Project flyover video (Sound Transit)

On Monday, Sound Transit announced that the full funding grant agreement (FFGA) for the Federal Way Link Extension project had been sent for Congressional approval, one of the final steps before the grant is awarded. With $790 million in a direct grant and $629 million available through a low-interest TIFIA loan, the final pieces needed for the project to advance to construction are almost in place. Federal Way Link is expected to cost a total of $3.2 billion, having been adjusted by rising property costs and a competitive construction market.

Federal Way Link has already begun pre-construction work, mainly demolishing structures and relocation utilities, and is set to break ground early next year. This will be just over 11 years after the initial vision was approved by voters as part of 2008’s Sound Transit 2 ballot measure. The project was originally set to terminate at South 272nd Street, but was split into several chunks by the 2010 budget shortfall caused by the recession. The northernmost section, between Sea-Tac Airport and Angle Lake, opened in 2016 with accelerated work, while the rest remained in funding limbo until the arrival of Sound Transit 3. Armed with new funding and a one-year extension of the completion date, the project was restored to go all the way to Federal Way.

Project map (Sound Transit)

The project involves just under 8 miles of grade-separated track that will primarily run along Interstate 5 between South 216th Street and South 316th Street. At the three stations along the route, the tracks will veer west away from the freeway to serve areas with potential for growth: Kent/Des Moines Station at South 240th Street will serve nearby Highline College; South 272nd Street Station will replace the existing Star Lake Park and Ride; and Federal Way Transit Center will have its own station in the heart of downtown Federal Way.

Sound Transit expects that the section of track will carry around 40,000 daily riders by 2035, not including those passing through after the line is extended further south to Tacoma in 2030. A trip from Federal Way TC to Sea-Tac Airport is expected to take 14 minutes, while Downtown Seattle will be 50 minutes away, which is somewhat competitive with peak travel times on Route 577 but slower than off-peak trips on Route 578.

The grant announcement comes a few days after the open house on the project’s station names and artwork. Two of the three stations, Kent/Des Moines and Federal Way TC, will see significant redevelopment as the respective city governments look to build a set of transit-oriented districts. All three stations will have large parking garages, with capacities of 500, 1,100, and 400 vehicles respectively, but Kent/Des Moines and Federal Way TC will both use large staging areas as a catalyst for new development under the platform. Federal Way TC’s station will also be across the street from the Commons Mall, which could hold potential for yet another Link-induced mall renovation, as the area is zoned for denser use.

With Federal Way Link ready to go, Sound Transit will have a few years to prepare for the next pulse of Link projects in the coming decade. Project development for Ballard/West Seattle and Tacoma Dome are well underway, while Everett isn’t far behind.

67 Replies to “Federal funds on their way for Federal Way Link”

  1. Too bad we can’t take these funds and spend them in West Seattle/Ballard instead. Federal Way and south King overwhelmingly voted to approve 976, let them ride the bus.

    1. Federal Way and south King pay the same car tabs that people in West Seattle/Ballard do.
      Believe me, I am just as disappointed as you that people in my neighborhood are voting this way. But, we pay the same tax schedule on our vehicles as everybody else in the ST taxing district, so we deserve to get an equitable amount of investment.
      In a perfect world, maybe ST would have only been Seattle, Tukwila, the Eastside, and Shoreline, not two-thirds of the residents of a massive 3-county area. So, now, the people in outer-lying parts of the ST tax area that are extremely difficult to serve and not good candidates for mass transit are upset that they are paying a tax towards projects that don’t benefit them, or get scheduled out years or decades into the future. I honestly don’t blame them. I am all about the public good, I see the benefit, so I am willing to roll with it. Tell that to the single-income family next door with grandparents raising grandchildren. Tell that to the young couple down the street drowning in college debt. Seems like the folks who wrote up the original ST plans and borders two decades ago didn’t foresee that transit would be difficult to provide in a place like Orting or Spanaway, or that it would take decades just to get light rail built to the King County line. That is terribly bad foresight. So, now we’re left with this legacy of trying to provide transit to a mega-region that includes a lot of very low-density exurbs. Complain all you want, but the folks who voted yes are doing so because they are paying massive taxes and seeing very little in return. The people to complain to are the ones who are on page 2 of this document: https://www.soundtransit.org/sites/default/files/documents/199605-sound-move-ten-year-regional-transit-system-plan.pdf
      Note that the cover page also includes a monorail. Funny. Anyhow, they listed out a procedure for annexations into the district, but no way to remove an area once it is already “in.” And they included massive swaths of land where they had no plan to provide transit, or very minimal and sparse bus service.

      1. I know they pay the same car tabs. They pay $30 because that’s what they voted to pay. West Seattle/Ballard didn’t vote for that, South King did, and now South King is getting a handout from the Feds while the city gets shafted yet again.

        That money would carry more riders and spur more housing development in the city than South King, this is a fact.

      2. An express bus from Federal Way TC to Angle Lake would be just as fast and with a bus lane, just as reliable. We frankly don’t need to be building light rail all over the region.

      3. It is objectively true that the city is getting shafted while the suburbs get federal subsidies. You might think this is money well spent I happen to disagree.

    2. Even though there are subareas, ST3 car tabs are not apportioned by who voted yes or no in I-976 or even on ST3. We adopted one plan for the region and shouldn’t drop projects because of how a voting district went.

      If anything, the 976 vote is a warning to ST that their plans don’t have enough of a convincing benefit to South King. In particular, areas east of 167 voted for 976. It points to lousy planning for the 167 corridor by ST, believing that Sounder is all they care about.

      1. “If anything, the 976 vote is a warning to ST that their plans don’t have enough of a convincing benefit to South King.”

        I think that same warning extends applies to the Snohomish County subarea as well. I will remind folks that Everett was promised light rail by the ST Board in a phase two expansion by an official adopted resolution. The residents in that subarea have been paying the same taxes as everyone else in the district since 1997 with not a single LR or BRT completed project to show for it. They won’t get one until 2024 (if that), a whopping 27 years years later. I can certainly understand their frustrations with ST.

      2. That argument doesn’t hold much water. Snohomish county voted in favor of ST3 in 2016 which indicates that they were willing to look past the previous missed deadlines by ST and commit to the new schedule.

        The I-976 vote is more directed to the legislature which got the MVET schedule screwed up and then didn’t do anything to fix it.

      3. Ah, but this isn’t 2016. I think that if the ST3 vote were held again today, there is a good chance it would fail in the SnoCo subarea. It only passed by 2 points in a Presidential election cycle, which wasn’t exactly a resounding victory. Since then, I believe support for the agency has eroded in this subarea, particularly as folks have learned about the cost problems with ST2 projects, seen the financial impact on their vehicle registration renewals and, finally, realized that light rail coming to SnoCo was never dependent upon ST3.

        “The I-976 vote is more directed to the legislature which got the MVET schedule screwed up and then didn’t do anything to fix it.”

        Two points to add here:
        1. ST advocated for the continued use of the long since repealed 1996 MVET schedule in the 2015 authorizing legislation. It wasn’t like the legislature dreamed up this strategy on their own. Both parties have culpability here.
        2. I think the strong support for I-976 in the SnoCo ST subarea reflects the electorate’s disdain for the MVET valuation schedule (and the subsequent failure by the legislature to address the issue) as you’ve stated. But I think that’s just one of the reasons why it was so strongly supported in a low-turnout election cycle.

        I think there’s merit to Al S.’s observation to which I was responding. Your contrarian viewpoint is noted (and of course you’re certainly entitled to it), but I find your argument unconvincing.

      4. Fair point.
        My argument is that if SnoCo voted for ST3 even after missed deadlines and delays before 2016, I doubt the delay in Lynnwood link is going to necessarily turn the majority against ST.
        Again not denying that there is frustration amongst people there. Just that the I-976 vote may not be a good indicator of that.
        Pierce County is a different argument. Their convincing votes again ST3 and in favor of I976 clearly indicates they are not happy with the current ST plans

    3. My understanding is that people in South King hate transit because it generally sucks, and people are generally spread out and generally stuck in traffic a LOT. So what are you going to do? Tell people with crappy transit that they should never have better transit? If that was the idea, hardly anyone would ever get better transit. You have to start the virtuous cycle somewhere.

      1. As someone who lived in Auburn for 2 years I have to agree with that. The system for south king is fairly skeletal with most routes being half hourly or hourly. Along with that most transit service for Federal Way outside of a couple routes (like 181, 180 and A for example) end at around 7 or 8 at night. I generally hated it and thought it was pretty bad in how infrequent transit is along with how long and windy some routes could be to get somewhere.

    4. I’ll probably get my thoughts ot’ed again, but I don’t actually think folks voted primarily based on their self-interest. I think it was the same old identity politics that we are seeing on the national stage. They hear their neighbors whining about car-tabs and how unfair the are, they hear Dori whining about a war in cars. They agree, and vote that way, even if they live next to Kent TC.

      Look at downtown and North End Tacoma. They voted against 976 more strongly than View Ridge and Montlake. Should we bypass Roosevelt and Husky Stadium? Does Tacoma stand to benefit from ST funding more than Federal Way?

      Identity voting 1st, self-interest a distant 2nd.

      1. I don’t actually think folks voted primarily based on their self-interest. Identity voting 1st, self-interest a distant 2nd.

        I agree. Nor do I think people carefully looked at ST3 projects, and considered whether they were a good value or not. Folks in Seattle that will get basically nothing out of it (e. g. Fremont) still voted overwhelmingly in favor, even though a sensible plan would make many of their trips a lot better.

        But yeah, Federal Way was ST2. Overall, ST2 was very good, it just had a few little pieces that went too far (Federal Way being one of them). ST3 was the opposite — most of it was crap, and only small pieces were worthwhile. Even those may end up costing a lot more for no benefit, or be watered down (e. g. a tunnel to 15th NW, or a station of any sort at 14th NW, respectively).

      2. Identity definitely matters, as it is vary obvious looking at the map that Republicans voted yes in much greater numbers than Democrats. But, the Democrats who did vote “yes”, putting it over the top seem to be predominantly in the suburban areas of the ST district. In Seattle, I-976 outperformed Donald Trump by about 10 points. But, Pierce, Snohomish, and East King, the difference was more like 30 points.

        If a Republican were to somehow win statewide office in Washington, the race would likely produce a precinct-by-precinct map very similar to I-976.

    5. It isn’t clear how much or when the city will get funds for their projects (like Ballard). This is $790 million in a direct grant and $629 million available through a low-interest TIFIA loan. It isn’t clear how much that loan is worth. Someone can maybe do an estimate, but with interest rates really low, it might not be worth that much. This is a $3.2 billion dollar project. The U. S. government (otherwise known as us) is chipping in a third, at most. Of course this is a terrible value. But no worse than the bloated military budget. The feds are willing to chip for really bad projects, as long as the local municipality is willing to pay for most of it.

      As Engineer said, the folks that are getting screwed are those in that region. Paying for 2/3 of crap is still crap. It is clear that they would be way better off with better bus service. A couple billion dollars will pay for a boat load of good bus service.

      So, basically, you are both right. The government shouldn’t waste their money on very low value projects like this. But the ultimate blame lies with Sound Transit, and their ridiculous 60 mile “spine” idea. I seriously doubt that Federal Way/Des Moines/Kent (the area this is supposed to serve) will ever have really good transit. Yet they will paying a lot for it. Like paying for a Lexus, but getting a Jeep that burns oil. The fact that the government chipped in a bit isn’t the big story.

      1. “The feds are willing to chip for really bad projects, as long as the local municipality is willing to pay for most of it.”

        It’s the best of the competing grant applications. Most US cities have worse transit plans than we do.

    6. Federal Way extension is a ST2 project, not ST3. And its’s paid for with ST2 taxes, not ST3. So stop conflating ST2 projects with ST3 politics. This project was approved in 2008. It was started in 2011 and went through five years of environmental review and preliminary design before ST3 was even considered a realistic possibility.

      1. ST2 only went to 272nd. It stopped short of downtown Federal Way because of budget limitations. Then in the 2009 recession South King was the hardest hit, and the project was truncated at 200th. Later in the recovery it was re-extended to 240th (KDM). So without ST3 it would have ended at Kent-Des Moines, not Federal Way.

        That “five years of environment review” was the concession Federal Way extracted for having it truncated. The purpose was to make it shovel-ready for any stimulus grants that might appear.

  2. 40,000 riders seems awfully optimistic. That means over 13,000 trips per station. Angle Lake (counting on and off) has about 7,000 while Tukwila has about 6,000. Even SeaTac is barely 11,000. So each station would have to do much better than any of these.

    Current transit ridership around these areas is nothing like 40,000. Federal Way has less than 5,000 trips a day (both ways, combining all agencies) while Star Lake and Kent/Des Moines have about 2,000 each. That is less than 10,000 rides a day, and yet ST hopes that number will quadruple. It is possible that riders will switch from the A (as a means to get to SeaTac) but it is unlikely that counts as many riders. My guess is the A is mostly people going between various stops, not people going to the Airport (or just between those three stations). The SeaTac station serves places like downtown Seattle and the UW (and again, gets about 11,000 altogether). Hard to see anything close to that for these stations. When this opens, I expect well less than 20,000 riders for this section.

    Of course the various people in charge will do their best to add new buildings, and folks will applaud the TOD. But consider BART. BART is much faster, and serves an area with several times more jobs and people. South San Fransisco station, which has some rather nice looking suburban TOD (https://goo.gl/maps/sUWd4Uqt1aAWrQwN9) is less than a half hour away from downtown San Fransisco (with all of the San Fransisco stations along the way) and has a parking lot with 3,500 spaces (more than all three of these stations combined). It has less than 7,000 total riders a day. There are a few suburban BART stations that do better. But even if you combine the very best ones, you barely reach that 40,000 number of combined ridership. You can’t find three on the same line that do that.

    Even with major upgrades around the station, I think the best they will do is around 25,000 riders a day by 2035.

    1. 40,000 is two ways. That means 20,000 boardings or about 6,700 per station. It still seems a too high as RossB mentions..

      To get anywhere near this level of ridership, eliminating ST Express north of Federal Way and restructuring routes to force Link transfers seem necessary for starters.

      Finally, if this many riders are on the system, it will create passenger capacity issues in SE Seattle.

  3. As I reread Ross’ comments, I see Ross is correctly counting both directions. I’m just noting the directional counting issue in case others don’t.

    I will be surprised if it is over 20,000 (10,000 boardings) in 2025. As Ross mentions, Angle Lake and International Blvd Stations have parking as well as high frequency bus routes and they are nowhere near this demand level.

    Lower ridership affects fare revenue and ultimately the operations budget. If 40 percent fare recovery is the target for Link and we get only 20 percent, the significant shortfall has to be made up in other ways.

    1. The article says the 40000 estimate is for 2035, not 2025. Not saying we will get there in 10 more years but there could be additional ridership due to people traveling to Tacoma once link gets extended there. (The article says pass-through riders are excluded but riders to Tacoma who use South King stations may count)

      1. Yes, I wrote 2035. There won’t be that many people riding the train to the Tacoma Dome. The 574 goes from all the stations (Tacoma Dome, Federal Way, Star Lake, Des Moines). All together, that accounts for about 500 trips (250 each direction). A four fold increase (much larger than any increase we have ever had in our system over bus ridership) would be 2,000 riders.

        I still think it is crazy to think that they get 40,000 trips. 25,000 is optimistic, but plausible.

    2. Well, ST also told us that the initial segment (SeaTac to 45th St in the U-District) would have 107k riders by 2010. Here we are in 2019 still well short of that in total ridership with a shortened northern terminus to boot.

      I don’t put a lot of stock in ST’s projected ridership numbers given their track record. Of course, the same goes for their ability to estimate project costs. Federal Way Link is yet another example of that.

      1. “That number included Northgate, genius. ”

        Your assertion is absolutely false. I refer you to Appendix C of the 1996 Sound Move Plan, (page 6):

        “The 2010 ten-year transit ridership forecast includes the effects of population and employment growth, the effects of transit improvements (including reinvesting local
        bus service made available by the regional express routes), the six-year plans of the
        transit operators within the RTA District and completion of the HOV lanes in the three-county area. The forecast reflects putting in place a ten-year transit system plan, including:
        • twenty regional express bus routes,
        • twelve HOV ramps providing direct access
        to center HOV lanes, serving:
        – the RTA’s new regional express bus routes,
        – existing services provided by Community Transit, Everett Transit, Pierce Transit and
        King County-Metro,
        – carpools and vanpools
        • a commuter rail line from Everett to Lakewood,
        • a light-rail line in Seattle from 45th Street to S. 200th Street via Sea-Tac Airport, and
        • a light-rail line in Tacoma from 9th Street to the Tacoma Dome commuter rail station.”

        “Table 4: Summary of transit boardings

        “Weekday Boardings, Annual
        Boardings:
        Light rail – 107,000, 32.6 million
        Commuter rail – 12,600, 3.2 million
        Regional express bus – 54,000, 15.8 million
        Total – 173,600, 51.6 million”

        So, no, this ridership projection DID NOT include the Northgate extension. ST’s failure to get the northern terminus to 45th St and settling on Westlake in the initial segment (Sound Move) and only to Husky Stadium in the U-Link extension obviously had a major impact on system ridership. That was well-documented in the Initial Segment Before-and-After Report.

        And, again, this is 2019 and even with the U-Link portion now included weekday ridership is well short of the 2010 Sound Move projection.

        But thanks for the compliment nevertheless.

      2. I think the 107K did however include First Hill. That lost station would have probably brought the 107K down to about 90-95K. It also included the U-District or 45th Station which would put Link forecasts at about 80-85K if that is further deducted out of the total. It also had the BAR Station if I remember correctly. That’s exactly where Link ridership is!

        Just because a past forecast was close does not mean that ST is being realistic today though. I have serious doubts that these three stations will see 20K boardings by 2035 (40K total) on an average weekday. Angle Lake ironically has the most boardings of any station that has ample free nearby parking by far at 4.4K Link boardings (8.8K total) and this suggests that the average will be 6.7K boardings per station. I think it’s wishful thinking to expect the KDM or Federal Way stations to experience transformative development that would result in a situation that results in paid parking within 10 years after opening so 40K looks fairly implausible to me. That’s just under the 41-49K forecast for Northgate Link for 2022 (also a three-station extension).

      3. “Just because a past forecast was close does not mean that ST is being realistic today though.”

        While I agree with your larger point here, I do take exception with the perspective that the Sound Move ridership forecast “was close”. The forecast was for the average weekday ridership the system would’ve seen by 2010. Your math above is using TODAY’s numbers and making the downward adjustments for the missing stations from that starting point. The average weekday ridership for all of 2010 was 21,026. Thus, the true forecast miss is much larger than you’ve alluded to above and cannot be accounted for simply by the aforementioned missing stations adjustments. (I’m not discounting that these played a role here; they certainly did, just not to the magnitude necessary to account for the gap in the forecast.)

        Here’s what the agency’s Before-and-After Study, filed with the FTA in 2013 as required, said about the ridership numbers for the initial segment (Central Link) based on 2011 data:

        “Ridership

        “In the fall of 2011, the combined Central Link Initial Segment and Airport Link project carried 23,400 trips on the average weekday and 7.8 million total trips in calendar year 2011. Rail ridership is somewhat higher than the average during summer months when more sporting and community events occur in downtown Seattle. The tourist and cruise-ship seasons also add to ridership between the airport and downtown Seattle. This seasonality is different from the seasonal character of the bus system where ridership is highest in the fall months when universities and colleges are in session.

        “Between 2008 and 2011, overall transit ridership in the corridor appears to have increased on weekdays by approximately 7,000 origin-to-destination trips, suggesting that the 23,400 trips on
        rail are roughly one-third new transit trips and two-thirds former bus riders.

        “Throughout project development, forecasts for opening-year ridership on light rail consistently overestimated actual ridership. Predicted weekday ridership ranged from 34,900 (high by 11,500
        or 49 percent) at PE-entry to 37,800 (high by 14,400 or 62 percent) at FD-entry, the FFGA, and the amended FFGA. Because actual weekend ridership is higher than anticipated in the opening-year forecasts, however, differences are smaller in annual terms: 7.8 million annual light rail trips in 2011 compared to opening year forecasts of 10.6 million (high by 36 percent) at PE-entry and 11.5 million (high by 47 percent) at the later milestones.”

        Fwiw….
        “I have serious doubts that these three stations will see 20K boardings by 2035 (40K total) on an average weekday.”

        I share your skepticism (as well as that of RossB’s) with regard to the ridership forecast for this particular Link expansion. I just don’t think it’s realistic based on the corridor data and projected population and/or employment growth for that area.

  4. I wouldn’t say that 272nd Station “veers west” or has much “potential growth”. The station is on the west side of the freeway but it barely veers at all, and any development there is five blocks from 99.

  5. In 2024, what will be the best method to get from Tacoma to Westwood village using transit? Bus-Link-Bus?

    1. Is this an actual trip or a comment on the loss of the 560 with Bellevue-Burien Stride?

      ST has talked about maybe extending the 574 to Westwood Village to replace the SeaTac-WV part of the 560 lost for Stride. In that case it would be a one-seat ride from Tacoma Dome or Lakewood.

      Otherwise, the most straightforward way I see is STEX to Federal Way, Link to TIB, Stride or F to Burien, H (120) to Westwood Village. Another option from Federal Way is Link to Beacon Hill, 60 to Westwood Village.

      The 2040 plan has a WSJ-SeaTac-Kent express route, which might replace the 574 extension.

      1. This is an actual question. I never heard of the 560, so can’t comment.

        I have lived on the north end of Seattle for 20 years until about 5 years ago, and know little about south-sound transit. We are currently shopping for a house in Tacoma. I’m trying to balance transit access with schools and jobs. Just trying to figure out if Tacoma to West Seattle is going to be infeasible via transit.

        Thanks, Mike. What’s STEX? Took the 574 on my last visit, and while fine, was a slow boat on I-5.

      2. STEX = Sound Transit EXpress bus. The 560 is the STEX route currently running Bellevue-Renton-SeaTac-Burien-Westwood Village, criticized for being slow in Renton and delayed in the SeaTac arrivals traffic. It’s on track to be replaced by STRIDE BRT, which will skip SeaTac and end in Burien without serving Westwood Village.

      3. Vashon is starting to look more tempting. Was thinking Link extension might improve things, but it might perhaps make things worse, as least as far as adding more transfers. Except for a straight Sounder commute to downtown, Tacoma doesn’t seem to have very good integration to the north.

      4. ST Express will probably become more frequent, with the 59x and 578 truncated at Federal Way.

        If you want that 574 extension to get to West Seattle, I would write ST and tell them, and put it in your Federal Way Link feedback. That would show that corridor has demand.

        Vashon Island to Westwood Village would be OK if you can tolerate the current island bus service. There are peak express routes across the lake and an infrequent all-day island-only route on the island, but they only serve the main highway and a few villages. There may be a supplemental shuttle of some sort. Two things to watch for:

        Metro’s 2025 plan appears to drop the all-day route, leaving only the peak expresses.
        – Metro’s 2040 plan switches to two all-day routes and no expresses. You’d transfer at Fauntleroy to the WV-SLU express (which I mistakenly called the Fauntleroy-SLU express, not noticing it went further to Westwood Village). It doesn’t go straight east like the C but dips south and back, so that may add a bit to the travel time.

        You can write to Metro and ask for clarification on these. Metro would also know about any other island shuttles. It has been migrating to “alternative service” in the lowest-density areas, and those may not be on the map.

        West Seattle Link opens in two parts. The first part is a West Seattle Junction-SODO stub scheduled for 2030. The second part is extending it to Lynnwood in 2035. It’s unclear whether any buses will be reorganized between the two parts. These dates are likely to slip, both because of I-976 and because the West Seattle community is strongly demanding expensive options.

      5. As a frequent rider of the 560, I can assure you that Renton and Seatac are not the issues with its route. The stretch of 405 from Renton to Coal Creek is much, much worse. On the weekends the 560 has so few runs it is faster to take Link to Rainier Beach and catch the 106/107.

        The 560 is a mess, but its issues are clogged freeways and infrequent service, not the airport or Renton.

      6. In 2024, what will be the best method to get from Tacoma to Westwood village using transit? Bus-Link-Bus?

        Probably. But that isn’t a sure bet. There are buses from Tacoma that go to Federal Way (and it is possible there will be more of them). But they don’t cover all of Tacoma. That means that for much of Tacoma, you would have to take two buses to get to Federal Way. From there you take the train to SeaTac. From there you may get lucky, and catch a truncated version of the 560, that goes from SeaTac to Westwood Village (whether run by Metro or ST). Even with all that, though — even if you have a three seat ride — it sounds pretty slow. I doubt these buses will be really frequent. The 560 runs only every half hour, and most of the ridership is headed east (towards Bellevue/SeaTac) in the morning. That means that if they do bump up frequency, it will likely be for buses going the opposite direction as you. Some of the buses may be frequent, but again, not necessarily where you will be. The train will likely run every six minutes northbound during rush hour (and infrequently the rest of the day). It is possible you could time it OK (if the first bus is frequent, then you could time that trip with the last bus/Link). But you still need a little cushion. If you are lucky, I think you are looking at maybe an hour and 15 minutes. But it could easily be an hour and a half, or more.

        In the middle of the day it may work, but the delays will be much longer. It will probably take a couple hours.

        The ferry has its own issues, but it quite possible it would be better. The tricky part is that first trip (to the ferry dock). From there, everything is on a solid schedule. The C is going nowhere — Metro is going to keep that frequent connection from Westwood Village to the dock. If I could walk to the Vashon Ferry dock, I would prefer that. You have a very limited number of sailings, but you can plan around them. It really isn’t that different than coming from Tacoma, except that your commute (the trip you have dialed in) is much better. Riding the ferry is a lot more fun than riding a bus (or a train). If you are waiting for the ferry, you are waiting at a ferry dock. If you are headed to Tacoma, you would be waiting mostly at SeaTac; coming back you would be waiting at Federal Way. The ferry sounds a lot better, as long as the trip (and from) the ferry dock at Vashon is OK.

      7. I was thinking about it some more. The other advantage of Vashon is that you may be able to get to the ferry using an electric bike. Depending on where you live, it may not be that far to the ferry. In contrast, Tacoma to Federal Way is a long distance.

      8. Yeah, I bike. First last leg, any trip under 3-5 miles would likely be walk/bike. I just gotta get close.

      9. 405 is a problem when traffic is really bad. But, during off-peak hours, it’s Renton and the airport. Renton takes nearly 30 minutes to get through on a bus, compared to 5 minutes to drive past on the freeway. Combined with the 560’s poor headways, this is a motivating factor for me to take Uber or Lyft to/from the airport.

        The airport itself is another problem with the 560. Not only does it add a lot of time to Burien->Renton trips, but it also forces the bus to get stuck behind the hoards of cars doing pick up and drop off at the airport, leading to unpredictable delays and ruin the reliability of the entire route. Even at 11 o’clock at night, the 560 is still often 20 minutes late getting to Bellevue, and nearly all of that is because of the airport.

      10. Oh, one issue (I just thought about) is that you are talking about opposite ends of the island. Your wife will want to take the ferry that goes south. You will want to take the ferry that goes north (when visiting your friends). The island is 13 miles long.

        I’m afraid that I just don’t see a great location that allows you to visit your friends in West Seattle via transit, while also giving your wife (and perhaps yourself) a decent commute.

      11. Yeah, the only way i could convince her to do Vashon is if I were working downtown Seattle and taking the ped ferry. We would both need to make sacrifices. South end is cheaper, so we would buy south to mid, she would drive on, and I’d probably to a bike/bus combo to the ped ferry. Otherwise we buy in tacoma. Maybe gig harbor. The ped ferry at southworth is also something deserving consideration.

      12. I spent some time on Vashon in the 70s, and have occasionally been back. It’s quite a community if you can tolerate the rural isolation and skeletal transit, which I can’t. Biking may be feasible; however, there’s a hill down to the ferry terminal, and some roads may have inadequate shoulders; I think the the Vashon-Maury road is like that. Maybe there are bike lanes on the island now.

        “But they don’t cover all of Tacoma. That means that for much of Tacoma, you would have to take two buses to get to Federal Way.”

        I was vague because he didn’t say where on Tacoma, so I assumed anywhere in Tacoma/Lakewood or nearby. Pierce Transit service is awful now. It has a good long-range plan so it might get better, although I-976 has thrown that into doubt, and it would be a difficult tax levy in any case. Generally, Tacoma and Lakewood are pro transit, Puyallup is borderline, and Southeast Pierce is hell no. The PT district shrank a decade ago to exclude part of the southeast that was bringing district-wide measures down.

        “If you are lucky, I think you are looking at maybe an hour and 15 minutes. But it could easily be an hour and a half, or more. ”

        That’s my estimate too. I was thinking 90 minutes to be safe, and maybe you could bring it down to 60. That’s from Tacoma Dome. I assume you’d find your own bus to it or drive to the P&R.

        “The ferry sounds a lot better, as long as the trip (and from) the ferry dock at Vashon is OK.”

        If I were you look for any opportunity on Vashon. If you can bike the island and have an e-bike for hills, then you can take it on the ferry and bike to Westwood Village. Taking a bike on the ferry is a breeze compared to taking it on a bus, where you have to hope the racks aren’t full and hoist it onto the rack and not forget it. There will always be a frequent/express route from Fauntleroy to downtown or at least Link. If Link doesn’t happen and Metro has to cut, it will prioritize the C and cut other things.

        “Your wife will want to take the ferry that goes south.”

        She works in Tacoma? I don’t see where biliruben says that. But if she is going from Vashon to Tacoma, again a bike might work. The Tacoma ferry is probably less frequent than the Seattle ferry.

        “Otherwise we buy in tacoma. Maybe gig harbor. The ped ferry at southworth is also something deserving consideration.”

        What? You’re talking about an extraordinarily long commute to Seattle. Tacoma is the borderline of what most people would tolerate, and beyond it for many. Gig Harbor or anywhere in the penninsula is worse; you might as well look for a job in Tacoma. And note the traffic on the Narrows Bridge with everyone in the west sound working in Tacoma or Auburn/Kent.

      13. If Link and the 574 overlap between Federal Way and SeaTac, I wonder if the 574 can drop the Star Lake stop. That would make it a few minutes faster from Tacoma.

      14. Yeah, my wife’s job will be in south Tacoma, a block from the sounder station. She will not be riding a bike. She’ll drive on. Last time I talked her into biking she broke a finger on some rail tracks.

        Nothing’s going to be perfect. Best case is I get a job in Tacoma, schools are decent for the boy and he’s happy, and we find a house in a good, walkable neighborhood near downtown. Took the 1 and streetcar last visit, and both seemed frequent and fairly pleasant. Easy to get Tacoma dome station. But it sounds like those are the exceptions. Worst case, I have a 3 hour round-trip commute. As long as it’s not 3 hours looking at brake-lights, I can deal.

      15. The south part of the 1 is being upgraded to RapidRide (branding unknown), so you might want to look around Pacific Ave, Parkland, and Spanaway.

    2. Not sure what the draw would be to Westwood Village, but, really depends on “where” in Tacoma. From Downtown Tacoma or Hilltop, you’ll be taking Tacoma Link to Tacoma Dome Station, then bus to Fed Way, then Link up to somewhere in Seattle for a transfer. From anywhere else in Tacoma, probably a very slow local bus with/without a transfer, to Tacoma Dome Station, then bus to Fed Way, then Link…

      1. No draw to Westwood village, other than TC. Just a number of friends in West Seattle and using it as a proxy. It will likely be my main destination north, unless I get a job in Seattle, which would be both a blessing and a curse.

      2. The scenic way would be to ride the ferry to Talequah, followed by the 118 across Vashon Island, then another ferry to Fauntleroy, then a quick hop on the C-line to end it. If you live in West Seattle and want to visit Point Defiance, this is faster than going downtown, riding the 594, and dealing with Pierce Transit buses, albeit the schedule of the 118 is extremely limited.

        Starting from downtown Tacoma, I guess you’d take the 574 to Federal Way, followed by Link to TIBS, followed by the 128, with a few blocks’ walk at the end. Definitely better than adding a 4th connecting or detouring downtown.

    3. South Beacon Hill to Lake City is supposed to be bus-Link-Link-bus after 2035. That’s entirely in the City of Seattle!

      1. That is big a reason we sold our house in Lake City. The writing was on the wall that that area was getting completely hosed, transit-wise.

      2. @biliruben

        Could you go through your thinking on transit in Lake City? I haven’t spent much time there, but right now it seems to have a decent number of buses (41, 65, 75, 372, 522) and when Northgate Link opens in 2021, there should be at least one, and possibly multiple buses that will go to one of the new stations. If 130th St Station opens in 2024, the bus-Link transfer should be even better.

        Certainly living within walking distance of a Link station would be even better, but my initial gut reaction wass that Lake City will have at least as good transit service as most of the city, and better service than most of the region.

      3. Phillip – I really haven’t kept up since we moved to Albuquerque. When I left, the 522, was very good, but they were talking about either truncating it at Northgate or running it on 145th to link, which would both be awful for central Lake City. Building 130th station was relegated to “nice to do in 15 years”, but that may have changed also.

        I was mainly salty about such a dense area not getting an RRs, downgrading/truncating their express service, which was already crush at peak, and 130th, clearly a superior walk shed and better connection to Lake City than 145th, not being in the original link plan. Perhaps some or all of those things have changed for the better.

      4. 130th is still up in the air, but I seriously doubt that Lake City will have bad transit 10 years from now. If it does, then it is likely transit in places like Tacoma will be terrible, Link will only run every twenty minutes, etc.

        It is quite likely that 130th will be included with Lynnwood Link. At that point, my guess is every corridor through Lake City will have frequent transit. These are (in clockwise order, with current bus routes):

        125th eastbound to Sand Point Way and the UW — 75.
        35th Ave southbound to UW — 65
        Lake City Way southbound to 25th southbound to UW — 372
        Lake City Way southbound to Roosevelt then U-District — 522/309/312 (partially)
        Lake City Way southbound to Northgate Way then Northgate — 75
        125th Westbound to 130th to Bitter Lake (and beyond) — 41 (partially)
        30th Northbound, then westbound on 145th — 65
        Lake City Way northbound — 522, 372

        Most corridors already have frequent transit. It is quite likely that the 522 will be sent to Roosevelt with Northgate Link. Then it will go away, as 522 BRT replaces it. In its place should be service from Kenmore to Roosevelt, if not the U-District. That assumes that we can’t find a suitable layover between 145th and Kenmore (if we can, then that bus would be shorter). There is no east-west bus on 125th, but that will happen when 130th station is built, if not before. The 65 will be extended to 145th station (and likely beyond, to Shoreline CC). All of those routes are solid — I would expect all of them to be frequent. It is quite possible that Lake City will have some of the best transit in the city — I can’t wait.

      5. Glad to hear, Ross. Especially 130th station. That neighborhood was being treated like the ugly step-sister 5 years ago. The only downside is that all that poor immigrant housing might get expensive and price those folks who desperately need it out.

      6. Metro wants to upgrade the 372 to RapidRide someday. There will surely be a frequent bus like the 41 to Northgate. Metro is talking about rerouting the 75 on 125th/130th to 130th Station and Aurora, and extending the 65 to 145th Station, 155th Street, and Shoreline CC.

        “It is quite likely that the 522 will be sent to Roosevelt with Northgate Link.”

        It’s quite logical but ST has been mum about it. It could go either way. I don’t see it being truncated at Northgate.

    4. Getting to and from anywhere via transit in Tacoma is next-to-impossible. Bus routes are generally on 30 to 60 minute headways, and often take long, winding, circuitous paths. The bus route at my office has changed 3 times in 7 years, with no actual improvements. Keep that in mind. Any bus route in Tacoma is one recession away from a frequency reduction or elimination.
      Downtown Tacoma (for condominiums) and Hilltop both have great connections to the Tacoma Dome via Tacoma Link. Hilltop Tacoma Link is under construction right now. Otherwise, plan on having one car per adult in your home.
      Other transit-rich options should include any home within walking distance of Auburn Station, Kent Station, Federal Way Transit Center or Link. I have to ask, where are school and work? When we bought our home, school and work were Seattle & Kirkland. We pretty quickly got jobs in Tacoma. Based on my prospective income and real estate prices, I will never, ever, again, work in or near Seattle. Can you get a job in or near Tacoma? Is that a possibility? What about south King suburbs? Before you jump on the buy a house in Tacoma bandwagon, make sure you are truly invested here. Once a recession – even a mild one – hits, I expect Tacoma home prices to nose dive. They aren’t sustainable. It’s a trendy thing right now to move to Tacoma, but you can get twice the house in Auburn or Kent or Puyallup at a lower cost, with a shorter commute to Seattle via Sounder. The Tacoma job market right now doesn’t have the numbers to support the prices of housing. Even successful neighborhood businesses really struggle, because there just isn’t a real strong economy. Corner coffee shop has sold and changed hands 5 times in 7 years, and people are walking into 2-hour commutes when they could easily drop to a 60 to 70 minute commute by living in Kent or Federal Way. I know, that’s not cool. But, it is practical. Once houses in Seattle dip just a little bit, and people will flee those trendy Tacoma houses and attempt to trade up to Seattle or an in-between suburb, and leave a glut. I feel bad for anybody who has bought a first-time home in Tacoma in that past two years.

      1. Thanks for the advice, Engineer. My wife has accepted a very good job in south Tacoma. I’m interviewing in Tacoma, Seattle, and potentially Olympia. We made a pretty conscious decision to try and avoid Seattle, and I will try very hard to find a job in Tacoma. I may end up on the sounder though, as the vast majority of the jobs are in Seattle for what I do. We are currently focused on north-end and Vashon, as we have a kid. Any advice on middle-schools and high schools from parents is very welcome.

    5. The 128 goes from TIB to White Center, a half mile east of the Westwood Village shopping center. That would avoid taking two buses via Burien, although it’s infrequent.

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