The preferred option for Ash Way Station, as chosen by the county council (Makers/Snohomish County)

While light rail construction in Lynnwood is temporarily halted, the next extension to Everett will continue early planning and design as originally scheduled. Snohomish County has opened a new survey into their subarea planning for stations at Mariner (128th Street) and Ash Way (164th Street), located in the unincorporated area between Everett and Lynnwood.

According to The Everett Herald, the county has been moving ahead with planning at a pace faster than expected by even Sound Transit. Construction funding for the Everett Link project, and its planned completion date of 2036, are both uncertain at this point due to the effects of the pandemic and stay-at-home order on sales tax revenue. If a cut to the project does arrive, planning will be allowed to continue using whatever funding can be pieced together, in a manner similar to Federal Way Link during the recession, with hopes of restoring funding in some form.

The preferred option for Mariner Station (Makers/Snohomish County)

The county council chose their preferred station locations in February, based on options we last saw in July. The “130th Street” option was chosen for Mariner, which would have a north-south station and a potential east-west bridge over Interstate 5 for transit, pedestrians, and bicyclists. The general concept moves light rail-to-bus transfers away from 128th Street and allows for a decent amount of surrounding transit-oriented development.

The bold “East of I-5” option for Ash Way Station was chosen by the council, which avoid using the current park-and-ride. By siting the platform across the freeway, the station would be easier to access from several apartment and townhouse complexes near Martha Lake, at the cost of apartments on Ash Way proper. An extended bridge over I-5 would help mitigate the longer walk/roll from the west side, as well as provide better bus connections for Mill Creek and the east side of the 164th Street corridor.

The survey is generally targeted at Snohomish County residents and closes on May 8 at midnight. The county aims to have a subarea plan developed within the next three years, which would give plenty of time to consider and debate building heights and land use around the stations.

114 Replies to “Snohomish County plots out light rail station area growth, wants feedback”

  1. Brings back some memories. Living in Ballard, after classes at Lake Washington Tech, would visit a tutoring client in Lynnwood.

    Ash Way Park and Ride featured an excellent cafe run by a Turkish fellow, whose coffee came straight from Vienna. Now called Kaffeehaus de Châtillon. Still use Julius Meinl espresso. ST must promise to keep it, it’s a landmark in Austria and also maybe Kirkland.

    Ballard, Kirkland, Lynnwood, Ash Way and home again in one afternoon, couple of agencies gave me some serious transportation too. Covidbedamned, we can handle this whole thing now.

    Mark Dublin

  2. The walk from 128th to the station shouldn’t be too bad. It is about two minutes and fairly flat ( I don’t think it is a good idea to build a little park next to a train station, but it will make that walk fairly pleasant.

    1. Ross, since I’m planning to speak in favor of the park at Ash Way’s next light rail meeting- IT-to ST 574-to Sea-Tac Link to at least Lynnwood should rise from the dying COVIDS in a year or so….

      Would you rather it be a big park? Julius Meinl isn’t Messed With.

      Mark Dublin

      1. It doesn’t make sense to build a park *next* to a station. No one will take the train to the park. On the other hand, if you build housing *next* to the station, then those people in the apartment would use the station. You could then build a park ten minutes away, and it would still serve the same neighborhood, and still have higher ridership. (Ridership goes up the closer you are to the stop).

      2. There should be a few good parks within walking distance of Link stations but they don’t need to be right next to them. I like the fact that Angle Lake Park is just eight blocks from its station, Jefferson Park is near Beacon Hill station, Cal Anderson Park is near Capitol Hill station, etc.

      3. It’s a much larger discussion, but parks are intended to be quieter places but recreational facilities are intended to be more active — yet both are usually controlled by the same department. A passively-used park does seem the least strategic public use but a recreational use would seem ok.

      4. A plaza is good if it helps with crowd flow or has activity. Otherwise, it’s wasted space …. open space and parks should be at least a few blocks away from the station, to prioritize denser uses immediately next to the station.

        For example, Veterans Memorial Park’s location next to Mountlake Terrace station is a bummer. It would be terrible design to place the park there after the station, but the park was there first so Mountalke Terrace is making the best of it with TOD further east and north of hte park.

      5. Good to see that the parking garage is between the station and I-5, as opposed to having to walk through/past the garage to get anywhere interesting.

  3. There’s some irony to a county that voted for I-976 planning for link. The extension to Everett and some other projects may not happen or may be delayed due to the voting choice of the majority of their electorate. The survey should contain an advisory with an asterisk warning them of a WA State Supreme Court decision that allows I-976 to stand.

    1. Arithmetic itself might prove your worries misplaced, East Coast. Between now and 2036, two consecutive generations of voters will be born and turn 18. At which age they’ll be able to vote pro-transit on their way to being sworn in as a Washington State legislator.

      Could even happen two years earlier if the travel ban on Scotland gets lifted, and Washington State’s voting age becomes 16 like the Scots did a few years back.

      And in a Divine indulgence we’ve more than earned, the cure for COVID might also contain cellular intestinal fortification that will prevent repeat of Democratic legislators and Governor giving Tim Eyman back the victory the Supreme Court had just bagged and dumped.

      As fate really loves quirks, the formula may even now be under development at Lake Washington Technical Institute. Funeral Services doubtless includes a lot of chemistry.

      Mark Dublin

    2. The part of the county that is actually within Sound Transit voted more against 976? There is a huge difference between southwest SnoCo and the rest of SnoCo!

  4. I like the way the missing bus ramp from Ash Way to the north is finally being built, once light rail to Everett diminishes its importance. It’s like they deliberately withheld it to make the case for Link to Everett stronger and, now that they don’t need to withhold it anymore, may as well build it.

    1. Yeah, any chance that it can be built sooner? Everett Link is a long ways off, but the ramp could be used now.

      I do think the ramp will have value, even after Link is there. It saves some time over the obvious rush-hour destination, Lynnwood. It also minimizes the backtracking (for the handful that are headed somewhere else). If nothing else, it will be used by express buses from the I-5 parking lots (South Everett and Eastmont). I could see running an express bus through Everett and straight to Ash Way ( Riders could get off the bus and pick up the train in Everett Station or just wait until Ash Way (depending on where they are going). That would save a considerable amount of time for someone who has to take a bus to the Everett Station anyway.

      I will say though, that it would add a lot more value now, instead of later. It would substantially speed up the 532. After Northgate Link, it would help things as well. Sound Transit is planning on keeping the 510 as is (running to downtown). It isn’t clear if the 512 is going to run all the time now. If so, it would speed that up. If not, it would give them good reason to (and get rid of a few 511s). That would greatly improve the ability to get to the UW (and Northgate) from Everett without spending much money.

  5. I’m trying to wrap my head around the whole “East Ash Way” station idea. In general, it seems to be robbing Peter to pay Paul. Those east of I-5 are better off, while those west of I-5 are worse. From what I can tell, in terms of people or density, it is about the same to the east as the west. I don’t see any fundamental advantage to being on the east from a connecting bus perspective, either.

    The only advantage I see is that the east station will be much closer to 164th. This is a huge advantage, because it is likely that most people will arrive to the station via a bus. But it seems like you could accomplish much the same thing on the other side. You could straighten out the train a little earlier, so by the time you cross 164th, you are heading straight, which allows you to put in a platform. There really is nothing there (just a field and a bunch of parking). You could even run it in a trench (like the other side) if you want.

    It seems like a lot of work to put it on the other side, and I don’t see much advantage.

    1. I like the Ash Way concept. It’s more adjacent to parcels that can be redeveloped and centrally located to developable land (including the existing lot). The avoidance of the existing park-and-ride lot means that there wouldn’t be a few messy years with no lot.

      I’m not feeling much benefit for HOV ramp access at Ash Way unless the intent is to move the Lynnwood transit hub here . Do the Ash Way HOV ramps mean that buses to/from the north won’t stop at Mariner at all? If so, should the Mariner station be at 99 rather than I-5 (where Swift Blue Line runs)?

      1. Seems to me that the existing Park and Ride location has just as much potential for development as the other side. I’m not seeing a lot of difference: or

        Do the Ash Way HOV ramps mean that buses to/from the north won’t stop at Mariner at all?

        Hard to say. I think that will definitely happen with rush hour express buses (like the ones I wrote about above — Going to Mariner is problematic, and while going to Lynnwood would save some people a seat, it would mean a fair amount of backtracking for others.

        It isn’t so clear with the 201/202. You could do the same thing, but then you would have to backfill service on Ash Way itself anyway. I think they may just end up keeping it the same, and just truncating at Ash Way Station. I could also see rush hour versions of the 201/202 that run on Ash Way in reverse. From the north it would exit at Ash Way Station, serve the station, then drive to Mariner. That would be pretty convenient, but kind of confusing for those on Ash Way (they have to check the schedule to see which way their bus is running). Even if you renumbered them it could be too confusing.

    2. I had the same general takeaway about this station location being planned east of I-5, i.e., that it’s basically a Peter and Paul scenario. I get the sense that the county planners see higher population and density growth on the Mill Creek side along with more TOD opportunities. I don’t know what assumptions they’re basing that conclusion on but I think that’s what the driver is.

      1. I think their basic motivation is to get a station on the east side of the freeway so that buses can stay out of the left turn traffic on the bridges. The TOD potential is whatever they want to make of it.

      2. I think their basic motivation is to get a station on the east side of the freeway so that buses can stay out of the left turn traffic on the bridges.

        I don’t follow you. What buses, what left turn traffic?

      3. You’re right. There are cloverleaf on-ramps both directions. So no left turners for the on-ramps. The article says that the county wants to have one station to the east of I-5, presumably to make bus access at least somewhat easier.

      4. I think it is what Tlsgwm wrote: the county thinks that the area to the east will have grow faster.

    3. The current hub of activity along 164th is east of I-5. During rush hour, it’s cloggedb(especially in the PM), it’s clogged with commuters trying to reach Mill Creek as 164th is the only access point to/from I-5 and anywhere west of the city. Leaving the station on the west side is akin to building Northgate or Roosevelt station on the west side of I-5: yeah there may be a few things there but not nearly as much activity and end-destinations as on the east side.

      1. I don’t see it. I don’t see much difference when looking at the density maps from the last census ( I don’t see anything much new to the east, whereas there are some new developments to the west ( Mill Creek itself is largely a sprawling mass of low density housing in a very hard to serve urban form. The apartments that do exist seem to be on SR 527, and the short and long term bus system seems to send riders up and over to Mariner.

        I can understand why traffic would be worse to the east. Folks on the west have a parallel highway and fairly linear north-south streets. 164th in the east feeds into roads heading towards Snohomish. But that is irrelevant when it comes to transit — those riders will go to Mariner (or continue to drive).

        But whatever. Snohomish County thinks it is better to have the thing a couple blocks to the east. I think it is a coin flip. My main concern is whether they are wasting money on phantom riders. (But for all I know the eastern stop is cheaper).

      2. @RossB, just a slight clarification: the current majority of transit ridership from Mill Creek travels along 164th to/from destinations westward rather than going around via Mariner P&R. The 15 min frequency is quite helpful and popular with riders.

      3. The current majority of transit ridership from Mill Creek travels along 164th to/from destinations westward rather than going around via Mariner P&R.

        Are you sure? From what I can tell, Mill Creek is bordered on the north by SR 96 and the east by 35th NE. To the south the border is a bit messy, but is roughly 164th, if 164th kept going straight. To the west, it sits to the west of SR 527 a little bit, which means it includes all the apartments on both sides of the road. I’m assuming Google Maps borders are correct: Here are the buses that run though Mill Creek:

        These go to Mariner:
        109 — Skirts the northern part of Mill Creek. Probably not too many riders from Mill Creek (or anywhere).
        105 and Swift Green — Runs by what I assume to be the most densely populated part of Mill Creek (the apartments on SR 527).
        106 — Covers some of the single family areas of Mill Creek.

        These go to Ash Way:
        115 — Goes on 164th, then goes on SR 527.
        116 — Similar to the 106

        So, basically the 106 and 116 look like a wash to me. The 109 doesn’t matter much. Swift Green and 105 are way more frequent on SR 527 than the 115. The 115 and 116 cover 164th in Mill Creek. But that is only a tiny bit of 164th — basically Wintermutes Corner. After that the buses split. I don’t even see any apartments there ( So while the 115/116 give you good frequency for much of 164th, very little of that is in Mill Creek.

        The bulk of the apartments in Mill Creek are on SR 527, and that is served best by buses that go up to Mariner (mainly Swift Green). There are other apartments to the west (on 164th) but those are matched by apartments to the east (and then some).

      4. @RossB. You’re correct that about route 109 as it mainly serves the Mill Creek Senior center and a few big box retailers. It has performed less than what planners envisioned when it was created 3 years ago. And you’re also correct regarding density, much of it is around SR527. However, as a CT employee myself, I have found that our customers throughout Mill Creek gravitate mostly to the 115 & 116 because their destination it’s often places westward, whether it be to the Walmart area, connecting to Seattle services at Ash Way or further into Lynnwood and Edmonds. Those who use route 105 mainly connect at Mariner for services to/from Everett or to access businesses along SR527, much like people who use the E-line or #7 to make short trips along Rainier and Aurora. There’s also a core group of riders who use the bus to reach Bothell. And as far as the Green line, it has mostly been a dud in terms of BRT. Overall, there is a strong demand for Mill Creek customers travelling to/from places that are outside of Mill Creek and routes 115 & 116 have proven to be the most popular choices to do so.

      5. “And as far as the Green line, it has mostly been a dud in terms of BRT.”

        Yeah that does appear to be the case. I’ve been disappointed with the early ridership numbers I’ve seen so far as well. As a CT “insider”, have you heard anything about issues being identified and possible CT actions to increase ridership? Obviously, I’m speaking in terms of some 18+ months down the road when we have other means of existing in a Covid-19 world beyond our current mitigation measures.

      6. @Tlsgwm SR527 is supposed to be widened in the Bothell area. When that happens, the Green line will go all the way to UW-Bothell. Also, there are plans to redo all routes serving Mill Creek in anticipation of the Orange line. This is pre-COVID planning,. of course.

      7. OK, Fair enough. I just assumed that since the Green Line is the most frequent route, it is used a lot. Apparently not. Looking at it in Mill Creek, I can see why. There just aren’t enough stops. Too many people in too many apartments are stuck between walking a really long ways to a frequent bus, or waiting for a very infrequent bus. I realize that a big part of Swift is to have limited stops, but you can overdue it, and in my opinion, they did.

        Alon Levy goes into great detail about stop spacing here: There are a lot of considerations (of course). The longer the trip, the wider the spacing. Swift probably has longer trips. But Swift through Mill Creek has spacing over 3/4 mile apart, or 1200 meters. That is more than twice as long as even the longest recommendation Alon makes. It is much longer than the common stop spacing in other countries (that are the standard for transit performance). In general, American stop spacing is too short. This is the other extreme — way too far apart.

        There are also plenty of reasons why you would skip over areas. The problem is, they seem to have skipped over some of the best stops. From the Mill Creek Apartments, it is a ten minute walk to Swift Green ( This is from the exit of the apartments building, which is the only way out of the complex. That means that every resident has to walk even further ( There are other apartments nearby as well. Up the street, you can find other examples. From the Hawthorne Apartments to the nearest Swift Green stop is about ten minutes as well ( In that case they should work with the city to put in a crosswalk right where the path is to the housing development on the other side ( It makes sense to take advantage of the fact that there are good pedestrian pathways through there.

        I think that the stop spacing they are using is inappropriate for the system. If the 105 and Swift Green ran every ten minutes, then it would make a lot of sense. Riders would endure a slower ride, but at least avoid a really long wait (or long walk). Some might even transfer, at the next “station”. If the rest of the system was frequent, then a limited stop express could pay off, just because lots more people would transfer. I don’t think that is happening much with the Green. I think it simply isn’t being used.

        The model that Metro uses for the E is much better. The stops are not that close, but not that far apart, either. There is no “local” that follows the E (no equivalent to the 105). There is no need. That money is put into running the E more often.

      8. Yeah, I agree that the stop spacing is part, if not most, of the issue with the Swift Green Line’s poor ridership numbers so far. A couple of weeks ago, my spouse and I were over in the Mill Creek area (we were looking at some new residential construction from the safety of our car – my spouse works for a developer and likes to check out the competition’s projects – and frankly we just needed to get out of the house for a while and go somewhere nearby) and we were following behind a Swift Green Line bus. I guess I never realized before then how far apart those stops thru Mill Creek actually are. I mean it’s one thing to look at the stops on a route map but a whole other thing to see how they pan out when physically seeing or actually utilizing them. I hope CT can make some changes to the stop spacing thru this particular area.

      9. “I think that the stop spacing they are using is inappropriate for the system. If the 105 and Swift Green ran every ten minutes, then it would make a lot of sense.”

        That’s the issue: frequency, not stop spacing. Swift’s frequency is fine; the 105’s is not. When Swift Blue was added on 99, the it went from the 101 (or whatever it was called then) being the highest-ridership route in CT, to Swift and the 101 being the two highest-ridership routes. The hope was that the other Swift lines would be similar.

        The second corridor by that criteria should have been Edmonds-Lynnwood or Lynnwood-Smokey Point, but instead CT chose Seaway-Canyon Park for political reasons: to support Boeing, and because it was the only line that could get a state grant (also because of Boeing). (CT also felt 128th was underserved because it had no service then in spite of being a growing area.) Note parallels with Link: an alignment to politically-important places that misses the biggest ridership generators.

        “The model that Metro uses for the E is much better. The stops are not that close, but not that far apart, either. There is no “local” that follows the E (no equivalent to the 105).”

        That’s where you’re wrong. The E is a compromise the way Link is a compromise: there should be two-level service. It takes 45 minutes to get from Westlake to Aurora Village on the E, or 25 minutes from 85th to Aurora Village. And that may be only part of your trip if you’re going to Edmonds Community College or elsewhere in Snohomish. There should be an E and an E-Limited, like Swift Blue and the 101. Saying they should just be consolidated to medium length ignores the needs of longer-distance travelers.

        Swift Green’s problems are mostly because of the corridor. Unlike Swift Blue there aren’t large all-day draws like Everett, a college, the minor retail concentration in the Edmonds-Lynnwood-MT border triangle, or everything along Aurora., and it doesn’t connect to the 512 anywhere There’s just Boeing which is more peak-oriented, UW Bothell which it doesn’t even serve, Canyon Park for whatever it’s worth, a couple other supermarket plazas, and the tower-in-the-park apartments which are at least a start. Hopefully it will grow into something better, and the Bothell extension will be completed. I guess now that the Green is launched it should just wait for that. The best short-to-medium term strategy should be increasing the 105’s frequency.

      10. That’s where you’re wrong. The E is a compromise the way Link is a compromise: there should be two-level service. It takes 45 minutes to get from Westlake to Aurora Village on the E, or 25 minutes from 85th to Aurora Village.

        There is two level service. The 301 is an express overlay of the E and it runs during rush hour. It really isn’t that complicated. If the base service (the E) has enough ridership that crowding is a bigger issue than frequency, then an express overlay (like the 301) makes sense. You save some people some time while reducing crowding.

        But that isn’t the case in the middle of the day. Two levels of service on Aurora would mean a far less efficient system. The E is very long, and despite being quite popular, only runs every ten minutes most of the day. Do you really want to run it every 20 minutes, but have an “E Express” as well? They can’t be timed, which means at some point on the line, you have two buses (an express and a regular) running every 20 minutes. That isn’t good. Of course you can keep running the E every 10 minutes and an express running every so often as well. For that matter, you could just run the 301 every ten minutes (the existing express). But where is that money going to come from? Now you are talking about taking a regular route (say, the 5) and running it every 20 minutes. It is just not a good idea.

        Likewise, Link is not a compromise. They simply have bad stop spacing. There should be more stops, which would result in much higher ridership, which in turn could justify running it more often. A lot of riders (e. g. folks trying to get to First Hill) would avoid a long walk (or secondary transfer) and most would appreciate less waiting in the middle of the day.

        This is the way things are done, in the places that have high transit ridership. Our subway stop spacing is way bigger than normal. Some of that is to be expected (there are places where it just isn’t worth it, like between SR 520 and Capitol Hill) but skipping places like First Hill and 55th just doesn’t make sense.

        As far as having two-level service on Aurora, check out Alon Levy’s critique of that system, even where you have enough demand to justify it (Vancouver BC) —

        A lot of this boils down to the stop innovating and start imitating principle I tell Americans about re construction costs. American bus networks suck. Canadian ones are better, but that boils down to how they feed rail and how the bigger ones run every 8 minutes off-peak, not 15. Once you get out of North America, you rarely see 200-meter interstations on buses. You see a range of 300-600. Nor do you see much creative local/express combos; it won’t surprise me if there are more such combos in Brooklyn alone than in all non-North American cities I’ve lived in (Tel Aviv, Singapore, Stockholm, Paris, Berlin, and let’s even throw in the Riviera) combined.

        See? The point is, by world standards, the E is normal. It is just a normal, everyday bus. It has off board payment (normal). It has stop spacing in the 300-600 meter range (normal). It runs every ten minutes (normal). It has an express that serves the more distant locale when there is sufficient demand (normal).

        In contrast, Swift is weird. A lot of what we do in the U. S. is weird, and it typically fails, miserably. Before we innovate, we should copy what works (like we did with the E).

      11. @Mike Orr
        “That’s the issue: frequency, not stop spacing. Swift’s frequency is fine; the 105’s is not.”

        I think you have somewhat missed the point being discussed here. I don’t think anyone is arguing that the frequency on the 105 doesn’t need some level of improvement, but then the agency needs to find the funding for that (both operational and capital costs). That’s really neither here or there; the key issue being discussed here is what is depressing ridership on the Swift Green Line (pre-Covid-19 of course). As you yourself stated, the 10-minute frequency for Swift level of service is just fine. I believe that the stop spacing is indeed playing a part in the low ridership, particularly through the Mill Creek section of the route. You apparently believe the stop spacing is fine and point to the issue being the corridor itself. CT, its consultants and PSRC would all disagree with you.

        A Swift II line was being considered during the 2012 update to CT’s long range planning. Conceptually, two “Transit Emphasis Corridors”, SR 527 and Airport Road, were being combined to create the line that ultimately would become the Swift Green Line. This combination would also allowed CT to bring frequent bus service to the connecting corridor along 128th. In 2013, Parsons Brinckerhoff was enlisted to conduct a study on the combined corridors, thereby providing the needed documentation for the sought-after FTA grant funding that would follow. The firm completed their report in Aug 2014 and CT moved forward with their planning based on the report’s conclusions. (I would strongly recommend at least reading the executive summary of said report, “Community Transit BRT Corridor and Route Definition Study: Boeing to Canyon Park”.)

        Yes, it’s unfortunate that the southern terminus of the route comes up short of the UW-Bothell campus. But that was simply due to the budget that was available and the lack of any additional funding coming from King County. An extension to the campus is definitely warranted and would help boost ridership. But the rest of your assertions in regard to the corridor I generally find to be without merit.

        Finally, I disagree with your other assertion that the orange line should have been the second Swift line to go into operation. I think CT got the order correct, given the expectation of Lynnwood Link coming on line in 2024. The Orange line is being coordinated with that timeframe in mind.

      12. RossB already pointed this out, but I want to reiterate that Swift Green has the disadvantage of long walks from the apartment complexes between “stations” and little in the way of improved pedestrian friendliness along the Bothell-Everett Highway. Added to the fact that those apartment complexes are what I call “sprawl-partments” where the walk from your apartment to the street can be substantial in and of itself. Really, the worst of both worlds. Add to that the fact that to get anywhere really useful that’s not Paine Field, it’s a long walk and major road crossing to transfer to a bus at Mariner, or dealing with the harrowing crossings at Airport Way and Highway 99. It’s just a tough environment to serve with transit. IMHO, Community Transit made a bad decision and should really have focused on the 196th ST corridor in Lynnwood/Edmonds as the second Swift line (as well as improving ped/bike safety along the first Swift line!). Even if is looks less substantial on a map and gives politicians less boasting rights in terms of BRT miles, it is already a relatively well used bus corridor connecting to Edmonds CC and many jobs in the Alderwood Mall area, it would connect to Lynnwood Link which arrives much sooner than the Link station at Mariner.

      13. “There is two level service. The 301 is an express overlay of the E and it runs during rush hour.”

        That doesn’t help off-peak or if you’re at 46th or 85th. I focus on the all-day baseline frequency. Extra peak service and point-to-point expresses (which is what the 301 is) will take care of themselves.

        If the base service (the E) has enough ridership that crowding is a bigger issue than frequency,”

        The primary issue is the ability to get around the city and region in a reasonable travel time and wait time. 45th, 85th, 105th, 130th, 185th, and Aurora Village have concentrations of transfers, retail, and/or apartments, so there should be a way to get quickly between those. Especially since three out of four are major transfer points and we’re trying to get the fourth to be so too. This shouldn’t be subjugated to filling buses before adding frequency or an overlay.

        “The E is very long, and despite being quite popular, only runs every ten minutes most of the day.”

        That’s because of Metro’s budget limitations, not because 10 minutes is necessarily the “right” level of service.

        “Do you really want to run it every 20 minutes, but have an “E Express” as well? … Of course you can keep running the E every 10 minutes and an express running every so often as well… But where is that money going to come from? Now you are talking about taking a regular route (say, the 5) and running it every 20 minutes.”

        No, we shouldn’t take it out of the existing E or 5. I’m talking about the ideal frequency, not Metro’s budget limit or other routes. The E should remain 10 minutes, an E-limited could run every 10 or 15 minutes daytime. The 101 can remain as is until Link replaces it.

        “Likewise, Link is not a compromise. They simply have bad stop spacing.”

        The faster one would be called commuter rail. and the one with more stops one would terminate closer in.

      14. “I believe that the stop spacing is indeed playing a part in the low ridership, particularly through the Mill Creek section of the route. You apparently believe the stop spacing is fine”

        I didn’t explain my position completely. Limited-stop Swift is a general ideal in the most highly-traveled corridors with apartments and retail along them and/or between the largest cities. It’s a poor man’s light rail, appropriate for lower-density or lower-capacity-need areas. It’s appropriate for 99, and I think it’s appropriate for Edmonds-Lynnwood and Smokey Point-Everett. (Maybe Smokey Point-Lynnwood.) The Green corridor may grow into that, or it may not.

        I have no specific opinion on the Green’s stops in Mill Creek or elsewhere. Maybe it should add or move a few stops. I’ve only been there once and I don’t remember exactly where the apartment concentrations are in relation to the stops. I may have seen one or two places that I thought should be a stop because of the size of a retail there.

        But the general principle remains, that if you add too many stops it slows down the route excessively; e.g., for Mill Creek to Boeing, north Bothell to Boeing, Mill Creek to UW Bothell, or any part of Bothell to the future Link transfer at Mariner. I don’t know where the sweet spot is for enough stops vs a travel time competitive with driving. I know it more for Aurora and 99 because I know those areas better and the concentrations are more obvious. So I’m staying out of the Green stop debate. I just don’t want the Green to turn into the 105, or all of Swift to be deleted because some people don’t think limited-stop service is worthwhile.

      15. @Brandon
        Although I don’t agree with your position on the ordering of the Swift lines (i.e., I’m fine with CT’s decision to do Green before Orange), I understand your arguments in favor of the latter. Boeing and the state money for the Seaway TC certainly played a part in how this played out, as did the further progress on the Green Line planning that allowed for the project to get into the FTA grant assessment queue. Additionally, I believe the fiscal situation in Lynnwood strengthens the argument in favor of the Green-then-Orange ordering. Lynnwood has fallen behind on its own corridor improvement plans for 196th due to funding issues. The last I checked (pre-Covid-19), the city’s project isn’t scheduled to be completed until late 2022, so that’s already been pushed back yet another year*. The Orange Line relies upon 196th St SW from 44th Ave W to reach Edmonds and thus is impacted by the city’s project. If the Orange Line had been completed first, there’s a good chance that sections of the line in this area would’ve needed to be redone. If Lynnwood delays any further, it still could become a problem if CT stays on schedule. But who really knows now if that’s realistic with the current state of affairs.

        *[When the city applied to the PSRC back in 2018 for an STP grant, this is where things stood:

        Total Estimated Project Cost and Schedule:

        PE Phase-
        (Funding Source, Secured or Unsecured, $Amount)
        -STP, Secured, $1,730,000
        -Local, Secured, $1,321,379
        Total $3,051,379
        Expected year of completion for this phase: 2018

        ROW Phase-
        (Funding Source, Secured or Unsecured, $Amount)
        -CWA, Secured, $4,878,914
        -TIB, Secured, $2,500,000
        Total $7,378,914
        Expected year of completion for this phase: 2018

        Construction Phase-
        (Funding Source, Secured or Unsecured, $Amount)
        -CWA, Secured,$9,985,086
        -TIB, Secured, $2,500,000
        -STP,Unsecured, $4,760,000
        -Local, Expected, $2,683,834
        Total $19,928,920
        Expected year of completion for this phase: 2021

        1. Estimated project completion date 9/2021
        2. Total project cost

      16. Swift Green’s problems are mostly because of the corridor.

        The corridor is weaker, but this connects to other, relatively frequent bus routes. If you are going up to Everett you have the 201/202 as well as Swift Blue.

        This is another reason why the route needs to have more stops. The 201/202 run every 15 minutes to Everett, and it runs right through it (they don’t just stop at the large vacant Everett Station). This is a very reasonable transfer for anyone who lives on SR 527 (e. g. Mill Creek). Yet it doesn’t have enough stops there. There are only 6 stops the highway between Canyon Park and 132nd. It is quite reasonable to run a frequent bus from a residential area to minor destinations while connecting to a frequent bus that connects to bigger ones. But that first bus should at least serve those residential areas, and not just cruise right by them.

      17. That doesn’t help off-peak or if you’re at 46th or 85th.

        So what? Sorry, but I don’t know what exactly you are proposing now. You want three routes serving Aurora Village: A 301, a limited stop express, and the E; all running every ten minutes, all day long, if not more frequently.

        Well of course. We all do. I want a pony, too. The problem is that it is a zero sum game. Agencies don’t have unlimited money. If you overload Aurora with every imaginable combination, you get a handful more riders, while some other route(s) suck.

        The only big advantage to limited stop expresses is for longer trips. You can see the math ( But as the day goes on, you get fewer and fewer of those trips. You are giving that person in Aurora Village a faster ride to downtown, while the rider in Totem Lake is begging for a fast ride to the UW and someone in the urban part of Magnolia — much, much closer to downtown — just wishes they didn’t have to wait half an hour for their freakin’ bus.

        There are trade-offs, and they should follow ridership. There just aren’t that many riders making long trips on the E in the middle of the day. Otherwise — this is important — they would run it more often. At some point you don’t gain much by increasing frequency, but as you no doubt know by now (based on the numerous references) that point is not ten minutes. If Metro could afford it, or if the route demanded it, they would simply run the E every five minutes. But the only time that occurs is during rush hour, which is the only time that an overlay — of any sort — makes sense.

        Put it another way. Let’s say they built both. Let’s say they doubled the frequency of the E and added the limited stop express (45th, 85th, 105th, 130th, 185th, and Aurora Village). Now let’s say that get off at 105th, and are headed downtown. Both buses run by the same stop at the same time and you just missed both of them. The regular E will be here in 5 minutes, but the other bus will be here in 10. Do you really let that first bus go by? Really?

        This is an example of the importance of frequency on a route that we both admit has pretty good frequency. Now imagine what someone in Magnolia, just having missed the 33 feels like.

      18. I don’t know where the sweet spot is for enough stops

        YES! Obviously. Which is why you should either trust the experts, or read up on the matter. I’ve made several references to Alon Levy. Not only is he an expert as to why such wide stop spacing is a bad idea, but he also has done the math to show why. You can also trust the fact that numerous countries, with lots more transit experience, and much higher transit share, have shorter stop spacing. You can read Jarrett Walker as well, and come to the same conclusion. They all say basically the same thing, and let me just quote Levy here:

        For the most part, the optimal average spacing between bus stops is 400-500 meters.

        It isn’t well over a kilometer, like Swift Green. Of course there are exceptions. If you are going by a graveyard (as with the E) you should skip a stop. But in the case of Swift Green, they actually pass by some of the most densely populated places on the line, all so that they can give a small handful of riders a faster ride! The planners subscribe to a crazy notion that somehow those riders will welcome the chance to walk 15 minutes to the bus because it is a little bit faster, or are just dying to wait a half hour to take the opposite extreme (a bus that stops too often). Or maybe the planners had limited money for the more expensive stops (which do have off board ORCA readers) along with grant money, and just decided to make the best of it.

        Again, I wish they just ran both, at the same frequency, and saw what happened. Run that limited stop express, with its massive number of Canyon Park park-and-ride riders headed to Boeing in the middle of the day. My money is on the bus that stops every 400-500 meters.

        [ By the way, I enjoyed saying Canyon Park park-and-ride riders in my head :)]

      19. I will say that I’m with Brandon — I think they should have built Orange before Green. I would have extended it up to Mariner, and terminated there. There are some good things with Green, just not a lot. You have:

        1) Canyon Park. As a park and ride, it is basically worthless. No one is going to park there, and ride the bus, since every place the bus goes has ample parking. There is a connection to an express bus to Lynnwood and Bellevue though. Unfortunately, that only runs every half hour, making it worthless for all but the most desperate (for now).

        2) Mariner. Another parking lot, with another bus connection (to Everett). This is valuable, but it sounds like the transfer sucks.

        3) SR 99. Another connection, this time to the north end of SR 99 and Everett. From what I can tell, though, most of the stops between Airport Way and Everett are nothing special. You could head south, but most riders would then be backtracking (and there isn’t that much to the south for a while).

        4) Paine Field. Airports tend to be overrated as destinations. Folks who fly tend to drive. People who work there might take the bus, so there is that.

        5) SeaWay. Another connection, this time to shuttle buses that serve the manufacturing areas around there. Demand tends to be very peak oriented, which means that the extra service (running frequently in the middle of the day) is not a factor for trips there.

        6) Minor destinations. There are some of these, both direct and indirect. For example, you can get from this cluster of apartments to the Fred Meyer ( There just aren’t enough of those. The “Corners” are surprisingly sparse. Wintermutes Corner has a Safeway (and even it requires a long schlep from the bus stop), Kennard Corner has an auto body shop, and Thrasher’s Corner has one pub and another Safeway a long walk from the bus stop. Going into Bothell would change the nature of the route, as there are plenty of places in Bothell (as well as the University).

        I would say the strongest trip combinations probably involve Everett. The ability to quickly get from the heart of Everett to places on SR 96 and 527 is a big benefit. (It just needs more stops along the way).

        In contrast, the Orange Line is loaded:

        1) Edmonds CC. Already it is better than the Green Line. Community Colleges have lots of all day ridership.

        2) SR 99. Looks about the same as up north.

        3) Lynnwood TC. Major transit center with frequent buses to Everett, Mountlake Terrace, Seattle and the U-District (albeit at a freeway stop).

        4) Ash Way TC. Another transit center, serving riders closer to that area.

        5) Mariner. If the Orange Line terminated at Mariner, it would serve many of the same riders (and serve them better — because the transfer would be better).

        6) Minor destinations. This is where the Orange Line blows away the Green Line. There are just a lot more shops, bars, restaurants and other places along the way.

        Not only would the Orange Line be more popular, but it would have a lot more short trips. There might be some people who ride it from Mill Creek to Edmonds, but very few. This would allow CT to add more stops, pretty much everywhere. For example between SR 99 and Lynnwood TC, I would add a stop at 48th, serving Fred Meyer, Lynnwood Square, and the apartments nearby that would otherwise be in no-man’s land (too far from a bus stop, too far from Lynnwood TC).

      20. Oh, the Orange Line will most definitely be a success, for many of the reasons you’ve already cited. I don’t have any doubts about that. I wasn’t implying that the Green Line was a SUPERIOR Swift corridor (in relation to the other). I was simply stating that given the entire set of circumstances I can understand why CT selected to move forward with the Green Line first. The combined corridors it covers had been studied at length*, the planning process was much further along, Boeing and the Paine Field (i.e., SnoCo) stakeholders were loud, and finally there were the existing timeframes for Lynnwood’s 196th St and 36th Ave projects and ST’s Lynnwood Link and redevelopment of the Lynnwood TC projects. Hopefully the plans for the Swift Orange Line can still advance as scheduled, though we won’t really know until we see the pandemic’s fiscal impact on the agency over the rest of the year. I’m glad to see the 1.2% in sales tax I pay to fund CT go to support expansion of the Swift network. The good news is that the project is currently in the FTA pipeline.

        *Growth and development along the Mill Creek corridors was accelerating at a quicker rate than the Edmonds-Lynnwood corridor when Swift II planning was in its early stage, which goes all the way back to the 2012 update to the agency’s LRP (IIRC). Again, I would recommend reading the “Community Transit BRT Corridor Planning and Route Definition Study: Boeing to Canyon Park” from 2014.

      21. “YES! Obviously. Which is why you should either trust the experts,”

        Ross, you keep focusing on census tracts and general advice. Levy and Walker are stating an international average; they don’t know the Green Line corridor. My statement was also general, as I said. There are legitimately differing opinions on how it applies to Swift Blue, the E, and Swift Green. Only an expert who has studied those corridors can make specific recommendations on them. I’m not an expert on the Green corridor, neither are you, and neither are Levy or Walker. The people who are are Community Transit planners, and hopefully they’re well-trained on the usability principles promoted by the general experts. Obviously the needs of a corridor are different depending on how large the regional centers and smaller centers are, how far apart they are, how many other unique destinations (e.g., businesses and institutions) are along it, how far they are from the residential/transfer points, where exactly the apartments are, whether the population is predisposed to use transit, etc. The further things are apart or away from multifamily/transfer points, the more that a higher-speed service like a limited-stop overlay is needed. A route can have as many stops as you think it needs but still take too long from the middle to the end or from end to end. That’s when you need a higher-speed overlay. Telling people who make those trips that they should just shut up because the only thing that matters is the shorter trips in between is just wrong. Levy’s argument works fine for a generic street with equal destinations and apartment concentrations a mile apart all along it, but it starts breaking down if there are major distant destinations at the ends and/or the line is long and some people are trying to get to distant parts.

      22. @Mike — You are missing a few key points:

        1) The Green Line has failed, miserably.

        2) With all due respect to the planners for the Green Line, they are Americans.

        3) Again, with all due respect, this is a second rate region.

        4) There are particulars to this region, which you’ve touched upon — such as Boeing.

        Thus it is quite possible that some of these planners, having done their homework, were complaining that there weren’t enough stops, but were overruled because some second rate manager (from a second rate country) misunderstood the literature, or someone else said we had to please Boeing. My point is, there is no way that someone from Europe, Asia, or any other region that knows how to do it right would do it this way. Nor would a first rate American planner. Hand this over to Walker (and his team) and you would have more stops!

        No, I’m not an expert on the region, but I can read a map. I can see how this obviously misses the few bits of population density that exist along the line and was thus destined to fail. They took a radical approach, based on whim or fealty. I can clearly see why this is failing, as can others. What, prey tell, is your explanation?

      23. @Tlsgwm — OK, that makes sense. The planning was much further along. Hopefully their planning mistakes with the Green Line will translate into corrections for both lines. Hint: More Stops!

  6. Overall, these are decent station area plans. My biggest concern is about what happens to property acquisition costs if the plans are fixed this early. I’d hate to see the visions “derail” from these costs of buying property because of these visions.

    1. The station at 128th will be above 6th SW; no property costs there. The station at Ash Way and the garage will be between Motor Place and the freeway right of way. All the county needs to do is downzone that strip to single-family immediately and freeze the value now.

      Sure, they’ll have to pay the existing homeowners a “takings” value but based on the development potential now, which is obviously not great or they’d already be apartments. A couple of the houses look like they’re in Appalachia.

      1. “A couple of the houses look like they’re in Appalachia.”

        Is that really necessary? Do you know the financial situation of those property owners? Perhaps they are seniors living on a very limited fixed income or just long-time residents struggling to make ends meet. There are at least a half dozen other ways you could’ve opted for to convey your meaning (older homes in need of repair). Geesh.

        “All the county needs to do is downzone that strip to single-family immediately and freeze the value now.”

        The county simply isn’t going to do that, nor should they. It won’t “freeze values” for one thing, and, secondly, it would be an open invitation to litigation.

        Finally, one needs to keep in mind that if there is FTA grant funding involved at all, there are strict guidelines governing early aquisitions.

      2. The Mariner station would actually requiring taking out a storage business, a bit of the adjacent apartment complex, and part of the strip mall next to Albertsons. Not an easy site no matter where you put the platforms.

  7. Kudos to Snohomish County for the new 130th Street Bridge! It will get the Green Line out of the horrid ramp congestion, and take it through the heart of the new development, though it will require three turns. (The southeast corner of the box is a roadway curve, so doesn’t require a turn).

    I guess the Green Line route will continue to 8th SW before returning to 128th. There’s a long row bunch of perpendicular parking spaces on the south side of the street which can be eliminated in favor of a bus lane and perhaps the street widened one lane before the new development is added for the another bus lane. There won’t be much traffic on it, because private cars won’t be able to cross the freeway; at least, that’s what SnoHoCo wants apparently.

    I have been advocating for the exact same thing at 240th for the Everett Highline Station for a long time. There’s room at Military and Kent-Des Moines to widen the westbound roadway by one lane and make a bus-only left turn. There’s room to widen Military for the long two blocks up to 240th for at least a lane for eastbound buses on the east side of the street. This would allow buses from all over the east side of I-5 to access the Highline Station MUCH more rapidly than they will be able to using K-DM and PHS.

    1. Do you mean Orange Line or Green Line? The Orange Line isn’t built yet. It is supposed to end at McCollum Park and Ride. Having it terminate at Mariner makes more sense — it isn’t that far. Using the back way to get also makes sense, since you aren’t really hurting through-riders.

      But the Green Line (which is now running) runs along 128th. I think it should continue to run on 128th. Most of the time, that is the faster way. Even when traffic is bad (southbound in the morning) at least you have a bus lane, even if it does involve a weave ( I doubt there is a much of a problem going the other direction.

      Imagine you live in an apartment to the west, and work at Fred Meyer or McMenamins ( The Green Line is fantastic! You love that bus. It is fairly frequent, and super fast. Or how about a high school kid at Jackson that doesn’t have a car. Or maybe you live in an apartment on SR 527 and work at Paine Field or on Aurora. These are the types of trips that the line was built for, and now folks are spending a lot of money making them slower. I like the idea of a pedestrian bridge, but I think spending a lot more to allow buses to go over the road is a waste.

    2. Whatever. One twenty eighth is pretty busy and when all the new buildings on that diagram are there it will be even more so. Getting a dedicated path from 3rd to 8th might look very attractive in twenty years.

      If the main east-west bus for the area isn’t going to use the new “transit, pedestrian and bicycle bridge” why will it have vehicle lanes at all? Rush hour buses?

      1. I think it will use it, I just think it is a big mistake. Detours of that nature are a bad idea, even if they are common in our system. Two left turns to avoid a street that has bus lanes seems like an agency that just wants to have fun with a new toy.

  8. With Mariner being the end station of one of the lines (currently proposed as the end of Line 2) and both lines combined as a train arriving on each track every three minutes, a tail track just north of this station will be needed to turn around the trains. The other option is to have two platforms and three tracks in the station, with the middle reachable from either side (two “center“ platforms).

    Should the plans allow for enough width for three tracks? Would those be in or north of the Mariner station?

    Another issue is that a station over a street as proposed at Mariner means that a mezzanine may be required and the tracks may need to be 25 feet higher. Does this concept eliminate the need for a mezzanine at Mariner? Is this explained in one of the links in the article?

    1. Why is Mariner the end of the Redmond Line instead of Alderwood Mall? That seems unnecessary to me. In any case, a Mezzanine doesn’t need to have 25 feet of clearance. Ten is plenty; we’re not members of a Martian NBA team.

      1. I’m not a structural engineer, but the Northgate mezzanine seems higher than 10 feet vertically. There must be a reason for that.

        If the tracks are placed on the side of the road, there is no need for a mezzanine. I’m not sure what’s intended here.

        Conceptually, I like diagonally-placed platforms across a street grid. It gives a wider gap between station entrances placed at the ends of the platform, and increases the pedestrian walkability area more than a station aligned along a grid does.

      2. There must be a reason for that.

        One would hope so, but I don’t think I’d bet on it. It may just be “aesthetic” — that airy feeling of a high ceiling. But even for that it doesn’t need TWENTY-FIVE FEET! What waste of money and of rider time, since they will have traverse that vertical twenty five feet twice a day until the end of time……..

      3. could the height of the mezzanine at northgate be related to the height of the bridge going over I-5?

      4. So that is a 10′ mezzanine height which is not excessive. I thought you were saying that the height between the floor and the ceiling was 23 feet. Twenty-three feet between the floors is not terrible for exactly the reason you stated: the thing has to be supported.

        I’m sorry, I wouldn’t call that a “twenty-three foot mezzanine”.

      5. I find it somewhat weird that the southbound track has full weather protection except for the portals by which the trains enter and leave while the northbound track has merely a canopy with the sides open to the weather.

        Are northbound riders second class citizens?

      6. I’m sorry to create confusion. I could have instead said the platform is another 23-25 feet higher above the street.

        As I’m digging through definitions, it seems that a “mezzanine” usually must be less than 1/3 of the floor area of the floor below. We are all probably using the term incorrectly when we call the middle level a mezzanine in the first place if we go by literal building code definitions.

    2. I’d agree that there is nothing inherent in these land use plans to warrant an end-of-line station at Mariner. With the concept for I-5 buses to exit via HOV ramps, it seems to portray Ash Way as a better ending point.

      1. Lynnwood makes the most sense to me. There will be a big drop-off north of there and it will already have the turn-back capability. Seems crazy to think that you need better frequency north of Lynnwood than you need to Bellevue.

      2. Yeah, I’ve been at a loss to understand when and why the thinking shifted toward Mariner as the “Redmond Line” terminus rather than Ash Way. Didn’t the corridor studies that preceded the 2007 and 2008 ballot measures point toward Ash Way with a future single line extension to Everett? (That’s one of things I was irritated about with ST2, that the Alderwood and Ash Way stations were stripped out of version 2 (2008). I’ve always seen that as a short-sighted move.) Frankly I think the SW SnoCo area could live with the single line from Lynnwood TC to Everett as long as Marysville remains “out of bounds”.

    3. I do know that is has to do with the ridership forecasts. Presumably there is a big drop off after Lynnwood, but apparently high enough projected ridership to justify having the trains run a bit further. Mariner is a transfer for the future Green SWIFT line, maybe that’s projected to generate sufficient boardings?

      Just speculating, but perhaps the sharp left turn makes it easier to install tail tracks (along I5) for the turnaround that don’t interfere with the trains coming to/from Everett? No idea if tail tracks are even needed, but would set up for an extension of a branch towards Everett mall in the (distant) future.

      1. STB had a reference to 2040 ridershift forecasts. The midrange is shown here:

        There is a big drop at Mariner — but half of all the Snohomish Link riders at the county line are estimated as off the train by Ash Way (70 percent by Mariner Way).

        With a train coming up the track every three minutes, it’s very disruptive to turn that train around without a tail track. The driver has to go to the other end of the train and there would be nowhere to hold a reversing train to slot it correctly. With a train just three minutes after a reversing train doesn’t leave many seconds to hold that train. A slight delay would ripple through the system even if a switching plan was perfectly scheduled.

      2. So again, running both line past Lynnwood implies higher ridership north of Lynnwood than anywhere on East Link. Does anyone really believe that?

      3. I was just noticing how remarkable these diagrams are.

        – North Sounder at 1200 riders (600 by direction) south of Edmonds is lower than ridership today.

        – South Kirkland at 2000 daily riders (1,000 boardings) is really awful performance. So is Downtown Redmond at 2,000 daily riders (1,000 boardings).

        – There are more riders between Capitol Hill and Westlake than between Westlake and University Street and Westlake and Midtown added together.

        – There are twice as many riders between Fife and Tacoma than between Alaska Junction and Avalon, or between Everett and Evergreen/99, or between Downtown Bellevue and Factoria .

        These diagrams should be used in discussions about how to plan a much leaner ST3 (a likely outcome given economic hits and transit suppression resulting from the virus). It quantitatively reveals the anticipated “bacon” in the plan — tasty but of low nutritional value.

      4. I don’t think that’s the right framing. The frequency at Mariner is operationally unrelated to the frequency on East Link.

        A) At peak, ST will run 3 minute frequency to ensure sufficient capacity at UW-Westlake.
        B) For East Link, the limiting factor is the split with the RV line*. So the current plan is 50:50, or 6 minute frequency. To achieve higher would require lower frequency elsewhere or a structural change in the system**.
        C) For Mariner, the limiting factor is total number of trains deployed. Turning back at Mariner vs. Lynnwood requires a different number of total trains, but in either option you have the same service levels south of Lynnwood.

        Ridership between, say, Judkins Park and Mercer Island will certainly be higher than Lynnwood to Mariner. Instead, it is a question if ridership at Mariner is high enough that it’s worth deploying that extra train set or 2 to giver Mariner better service. Assuming there are enough trains, it’s just an issue of higher O&M spend for better service.

        *or WS line, once the 2nd tunnel opens
        **Personally, I think East Link demand, specifically crossing Lake Washington, will eventually be high enough to demand >50% of the Lynnwood trains, switching both WS and RV trains to the 2nd tunnel. 6 minutes on East Link should be plenty to start, but that’s flexibility I’d like designed into the system. But again, running 100% of trains to East Link to give it 3 minute frequencies is still completely distinct from turning back 50% of the trains at Lynnwood or Mariner or wherever in Snohomish (though eventually you’d run out of total trains deployed , so there is a structural constraint in addition to the O&M cost)

      5. “switching both WS and RV trains to the 2nd tunnel”

        Would that be possible in the existing plan? I’m a little fuzzy on what infrastructure would have to connect to what in order for the lines to switch tunnels, and what we would need over what ST has committed to. The Rainier Valley segment will switch tunnels under ST’s plan, so does that mean all lines can switch tunnels at both ends of downtown, or what would be needed to make that happen?

        I agree we should plan for that contingency, at minimum to have flexibility if one tunnel breaks. The NYC subway has several ways to switch lines to different Manhattan tunnels when one tunnel closes for maintenance. I’ve been there during extensive weekend construction and lines are in the wrong tunnel, or express when they’d normally be local, etc. The worst was having to take the A local to/from JFK because the A express was suspended.

        But I fear ST won’t be so foresighted. It never built a transfer interface at U-District for an east-west line. There’s no stub in the second tunnel for a possible Aurora line. And as some people have suggested Issqauah-Seattle, how would that happen? And we still don’t know what the transfer experience will be like at Intl Dist and Westlake between the two pairs of platforms. ST will probably build what it intends now, and that may not be flexible for anything else.

      6. I don’t think that’s the right framing. The frequency at Mariner is operationally unrelated to the frequency on East Link.

        Except that they are all tied together. It isn’t an arbitrary comparison. One train will go from Everett to West Seattle. The other train will go from Redmond to Lynnwood (or maybe Mariner). The trains are paired together.

        There are a couple periods:

        1) Rush Hour — Does anyplace north of Lynnwood need service more frequent than six minutes? Of course not.

        2) Midday and Evening — The trains run less frequently, and are paired together. It is quite possible that the trains run every 10 minutes. This means West Seattle, Bellevue, and Everett all get 10 minute frequency. This is an operational choice. It is a degradation for those riders, but it saves the agency money.

        My point is that if we are going to see higher midday frequency, it is because Bellevue wants it, and Bellevue uses it. If Bellevue runs trains every 8 minutes, then West Seattle-Everett will run every 8 minutes.

        It seems crazy to think that it would be the other way around — that Ash Way gets 5 minute frequency, but Bellevue lives with 10. In general it is crazy to think that anyplace north of Lynnwood needs the same sort of doubling of frequency that exists through Capitol Hill.

      7. OK, I realize I may have been too hasty. My apologies. Here is a plausible scenario:

        It is late at night, and Sound Transit (as expected) is struggling with operational costs, given mediocre ridership and an extremely long system*. So the trains are running less often. Some trains are turning back. For example, the train to SeaTac might run every 8 minutes, but half the trains stop, giving the southern section 16 minute service.

        The same could occur at various places to the north, because you have both the possibility of ending the pairing, or dropping half the extensions. I get your point. The dynamics don’t really matter in this case. The point is, there are places where the frequency is cut in half.

        My point is that that Mariner Station will never be that place. It seems nuts to me is to think that Mariner, Ash Way (and yes, even Alderwood) will have ridership more like Lynnwood, and less like Everett. There really is no point in dropping frequency anywhere between Lynnwood and Everett. If you just look at this abstractly, and note the point where you cut frequency in half (because times are tough, and ridership to the outer suburbs is heavily peak dependent**) then turning back at Mariner is silly.

        They might turn back at Northgate, or Lynnwood (or both) but not Mariner.

        * It will be the longest light rail line in North America, and third longest mass transit system behind New York and Mexico City.

        ** Like every other transit system every built.

      8. @Mike – i’m not sure if that flexibility will be designed in, but I truly hope it does.

        Yes, at night I could see the service patterns be different, particularly as trains enter & leave service. For example, as trains leave the system at night, it probably makes since to have revenue service until the station before the OMF (which may be Mariner, but that’s just a quirk of the OMF location). Same for in the morning with trains coming into service southbound.

        But otherwise, ST apparently thinks ridership is good enough to give them better service. If it ends up different, then no issue, ST can truncation further south and take a train or few out of service.

      9. ST is probably just estimating and will adjust termini over time. I just remembered that East Link was originally going to go to Lynnwood peak only and Northgate otherwise. Later ST extended it to Lynnwood full time believing the capacity will be necessary. This could be happening in reverse at Mariner: ST is trying to estimate long rather than short. This also affects the budget scenarios in planning: they have to budget enough money to send the trains to Mariner. If they later decide it isn’t necessary, they can truncate the line and free up the money for something else. But if they have to extend it, they’d have to find the money somewhere and all the other budgets may be allocated to higher priorities. So this gives it flexibility.

        The argument for extending East Link north of Lynnwood seems to be the concentrations at Alderwood Mall and Ash Way. Mill Creek is east of Ash Way the same way Lake City is east of 130th, no? ST seems to be assuming there will be a concentration of riders at Mariner similar to Ash Way. That seems odd, because many of them would be going to the Paine Field Area, and they wouldn’t need to transfer there if Link continues there. But there’s also Swift Green and potential density around Mariner and growth along the Bothell-Everett Highway. That has been microscopic so far: and Swift Green didn’t quite reach 10 passengers/hour when I tried it out. But the sun will come out tomorrow, right? It’s only a day away. And ST could still run it short if the growth isn’t happening, if there’s a turnback built.

      10. Mill Creek is east of Ash Way the same way Lake City is east of 130th, no?

        Seriously, Mike? Seriously? Yes, both are technically east of the station, but if you really think that Mill Creek is similar to Lake City, in any way shape or form, you are delusional. That is like saying that Sammamish is just like Queens.

        The point I’m making is that it isn’t worth spending extra money on turn-back stations that will never be used. If they weren’t adding them at Lynnwood we would have an interesting discussion, but since they are, that is the obvious spot. If you are going to go beyond Lynnwood, you might as well go all the way to Everett. The big question is whether you want to go all the way to Lynnwood, or just end at Northgate.

      11. @RossB:

        Mill Creek population density: 4,518.95/sq mi (source:,_Washington)
        Lake City population density: a bit hard to find. Closest I found is: 7,865 people per square mile (source: but their web page makes me wonder whether it includes the entire set of zipcodes, not just LCW neighborhood.

        This makes Mill Creek density about 57% of LCW.

        For comparison:

        Sammamish: 3217.79/sq mi (source:,_Washington)
        Queens Borough, NY: over 21k/sq mi (source:

        This makes Sammamish density about 15% of Queens.

        I would certainly appreciate your revised thoughts given this new information.

      12. @AM — What new information? I know how to read a census map ( I also know how to use Google Maps, which has the ability to see new apartments from the air or the ground. I’m also well aware that Seattle has grown much faster than the surrounding suburbs since the last census, which means that the density differences which are obvious and stark from the maps has only grown.

        But I would never suggest that the difference between Queens and Sammamish is the same as the difference between Mill Creek and Lake City. I was simply pointing out the absurdity of Mike’s comparison by using another (obvious and similar) absurdity.

        It is a common rhetorical technique, not meant to be taken literally. If someone said “that guy is a great guitarist, he is as good as Hendrix”, I would reply “that is like saying I can play basketball like LeBron James”. All that means is that the guy is nowhere near as good as Hendrix — just as I’m nowhere near as good as LeBron.

        My point about Mill Creek is two fold. Mill Creek is a low density place and is, in no way, shape or form, likely to catch up to Lake City now, let alone what Lake City is likely to become in the next few years. Lake City is also a lot closer to the heart of the city than Mill Creek. This is the part of the analogy you seemed to ignore (or miss). Proximity matters — a lot. Even if Mill Creek had density to match Lake City, it would not have the kind of all-day ridership that Lake City has, simply because it is farther away.

      13. @RossB

        I definitely agree that Mill Creek will not turn into LCW anytime soon. Mill Creek is definitely quite out of the way, and the main reason why traffic is so terrible on 164th SE every day. My optometrist is still out there and every year when I go up it’s a nightmare.

        I understand rhetorical devices, too, it just seemed like you were aiming for an analogy, not hyperbola (I think is the English term – I am not a native speaker). But apparently I was wrong, and it was great to get confirmation of this, as to avoid further confusion. Thank you for the polite clarification.

      14. @AM — Cool. Sorry for the confusion, and thank you for the polite clarification as well.

  9. Ross, there’s no reason whatever a transit station and a park can’t be combined into the same project. Maybe themed around:

    Creating a situation where, from a transit region serving Olympia, Bellevue, Bellingham, Ellensburg, and Whidbey Island, number one ridership generator will be precisely that stop. For you see, Viennese coffee-house culture really was created in a day.

    When the Turkish armed forces who’d been shelling the crap out of Vienna- word to World Military- be good to the Kurds but don’t mess with the Turks- suddenly pulled out and headed home because the Sultan had died and all the generals wanted his job, a Polish Cossack named George-Franz Kol-SCHEEETZ-ki :

    -stormed his wagon down to the empty forts and brought it home piled high with fresh roasted beans. For the rest of his days, his uniform was as a Turkish waiter. So when world tourism comes back….Just work the park into the station, ok?

    Mark Dublin

    1. Is that the one at Ash Way? There is a Viennese coffeehouse across from the Ash Way Park & Ride. It’s quite good.

      1. Reason I think we’re talking about same place is the brand of coffee. Time really flies. Wish I could remember the name of the man who founded it.

        With my classes at Lake Washington and my tutoring students, whom I visited at their homes- think I also had a gig for awhile as a substitute teacher at Highline- Des Moines, was it? – a day starting and ending in Ballard featured some serious regional bus riding.

        However rough the pavement has often gotten, we the Transit World already have a lot to give ourselves credit for. Those of us who have kids- I’ve only got nieces and nephews- let’s be sure they know what they’ve inherited, and how to continue the work.

        Mark Dublin

      2. Yeah, you guys are talking about the same place. My spouse and I shop at the FM on 164th and Alderwood Mall Parkway and have popped into that coffeehouse from time to time. I hope they can make it through this difficult time.

  10. Too much open space and not enough building height or density near the stations.

    1. It’s certainly an opportunity to co-locate a community facility above or below the station platform. Whether that’s a library, post office, community center, museum or whatever, it would seem like a strategic partnership. It also would give a local government a way to purchase the property before the location is finalized and the land price skyrockets.

      Which makes me realize that it’s probably better to show lower heights rather than higher ones at this point in time, as higher ones would imply higher land values and that would increase property acquisition costs for ST.


      Space, building height, and density aren’t on sale at Walmart. They’re created by people who understand that public open space, and also the man-made structures that skillfully enclose it, is a lot more necessary to health than the vaccine which, like masks, nobody has yet.

      I’ve been praying that when school comes back the WASL doesn’t. This is what happens when calculus is a graduation requirement and Fine Arts aren’t. They should start in pre-school. Since from personal experience Ash Way is in rider-shed of Lake Washington Technical Institute, I’m putting into the Funeral Services program to do that gorgeous classic station.

      Since Precision Machining is on same grounds, neither structure nor space will be a problem.

      Mark Dublin

  11. With the construction techniques that’ll be available in 2036, isn’t there a chance that the station can be built on a bridge structure directly over the intersection? That would also perfectly lend itself to open space, plazas, plantings, and cafe’s alike?

    From the look of those linear distances, a people-mover like the cable-driven cars at Oakland Airport (and maybe Ballard Station) might truly pull the whole station area together.

    Mark Dublin

  12. That is not Everett. I want back the tax dollars that have been taken from me for the last several years. I did not vote for in favor of this plan but we were promised an “Everett” light rail station. Not a Snohomish County “near Everett” station. Getting from anywhere in Everett to 164th by bus has always been an hours long nightmare unless you live along the main bus route. At least a station in Everett itself would mean transit users could get there outside of limited weekday hours. Plus it was part of the vote. Bait and switch should not be legal.

    1. Could someone familiar with ST’s Everett plans give me some help here? It’s been years since I’ve been there. I remember a pretty, thriving Downtown, with a combination Amtrak station and transit center. Isn’t that where both the 512 and Sounder terminate? Is it possible Link’s not going in there at all?

      I’ve been going under the assumption we’re talking about Ash Way Park and Ride, which really is quite a distance from Everett. But if the time-frame we’re talking about is really 2036, you and your neighbors certainly have time to organize and get the plans changed. Right now for the foreseeable future, the foreseeable part is very vague

      Mark Dublin

      1. Mountlake Terrace is at 244th Street SW. Lynnwood is at 196th, Ash Way at 164th, Mariner at 128th. Everett Station is at 30th, so quite a bit further north. Downtown Everett’s center is just under a mile northwest of the station. Everett Station is the convergence of Amtrak, Sounder, future Link, Swift Blue, CT 201/202, some ET routes, Greyhound, and a P&R. It’s the Tacoma Dome of the north.

      1. Thanks, AJ. Over the years, Seattle Transit Blog has been quite a resource for information and perspective, hasn’t it?


      2. This description in that link makes me cringe:

        “Everett to Lynnwood: 33 minutes“

        For comparison, that’s 11 miles on I-5. Of course it’s a 27-29 trip listed on ST Express 510.

      3. Yes, Link will be half the speed of driving without traffic, for Everett-Westlake and Lynnwood-Westlake. But it will be within the midrange of ST Express: faster than peak hours but slower than Sunday morning. Everett-Seattle Link will be close to Everett-Seattle Sounder.

    2. This is the Mariner-Redmond line, not the Everett-West Seattle line. There will be two-line frequency south of Mariner under the current plan.

  13. What about the Green belt??
    Doesn’t anyone give F**k about displacing the wildlife that make their home all along Ash way? Wild life is wildlife; no matter if it is rabbits and or coyotes. And we are driving them out of their habitat! It makes me sick, that Snohomish and King counties are raping as much green belt areas (to make way for human conviences) as they can and are allowed to get away with!😠

    1. No, sorry, wildlife is not all the same. Rats, raccoons, feral rabbits and cats are not the same as lynx, bears and cougars. The animals that are isolated, surrounded by highways and miles of pavement are not living a natural existence. They are essentially in a zoo. I have no interest in paving over their homes, but I care more about real wildlife. Wildlife that is, well wild.

      You don’t have to venture far to see that. If you head east a ways you can see a huge swath of greenery, that connects to large mountains and untouched wilderness. While a few species have been wiped out from the area (grizzlies and wolf, mainly) there are still plenty left. This connects all the way to the suburbs, where growth in that area actually hurts those species. Just as the bison in Yellowstone suffer because of the arbitrary borders and grazing practices outside the park, so too do animals in the wild. As suburban sprawl encroaches on their habitat, all of the species suffer.

      If you care about wilderness, then fight sprawl. Fight it hard. Every new housing development will do far more harm to nature than this project, however dubious it is.

    2. If expansion of transit meant draining wetlands and destroying massive habitats, then even a transit guru such as myself would be opposed. But the current plans for Link expansion doesn’t do that and the greenery that is being sacrificed is nominal as with any type of development. And that I’m okay with.

    3. Which greenbelts are you talking about?

      Scriber Lake Park in Lynnwood: got the #1 biggest feedback in Lynnwood Link (including a 500-person petition), asking ST to avoid impacting the park. So ST preferred designs that avoid the park or take only a small corner; I’m not sure what made it into the final.

      Mercer Slough at South Bellevue station: I-90 and the existing P&R and Bellefields Office Park predate the preservation movement. Link sticks close to Bellevue Way and the existing P&R to minimize its impact on the Slough. Early alternatives included going forth east and north, but those were widely blasted as impacting the Slough and putting the downtown Bellevue station too far east. One group threatened to sue ST if Link crossed the Slough without going underground. Never mind that I-90 has a far bigger impact on Slough residents than Link would.

      I don’t know of any greenbelts along Link between Lynnwood and Everett. Most of it is in the I-5 right of way.

    4. Denser construction will be easier to support with light rail expansion, which helps drive down demand for greenfield development further out. There are actual plots of second-growth forests that are in the urban growth area that would be lost if sprawl were to be built out there, on top of of the impacts of building more car-oriented communities. The loss of the greenbelts in southern Snohomish County, which were largely planted when I-5 was constructed in 1965, is a small price to pay to save other areas of the county.

  14. I always cringe at the complacency and slowness of American governments when it comes to construction. I wonder if by the time Everett Link is built that there will still be an industrial complex around the Boeing area.

    1. It depends on what happens with Boeing and the airlines. If they fold or become much less significant, then the land will be available for other industries. The same is true for SLU and the Redmond Technological Center. Whether post-aviation industries would want to locate way out in Everett is another question. Paine Field really revolves around Boeing’s need for an airport and the inability to build an airport elsewhere due to space/noise/air-traffic issues. But if Everett grows as it aspires to, then there would be a local workforce who would like a short commute to the Everett Industrial Center, and that would attract companies.

    2. A lot of the delay is due to the funding, not a fundamental problem with the construction process. There are issues with American mass transit construction (a huge topic on this blog: but it isn’t why it will take to long to get rail to Everett or Ballard.

  15. Here’s some feedback– coming from recently retired civil engineer, recent ex-chair, and past 6-year member of the Sound Transit Citizens Oversight Panel– fondly referred to as the COP:
    LRT is planned and being built to crossover I-5 (from east side to west side) just north of the current Mount Lake Terrace Transit Center. From there, trains will travel north through Lynnwood, [to include the two stations referred to in the article above] out to Paine Field area, and then back east, ‘terminating’ in Everett.
    Properly done, the routing should stick to the west side of I-5 all the way between Lynnwood and Everett.
    The current ‘preferred’ Ash Way station is EAST of I-5– this would involve 2 ADDITIONAL crossovers of I-5 if the planned routing to here and north is followed. These crossovers are extremely costly and difficult, both from an agency viewpoint (WashDOT) as well as dollars. Don’t be surprised if SNOCO is asked to pay for these premium costs and we can expect agency pushback as well in conjunction with the 2 added I-5 crossovers. The west side solution for the Ash Way (164th St) station is/was perfectly workable, and this alternative should be selected.

    1. Interesting. That being the case, I hope they consider the same sort of approach for the east side Ash Way station as for the west side one. As I wrote up above, in my opinion, the biggest benefit to the east side site is the cut and cover crossing of 164th, which allows buses to serve the station without making a detour. I see no reason why that can’t be done on the other side, if it turns out that crossing twice is too expensive.

    2. I think it’s a reasonably astute item that rail crossings over wide freeways aren’t cheap. However, much of this segment will be elevated anyway south of Ash Way all the way to Lynnwood so that the additional cost may not be as bad.

      I also think that any station along a freeway should have a minimum of two or three crossings for pedestrians or bicyclists. Northgate and Shoreline South pedestrian bridges should have been considered part of the station design and cost, for example. I would hate to see pedestrian connectivity to the east side of Ash Way suffer because the station moves to the west side but no accommodation for a direct pedestrian connection is included as an additional cost for that station location option.

      1. It doesn’t matter if the station is right next to the cross street. This is better for buses as well (no detouring).

    3. One of the SnoCo planners apparently addressed the I-5 crossing issues during the presentation. The Urbanist covered this story as well and had several more details regarding the county’s plans and analysis (no disrespect intended to the reporting being done here of course). I would strongly encourage reading this additional piece of reporting as it goes a little further into a couple of the issues that have arisen in the comment section here:
      1. the analysis that supports location of the Ash Way Station east of I-5
      2. the I-5 crossing that such a location requires and the fiscal and technical implications

      The SnoCo report is included in its entirety (Scribd link) as well.

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