“Powering Progress: Federal Way Link Extension Groundbreaking” by Sound Transit

Federal Way Link, the last of the core ST2 light rail projects, has finally broken ground. In lieu of the traditional ceremony with elected and community leaders speaking from a podium and tossing dirt, Sound Transit has chosen a pandemic-friendly alternative: a virtual groundbreaking.

Sound Transit’s virtual groundbreaking (linked above) has short videos from many local officials and representatives from businesses and organizations like the Multi-Service Center and the Federal Way Black Collective. The golden shovels, a hallmark of the regular groundbreakings, remain and are handed off with some nice cuts in the video.

When it opens in 2024, Federal Way Link will extend light rail service on the Link “1 Line” by 8 miles through South King County with three stations. It is expected to cost $3.1 billion, with almost half of costs covered by federal grants and loans. By 2026, Sound Transit estimates that 34,000 daily riders will use this section of the Link network.

Construction on Federal Way Link has, however, been underway for a few months amid the pandemic. The Star Lake Park-and-Ride (future site of South 272nd Street Station) closed in late March, several buildings in downtown Federal Way have been demolished, and trees along I-5 are being removed. Due to the design-build contract used on the project, design work for stations has also been continuing in parallel with construction preparation.

Federal Way Link will likely be the last virtual groundbreaking for Sound Transit, as there is now a considerable gap before the first major ST3-only projects are set to launch (even before accounting for budget-related delays). It remains to be seen if Northgate Link’s planned late 2021 opening will escape the full brunt of the pandemic, or if it will have a subdued opening like BART’s recent expansion to San Jose.

74 Replies to “Federal Way Link breaks ground, virtually”

  1. It should have gone up Pacific Hwy, and there should be a couple of more stations. Is anyone planning a Spring District-like development along Federal Way Link? If not, why not?

    1. Blame businesses along Pac highway for it being pushed onto I-5. They weren’t happy about tearing up in and around Pac highway for many years at a time. Even though it’d likely improve property values and business in the long term as it would improve foot traffic and push some Rapid Ride service onto the train themselves. Which during my time while at Highline College would always get crowded during the afternoon rush home.

      1. Then how do you explain the long list of business and residential neighborhoods in other cities that weren’t happy about Link going in near them, but ST placed Link there anyway?

      2. Genuine question: how many of the businesses who complained about disruption own the property from which they operate (or are at least in a long enough term lease/mortgage/other financial instrument which would make it likely that they would see the benefits of the long-term effects)?

        I am not casting blame or excusing the inadequate route selected, but I think it is worth understanding the reasoning behind the complaints, and I at least do not feel that I do understand the reasoning well enough at this point (I admit I do not pay as much attention to the South Link segment, though, so it could well be known territory for everyone else and I was just being a space cadet when it was brought up before).

      3. “It should have gone up Pacific Hwy, and there should be a couple of more

        Yes. That ship has sailed.

        “Is anyone planning a Spring District-like development along Federal Way Link?”

        Yes, Federal Way city center.

        Twisting your third question slightly, is Federal Way Link on 99? “If not, why not?”

        “Blame businesses along Pac highway for it being pushed onto I-5.”

        Sort of, but not the usual suspects. It wasn’t a big company like Amazon or a major developer like Kemper Freeman saying keep trains away. It was a plea that the car-oriented strip malls in Des Moines are the only inexpensive storefronts available to low-budget immigrant businesses, and the low-income residents of Des Moines need those businesses and jobs. Link would displace some lots and raise land prices, so the 4-6 story buildings that would replace the strip malls would be unaffordable. And there’s a marked nostalgia for strip malls and surface parking lots, more so than in most surrounding cities. Kent owns the eat half of 99, wanted Link on 99, intended to build an urban village there, and will at least build a mini-village around KDM station. Des Moines offered a couple token TOD buildings.

        I’m not sure how much it was the Des Moines businesses that influenced Des Moines’ decision, or whether it was mostly the city council and other activists.

        But it was Federal Way that spearheaded the I-5 alignment. It thought it would reduce travel time between the Federal Way transit center and Seattle, cost less, and have the least construction/political risk. Federal Way is adamant it must get Link in 2024, not run the risk of having it delayed in 99 politics. As it turns out, the travel time and cost of the I-5 and 99 alternatives are the same, so those arguments go away.

        The people who will suffer from the I-5 alignment are South King County residents. They won’t be able to walk from most businesses or residences to Link, or take the A just a short distance to Link. Instead they’ll have to take the A to three downtown Federal Way, KDM, or Angle Lake. It’s almost a 30 minute trip on the A from Federal Way to Angle Lake, so those who don’t live near those stations will have a 10-15 minute bus ride to them, plus waiting for the bus. And the alignment dashed the opportunity for a station to serve an urban village at 216th, and thus limited the potential of a village there.

    2. To get the answer you’re asking for, Sam, maybe you can help me out. Since I’ve got a hand-written letter from former Federal Way city councilmember, mayor, and lifetime transit activist, it’s proof I didn’t dream her. Some others, still have nightmares about. Normally when somebody goes off the scene this completely…strange I can’t find an obituary.

      So let’s just say that if Jim Ferrell hadn’t won the election for Mayor of Federal Way in 2014, you’d probably already have the transit outcomes you’re asking for.
      But I also think I’ve figured out why so much transit-oriented discussion contains “should have”. It’s because the speaker is just about to volunteer to DO IT!

      Just be sure that when you cut the ribbon on the new Link-equipped Federal Way Transit Center, please name it after regional transit’s own Mary Gates.

      Mark Dublin

    3. I think it’s too late to rue about the alignment. After all, the biggest benefit to the extension s are the station locations and not the line — so monitoring denser development efforts and design walkability at stations should be what interests us now.

      At KDM, the station is just a few hundred feet from 99, closer than Angle Lake is. Discussions about redeveloping this area have been going for some time. Small blocks to encourage urban-level walkability are part of this. Updating this to encourage at least 200-foot buildings should be a priority for transit advocates. There really aren’t any powerful interests to discourage this except for very distant neighbors. It’s a matter of how bold Kent wants to be (and maybe Des Moines too).

      Federal Way station is about at the midpoint between the 99 and I5 center lines. Several multistory buildings are nearby. The area is identified as the “core” or new downtown for Federal Way. Small blocks to encourage urban-level walkability are part of this too. Again, promoting height limits to allow for buildings 200 feet or more should be an interest for transit advocates. I would also add that a way to get a pedestrian safely across 320th is needed.

      That leaves 272nd. I think that this is pretty much the a useless station except for probably the parking garage. It’s going to take a radical area transformation to be good for anything else. Ideas?

      As far as infill stations go, there is a horrible approach taken by ST that unless it’s funded that they won’t design for its potential (just like adding switches for future extensions). It’s penny wise and pound foolish as the adage states. That’s a much bigger systems issue that needs addressing. Every extension should have an infill station compatibility and branching switch compatibility element to the design. 130th St N is being addressed but only after the hard work of local officials but there remain several other huge challenges to adding infill stations and new line transfer platforms that aren’t getting attention.

      1. Build too many infill stations and a transit trip to Tacoma will take as long as driving to Bellingham.

      2. I agree. KDM and FW aren’t appreciably different than a 99 alignment would have resulted, and the FW station is well placed to serve buses, which is the primary source of riders for FW Link until TDLE is built … which might be a long way off.

        272nd is a bummer and is the perhaps the most Denver RTD-esque freeway light rail system we’ll build in ST2. But 16th Ave to the future station is <5 minute on a bike, so it's still very possible for those larger parcels to redevelop into TOD. As to improve it … perhaps a ped bridge at 268 (the station will be north of 272)? Have the state surplus that WSDOT property into TOD? No sure what's up with that large green parcel, it is mostly not developable from the creek?

        If anything, they should have just dropped the 272nd station to maximize express speeds and focus on the A serving the Pac Ave corridor, which is wide enough for BATs the full length. The A has 12 stops between FW and KDM, and given it is a long, skinny corridor, I think I'd rather have 12 RR stops than 2 or 3 Link stops.

        Unlike Highline or FW, I don't see an urban node emerging in-between around a Link station than can't be served just as well with a <10 minute rapid bus connection to Link. Unlike some other segments, I don't see a strong case for future infill stations. 216th would have been interesting, but not with the I5 alignment given the topography, so that's probably the real loss from choosing I5 over 99 …. but given the SeaTac flight paths and future 509 interchange, perhaps the existing distribution facilities are a better land use than new TOD?

      3. Oh – a ped path along I5 would also be good, to connect to 260th to the north and perhaps Military to the south. That’s all I can think of to improve station access.

      4. Federal Way Link station is about as far from a Seatac runway as Downtown Seattle is. I don’t see the flight path issue preventing 200-foot buildings near any of these except maybe KDM.

      5. Build too many infill stations and a transit trip to Tacoma will take as long as driving to Bellingham.

        Without infill stations, ridership will be too low. It will, at best, be like commuter rail, but with a much more expensive price tag. With infill stations, ridership decreases the farther out you go.

        So, I guess your point is that we either move Tacoma, or light rail to Tacoma simply doesn’t make sense, for all the reasons mentioned not too long ago: https://seattletransitblog.wpcomstaging.com/2020/07/14/maximizing-ridership-is-easy/.

      6. Back in 2010, some Korean investors proposed the construction of a 45-story, 500 ft tall skyscraper in the “Downtown” area. This proposal sounded ambitious at the time, since the economy was amidst the Great Recession. I wasn’t aware of any complaints from FAA regarding the proposal, since aircraft are still quite high on their approach to SEA.

        One of the big issues with Federal Way is the fact it has no real “downtown” unlike nearby Auburn and Kent. What’s considered downtown is either the SeaTac Mall Vicinity (Commons of Federal Way) or the suburbanish office park area off of 1st Way S and S 336th housing City Hall, Court, etc.

      7. The Commons area is where it wants to build a downtown.

        Federal Way would have been better off if it had completed its downtown upzone and planning in 2003 and was unequivovably inviting developers when the real-estate bubble money was sloshing around. The same for Lynnwood. Then more of that money might have gone to their downtowns rather than exurban single-family developments. They would also have had a stronger argument in ST2, which could have changed ST2 and 3’s project priorities and unanimity.

      8. Comment on flight path was wrt an infill station at 216th, which was in many of the early alignment options. Federal Way will be able to build Vancouver-esque towers, though I doubt they do unless CLT construction becomes much cheaper.

    4. In a sense, having the stations be located off of Highway 99 provides more of a “blank slate” for TOD and walkability redevelopment. Highway 99 itself has so much inertia as a car sewer with strip malls and auto businesses, it’s hard to imagine making it pedestrian friendly without a complete rebuild–probably unlikely with WSDOT managing it and with the local politics.

      1. If we want to move public transit away from areas that aren’t pedestrian friendly, then we should move the A Line off of Pac Hwy, also. Let’s run it next to I-5, like Link. How will all the people on Pac Hwy get to transit, then? I don’t know, but I know they will thank us for making them safer.

    5. Exactly. Tacoma commuters who were instrumental in the choice of the freeway ROW — along with the auto dealers — are responaible for bypassing several good opportunities for TOD.

      1. I think that many freeway alignment advocates probably think that the light rail trains will operate at higher speeds if they are next to freeways. With Link, they don’t — unless a non-freeway segment has grade crossings like on MLK.

        Within the opening month of these upcoming new Link extensions with long segments along freeways, the reality of the slower speed of the chosen technology will finally be revealed. This reality may be too late for Tacoma Dome Link decisions but not for Everett Link decisions.

        It’s what happens when starry-eyed elected officials (and their lobbied interests) who don’t fully comprehend the technology are asked to make alignment choices.

    6. It’s too late to change direction now for sure. But here’s what I would have done from Angle Lake on south if I had the power and money:

      At S. 200th street, bring Link into the median of 99 (just like at MLK). Have Rainier-Valley-like stations, but spaced more closely (roughly Swift spacing). Bring them close enough that 75%ish of A-line riders can just use Link. Then get rid of the A, extend the 124 to Angle Lake, and add local bus service to other places and overlap with Link on Pacific Highway, filling the gaps on Pacific Highway in a patchwork of local routes connecting to Link.

      Rather than going to I-5 to try its best at pretending to be a time competitive route to Seattle (which is what it will do), this would have it not pretend to be something its not, and just be a great, fast, and high-capacity service for medium-length trips. For longer trips (including Seattle), I would have a second level track (yep, two tracks on one track’s worth of land acquisition) be an express line with stations at FWTC, Kent-Des Moines station, and SeaTac Airport. From there, it would continue as a Duwamish Bypass running roughly along E. Marginal Way, with stations at 94th Pl S (Boeing, Museum of Flight), Michigan St (Georgetown), Spokane St (SODO), IDS, and then some elevated route through downtown. Since it’s straighter and has fewer stops, use a train and track design that allows for faster speeds, and provide a 30 minute ride from Federal Way to Seattle (rather than an hour on the actual line). Obviously out of the realm of possibility, but it’s fun to think about.

      1. You can’t have an elevated railway along East Marginal Way. There is a Boeing facility between the roadway and the Duwamish River to and from which aircraft move from time to time. I suppose you could go down to at-grade through that crossing, since the planes move pretty infrequently, but the elevated would have to cease there.

    7. It’s bad enough Link isn’t running on Pacific Hwy but the worst part is all the zigzagging back and forth to put stations on 99 and run the train down I-5. It’s worse than East Link, which itself is also ridiculous. I can’t believe someone can look at the Federal Way Link alignment and not laugh.

      1. It doesn’t zigzag that much. I-5 and 99 are close together at KDM. And when it’s running at grade-separated speed it can zigzag somewhat without losing much travel time.

      2. The KDM zig zag is only about 400-500 feet away from the I-5 right of way. It’s barely noticeable.

  2. Good video BUT: In view of his otherwise good leadership to date, I think STB owes Dow Constantine the chance to re-think (not quite as bad as “walk back”) a statement that with one twitter-hit could remove him for life for any leadership job connected with the industry.

    Whatever his beliefs and statements that would now merit lifetime Cancellation, it’s hard to imagine Henry Ford proudly declaring that from his point of view, his workers’ skills and income were secondary to their real job of only being customers.

    A transit leader who’d go out of his way to play down his system’s possibilities and responsibilities as an employer would also get himself quoted as opposing either Kent or Elliott Bay as manufacturing location for the PCC railcar-successor whose hiring potential could do to our present Depression what vaccine will do for COVIDIA herself.

    But main thing is that some of transit’s clearest and most pressing needs will definitely be met precisely by hiring more workers. Call it uniformed mask-explanation (army nurses, not cops) and it’ll at least pay for itself health-wise. And longer-term, is anybody in Operations going to tell me that some better-staffed instruction won’t save more in operating time than the new instructors’ wages will cost?

    And even more: For the new world through whose door our region is getting kicked like it or not, our fine Community Colleges, where education really should start in ninth grade, will put transit in the position of not only creating passenger service and employment, but becoming a creator of careers.

    So relax, Dow. When we’re done with the ceremony dedicating Federal Way Link to Mary Gates, we’ll name the first scholarship after you.

    Mark Dublin

  3. I think the infill station argument is interesting, so I’ll pull it out into a standalone thread. Zach made the original argument that since Link punted on being an express route between Seattle and Tacoma by using the Rainier Valley alignment, Link in SKC should focus on local travel and therefore follow the 99 alignment with maximum infill stations.

    However, I would argue that when
    1) Link closely follows a corridor already well served by a parallel rapid bus route
    2) Said corridor is linear and is not a major regional destination
    I think Link should have the minimum stop spacing needed to serve the perpendicular bus grid. This might result in 0.5 mile stop spacing, but for FW Link the local routes are likely to skew towards Highline College and Federal Way as the relevant regional destination, whereas 130th station will facilitate a stronger east-west grid i n Seattle.

    1. ST is pursuing two contradictory goals. One, maximize ridership in southeast Seattle and south King County and encourage people to live a transit-oriented lifestyle, in areas that are lower-income and more diverse than average. Two, serve Tacoma-Seattle trips adequately. That requires two levels of service. ST tried to do it with one intermediate service, and so it’s mediocre for both goals. Link to Everett will be an hour, the midrange of ST Express and Sounder. Link is already 40 minutes to Angle Lake, will be almost an hour in Federal Way, and will be around 75 minutes at Tacoma Dome. When people plan trips, they want the travel time to be closer to half an hour, not an hour. And you can drive to Tacoma and Everett in half an hour when there’s no traffic. So all ST modes are slower than driving, and Link to Federal Way and Tacoma is especially bad. ST counters with Sounder, but Sounder runs only at limited times and is infrequent.

      It would have been better to have a shorter Link with more stations, and an all-day faster alternative to Tacoma. That could have been Sounder or something on I-5.

      1. Use one mode to serve Tacoma and Seattle, and another mode in-between … that’s basically the point I’m making, but on a smaller scale. Link serves SeaTac, Highline College, and Federal Way, the 3 relevant destinations along I5, with 2 P&R “on the way” stations thrown in. The local mode is the A line.

        Zooming back out, Amtrak/Sounder is your express and Link is the local (Rainier Valley service, etc.). When it runs, Sounder is much faster than driving. The rest of the day, I suppose you can run an STX route between Tacoma and Seattle to serve the express market.

        Finally, anyone in Tacoma trying to get to Seattle today is already budgeting >75 minutes to get to Seattle, so the market exists at that time frame.

  4. “It is expected to cost $3.1 billion, with almost half of costs covered by federal grants and loans.”

    That’s a rather misleading statement.

    The following is taken directly from the FTA’s project rating assignment from Nov 2018:

    “Significant Changes Since Last Evaluation (November 2017): Total project cost increased
    significantly, from $2,165.47 million to $3,160.70 million, while the requested CIG New Starts
    amount increased from $500.00 million to $790.00 million. The significant cost increase is the
    result of a re-evaluation of assumed unit costs for materials and labor based on recent
    experience with other current Sound Transit’s capital construction projects, and of a subsequent risk assessment effort to further identify project cost risks. The current figures reflect the impact of these two efforts.”

    Here’s the breakdown of the funding mix:

    “Source of Funds, Total Funds ($million), Percent of Total

    •Section 5309 CIG Share, $790, 25%
    •FHWA Flexible Funds (Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Program), $13, .4%
    •Section 5307 Urbanized Area Formula Program, $5, .2%

    •Sound Transit Dedicated Sales, Rental Car, Motor Vehicle Excise and Property Tax Revenues, $1,577.72, 49.9%
    •Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) Loan, $629.47, 19.9%
    •Sound Transit Bond Proceeds, $145.52, 4.6%

    “Total: $3,160.70 (100.0%)”

    Thus, the funding mix is actually 74.4% local and 25.6% federal dollars. In other words, a federal loan through the TIFIA program is still a local funding obligation as it will be repaid from the same pot of tax revenues.

  5. Nice video. I sure wish this was producing the kind of system that everyone in the video thinks it will. Unfortunately, that just isn’t the case. This is a 3 billion dollar project(!) for 3 stations. To put things in perspective, Seattle is debating whether to keep their 60 million dollar transit levy. That is per year, but it is also for the entire city of Seattle. It should be obvious that Seattle has way more bus routes than this part of Puget Sound. The point being that if South King County had decided to just improve bus service, they would have had a much better value than these three stations.

    While going along SR 99 would have enabled a few more stations, it isn’t clear if that would increase ridership appreciably. At best it would have been a shinier turd. Ridership per dollar spent will be very low, no matter what they do. It will be low for every reason mentioned in this post: https://seattletransitblog.wpcomstaging.com/2020/07/14/maximizing-ridership-is-easy/. Just to copy some of the bullet items from that outstanding post:

    * Focus on close-in, urban areas, particularly over low-density areas but also far-flung TOD;
    * De-emphasize parking;
    * Don’t build highways through downtown;
    * Don’t obsess over airport service; and
    * Go through the dense area, not on the cheaper right-of-way that’s sort of near it.

    This fails almost every one. Mike left some other points from the report, so I’ll add one:

    * Don’t build stations close to the freeway.

    To be fair, this will get a few riders. People will take the train to Highline College (colleges always do OK). Commuters will take the train into Seattle. But you can’t expect much in the way of all-day ridership, because except for the college and SeaTac, there is nothing much along that line until you get all the way to Rainier Valley — too far for a spontaneous trip.

    The one good thing about this is that finally the south end of the main line will have a good terminus. There will finally be a way for an express bus to get to the station (while staying in the HOV lane the whole time). Spending 3 billion (and more, if you count Angle Lake) for that is way too much, since you could have had an express busway right into SeaTac for a lot less. But then riders wouldn’t be able to catch the train from Angle Lake to 272nd, or Federal Way to Tukwila. Those riders — both of them — would have been heartbroken.

    This is a political failure that is common in the U. S., and it comes from politicians either not understanding transit, or not caring whether the projects have value, and only focusing on whether they ostensibly serve their district.

    1. +10 for making several excellent comments (“shinier turd” alone got you a couple of points).

      “Those riders — both of them — would have been heartbroken.”
      Lol. I see what you did there. Well said.

      I have to wonder, if back in the corridor studies planning days (pre-2008) a HCT option with a price tag of some $3B plus had been presented to the ST management and the board, whether ST would have moved forward with this option. Probably so, since this agency has never shown any indication of wanting to put the whole spine concept back on the table.

      Your comments at the end really resonated with me and reminded me of a piece I read on vice.com a few months ago. (In case you haven’t come across it previously, I’ve provided a link to the article below.) I thought it was an excellent summary of the present state of affairs with transit projects here in the US, with Seattle getting a couple of “honorable mentions” to boot. It’s a solid read imo. One quote from the piece that hits home was simply stated as follows: “Transit is politics.”


    2. They’re thinking in terms of people driving to the Federal Way or Star Lake P&R, or secondarily taking a bus to them. In other words, they can’t think beyond current trip patterns, or the potential all-day transit market along 99, especially if more TOD went along with more stations. They’re thinking, people who want to live along an urban corridor should live in Roosevelt or Rainier Valley or the Spring District, and people in the south King County bedroom communities don’t want that, they want P&Rs and they’ll only take Link when they’re going to downtown or the airport or Bellevue.

      The problem is, not everybody can fit in Roosevelt or Rainier Valley or the Spring District, and they can’t afford to live there. South King County has 850K people, and many of them want to have a more convenient environment, or they wouldn’t object to it, and they deserves better transit circulation.

      Christopher Leinberger studied this, although he reported a nationwide average in the early 2000s. Still, he found that a third Americans want to live in walkable urbanism, a third want to live in driveable sub-urbanism, and a third would be equally satisifed either way. But the built environment has only 20% of the units in walkable urbanism, and 80% in driveable sub-urbanism. So 13% are living in less density and walkability than they want and there aren’t enough units for them, and a full 66% would be satisfied living in walkable urbanism if that were the priority, as in Vancouver and Surrey BC. Some of the people who are living in less walkability that they want are probably in Des Moines.

      1. and people in the south King County bedroom communities don’t want that, they want P&Rs and they’ll only take Link when they’re going to downtown or the airport or Bellevue.

        The problem is, not everybody can fit in Roosevelt or Rainier Valley or the Spring District, and they can’t afford to live there.

        That is only part of the problem. The problem is that distant, low density locations (like Federal Way) can’t be served well with rail. At all. It doesn’t really matter what you do. No matter what, you will only get about as many riders as a commuter rail line. South Sounder is a decent value because you are leveraging the existing rail. This won’t get significantly more riders per stop (it may even get less) despite spending a fortune. Rather than spend 3 billion on those riders, they should instead spend money on express buses, as well as good bus service for the region. Some riders might prefer rail, but other riders (likely a lot more) would appreciate decent service in the middle of the day.

        Again, either the folks in charge don’t understand this fundamental concept, or they don’t care.

      2. The problem is, not everybody can fit in Roosevelt or Rainier Valley or the Spring District, and they can’t afford to live there.

        +100. Unless and until Seattle breaks the zoning block, and even then only after thirty years of redevelopment, will there be enough capacity in Seattle proper to provide housing for all the jobs there.

  6. Curious fact:

    – Federal Way Link has 3 stations with 3 parking garages and 2000 spaces (a few replace existing surface parking).

    – Kent and Auburn Sounder (three) proposed garages add 1035 spaces just two miles away or under 10 minutes by car.

    By chance, is any of this redundant or over-projected? How many of the future parking users live outside of the ST taxing district? How will ST limit parking to only actual riders?

    1. All the parking projects are a bad idea. Building large park and ride lots is a recipe for failure. Park and ride lots should be small, and neighborhood based. Buses should connect from those lots to either the destination (e. g. downtown Seattle) or the train.

      1. Ross, I support the Park and Rides. It enables those of us in suburbia to avoid adding to freeway congestion by making high-capacity/high-speed transit available and convenient. Living in urbania is unaffordable and undesirable to me.

        Multi-tripping is not an option for me. 1.5 mile walk, 1 hour trip on a local bus to reach the Sounder Station and another 40 minutes into the city. No thanks. Lack of parking at the transit hub results in me driving into the city.

      2. That’s with the current suburban layout and infrastructure and political attitudes. But how could it be different? As a thought experiment, Ir you could remake the suburbs any way you want, and had 100% authority and unlimited funds, what would you do? Can you imagine an alternative with less P&Rs and driving to Sounder without hardships like “walk 1.5 miles and take an hour-long bus trip to Sounder”?

        I would make the suburbs into traditional walkable towns along transit corridors. Too often in recent years governments and developers have ignored walkability, ignored putting housing in places that are “on the way” of a natural transit corridor, and inserted gratuitous space to push things apart. That’s what makes it hard to get to Sounder and hard for local buses to serve everyone.

        You may think that housing should stay right where it is and have the same size and shape — that’s the best of all possible worlds. In that case, if we assume the ideal suburb would have houses exactly where the current suburbs have them and exactly the same size and shape, is there anything else that could be done to make you feel that driving to a Sounder P&R wasn’t as necessary?

        You mentioned an hour-long ride on a local bus. Would an express feeder make it better? Where do you think those express feeder routes should be? Would an express bus still be bogged down in congestion and traffic lights? If so, do we need bus-priority street improvements? If so, where?

  7. There’s no reason Link’s MLK trackway can’t be elevated and undercut ’til there’ll be nothing and nobody crossing the track in front of a train from SODO station south.

    Also can’t believethat a straight-shot south to Sea-Tac wasn’t in somebody’s plans from the beginning, likelihood strengthened by King County Airport also being called “International.” Will definitely make inter-airline transfers a lot easier.

    Commercial development on SR99 from Angle Lake South, and the transit to serve it well, is one of those “Wills & Ways” things. Unless soils and water are seriously poisoned- was it SR 99 or East Marginal past Boeing that was called “The Superfund Alignment” when Link’s first routing decision was being made?- those miles of storefronts can be as prosperous in the future as the their condition is the opposite now.

    For SR 99 arterial transit, whether on tires or tracks or both, technical advances will only make that service faster both to run and to build. “What goes” in what lane, political not mechanical. Main difference from now will be that after the last hundred years, the novelty of private cars will have given way to aggravation with how much their own sheer numbers slow them down. We’re not out of either oil or air. We’re out of room.

    Driverless cars, most likely chief hitch will be the insurance industry. Skytrain proves non-human guidance works just fine with the right-of-way of a horizontal express elevator. Fine with me to just leave it like that.

    But I think main opponents won’t be either safety-extremists or drivers’ unions. Especially on SR 99, they’ll be motel owners. Since full set of curtains will doubtless become legal, your ride in both senses will cost you neither fares nor room-rent.

    Mark Dublin

  8. “redundant or over-projected” – no. Demand for commuter parking is effectively limitless. There are 5,000 people who work in Columbia tower alone. Even with aggressive carpooling, 3,000 spaces serves only a handful of office towers.

    If there was a magical way to build structured parking for cheap, it would be the best way to serve the suburbs.

    ST is rolling out paid parking, which is limited to verified transit uses. I’m not aware of plans to limit to only those within the taxing district. Parking will be priced to ensure all of these garages get full by 9am.

    1. Careful, AJ. No chance that by the time my evil girlfriend COVIDIA is done with us, both employers and employees will have gotten so comfortable with working at home, that’s also where their only parking place will need to be?

      Mark Dublin

    2. Demand for commuter parking is effectively limitless.

      No, demand for free commuter parking is effectively limitless. It would be very easy to assure that there was always an open space at any P&R just by using market pricing. Any real conservative would back this. Real progressives would back it too. The reality is both sides don’t want paid parking. The phonies on the right only want pay as you go when they don’t have to pay. Phonies on the left build “free” expensive parking so they can get enough votes to pass turd projects like this one.

      1. That’s what I said. Price will be set to ensure the lots get filled. Given Link will be time competitive at the relevant time of day and far more comfortable than driving, I’d guess passes settle in the $50/month range, while a garage like Northgate or S Bellevue could be >$200/month in the near future. Parking at Mercer Island will be … well, if you have to ask, you can’t afford it.

    3. If there was a magical way to build structured parking for cheap, it would be the best way to serve the suburbs.

      If pigs could fly, then all the commuters would just ride those to work.

      But even if you could build big parking lots cheaply, they are a bad idea. Huge park and ride lots have many issues, not the least of which is the extremely high cost:

      1) They don’t scale. As they get bigger, they get worse. Anyone who has ever parked at SeaTac knows this. You drive around and around until you finally find a level that has some parking. You drive to the far end, looking for a spot. You’ve spent plenty of time looking for a spot, and you are still a ten minute walk to actual airport. Giant commuter base lots have another problem: traffic. So not only are you making your way up this giant behemoth of a parking garage, but you are doing so with everyone else. Oh, and don’t forget, the lot is right next to the freeway, where everyone else is going. Remember, all of this is built so that you can save time, and yet when all is said and done, you’ve spent a lot of it in the garage or getting to it.

      2) Alternatives do scale. If lots of people are riding the bus, then the buses run more often. Not only are they more cost effective, but they actually get better (not worse).

      3) The parking lot is only a means to an end. It only helps you if you are trying to catch the train. In contrast, the bus provides service along the line. Someone might ride the bus and never get on the train.

      4) It is still fundamentally expensive. Not only must the agency pay for the parking garage, and the upkeep as well as security, but individual users must pay for the cars themselves. They save money by avoiding the big drive, but not that much. They still have to pay for insurance, maintenance, tabs, and the car itself. In contrast, if a user takes transit all the way (from start to end) they could save a bundle.

      5) It encourages car ownership, which in turn discourages transit use. If you own a car because you need it to get to the parking garage, then you are going to use it for most of your trips.

      6) They take up a huge amount of room (right next to a station) that could be used for apartments, offices or other more efficient uses.

      I’m not against small, neighborhood parking ride lots. They have their place. They can encourage more frequent transit use, by solving the “last mile” problem. But huge parking ride lots next to (very widely spaced) stations attract riders from areas that are better served with bus service. It is elite projection (https://humantransit.org/2017/07/the-dangers-of-elite-projection.html). Sure, it is handy for those that own a car, and find driving to a giant lot preferable. But for society as a whole, it is a giant failure.

      1. All good points, thanks.

        Though if we all had flying pigs, we’d either need parking for them (a stinky proposition) or automous pigs that just circle and circle.

  9. What’s the story on the mostly vacant wooded parcel between 99 and I-5 north of 272nd? Is it developable as TOD or is it set aside as undevelopable? I see it’s protected for some reason and zoned SR-1 by Kent.

    1. If you mean the 26+ acre parcel (ending in 9017), that appears to be owned by the city and is listed as buildable but contains a wetland. I’m assuming there’s a ravine hidden in that wooded lot supporting a water table in the area.

      1. That’s my best guess too. I’ve never seen it rendered as TOD, so I’ve assumed it’s most not able to be developed

      2. Yeah, it is essentially the headwaters of McSorley Creek. I’m not sure, but I believe the dotted lines on the map represent a pond with an indefinite boundary: https://caltopo.com/map.html#ll=47.36403,-122.30839&z=15&b=t. My guess is there are culverts under 260th and Pacific Highway South. You can see the greenbelt extending from the pond/swamp to creek (https://goo.gl/maps/XAiYmjdJTKm92CSY7).

        Apparently salmon like to swim up that relatively short creek. From this document (https://your.kingcounty.gov/dnrp/library/water-and-land/habitat-restoration/saltwater-state-park/Draft_Feasibility_Report.pdf):

        King County GIS mapping shows that the headwaters of McSorley Creek originate near South 272ndStreet and State Route 509 (Pacific Highway South) in Federal Way. From the headwaters, the stream flows through a forested wetland complex and then in an open channel through a forested ravine approximately 2.25 stream miles to its mouth, in the park.

        So basically ST decided to put a station in between the freeway and a wetland. Good thinking.

      3. Lol, Ross. It really points to the absurdity of the site!

        Add to that that the station is on a dead end street that you can’t walk or drive to from the north, northwest or northeast. Notably, just crossing the ravine with a pedestrian connection to 99 or 260th would have put hundreds of apartments within walking distance of the station. As it is, we are instead building a 1100 space garage there (probably costing more money) so those nearby people that could have easily walked to Link now will have to drive instead.

      4. And two stations on a golf course. I guess one station is for holes 1-9 and the other station is for holes 10-20.

      5. “So basically ST decided to put a station in between the freeway and a wetland. Good thinking.”

        Yup (sigh). I think ST is like a moth to a flame when it comes to an existing P&R facility (in this case Star Lake P&R) whether it makes any sense or not for the particular alignment at stake. Walksheds, bus integration, future development potential, etc. all seem to get a lower level of consideration.

        Btw, a dashed brown line on a USGS-based topographical map is used to designate an approximate or indefinate elevation on an index or intermediate contour line.
        Some topo mapmakers, when the terrain is essentially flat, will also include supplementary contour lines, which show up as dashed lines indicating an elevation that is half of the elevation between the contour lines surrounding it. This application is typically found on topo maps in areas where there is little change in elevation. In this particular drainage basin in question, the dashed lines represent the lower, indefinite elevation of the (forested) wetland that feeds into the south fork of McSorley Creek, as you’ve indicated in your comment above.

      6. Where else do you put in an infill station? I argued above that perhaps ST should have had zero stations between KDM and FW, but if there is going to be one infill station, this is as good as any other. 260th has the same wetlands issues. 216th is going to be freeway mega-interchange. 288th might be interesting but then you are really counting on FW upzoning SF land.

        I don’t blame ST for using land already owned – both Star Lake and Redondo Height P&Rs are providing land for the station footprint, Redondo via a land swap with the school district – rather than carving a station area out of a single family zone. This is quite different than in Shoreline or Montlake Terrace, where the city is leveraging the ST station to create an urban village where there is none. In the absence of Federal Way supporting a “FW North” urban village, ST choose the right station location for a I5 alignment.

        Rip ST for an expensive project and then rip ST for a logical cost savings move. It sure is hard to please internet commentators.

  10. It seems crazy to build this direction if the ultimate goal is to “serve” Tacoma. It’s like starting in Everett and building to Lynnwood with the goal of eventually reaching Seattle. What’s interesting is Link north of Seattle should draw much higher ridership than the segment south of Seattle whereas the reverse is true for Sounder.

    Any estimates on what Link travel time to DT Seattle will be vs Sounder?

    1. We did start building at both ends, but Tacoma’s ended up a streetcar while seattle’s light rail has matured into “metro rail.” If T-Link was more like C-Link, we’d likely see exactly what you are saying, with Tacoma Link working it’s way north and meeting C Link somewhere near the airport.

      1. That’s what would make sense. But the big problem is Tacoma officials have consistently taken the attitude that commuting to Seattle (code word for airport access) was what was most important. Rail to Tacoma makes sense when people want to go to Tacoma. Officials have killed blue collar projects that would have restored some of what the City has lost and without saying as much promote it’s Destiny as a suburb of Seattle.

    2. It seems crazy to build this direction if the ultimate goal is to “serve” Tacoma.

      Direction has nothing to do with it. It is crazy to build a light rail line from Seattle to the Tacoma Dome, if the goal is to serve Tacoma. Most of its transit trips come from east, on a bus line that will soon be upgraded to BRT, but with a detour to the Tacoma Dome. There are riders to Seattle, but as Mike pointed out, Link will be slower than Sounder during rush hour, and slower than the buses the rest of the time. No matter what, there aren’t enough riders from Tacoma (or most south sound places) to justify the very high cost of light rail.

      Of course Link does more than enable trips from Tacoma to Seattle. There are trips to all those other places (like 272nd!). The problem is, Tacoma isn’t that large and neither are the places along the way. Oh, and this doesn’t even go to downtown Tacoma.

      Tacoma should have better bus service. That should be the first priority.

      Second, they could improve some of the connections to downtown. It is funny that folks think Tacoma needs a line from the Tacoma Dome to Federal Way so that riders will take a three seat ride to downtown Tacoma, and yet Tacoma never bothered to build HOV ramps into town.

      As far as Link goes, the southern terminus should have access to the HOV lanes of I-5. That’s it. There are no stops south of SeaTac that will gain enough riders to justify the cost. Not even close. It is sad that Sound Transit is spending a fortune building light rail to the Tacoma Dome, and in the end, most of Pierce County will still have lousy transit, because very few people ride the train, and there is inadequate investment in the buses. It is like sending your husband out to get a minivan for the family and he comes home with a sporty coupe. Yeah, it looks cool, but its not at all practical.

      As I wrote elsewhere, this section will help Tacoma, and likely as much as any further extension. That is because — hurray! — it will have a terminus with an HOV connection to the freeway. That means that riders from downtown Tacoma can get to SeaTac faster than they can now, and about as fast as they would if they transferred at the Tacoma Dome. Spending 3 billion for a decent terminus is way too much, but at least they will get that out of it.

      1. Ross, I hear Tim is looking for a campaign chairman. Maybe you’d like to apply? It would give you a bigger platform from which to slag SoundTransit.

  11. What Link will finally give Tacoma is a straight-line train-ride to Seattle that is not only completely free of freeway traffic, but also no longer subject to half-day delays because somebody walked too close to the train two trains ahead of it as is the permanent case with Sounder.

    Also, since the most casual reading of American history leading up to Fort Sumter will clearly illustrate right now, I’m not sure I’d want my service answering to train control in hands that our next document of Secession will put in Texas, if this has not actually happened while all eyes are on events in Portland.

    Would also be kind of good, just to be safe, if Link could start acquiring walk-through trains with a bathroom every couple of sections. Alternatively, though, a few more bathrooms at Sea-Tac station would basically work for trains like the two they’ve had working all these years for 574/Link transfers.

    For passengers at both ends and in between, you’re finally getting a freeway-free ride. Try it out and if it still doesn’t work, we shouldn’t even have to go to China, though their rail-building is awesome, to electrify the Cascadians straight to Sacramento. Though with the help of some Irishmen, last railroad they built us worked.

    Mark Dublin

  12. Are there any commenters here that believe that it’s vital that Ballard Link serve 20th, but doesn’t think it matters that Fed Way Link doesn’t serve Pac Hwy?

    1. I’ll bite. I wouldn’t go as far as saying the poor station placement doesn’t matter at all, but I will say it doesn’t matter as much. Ballard Link is urban transit. Or it least it can be. It has the potential to have very high ridership for all the reasons mentioned in the report summarized nicely on this blog: https://seattletransitblog.wpcomstaging.com/2020/07/14/maximizing-ridership-is-easy/.

      In contrast, Federal Way Link will not have that kind of ridership, for those same reasons. It is essentially commuter rail, but with subway costs. With commuter rail, it doesn’t matter as much where you put the station. Of course you want it to have all the same characteristics as urban rail, but even if you somehow magically replicated central Ballard (roughly 20th Ave NW) you still wouldn’t get the type of trips that a central Ballard station would. In the middle of the day, someone will decide, just for fun, to ride from Ballard to Lower Queen Anne, or vice-versa. That won’t happen in Federal Way. It is just too far, and again, it is highly unlikely that any of these stops will be similar destinations.

      Furthermore, Pacific Highway is a corridor. It is a corridor that parallels Link. That means that as long as *some* of the stations serve it, you are OK. Highline College Station will serve it. In fact it will serve SR 99 better than the college. That means someone coming from the south simply stays on the bus a little bit longer before they transfer to the train.

      To be clear, the 272nd is terrible, and the Federal Way Station is weaker than it should be — in both cases because it is too close to the freeway. The 272nd is between a wetland and the freeway — about as bad as you can get. Federal Way Station isn’t as bad. Some of the walkshare is eaten up by the freeway, but not that much. Furthermore, Federal Way Station is closer to the HOV lanes of the freeway this way. If they moved the station to the west, they would either have to give up on easily serving the crossing corridor of 320th (which has existing bus service) or delay the majority of riders (those coming from buses to the south, via I-5).

      So, yeah, I certainly would have moved 272nd to the west, and I might have moved the Federal Way Station. But I don’t think it as bad a problem as having the Ballard Station at 14th. At most, we are talking hundreds of potential riders lost with these stations. In Ballard, we are talking thousands.

      1. Thank you for the thoughtful response. I’m ok with a 14th or 15th station, because, in the long term, I believe the station will change the area, even the sf home neighborhoods east of 14th. Mainly, what I was suggesting, was Pac Hwy is similar to 20th, in that it’s where many of the apts, businesses, density, jobs are. So I would hope people who think it’s a big mistake to not put a station on 20th, also think it’s just as big of a mistake to not put Link on Pac Hwy.

  13. OK, so one of the more interesting things about this project are the very optimistic ridership estimates. According to the project webpage (https://www.soundtransit.org/system-expansion/federal-way-link-extension), they expect 29,000-34,000 daily riders by 2026. Unlike some of the other estimates, 2026 is not very far off. This is not based on some futuristic remaking of the Puget Sound along the corridor. This is based on current riders switching to Link, as well as new riders getting on board (literally and figuratively).

    I’ve looked at current ridership, and I just don’t see it. There are a number of express buses run by both Metro and Sound Transit. Here are the Metro routes, followed by their daily ridership:

    158 — 600
    159 — 400
    177 — 500
    178 — 400
    179 — 800
    190 — 400
    192 — 100
    193 — 500
    197 — 500

    That total ridership (both directions), which adds up 4,200 rides. All of these are express in nature (which means very few people are going between destinations in the south end). So that means half the boardings are in the south end (in the morning) and half in downtown Seattle (in the evening). That works out to 2,100 boardings for these stations.

    Sound Transit is a little bit trickier. Some of the express routes provide service between communities (e. g. Puyallup to Auburn). Fortunately, ST has stop data, so it isn’t hard to estimate boardings to Seattle. I also assume that every bus south of Federal Way is truncated there. As you can see, this represents a significant portion of the ridership:

    577 — 2,000
    578 — 2,000 (*) 600 expected boardings
    574 — 2,200 (*) 800 expected boardings
    586 — 200
    590 — 2,700
    592 — 800
    594 — 2,100
    595 — 300

    Those marked with an asterisk have people getting off in Federal Way or sooner. The estimates are for those that either stay on the bus (to SeaTac or Seattle) or get on the bus there. That works out to 12,300 trips or 5,400 boardings.

    If you consider “riders” to mean trips (any direction) that works out to about 16,000. If you count boardings, that is 7,500.

    That is a lot less than the estimate. We should expect an increase, but I doubt it will be huge. It is still a very long trip, and in many cases, it will take longer. In some cases, there is better frequency, but for many, that occurs with a transfer and a slower trip. For example, the 594 runs every half hour. A future bus will likely run more often, but even if it does, the rider will have an additional transfer and a slower trip to downtown. Long distance trips tend to be less dependent on frequency than shorter trips. Going from Roosevelt to Capitol Hill (even if it requires a transfer) is not a big deal. Going from Tacoma to downtown is.

    Speaking of which, there aren’t any significant destinations added. Angle Lake and Tukwila are tiny destinations. Rainier Valley is higher, but still nothing compared to Capitol Hill, let alone the UW. Furthermore, for these riders, it is still a long trip. Federal Way to Columbia City Station is a half hour. That doesn’t count the time getting to the station, or getting to the heart of Columbia City (on Rainier Avenue). There will be riders who take these trips, but they likely number in the hundreds, not thousands.

    I just think the estimates are way off (and this has nothing to do with the pandemic, or its aftermath).

    1. I think you have a valid point. I’ll add that 2,000 parking spaces mean about 4,000 to 5,000 average daily riders (two ways; some carpooling; some parking space turnover). That leaves at least 24,000 more riders to come from elsewhere else. As Ross estimates, 12,300 come from ST Express and other places, leaving at least 11,700 riders that must come from somewhere else.

      I will note that since Sounder South has 18,000 daily riders and it’s primarily a one-direction at each peak period service. To me, the only way that FW Link can attain 30-40 percent of its target 2026 ridership is to cannibalize riders from Sounder. This is one reason why I feel that the SKC projects need to be discussing how they relate to each other. Instead, we have Link planning assuming what appears to rely on taking riders away from Sounder, and Sounder planning assuming that Link won’t reduce ridership at all. It appears to me to be a big logic problem when it comes to justifying the various SKC projects happening almost simultaneously.

      1. The ridership models are holistic, so they take into account riders shifting from one mode to another as project open. The long term ridership models are very clear that not only is Sounder needed to prevent Link (south of ID) becoming overloaded at peak, but we are spending $1B to expand Sounder peak capacity to keep up with future demand. The Sounder capacity improvement project came out of the systemwide planning pre-ST3, not out of a Sounder-only workstream.

        If anything, the modes are complimentary and should drive higher ridership than either would alone. Sounder provides express commuter service, and Link+local bus provides high frequency and long span of service. It’s easy to imagine trips where a rider takes one mode inbound and another mode outbound, particularly if they don’t work 9-5 or if it is a non-work trip.

      2. Sounder is important for Kent, Auburn, and Puyallup. The majority of Kent and Auburn’s population live east of Sounder, while Link is west of Sounder. The majority of Renton’s population lives east of downtown Renton, and while Tukwila Station is further west than that, there are no long-term plans for anything better serving Renton so Sounder will have to be it.

        Sounder and Link are comparable from Tacoma Dome, but Sounder is dramatically faster from Auburn, Kent, and Tukwila. (I assume from Puyallup and Sumner too although I haven’t calculated it.) Sounder’s travel time is Seattle-Tukwila 20 minutes, Seattle-Kent 27 minutes, Seattle-Auburn 34 minutes. On Link coming from Intl Dist, 20 minutes would get you to Rainier Beach, 27 minutes would get you to TIB, and 34 minutes would get you to Angle Lake. It would take twice as long to complete the desired trip Renton, Kent, or Auburn.

    2. “there aren’t any significant destinations added” – Northgate and East Link. With both those extensions, we should first see higher ridership on the express bus routes and then on FW Link. Even Stride will open up some new trips through a transfer at TIBS.

      The projections probably assume a flurry of TOD around KDM and FW to go along with the station openings, but that may not be there in 2026 if this recession drags on. It would be interesting to see a bus/car/walk breakdown of the station boardings.

      Also, I think your point about frequency is true but not linear. Yes, if a Link comes every 6 minutes rather than 15 minutes, it may not matter for a 50 minute train ride. But if feeder bus service goes from 30 minutes to 15 minutes, I can see that driving ridership, particularly if buses align time departures from KDM and FW so that the transfer penalty Link>Bus is minimal. Psychologically, 15 minutes seems to be the threshold frequency to support good ridership.

      Also, Metro will be able to invest in some perpendicular feeder service ( 1515, 1085 for example) that likely wouldn’t exist without Link, both by providing new stations as transfer anchors and freeing up KCM resources away from downtown express routes. So that doesn’t create new destinations, but may create new sources for trips.

      1. “there aren’t any significant destinations added” – Northgate and East Link. With both those extensions, we should first see higher ridership on the express bus routes and then on FW Link. Even Stride will open up some new trips through a transfer at TIBS.

        I don’t quite understand what you wrote. My point is fairly simple:

        Northgate Link has significant destinations between it and downtown Seattle. Someone in Northgate will be able to get to the UW much faster. They will get to Capitol Hill much faster. These are major destinations. Even Roosevelt is fairly big, and the time savings for that trip will be big as well.

        In contrast, this doesn’t add much. Buses already serve downtown Seattle and SeaTac. The former is served fairly well, while the latter is a bit infrequent and/or slow. But other stops along Link are unlikely to be very popular. Angle Lake and Tukwila are minimal destinations. Rainier Valley stops are minor, and a long way away. Unlike Northgate Link, riders at these southern stations gain very little by the stations between it and downtown Seattle.

        With East Link, the far ends of the system gain quite a bit from these stations. Someone in downtown Redmond will have a fast ride to the Microsoft campus as well as downtown Bellevue. The latter is a huge destination, on par with the UW, and second only to downtown Seattle. There is nothing like that between Federal Way and downtown Seattle, and the only thing that is even remotely close (SeaTac) is already served by an infrequent express and a frequent RapidRide. There is just nothing in between that will generate huge ridership. This, in a nutshell, is why similar systems fail to gain enough ridership to justify the cost.

        OK, now I’m speculating. We know they fail. The data is clear. If you run a line this far out, to places like this, they will fail to get big ridership. That is what that report was about, and as Mike put it, “There’s nothing here that someone who’s spent a week in our comment threads doesn’t know”. But what isn’t discussed enough is why. This is why. If you don’t add value with stations in between the primary destination, you gain little to nothing versus the express.

        Federal Way is not unique. It is not special. It is like every other suburb this far away from the core of the city. There is very little between it and the core. Blame American development if you want. Blame the automobile. The point is, if you ride the train from Federal Way to downtown Seattle, very few of those riders will get off before downtown. But if you ride the train from Northgate to downtown, or Redmond to downtown, lots of those riders will get off before you get to downtown Seattle.

      2. I was just trying to walk from the current ridership numbers you summed up and the project’s projection. Bus ridership today (pre-COVID) doesn’t yet reflect the growth from Northgate Link and East Link driving network effects through the rest of the system, including SE King. That, plus robust TOD, fills in the missing 12K your identified in the 2026 projection.

        In other words, if you don’t build FW Link, but still get the new TOD and good bus service, you should get a chunk of that new 12K riders. You’d presumably argue 95% of of those 12K new boardings would appear in 2026 with or without FW Link, as you consider the quality difference between good bus service & FW Link to be minimal.

        Your point on destinations is mostly addressing the reverse, which is about FW Link driving new boardings elsewhere in the system. I agree this will be small. Highline should draw some ridership from the north it would not have previously, but it will be a fraction of Lynnwood Link, and of course nothing like the 2-way market of U-Link and East Link.

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