enough bus ROW. If you wanted to add infrastructure that brought the best reliability improvements in Seattle, you’d be fighting for sidewalks in North Seattle. Seattle isn’t adding many Park and Ride spots, so to get to light rail in the first place the only viable options would be bus or bike. Drop off lanes attract too much illegal parking.

        No matter the benchmarks, UW-Ballard is a horrible idea, a waste of money, and something that will drive up anti-ST and anti-Seattle sentiment. There is no good reason for it at all, and many good reasons against it.

      2. 1) an ST4 like this would almost certainly be a Seattle-only levy. It wouldn’t otherwise be possible under subarea equity rules.

        2) The political lifting is in trying to secure dedicated ROW for the 44 through Wallingford and Ballard against the wishes of well-connected NIMBYs.

        3) It’s actually a great idea, because all of your negatives are addressing strawmen. Would Seattle vote for it? Probably. It’s not a huge leap for people to envision a popular bus route (popular despite being slower than molasses) as a rail line instead.

    2. First of all, who the hell said the train would only go to east Ballard. If you built an east-west subway, it sure as hell would serve the heart of Ballard. Secondly, the stop spacing is fine. I realize that folks around here have only seen glimpses of a real subway, but our stop spacing is too *large*, not too small. Or are you saying it is a great thing that we don’t have a First Hill station? While we are at it, which UW station would you get rid of (since they are pretty close to each other)?

      Finally, I don’t where you get the idea that Ballard and Wallingford only have houses. You can see that is clearly not the case when it comes to existing buildings (https://jeffreylinn.carto.com/viz/681ff218-0a5d-11e6-8f50-0ea31932ec1d/embed_map) or new buildings (https://jeffreylinn.carto.com/viz/681ff218-0a5d-11e6-8f50-0ea31932ec1d/embed_map).

      1. Nice Strawman there. I never said Ballard and Wallingford only have houses. I mentioned that there is a large stretch of SFHs along Route 44 between Wallingford and Ballard (I scewed up my directions, it should have said Westbound). The area where West Woodlawn, Ballard, and Fremont almost meet. SFHs for over a mile East-West or North-South (using 1 block North of Leary as the southern border).

        From 15th and Market to U Village is 3.8 miles by streets. There are 6 stops in that 3.8 mile stretch. Less than 3/4ths of a mile between stops. This is beyond lunacy. Even as an intra-Seattle vote, it will be rightfully mocked to oblivion.

        Ballard to UW. A Bridge Too Far.

      2. There are houses in between the Roosevelt and U-District Station. There are lots of houses between the Northgate Station and the Roosevelt Station. Do you think that Northgate Link will be a failure?

        Did you even look at the maps I cited? Seriously, look at this: https://jeffreylinn.carto.com/viz/681ff218-0a5d-11e6-8f50-0ea31932ec1d/embed_map. There are very few gaps without apartments. Besides, it doesn’t matter. The areas by most of the stations have plenty of density. The only exception is 8th NW, which is why some people think it should be included, while others don’t. But 8th is more about bus connections than anything else. Speaking of which, you completely ignored that aspect of the system, focusing instead on houses you have seen.

        I honestly don’t understand your argument. Are you saying that there isn’t enough density on those stations to support a line?

        Your arguments aren’t even clear. For example, you keep mentioning the length of the line, and the stop distance. What is your point? Seriously, are you suggesting that the line is too short? Or that the stops are too close together? Sorry, but that is ridiculous, and ignores how subways work the world over.

    3. What a bizarre position to take. Ballard to UW has been in the *regional* long range plan since 1996.

      1. I know. I’ve been complaining about it since 96. It made no sense then, it makes even less sense now. The stop spacing is simply too short, regardless of RossB’s assertions to the contrary. Where, outside of downtown Seattle, do we have this level of light rail stip density? Nowhere. Not even in the U District -> Downtown line prior to reaching downtown. The U District has more people than Ballard, and uses fewer stops to move those greater numbers. This should be a huge red flag, and to most voters it is just that.

      2. You are complaining about a bug in the current system, not a feature. Look at the Forward Thrust Subway plan and you’ll see much closer stop spacing in the segment you’re referencing.

        The fact that a combination of ST’s budget woes in the 2000s and the morphing of Link into a light metro/commuter rail hybrid left very few stops in the urban parts of the existing line says exactly squat about the utility of stations on a crosstown line.

  12. I agree with the map, but I think there are probably still 1 or 2 single-family detached homes in north Seattle that won’t have a subway stop at their doorstep, so I don’t know, it may need tweaking. /s

    The irony is that I’m sure people up there would love all of the connectivity, but then they would be told that everything would need to be upzoned as a result and then there would be tantrums. (see https://www.seattlemet.com/articles/2012/1/30/roosevelt-upzone-passes-neighborhood-seeks-agreement-with-developer) I agree with other comments, and I would be fine putting more lines where density is allowed. Maybe once Seattle gets rid of single-family zoning we can talk.

    Also, “You can.” as the “best possible answer” is inaccurate. It should be “your grandkids can!”

    1. The zoning issue will be clearer in the next 5-10 years. The past eight years been a transition to more urban policies (HALA, transit, council makeup). It remains to be seen whether the next council builds upon this and accelerates it or stops it. If it gradually increases the height and width of urban villages and allows missing-middle housing in single-family areas, we’ll be in a somewhat better position in the 2030s and 20402. If it accelerates them, then maybe you could see new highrises in Northgate (outside the mall block) and Capitol Hill and Roosevelt, and 10-story buildings in Wallingford, and 4-story buildings in Sand Point.

  13. As long as tax payers in Pierce County are not shouldered with the burden without seeing anything for it.

  14. I’m a fan of mass transit, specifically light trains, but not sure the idea of criss-crossing rail lines is really going to work out. I’m basing my opinion on the design of cities such as Curitiba, Brazil, which engineers visited prior to implementing the light rail plan here – the major takeaway is that lines fan out like spokes from the city center, which is the whole point of the system, to get people in and out of the city. It’s not designed to move laterally from neighborhood to neighborhood, there’s too much inefficiency there. Just my thoughts, anyways. I’m still holding out hope for Hyperloop, heh.

    1. Next assignment: Look at the design of the systems in Asian cities. You’ll find many circumferential lines there.

      1. I suppose it depends on the intent of the ST network – if the goal is to move people in and out of downtown Seattle, then the spoke method works. If it’s to provide auto-less access to neighboring, uh, neighborhoods, heh, then they’ll have to look at putting in more east and west lines. How they go about getting their funds is going to be the key – I think a majority in Seattle would go for it, but outside the city the folks have a tighter grip on their wallets and tend to be more pro-highway expansion.

    2. The best networks do both simultaneously. The green line envisions Woodinville-Ballard-downtown-Tacoma; the purple line envisions Sand Point-Ballard-downtown-Tacoma; the pink line envisions Aurora-downtown-Madison-520-Bellevue-Issaquah. So the green and purple lines provide crosstown service while simultaneously going downtown, so they get both kinds of riders, as well as those going from; e.g., Wallingford to SODO or Rainier Valley.

  15. I really am a fan for inclines (aka funiculars) to solve some of our last mile challenges. This month, Portland is exploring a new inclined connector to Marquam Hill, for example.

    https://trimet.org/swcorridor/pdf/meetings/steering/SC_June2019.pdf

    They are much lower costs and faster projects to build than billions on new lines and wait a few decades just to reach one or two additional major destinations. For the mere cost of the West Seattle tunneled segment, we could build several of these elsewhere.

    Candidate corridors include Harborview/First Hill to Pioneer Square, Upper Queen Anne to SLU, North Capitol Hill to SLU, University Village to U-District, Phinney Ridge to Ballard or Roosevelt, Admiral to Delridge, Alki to West Seattle, Lower Beacon Hill to any RV Link station — even possibly good for hilly suburban areas in Kirkland, Bellevue, Tukwila or Issaquah.

    Most of all, we need to see the productivity and the overcrowding analysis of this and many other strategies. We already know that Westlake-UW and SODO-Mt Baker will be the most crowded segments and this proposal does help with that. I think beginning with a single vision is interesting, but frankly it’s fraught with mere speculation about its costs and utility.

    I sometimes think Seattle Subway should put out a variety of vision maps and not just one. That establishes that we need a good systems analysis step first before boring tunnels. In fact, it’s failing to do this very thing that resulted in ST skipping First Hill, Belltown and other areas in ST3.

    1. I think Ballard Subway is interested in but one thing, one seat rail rides to all corners of the universe. Good luck getting anything other out of em.

    2. I’m not sure about the funiculars but I agree with your general thesis that there should be more than one vision getting discussed. As a former bus driver and a (mostly former) mass transit user across at least three cities, there are some things in this plan that simply make me cringe (like, the plan includes about twice as many stops per mile as the current system). I would love to see transit expanded, but I am not about to email a rep and push this particular plan.

  16. I think you have stumbled on a great “mission statement” for Seattle (de)congestion pricing revenue (I also kind of doubt additional sales and MVET tax would fly). This really should be part of the Green New Deal discussion. “Traffic is over — if you want it” indeed!

    1. A big reason for doing the subway thing in the first place is that car drivers refuse to concede lanes or priority for mass transit. The only popular proposals are ones that create entirely new ROWs, even though the practical solution to Seattle’s congestion problem is an expanded BRT network–and possibly a few creative solutions like a funicular.

      Besides the Metro-8 line it could be argued that the rest of the ST4 lines would be better off as BRT–true BRT, not the compromised “Rapid Ride” that is barely faster than a regular bus.

      1. Maybe go for something “in between” at least initially — streetcars with dedicated lane space. And with well designed protected bike lanes that eliminate crossing the tracks at angles, I think we’ve learned enough to minimize the danger to bicyclists. Remember, the 1ST Ave. study showed that a BRT with an equivalent right of way would not be significantly cheaper than a streetcar. A Ballard to UW streetcar (e.g., terminating by the locks, not 15th Ave., perhaps even using the 45th ST NE viaduct to get to U-Village and Children Hospital) might make more sense than a tunneled subway, IF you can get the dedicated ROW. Which you probably can’t for BRT in the current political environment, but for a streetcar that adds to the “neighborhood charm,” perhaps you can. Now IF in the next few years we can get the political will for full “gold” BRT, that would probably be quicker to implement than a streetcar, and probably just as effective.

      2. I think people in Seattle think that all streetcars are like the tiny, slow ones we have. To have longer and faster exclusive-lane streetcars is experientially foreign to many locals unless they’ve ridden them in other countries.

  17. Just to highlight this again — a big point of this post is to start pressing the legislature for a funding source. The CTA appears to be the fastest path, and if nothing else, kicks off the discussion about how ST4 will be funded.

    Please send your legislator a letter via this quick form (less than 1 minute to do.) It’s the best first step to getting this thing rolling.

    https://actionnetwork.org/letters/approve-funding-for-st4-in-seattle?source=direct_link&

    1. Also – in case this point got lost in the mix, we’re looking for help writing the follow up posts about why each line is needed. If you are excited about a particular line, please get in touch at contact@seattlesubway.org and come help us write about it.

  18. Is there any merit to a supplemental streetcar system? Lots of cities in Europe take this approach. Here is why I ask:

    1. Central Seattle trip lengths are pretty short, and the future stations will be deep. A surface streetcar in exclusive lanes could deliver a rider much faster than the extra time required to go way down and the way up.

    2. Suburban residents won’t easily stomach paying for more tunnels in Seattle. A brokered parallel deal to add tracks in the other areas will be tough, with really only the 405 and 167 corridors left unserved by rail after ST3 is done.

    I could see a mostly exclusive-lane streetcar line from Interbay to Belltown to Pike/Pine (one way couplet) to 12th to Jackson to Rainier to Judkins Park Link as one good path. Perhaps different lines could weave into the current streetcar plans or branch down Jefferson Street to Garfield or John to 15th. I could even see a viable system connecting Ballard to U District or Husky Stadium to Children’s Hospital or Alki and Admiral to West Seattle to White Center.

    Sure it’s not as desirable as a subway, but I don’t see 20-30 story buildings happening outside of Belltown or First Hill anyway. It’s a cost-effective alternative — as long as it doesn’t get as hijacked by others like the very slow-moving FHSC line was.

    1. Al, you are correct, suburban residents won’t agree to pay for this. The proposal that the article cites is to use “city” funding mechanisms to pass this Seattle Subway proposal, through either a CTA or TBD.

    2. This is definitely the way to go if we don’t just leave these to dedicated bus lane trips. Boston has a “trolly” that runs much to far and it’s a bit intolerable. Stopping every two blocks when you are traveling miles means even moderate length trips take considerably more time than they should. If these short trips are exclusively relegated to a separate line that simply doesn’t have the milage to get that backed up, then you eliminate a major irritation for the many people actually using transit to get somewhere otherwise truly beyond reach without a car.

      Honestly, when I see a proposed stop at Greenlake and at Roosevelt, I worry. Or rather, if we have an East-West connector, shouldn’t it either have stops that serve Wedgewood or not have so many stops before Roosevelt (and clearly I am in the “fewer stops” camp). In general, especially outside of central business districts but even to an extent in them, high capacity mass transit (light rail, commuter rail, subway) should aim to get everyone most of the way quickly and then let low capacity (busses, trollies) fill in the gaps, so that people who would rather walk a bit or bike or park and ride can choose that, keep it fast, and people who want minimal walking, want an odd route, or just aren’t in any hurry can hop a bus, trolly,

    3. Streetcars make sense when you have a corridor that has too many riders for a bus, but lacks the money to build a subway. There is no place like that in Seattle. Downtown would pass the demand test, but north-south routes converge there (it is a spine — https://humantransit.org/2018/09/dublin-what-is-a-spine.html). Every other corridor lacks the demand. Even Madison (likely the most crowded corridor exclusively served with one route) will handle the loads just fine with buses.

      1. Arguably, the Ballard to UW Route 44 already handles as much as it can as a bus. It sounds like Route 8 as well (I don’t ride that route). An upgrade to either streetcar or full BRT (not RapidRide, which seems to work best for longer distance less congested corridors) is surely called for. Not so sure whether an upgrade to tunneled subway is called for–I kind of doubt it.

      2. Arguably, the Ballard to UW Route 44 already handles as much as it can as a bus. It sounds like Route 8 as well.

        Not really. The problem with the 8 and the 44 is speed, not capacity. The only practical way to improve the speed is with tunneling. Once you go that route, you basically have light rail, even if it runs on the surface for part of the route (like our system does). At that point we are arguing semantics, as we could call the Rainier Valley part of Link a streetcar, and the rest of it a light rail line.

        Keep in mind that Madison Street is expected to be one of the busiest transit corridors in our system. The speed improvement will be dramatic. Yet the city will only run the buses every six minutes. Generally speaking, switching over to streetcars makes sense when you are running the buses every two minutes. At that point, you gain nothing in terms of frequency (riders don’t car if the bus comes every 2 minutes, or every minute) and increasing frequency to deal with crowding becomes too expensive. Unless the Ballard to UW connection is dramatically faster, you won’t get that sort of ridership. It really can’t, unfortunately, unless you tunnel (there are too many choke points that can’t be fixed with striping).

        BRT advocates could argue for running buses in a tunnel. But that would be silly. Not only would it likely become too expensive (lots of extra vehicles) but it would add very little. A bus tunnel makes sense when you have a “spine” type situation (https://humantransit.org/2018/09/dublin-what-is-a-spine.html). In this case, though, the intersecting buses are running perpendicular to the line, not branching outward from it. No one would want to run a bus that exits Aurora and then turns towards the UW. It makes more sense (and is likely a lot cheaper) to just add a station there, and have people transfer.

        We can (and will) make spot improvements here and there. These are basically BRT-light. These will help, and may be the only thing that is built in the future. But it won’t be as fast as Madison BRT, since there are too many choke points.

        Because of our geography, we really don’t have anywhere that makes sense for a streetcar.

    4. It depends on the definition of streetcar. MAX, Tacoma Link, and VTA are similar to non-American streetcars. The word “streetcar” in the US has come to designate a lower level of service: trains stuck in mixed traffic with stops every two blocks and little signal priority. Those aspects make the train useless for getting around efficiently, so why spend so much money when a trolleybus could do the same thing?

      We should spend our money on the high end and low end. On the high end, grade-separated rail makes 5-10 mile trips convenient and competes favorably with driving. On the low end, ubiquidous inexpensive buses ensure even minor corridors and neighborhoods have transit. Streetcars are the worst of both worlds: slower and less competitive than grade-separated rail, and more expensive than buses or even fancy trolleybus lines.

      1. Not necessarily “more expensive than buses or even fancy trolleybus lines” if you’re talking about an *equivalent* dedicated, BRT quality right of way. The 1ST Ave. streetcar study showed this. Of course, you *could* spend a lot of money on a streetcar in a crappy right of way and not run it frequent enough so people take the bus instead (exhibit: FH streetcar), but similar to the first light rail line in Seattle through the Rainier Valley, I think lessons can be learned.

      2. Again, the key difference between a bus and a streetcar is capacity. Both run on the surface. Both can have a lot of stops. Both can have signal priority and dedicated lanes. When a bus has it, it is typically called “light rail” (in the U. S.). When a bus has it, it is typically called “BRT”.

        But we don’t have any corridors that make sense for a streetcar, for the reasons mentioned up above. First Avenue (like Third Avenue) is a “spine” (with so many buses converging there that it is a problem) and it actually has a high end light rail system already. Madison Street is one of the most urban corridors, and it will peak out at 6 minute frequency (not 2). It is reasonable to argue that we can’t simply afford the high end improvements (i. e. tunneling) for any remaining part of our system (after ST3); in that case, bus improvements are the way to go. But we certainly don’t need to add a streetcar on those pieces, as there will be nothing added (and plenty lost) if we did. We won’t need it from a ridership standpoint, since they will not have the large ridership increase that comes with big speed improvements (that are only possible with tunneling).

        I think it is worth noting that Sound Transit at one point did have a proposal for surface light rail between Ballard and the UW. But perhaps because of the geography, it went back and forth (it did not follow the route of the 44). It was considerably slower than a tunneled version. Ridership was expected to be much smaller. It was the type of demand that could be handled just fine with a bus.

      3. The point is, have the lessons been sufficiently learned? The 1st Avenue transit lanes are a great model but they’re only one mile long: they don’t help you in the longer segments on Jackson Street or Broadway. (Westlake has transit lane(s) now but the streetcar stops at a light every single block between Stewart and Denny.) There should be a guaranteed minimum standard of like MLK; then I would be more comfortable with streetcars. The problem with BRT is it’s all too easy to backslide to mixed traffic and letting street parking get in the way, and it’s the same for streetcars. Light rail has parallel slippages; it should be fully grade-separated guaranteed end of story. That’s why I supported the monorail when it was alive, because I was afraid Link would be watered down like all the previous American light rails that were 99% surface. But even MLK looks wonderful compared to a mixed-traffic streetcar in Seattle or Portland.

  19. Who has decided that we need density at all costs? So everybody who want to live here can live here and we’re destroying the fabric of the city? If you all really would like to live in NYC why don’t you move there and leave Seattle the way it is? Where does this fascination with density come from? Is it so much nicer to live in a small apartment framed by other big buildings?

    1. Who decided that we need low density at all costs? So only rich people can afford to live here and hoard the city’s amenities for themselves? If you want to live in a house, then just live in a house and let other people live in whatever kind of dwelling they want. Or if you insist on living in a single family zone, why don’t you move to the suburbs and let people who enjoy living in cities live in a city? Where does this fascination with dictating what other people do with their property come from?

      1. ” So only rich people can afford to live here and hoard the city’s amenities for themselves?”
        Why not, they’re paying for it.

        “Or if you insist on living in a single family zone, why don’t you move to the suburbs and let people who enjoy living in cities live in a city?”
        Because I like my house and my kids school and my job and …….

        “Where does this fascination with dictating what other people do with their property come from?”
        Yea, so stop it!

      2. >Why not, they’re paying for it.
        Very brave of you to come out and bootlick the rich. Everyone who lives here pays taxes, big guy.

        >Because I like my house and my kids school and my job and …….
        Hey, I like my apartment, my friends, the sandwich spot down the street, and my job, but this selfish boomer NIMBY wants me to go live in NYC because he disapproves of my lifestyle. Just turning his own logic back onto him. There are plenty of places you can live if you only want to live near single-family homes (see: about 95% of this country’s land area). There are not a lot of places you can live if you want to live car-light or car-free. Seattle is one of them.

        >Yea, so stop it!
        You support keeping it illegal to build anything except detached houses in 75% of Seattle and you think I’m the one trying to restrict people’s property rights? Live in a house if you want to. I don’t care, it’s your property. Just let other people build and/or live in apartments if they want to. Don’t want an apartment built near you? Buy the land from the developer and then don’t build one.

    2. Because New York has high humidity and colder winters and all my family lives here?

      Manhattan wasn’t always like it is. First most of it was farmland, then houses, then highrises/midrises. Somebody decided to change it; they didn’t tell everybody who wanted to live in a city to move to London. They just welcomed industries and jobs and sufficient housing.

      Also, it’s not really “highrises everywhere” or “more density is always best”. Sometimes urbanists forget that it’s not just the number of floors that matter, because American density debates are polarized between “detached single-family” and “midrise/highrise” as if there’s nothing in between. But Paris and Edinburgh and other cities show that that you can fit a lot of people 4-story buildings if you don’t have excessive setbacks and garages and highway-scaled streets and cul-de-sacs. We don’t need office buildings taller than 40 stories or apartments taller than 10 stories if we just build enough of them and don’t waste space. Seattle should at least return to its 1950s zoning; then you would see 2-4 story buildings and rowhouses throughout Wallingford and it would be more like Vancouver, Brooklyn, or Boston, which isn’t bad. We could fit a million people in 4-story or 7-story buildings if we expanded the urban village boundaries reasonably, and there would still be scattered single-family houses around as in Chicago’s North Side. Strategic parks and open space are important, but not dead space that’s just used for cars maneuvering or an architect thinks looks nice in a car-scaled landscape. Pedestrian scaling is smaller and more intimate, and that’s how to both fit more people and make it a more pleasant place to walk in.

    3. Rents and purchase prices for those apartments and condos in dense areas are comparable to houses with yards in low density areas, so the market has already answered your question. Sometimes the only constant is that things change. What was suburban can become more urban, what was rural can become suburban.

  20. What about a King County measure, rather than Seattle only? That would create a much larger tax base.

    You could include the 520 light rail to serve Bellevue and then concentrate funds on UW-Ballard, Ballard-Woodinville, and West Seattle-Burien-Renton. Sounds like a winner to me.

      1. You’ve got to entertain the idea if you want an ST4. A Seattle wide vote wouldn’t be an ST vote. RTID or bust.

      2. Especially if the whole point is to do something Seattle focuses using mostly city (not regional) funds.

  21. I like how we’re pretending that seattles portion of ST3 is a slam dunk. I predict that the W Seattle to Ballard line will be at least 5 years late and several hundred million over budget.

    I know its not as fun as choo choos, but we need to be concentrating on a massive increase in electric buses and dedicated bus lanes.

  22. SKC has a ton of population with 3 of the top 10 populous cities in WA State. FW Transit Center is busy all the time, the 150 is slammed with demand and the Sounder is at capacity. People here don’t take Transit because it is difficult to use, they would but come on, it takes over an hour in traffic on a bus… Why not drive and have the freedom. I love Transit, just please if it is focused on Seattle, Seattle pays. SKC pays but gets little benefits and it would be nice to have better connectivity. FYI – Those cities are Kent (130k), Renton (101k), Federal Way (100k). We have people down here and are growing, though some of our immigrant population probably does not show up on those growth maps.

    I would love to see thoughts around moving people around the Central Puget Sound, not just Seattle.

    1. If I lived in Kent or Auburn or Federal Way, I would be screaming for more frequent Sounder service, evening and weekend service, and connecting bus service timed to the train schedules. (If you’re in Renton–making Stride the best it can be and getting a faster bus connection to Link). Sounder is really the best way to cover the longer distances from South King to downtown–a very under utilized asset. I’d also point out that quick connections within Seattle would also benefit people taking trains and express busses from outside of Seattle. Just consider Sounder + Bus to Capitol Hill or UW vs. Sounder + Link now.

  23. Yes, yes, yes, and… the next logical way to add to the funding for ST4 and to improve transit ridership is Kitsap County. https://seattletransitblog.com/2018/06/18/will-kitsap-county-join-sound-transit/

    Most of the comments on that Page 2 post pointed to the cost. Well, a year later and the WA Ferries have published their 2040 plan. 16 ferries are needed. $14.6 billion in capital costs. Just for replacement parts and enough expansion to meet projected growth. That doesn’t count the $1+ billion more in the early 2050’s to replace the Seattle-Bainbridge ferries. All is this funded by King, Snohomish, and Pierce residents as much as Kitsap as ferries are funded as state highways, not local mass transit.

    While we take this moment to connect the next nearest neighborhoods and suburbs within Seattle and bordering Seattle, lets not leave out 100,000+ neighbors, almost as many who work in King Counth than Kitsap.

    1. You know full well it is impossible to use ST funds for ferries. You give the reason. WSFS, as part of our state highway system, cannot be touched by the RTID. WSDoT won’t give up jurisdiction or RoW. Even if they did it would never pass the needed RTID wide vote (this is a major change in scope and directive).

      1. You misinterpreted my comment and didn’t click into the Page Two story. I’m proposing adding Kitsap County to Sound Transit, offsetting the need for $18+ billion worth of ferries that y’all will be paying for by extending Link across Puget Sound.

        Kitsap’s economy is tied to King County. Many of us live just 10-15 miles from Westlake/Seattle, Benaroya, and Pioneer Sqaure stations. Many of us ride Link for our commute. Meanwhile we pay only the ticket price for that privilege whereas you buy us the ferries we ride.

        I’d much prefer 15 minute light rail service and to help pay for the ST3 and ST4 so that within an hour I can reach Bellevue, the airport, and everywhere else Link will soon go.

      2. This would be difficult to do. Elliott Bay is some 300 feet deep in many places, and nearly 500 at its deepest point. A tunnel under it would have to start around Madison Park, with a Seattle station accessed by deep level elevators only.

      3. Sure, maybe the line to west seattle should actually be extended west, to Vashon and Southworth, instead of south!

        there is that submerged tunnel idea floating around somewhere….. it was in the sand point crossing discussing from a few years ago.

        https://www.nbcnews.com/mach/science/world-s-first-floating-tunnel-proposed-norway-ncna971581

        of course, is the west side of the sound dense enough to support light rail? methinks not.

        Too, the state ferry system needs to support more routes than just those to-and-from Seattle, so you still have to build most of those boats they are talking about. I doubt there would be any savings.

  24. This is mostly good, especially the southbound “hook” on the Metro 8. However, the Metro 8 curves south too far east. Twenty-third Avenue is never going to be a high-rise corridor. Fourteenth Avenue might be and intercepts east Seattle buses just when they run into congestion.

    Turn south along 14th or 12th and you get to high-rise north ten blocks of Rainier as well as the industrial fringe of the Central District.

    So far as the Aurora Line, since the existing bridge can’t accommodate light rsil, you’re going to need a tunnel or new bridge. Put it in a better place to serve Fremont and run under Phinney-Greenwood to put a nice fringe of high-rises along the crest. This avoids the ridership desert of Woodland Park and the hazards of Green Lake.

    Swing over to Aurora somewhere north of 85th.

    1. Did not know the Aurora Bridge couldn’t accommodate light rail. I’m assuming you mean structurally, not just in terms of car lane space. Not being able to add a third crossing just makes the need for efficient, fast west/east connections north of the channel even more acute. And/or upgrading RapidRide E to full BRT. 50 Minutes from Aurora Village to downtown is not rapid transit.

      1. 50 Minutes from Aurora Village to downtown is not rapid transit.

        Aurora Village is a long ways from downtown Seattle. It is about 12 miles, or roughly the same distance from the Jamaica Station in Queens to Lower Manhattan. That trip (by subway) takes around 50 minutes at best.

        I’m all for making the E faster, but to make that trip a lot faster you would need an express. Given the rush hour demand for service along that corridor, a limited stop express makes sense.

        It will be interesting to see what happens after Swift is extended to 185th Station. Someone in Aurora Village may decide to take that bus to Link, and then ride it into Seattle. It will take about 20 minutes from 185th to downtown. Metro may still add another express overlay (to deal with the crowding and build a one seat ride that can compete with a two seat one) while any improvements to the corridor (e. g. better signal management) would improve both routes.

  25. For the record: planning for ST4 won’t be complete without the study for the light rail south from the California Alaska junction that won’t even be started until West Seattle decides the path for their light rail to the junction. I suggest you start by taping a photo of the statue, “Waiting for the Interurban” on your wall. Sorry about the wait

  26. – Agree with the funicular comment above. Check out Lyon’s funicular trams up their steep hills. Upper Queen Anne can have one to connect with Lower Queen Anne’s subway station.

    – If ST4 were King County Only:
    1. Extending line from S. Kirkland to downtown Kirkland
    2. Extending W Seattle south to Burien
    3. Possible line of Burien – TIBS – Renton – Factoria – (interline with Issaquah link through Bellevue to Kirkland)
    4. Extend Ballard NE to Northgate and East to Sand Point
    5. Aurora Line to SLU

    ST4 also should look into integrating High Speed Rail. We shot ourselves in the foot for not including that in the planning decades ago. We should’ve made North Link and South Link triple or quad track to accommodate express, skip stop or intercity rail.

    1. Nah, just bring the cable cars back to the QA Counterbalance – most of the infrastructure is still there below the street. /snark, kind of

      As far as S King County is concerned, I’d rather a putative ST4 spent money on completely upgrading and grade separating the UP rail line on the west side of the Valley, enabling enough freight traffic to move there to free up spots for Sounder to run at Caltrain frequencies, including nights and weekends. (This could be done in conjunction with the freight lines and WSDOT as legally necessary – Cascades would also benefit from additional slots, as would any service over Stampede Pass in the future.) Best case would result in public ownership of the UP line, leasing or trading slots back to the freight lines.

      I’d also reiterate a previous suggestion of mine to terminate North Sounder at Renton – the spur from the main line at Monster Road all the way to the old Renton train station is already grade-separated except at the low-traffic Monster Road crossing – and extend South Sounder to the eventual Link station at Smith Cove with interim station at Belltown and a Link transfer station at Boeing Access Road. There is space for train layover at both locations, and North Sounder would benefit from additional passengers to Renton from Seattle and v.v., and from the ability to transfer at BAR for the airport.

      1. Funiculars and inclines are literally the same technology as cable cars — so saying no to one and yes to the other makes little sense. At most, one hooks and unhooks from a cable, where the other one is permanently hooked.

        One difference can be that funiculars and inclines usually have a level floor, where the floor of a generic cable car is at the grade of a street. With ADA, any new cable car will need some assessment about the floor slope if the technology is used.

      2. I know what a funicular is, and have ridden them in many cities from South Africa to New Zealand (in fact the Wellington funicular is actually called the “Wellington Cable Car”). It was more of a historical reference to what was once there. Apologies for the snark tag not making it clearer.

        You are correct about the only real difference between the two being the permanent cable grip on a funicular and therefore by necessity having another car moving in tandem in the opposite direction. Oddly enough, Seattle’s QA “cable car” was actually a funicular for the last 40 years of its existence as it had a counterbalance (hence the old name of the area) that in its case was underground. The counterbalance’s tunnel and tracks are still in place. I used the term “cable car” as it was that for the first 10 or so years of its existence (before the counterbalance was added and the line was electrified), and I still have memories of family members who rode it and called it such. A cable car actually has a far higher capacity than a funicular as many more cars can be used, and it can stop anywhere independent of the cable – for a funicular to stop the entire cable must stop.

      3. My apologies for reading your comment out of context, Scott. I misread your enthusiasm for a restored incline.

        I like funding the incline concept over new stringy light rail lines because I think people will perceive them like elevators rather than new transit lines that require transfers to get to the lines we will already have. They can be built closer to the surface. They don’t require catenaries and taller clearances. They are much cheaper to build and operate, even if it goes subway or aerial. They can even carry bicyclists up hills! Finally, it can be a city-wide funded set of improvements that can be built faster and can be done outside of ST’s process.

        There are many other transit technologies than light rail. I wish Seattle Subway would broaden the view beyond light rail only everywhere.

      4. No apologies necessary, Al! I’m honestly not certain how much better it would work than the existing 13 does unless it runs much more frequently (which it should, especially as it may need to only go as far as the nearest Link station in lower QA), but the possibility is certainly there. It would definitely be more pleasant to ride.

  27. This is a bit out there, but I’ve always thought it would be interesting to get a line connecting West and South Seattle. The two are isolated from each other right now due to the Duwamish industrial zone, and so a road connection is not really tenable. But a rail connection between, say, Alaska Junction and Othello could potentially connect them into a larger “super neighborhood”, like a South side equivalent to Ballard-Fremont-Wallingford. It could potentially lead to transit-oriented quality improvements for those areas.

    1. There have long been demands for bus service between West Seattle and southeast Seattle, and the 50 and 60 are Metro’s current attempt to address it. Several previous attempts have failed because there weren’t many riders. South Seattle has significant geographical challenges that make it difficult.

      North Seattle is more open and flat in all directions, so you have grid streets and busy east-west bus routes and large job centers like the U-District, Ballard-Fremont, and Northgate that draw people from all directions.

      South Seattle is a series of narrow north-south ridges, with waterways and highways and steep valleys in between. So the development has all been in these narrow north-south ridges and valleys, and they’re all oriented toward downtown rather than to each other. It’s hard to travel east-west because of the barriers, and there’s not much there to go to, because a narrow neighborhood can’t fit enough people to support a large institution or job center or large shopping district so they don’t try; they just go downtown. Adding frequent bus service or light rail would address pent-up demand such as it exists, but it would be even harder and take longer to make one of those neighborhoods a place where a lot of people go to and would travel to from east and west of them. So we can make incremental improvements, but we can’t expect it to be as high-ridership as North Seattle for several decades if ever.

      1. So we can make incremental improvements, but we can’t expect it to be as high-ridership as North Seattle for several decades if ever.

        I agree, and this is a good example of why most of what is on the map will never happen. As much as we think of ourselves as a big city with great transit, there are still bus routes that are sorely lacking. It is very difficult to get from West Seattle to anywhere in South Seattle. We really don’t have a great bus system, and yet folks are trying to leapfrog it all (after we are on the hook for a massive expansion called ST3) by building the equivalent of the D. C. Metro. There may be bits and pieces that can (and should) be built, but in the meantime, we still need to make plenty of big improvements in the bus system.

  28. I completely agree as long as the rail is built in areas that are actually dense enough for it (unlike most of ST3, which was mostly a waste of money that would have been better spent in Seattle and close-in suburbs).

    Also, the existing line is already well beyond capacity with extreme crush loads every weekday, and this is without the high ridership from the additional north end station opening soon and without the station areas being anywhere close to built out. There has to be something we can do to address this ASAP (3-minute headways and 4-car, better designed trains at the least…what else?). This goes to the articles point about building these lines with the future in mind. The current line isn’t even adequate for the present, much less the future.

  29. I am not sure whether to cry or laugh that we are planning 16 years to build a 3-mile tunnel and 5 stations.

    At that rate, the extensions would reach Greenwood or White Center by 2051. Climate change will probably have flooded Seattle by then.

    1. ST3 revenue is only at a third now. It won’t fully come in until the ST2 construction bills are all paid in 2025. So count 11 years from 2025 to 2036. It could have been a few years earlier but ST scheduled the West Seattle stub first.

  30. Yeah, great ST4, will this be another boondoggle for Pierce county? How about the large corporations that call Seattle home or have a large presence step up and fund ST4 this time around?

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