Sound Transit Bus # 535 Lynnwood to Bellevue, WA
PatricksMercy/Flickr

This is an open thread.

78 Replies to “News roundup: not nearly enough”

    1. Is the contractor that is installing the track connections to East link running 24 hour operations to minimize this disruption as much as possible?

      1. Link running 24 hours with no time for maintenance or inspection is a recipe for costly, belated closures and single-tracking in the future when it’s going to be much worse than Connect 2020.

        What would be a better solution is to have nightly bus service connecting Link stations. There is essentially no traffic between 1 and 5, so buses would move along quickly. For some reason the idea never seems to get traction with ST, and operations funding that would need to be in ST3 or ST4 never happens. Seems like a better thing to fight for than expensive and low-volume link all night.

      2. The comment wasn’t about trains running 24 hours. It was about whether the contractor is working 24 hours to minimize the length of the Connect 2020 service disruption. I can only hope the answer is “yes”.

      3. The limiting factor is weekends with complete shutdowns, allowing the team to test systems and turn things on/off. The sheer number of labor hours worked Mon-Fri isn’t driving the length of the disruption.

        If ST wanted to minimize the disruption window they would have done a complete closure and completed the project in a few less weeks. Instead, staff recommended and the board concurred that a longer but less disruptive single tracking was preferred over complete shutdown and bus bridging during commute hours.

      4. Sorry, my bad. I misunderstood the question.

        If work is 24 hours, then they can also do systems testing at night. That would be less risky than flipping a bunch of mission-critical switches during weekend closures when Link is still running north and south of downtown.

    2. Their blog post inplies that trains never made the 12 minute goal, apparently due to running times in the south between Pioneer Square and sodo. The 13-15 is what was actually happening. My bet is that it’s some combo of crowds, dwell times, signals and safety buffers that are losing a few seconds each. To slip from 12 to 14 in single track you only need to lose one minute each way.

      1. Yeah, in fairness, this was ST’s first try at single tracking during rush in the tunnel. Not a huge shock that it was a bit slower than they thought. Hopefully, it will get faster as people get used to it and ST will learn a lot from this for the next time.

        FWIW, the signage and extra staff have been great. I counted > 20 staff at Pioneer Square station during rush yesterday.

      2. I shudder to think how any disruption will shut down the system once we see 4 minute and eventually 3 minute headways.

        The lack of a crossover track between Pioneer Square and University Street stations will haunt us for decades any time single-tracking is needed. It’s painful that this fundamental limitation wasn’t resolved in this closure time. It might have added costs and difficulties and even take more time, but it would have saved the riders many upcoming painful moments when our 250K weekday light rail system inevitably has service disruptions.

        Sure we’d like to think that there will never be problems. However, that’s terribly naive.

      3. You want to mine the space between the tunnels? How would you get a tunnel boring machine down there in the middle of downtown? How much overhead would it cost to acquire a machine for just one block when they’re custom-built for each job.

      4. We don’t know how a crossover could be built — but jas is right that a large tunnel boring machine would likely not be required. It would seem to involve a little digging or blasting from one end of one station.

        Could cross-over tracks be installed inside the University Street Station for use only during emergencies? Could a middle siding track enabling crossovers be installed inside the University Street Station? Then, no digging would be required.

        Has ST presented to the public the need and the challenge of adding a crossover track in the DSTT? Was that done or revisited after ST2 adoption and 4- minute trains were funded? If we’re spending tens of billions on outward extensions, spending a more modest sum to insure that trains can operate during disruptions seems logical to me.

      5. Al S., WHAT are you talking about? Between Pioneer Square and University Street, the tracks are in tubes! The only place there are tracks in a tunnel box with empty space between them is east of Westlake. You can’t put a cross-over between PSS and University Street without breaking into the existing tubes, excavating a tube between them, and then putting in the switches and tracks.

      6. Mike, Not exactly “cut and cover”; shallow mined. A cross-over could be mined, even at this depth, but it would require breaking into the tubes. The system would be completely out of service between the two stations for six months at least.

      7. Al, your second comment has a decent idea in the center cross-overs at USS. That should be quite “doable”. However it would of necessity take one platform out of service.

      8. The use of a crossover I’m suggesting is only for emergencies. Hopefully, that’s only a few times each year. Depending on the disruption, USS could be temporarily closed (maybe just one platform) until service resumes if the crossover is in the station. It’s much easier to shut down one station (with another one close by) than it is to freeze the entire system in a matter of minutes.

        It’s not popular to talk about disruptions, but they will occasionally happen. They are particularly more likely where trains are the most crowded. It takes many buses to carry what one four-car train does. It’s an operational “insurance” policy.

      9. Building crossover tracks between downtown stations looks expensive, but it appears like it could be done within the footprint of a station itself for relatively cheap. No walls to tear down. Just build a few hundred feet of track and be done with it.

      10. asdf2, yrs, I agree. Al has a good idea. But it only works at University Street. No way anyone is going to close a platform at Westlake, and we all want Pioneer Square to have the center transfer platforn.

        Si it’s USS or nothing.

    3. Ridership figures will likely take a serious toll in 2020 for link. Loss of service on several weekends, plus an extended Significant peak service reduction, will push many riders off the system. Add the expected upcoming winter weather and many people will work from home or use other means of transport.

  1. While they did reduce frequency, which would make a schedule more desirable, the current headways are still in the range of (as one transit agency put it) “so frequent you don’t need a schedule” so we’re all good! /s

    On a more serious note, it is bike riders who could potentially benefit from this, since 12 minute headways puts bikes in the scary range where they could either make the next train or be stuck being delayed 24 minutes instead of 12. I’m guessing the headways slipping a minute or 3 will give some bike riders the extra time needed to make it.

  2. Re: the housing (de)regulation, this is huge! It’s nice to see folks coming around to realizing the impacts of regulatory burden and hyper-local ‘control’ — and then doing something about it.

  3. Previously posted schedule gone. Anyone aware of a new Link timetable? Seems even more important to have one now.

  4. The last article mentions a new term, “arterial rapid transit”, which it distinguishes from bus rapid transit. It defines BRT as enhanced bus routes in exclusive lanes, and ART as enhanced bus routes with non-street features (e.g., off-board payment and frequency) but in general-purpose lanes. This helps answer the perennial debate around RapidRide. Swift Blue and the A are BRT; while the B, C, D, and F are ART. The E is BRT in Shoreline and ART in Seattle. Swift Green I didn’t look at closely enough to notice whether it has full BAT lanes.

    I don’t like the “rapid” part because rapid transit should mean a short travel time, and that’s what the C, D, and E are missing compared to metros, but at least it’s better than claiming RapidRide is BRT when it’s missing the most important feature: travel time like light rail.

    1. They should spend less time inventing new terms and just improve the service. Riders don’t care what the power points call the routes – they just want improvemetns.

    2. That requires a public and political mandate to prioritize it, remove street parking, and raise enough taxes to build it properly. There’s no sign of that yet. In the meantime we need a term.

    3. Many of the “rapid” projects are in cities that don’t really have the transit demand and congestion that Seattle has. The term has political and image value as a local investment, especially in smaller cities where light rail is not cost effective.

      That said, I think the industry wrestles with the difference between high-frequency buses, limited-stop operations, bus-only lanes, busways, freeway median stations, off-board payment and bus transit signal priority. The mix and match choices can vary by segment of a single line — which is actually an advantage to the concept.

      I’ve seen the use of the term “quality” transit but that seems even more vague than “rapid” is.

      I’ve pondered if we should talk about “tracked rapid bus lines” to differentiate where the lanes and operations are more rail-like and exclusive as opposed to what most of RapidRide is. “Bus” and “transit” are also redundant terms, so maybe “rapid bus operations” would be more accurate as the other category.

    4. I guess its better than Miami calling their planned version of RapidRide “Bus Express Rapid Transit.” as if it were an upgrade to BRT. Of course, BRT and most “regular” busses do tend to run in arterial roads, so YYMV. At one point we used to just call the service that makes fewer stops and is faster “express?”

      1. Lots of cities use the term “limited” for arterial buses that stop less frequently. Has Seattle ever used the term in decades past?

    5. I’ve elsewhere seen this called “Arterial Bus Rapid Transit”, a qualification that admits that proper BRT runs on separate, exclusive right-of-way and not on painted arterial lanes. Dropping the “B” misses the fact that the “B” is the only thing that’s actually properly implemented by BRT-lite. MLK Link is more “arterial rapid transit” than any of these bus systems.

      The trend of “rapid” branding in bus systems isn’t really about BRT implementation, it’s part of agencies gaming the FTA’s bad interpretation of the BRT Standard, to get federal dollars without having to attempt politically difficult projects like busway construction.

      1. Some agencies call their entire bus agency “___ Rapid Transit District”. I shudder to think how frequent and fast their buses are because it’s usually worse than ours.

      2. “The trend of “rapid” branding in bus systems isn’t really about BRT implementation, it’s part of agencies gaming the FTA’s bad interpretation of the BRT Standard, to get federal dollars without having to attempt politically difficult projects like busway construction.”

        Bingo! +100

      1. Like “why the F does it take 30 minutes for a bus with ‘rapid’ in the name to get from TIBS to Renton.”

  5. From Willamette Week: “No American City Has Ever Tried a Climate Justice Tax Like the One Portland Is Launching. What’s the Plan?”
    The plan may raise as much as $60 million a year from large corporations.

  6. How long have the center platforms been there? On the shadowy only-recently-discovered planet called “The Real World”, service might have to settle for thirteen and three quarters ’til operations and passengers get the feel of the new situation. Occasional eleven not far off.

    I’d like to hear from some bike-riders to know what it’s like for them to deal with the new conditions. Couple days ago, rider wrote in here daring the guards to try and keep him out during off-peak. Another instance where actual results of real-world actions provide a chance at sanity.

    And Erica, might want to get some translation to verify what “kerfuffle” is in Persian, which is what a lot of passengers and crew in Gothenburg call themselves and their language. And huge sign in station food court says, in English, “Real Nordic Food…..KEBABS!!!!!”

    My own ability to comment on Sound Transit’s handling of fare policy mentioned here is limited by the fact that American English is so weak for swearing. Rest of the world demands the right to invoke nine generations of their adversaries’ family, ten diseases, and fifteen kinds of animals. As this matter warrants.

    Listen up, everybody remotely traceable to transit. One reality you need to keep behind your eyes and inside your ears ’till it forgets its way out. Vast majority of recipients of remarks from uniformed quarters, which life experience has taught them equal threats, have one thing in common.

    In eighteen years or less – 2038, right? – huge numbers of them will be able to vote. On their way to take the seat they just won at age 18 in the Washington State Legislature. News just said that unlike transit, Elon Musk doesn’t need any more of our passengers.

    No, Intercity Transit is not giving free rides. Public just voted to pay taxes for them instead, which certainly puts fare disputes out of the way of the buses, which is Starfleet Prime Directive for anything carrying passengers. But in the meantime, ORCA has long since delivered a dream fare system.

    Passenger pays whole month’s fare for plastic card. Inspector thanks passenger for carrying it, the younger the passenger the deeper gratitude. Tap-tone mechanism can be main thing commerce demands: a cute “Come On” to cooperate. The Tapmunk can be a cute cousin of the Seat-Hog that nobody wants to make cry.

    Meaning to ask you, Erica. Did you actually end up paying a fine for mis-tap on a monthly pass? If so, suggest you and Mike Lindblom get together some afternoon in the Ruth Fisher Board Room and demand a refund. Least your service to transit deserves.

    Mark Dublin

    1. “How long have the center platforms been there?”

      The Pioneer Square center platform? A few months.

  7. In ECB’s article, I see Avila-Mooney comment (“When people shared concerns about race on twitter, I believe it is a concern not about targeting but about the potential impact of fare enforcement to kids of color or kids without homes who may not have equal access to the ‘free pass’ or could feel more intimidated by fare enforcement.) as a recognition that the goalposts have moved. After banging their heads against the wall about bias for so long, and getting nowhere, people tried (and, I think, have largely succeeded) to change the conversation.

    The crux of that conversation is, boiled down, “poor people can’t afford to pay, so they should be allowed to ride free.” All the talk about fare enforcement policy is smoke and mirrors, and all the pressure and work and outreach and surveys and discussions collectively represent an attempt to slowly build the pressure to achieve a free fare end. Or, if not a free fare, to at least usher in a situation where the consequences of failing to pay are so inconsequential as to make the fare essentially free.

    I wonder when we’ll turn our attention to shoplifters at grocery stores. They should get a free pass, too.

    1. There are food banks for people who can’t afford to shop in stores. If you can’t ride the minimum lifeline transportation option you have to walk. Do we want to go back to walking an hour to work or three hours to another part of town?

      1. The human services ticketing program is analogous to food banks. Bottom line: if you can’t pay, find another solution. One of those solutions is to seek out these free tickets. There may not be any available, in which case, perhaps advocating for an expansion of the program is a good option. Advocating for the law or policy to be changed is another option (and it happens to be where the conversation sits right now — where it probably should have been in the first place). Breaking the law isn’t a good response.

      2. Yes, only poor people break the law. No one ever drives faster than the speed limit. No one cheats on their taxes and isn’t audited. No one downloads copyrighted material from the internet and doesn’t pay for it. No one fails to declare goods brought abroad on a customs form. No one buys goods in Oregon and fails to pay the Washington State use tax that is due on them upon their crossing the border into Washington. No banker ever undertook unsafe or unsound practices during the thousands of bank failures in the Great Recession.

        Let’s just call “illegal” things poor people do.

    2. Seattleyo, my local transit system here in Olympia read its own balance-sheet, a talent badly neglected across this country’s whole political spectrum, and passed a tax measure saving every single passenger a fortune in wasted time, whose price has always been off the charts. Depriving police of last excuse for letting crime go. And letting criminals know that this time they really will get nailed.

      But Brent, after all his years with The Times, offering Mike Lindblom the chance to really please The Times’ editorial board by delivering Sound Transit the embarrassment it really deserves for criminalizing its most loyal category of passenger, whose whole offense is a missed signal over fare they’ve already paid up to a month in advance.

      Number of liberals finally pushed over the edge by their own side reflexively pulling crap like this on them easily put current 1600 Pennsylvania resident at his present address.

      Also, seem to notice ever-increasing percentage of the commercial world sloughing off pathetic Baby-Boomer world of things like stores, employees, and most un-woke of all, money.

      Mark

  8. Three platforms for two tracks is an unsafe non-starter if it involves a platform with no exit. The DSTT stations should all have been built with only wide island platforms, but we will never have the construction funds to fix this design error.

    1. No one is saying that it shouldn’t have an exit. If the platform at Pioneer Square Station is to remain a permanent fixture then it would have to have permanent access added to allow people to move on and off the platform as needed.

    2. If the width of the platform can be made to be acceptable for waiting (perhaps with gates that open when a train arrives), then stairs on one end and an elevator on another should cover all bases. It would be reasonably clear that the center platform is meant to be used to transfer without using the mezzanine, so traffic between the platform and mezzanine won’t be super high.

      Realistically (though you can’t legally rely on this), in an honest to goodness emergency, if the stairs are on the other side, people will just make sure there’s no train and cross the tracks.

    3. The argument is to leave the platform unused until maybe someday it can get elevators and sidewalk markings across the tracks, rather than ripping it out like we did with the streetcars.

    4. Has anyone recently suggested the sometimes mentioned need to add down escalators at the International District / Chinatown Station? All it takes is switching out the stairs at the north end for an escalator and dropping new stairs nearby. The southbound platform looks especially easy since there is a gap between the back and Union Station. The Eastside interests could even be interested in paying for it, since it would help transferring there.

      It probably would help to enclose that station too (to protect it from weather-related deterioration of escalators and elevators). Light rail vehicles don’t need the ventilation.

      The station will have to be reconstructed starting in less than 10 years so it may take time to get the layout right. Still, it needs an overhaul to improve flow!

    5. Dude, “the DSTT stations” were built for buses, the overwhelming majority of which do not have left-hand doors. The tunnel could have been operated in contra-flow operation, but that’s pretty unfamiliar to North Americans and requires crossing-over at each end of the tunnel.

      Standard side-platforms were easier.

      1. Contraflow lanes aren’t unheard-of. In fact, we have them for buses at Federal Way TC, Bellevue TC, Burien TC, and probably a lot more TCs, complete with a crossover. And the traffic in the crossover is never the limiting factor for capacity. It may have been unusual back when the DSTT was built, but people would have learned (and the nice thing about center platforms is that you don’t have to go back upstairs to get on the right side). The specialty constructed I-90 connection (which the 550 used until 2018) could have had its own flyer crossover ramps even.

        This would have made complications for light rail in 2009, but those weren’t main considerations in the ’80s when this was built.

      2. Of course they weren’t unheard of. Seattle had one of the few in operation in North America at that time on Fifth Avenue.

        But side platforms were MUCH more familiar then. They built a beautiful and very functional bus tunnel with side platforms because nobody had the benefit of 20-20 hindsight.

        Quit whining over spilt milk. The cats have already lapped it up.

    6. As far as I can conceive it, to make the platforms in the DSTT islands, Metro would have either had to procure buses with doors on both sides or put crossovers at both ends to allow contraflow (northbound buses on the west side of the tunnel and southbound buses on the east side — like how it is in Japan and England and such). People who have a good sense of direction underground may have gotten confused. (I’m always directionaly confused underground, so it wouldn’t have mattered to me.)

      Anyway, that sounds like a lot of headache, and it would have taken a decent amount of something-or-other, I think, to weigh the advantage of a center platform to a **potential, future** light rail line against the advantage of more straightforward operations for buses in the then-present. And to try to convince folks to buy special buses with doors on both sides at a premium (and do the dual-fuel setup tunnel coaches used to have), because maybe possibly someday there might be light rail here? Hard sell. So I’m not so sure it was a “design error” or a mistake.

      If they’d have done the latter, Link would have had to duplicate that contraflow setup with a turnback between Stadium and IDS to enable joint bus-rail ops. (But once the buses got kicked out, they could abandon the contraflow in the tunnel.)

  9. Would like to see some coverage of actual experience with platforms that passengers need to walk across moving train traffic to access. Including some input from drivers presently working with this situation.

    Seems visibly dangerous as all Hell to me, especially with this little experience. But recalling that what we call “light rail”, rest of the world translates as “streetcar,” know that where average citizen recognizes the feel of an approaching railcar from their baby-carriage, safety is possible. Comment?

    Mark Dublin

    1. Each end of the center platform would have a crossing only of the track which departs from the station. So trains would be starting a few feet from the crossing, just like on Martin Luther King Blvd.

      1. Yes. However it isn’t quite the same in the tunnel. The drivers can only see the circle of the tube. If someone is acting erratically as a train approaches a surface station, the driver can slap on the track brakes.

        Aporoaching such a crosswalk across the inbound track the driver would not see someone approaching the crossibg until s/he stepped into the visible circle. Crossings, if used, should cross only the departing at each end of the center platform.

        The druver is feet from the crossing and lookung right at it when the throttle is moved.

    1. STB Comment Section: Putting Bellevue Station next to a freeway is idiotic.
      STB Comment Section: Putting Ballard Station next to a sf home neighborhood is idiotic.
      STB Comment Section: Putting 130th Station next to both a freeway and a low density sf home neighborhood is smart. This is a well-placed station.

      Huh?

      1. I think we would all prefer it if the station was in Lake City, Sam, but that would cost too much money, don’t you think? The choice now is to basically screw over the north end (Bitter Lake, Lake City, and everything in between) or speed up the construction of a station that they will eventually build anyway.

      2. Bzzz, you get the dunce cap. In all these cases the issue is where the center of the population density is. The best locations are Ballard: 20th, Bellevue: 108th, Lake City: Lake City Way. The quality of the station is based on how far from this ideal it is. The issue of not putting stations next to freeways is secondary, and it derives from the first: people can’t live in the freeway ROW or walk to destinations in it, so by definition that shrinks the number of people in the area. That means the population concentration must be elsewhere. A Lake City I-5 station is bad in the same way a U-District I-5 station would be bad, but it’s better than no station at all.

        And 130th & I-5 is not single-family. There are 2-3 story apartments just east of it, where the 41 turns. The plan is to upzone the area for larger apartments.

      3. The article says Deborah Juarez. Maybe she was the one who hounded ST for a year to get the station.

    2. I was there — it was my first time attending a Sound Transit meeting. A little over 2/3 of the board members were there. The mayor was there, as well as city council member Juarez (both are board members). Jaurez represents the district where the station would be and has fought hard for it since being elected to the council.

      The meeting started with public comment. First up was Seattle city council member Dan Strauss, who I thought gave a very good speech (Strauss is not a member of the ST board). He talked about how long he has pushed for the station, and how important it would be for everyone — including those that drive (because of traffic) as well as Snohomish County businesses. Renee Staton spoke, which was a nice surprise. Last I heard she had moved to California, but she told me she moved back. Staton was a big community organizer who got the various interests together to get the station included with ST3 in the first place. Various speakers seemed to focus on disruption — an important issue — but not the most important one, in my opinion.

      Then a team of consultants reported on the station. Apparently the station is coming in well over budget, but the same is true for every station in Lynnwood Link. They basically went over three proposals: Build it as planned (in 2031), build it early (with Lynnwood Link) or build some of it with Lynnwood Link, and finish it off later. Building it as planned is more expensive, since you have to replace what is there. It is also more disruptive (obviously). Building the track pieces initially and finishing it off later is cheaper, as is building it with Lynnwood Link. However, when you look at overall costs, you need to factor in the fact that building anything later is cheaper (because of the bond situation apparently). The financial expert said there was very little risk — the project is relatively tiny. If I remember the numbers, building the track early (but not the rest of the station) costs an extra 7 million, while building the whole thing early (and opening early) cost an extra 33 million. No one mentioned the additional fare revenue though, which could easily pay for the extra cost (or at least make it competitive with the “build the tracks now, station later” option). Oh, one last thing is that it even if the station was built with the rest of it, it would still be a bit behind, opening in 2025.

      Then the rest of the board members spoke. The mayor and council member Jaurez were very good, making some solid arguments for the station. Bob Ferguson also spoke in support of building it early. They left out a lot of strong arguments for building the station, but many were made. I have no idea how the council will eventually vote.

      I didn’t speak, but I think I will try and add written comments to the record.

      1. Thanks for the info. (I was planning on going to the meeting also but then got held up due to work.) I appreciate you sharing your feedback with this blog.

        “However, when you look at overall costs, you need to factor in the fact that building anything later is cheaper (because of the bond situation apparently).”

        I don’t know if I really buy this explanation. As you stated, the cost of this piece of the project isn’t that significant (in the bigger scheme of things), but its cost does rise over time simply due to the various inflationary factors at work. A 2016 cost estimate for the station of $67M, using a combined inflation rate of just 6%, has already climbed to $84.5M today and will reach $106.8M in another four years. I understand the point the agency is apparently making here in regard to bond financing, but that would only come into play in the case where the N King Co subarea’s financial plan reaches the point where there is no unrestricted cash reserve balance. Is that what the agency’s “financial expert” was implying?

        There are a couple of things to note in this regard. One, based on the agency’s 2019 end-of-year forecast, ST will spend some $300M less on system expansion capital projects than it had budgeted for. A significant portion of this underspend is from the Lynnwood Link project itself. The agency’s own Link Progress Reports indicate this reduction is from lack of anticipated progress and not from any actual project element cost savings. The agency’s overall budget assumed a cash reserve drawdown of some $500M for 2019 but now we know that that will not be the case. Two, the agency’s recently approved 2020 budget similarly assumes a $600M draw on unrestricted cash reserves in total. Additionally, the “proposed (now adopted) 2020 annual budget does not currently include any forecasted bond
        issuance for 2020 or Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) loan proceeds.”* Its system expansion budget for 2020 remains essentially identical to the prior year budget at $2.3B.

        Perhaps the N King Co subarea’s financial plan is indeed extremely tight, particularly as the agency pushes to complete the Northgate Link project to meet its expected opening date in 2021. With that said, however, the agency’s financial policies do allow for subarea borrowing and has used this practice previously. Since the Lynnwood Link project involves both the N King Co and Snohomish Co subareas, it would seem appropriate to utilize this protocol if necessary in this case in order to add this infill station to the Lynnwood Link project timeframe. I think the hesitancy, particularly from SnoCo’s own board delegation, to do so comes from the budget/cost issues that have plagued this project in recent years. I think it would be very shortsighted of the board to NOT move forward with full completion of this infill station per the Lynnwood Link project timeframe, and not put $20-25M annually in the six-year TIP to fund it, even if that requires subarea borrowing.

        Fwiw, I think there’s a good chance that the Lynnwood Link project’s opening slides to 2025 regardless, based on the lack of progress made in 2019.

        *2020 Financial Plan & Proposed Budget, page 17

      2. I watched the video.

        I think the consensus was obviously to fast track the station. The only major issue was the debt service — and it seems to me that the City could step up to resolve that issue if needed. I also have serious doubts that West Seattle will open by 2030 and Ballard by 2035 so that schedule slippage may compensate for the debt service question.

        I was surprised that additional revenue from six years more riders was not discussed.

        I found some other comments rather revealing. One was that Graham would have to be aerial. Another was that there probably isn’t enough money for three infill stations. Combined, that seems to set up that either BAR or Graham is going to get axed.

        Out of the meeting and its materials, I read the Link progress report which had “December 31” opening dates for some 2024 projects which double-speak for 2025 openings. The South Sounder capacity-demand discussion was oddly vague (I wanted to ask “what is capacity and isn’t it a range based on standing passengers on a train?”) to the point that several committee members insisted on better data and analysis. Even more surprising was that staff said that South Sounder ridership had flattened yet all the other materials showed growth for 2019, and that Federal Way Link didn’t seem to impact South Sounder demand forecasts but Tacoma Dome Link made a notable impact; the committee members politely left the impression that the demand analysis was inadequate and possibly bad.

      3. Tlsgwm is right – as the rate of inflation exceeds ST’s borrowing costs, building earlier is always cheaper, all else equal. I am guessing the comment about risk is more about the period of maximum financial constraint in the 2030s, which is what is limiting ST’s ability to build ST3 faster, but that’s about the timing of billion dollar projects, not something small like this.

  10. Building these stations later is not all bad. Once Durkin has congestion pricing and Uber taxation in place and all urbanites have totally given up on owning a car, ST can close down Link and the city can totally take advantage of the situation and reap a crud load of cash.

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