Colorized and restored film of Wuppertal’s suspended railway/monorail

92 Replies to “Weekend open thread: the flying train”

  1. Gadgetbahns! Cue all the comments about cable cars, monorails, and….blah blah blah. We don’t need serious investments in serious transportation solutions, we just need a gadget!

    Speaking of serious transportation solutions, anyone know how NG Link testing is going? I haven’t seen much activity of late.

    1. Sorry. Late comment. I don’t read the blog every day. I saw a 3 or 4 car train sitting at Northgate Station at around 8 in the morning on Saturday. I was driving home from work and could not see any other details.

      1. @Jimmy J,

        Thanks for the observation. That is good to hear.

        When they first started testing I happened to be going by on 1st NE right when a NB train exited the tunnel. There was some obvious arching at one spot on the OCS. Such things are to be expected and aren’t a big deal of corrected, but if it was a systemic problem that would be a different matter.

        Hopefully all is going well.

  2. I think every time someone sees a passenger train, they should examine the maximum speed on the line before touting its usefulness.

    The Wuppertal suspended line in the post video has a maximum speed of 37 mph and an average operating speed of 17 mph. That makes it unsuitable for longer distances. It requires special vehicles and track systems. There’s a reason why the technology isn’t used elsewhere and trams, light rail or heavy rail is used more widely in Germany and the rest of Europe.

    1. The suspended trains look really steampunk. When can I book a flight on a New York-Amsterdam zeppelin? When I rode the Schwebebahn in 1998 it didn’t look that beautiful. It transfers to the S-Bahn to Düsseldorf and Cologne. It is slow, yes. And you wouldn’t see an elevated train over a river being approved now; it mars the nature atmosphere. Maybe Wuppertal would have one anyway because I’ve heard the valley is so narrow there’s no other place for a train. I struggle to see any practical passenger benefit to having the train below the track rather than above; that’s probably why Schwebebahnen never caught on. It’s a one-off like the Morgantown WV PRT.

      1. “It is slow yes”

        Actually, slow yes, but still faster than a Metro bus. Buses in the Puget Sound area average about 14 mph. Faster in the suburbs, slower in the city.

        Light Rail is faster overall. And higher capacity. And with higher fare recovery.

  3. Metro spring revisions start March 20. The Seattle transit desert is finally getting some relief. Routes restoring/adding several trips:

    Peak weekday: 3,4
    Midday weekday: 7 (7 min frequency), 36 (10 min), 50 (20 min 12-6 PM), 128 (20 min), 522 (pre-covid freq)
    Midday Saturday: 10 (15 min), 11 (20 min), 60 (20 min)
    Midday Sunday: 10 (15 min), 60 (20 min)
    Evening weekday: 49 (15 min)
    Evening Saturday: 49 (15 min)
    Evening Sunday; 49 (15 min)

    This restores my Capitol Hill service, which had the most widespread cuts.

    A couple trips are added to the A and C, but nothing to write home about. The D is conspicuously absent, given reports of overcrowding. I suspect the E might also be crowded?

    The 50 afternoons is suprising; it extends peak hours to 12-6 PM. Is this mitigation for the West Seattle Bridge?

    It also says the 522 and 550 are serving extra stops on Bellevue Way and Bothell Way to mitigate suspended routes.

    As background, the 2016 TBD expired Dec 2020, and the 2020 TBD starts this month. The TBD reduced spending 50% in September to stretch the money to March in case the TBD was renewed in November. Also, the TBD has been holding back car-tab money in case it had to refund it, and now it can spend it. I assume the TBD will fill in Lake City-Northgate service which Metro is planning to gut in September for Northgate Link, but there’s no hint in this service change of which way it will go.

  4. Throwing this out to the horde: if the Seattle monorail authority is allowed to extend to light rail: What do you ask the citizens to use the authority for (and what would pass)? (i.e., is the second downtown tunnel)

    1. 1) Small interagency loan to get 130th open earlier

      2) Accelerate the Ballard-UW study, and then depending on that result pony up the extra cost for a junction in Ballard (or SLU or wherever) to support Ballard-UW service, if that’s what the study recommends. Otherwise, get the ball rolling on standalone Ballard-UW operations.

      3) Rehab the monorail for another 50 years of service and then build the infill station (I think there’s a strategic plan on the shelf that’s a good starting point)

      3) Accelerate the extension to 65th and onwards, perhaps not through construction but get it shovel ready so it can be first in line in the next regional package.

      4) Loan money to ST to accelerate Graham and BAR.

      5) Fund the CCC, if it’s still in need of funding.

      Otherwise, everything else Seattle needs is bus related, which is why expanding the authority to light rail but not buses is very silly.

      1. I agree with almost every one of your points. The exceptions are:

        3) I’m not sure what you mean by that. 65th?

        5) I think this specifically prohibits funding of a streetcar (it is not grade separated).

        I especially agree with that last sentence. Most of what Seattle needs is bus service, but we should have those other things as well.

      2. I’m pretty sure AJ means an extension north of Market for Ballard Link.

        I’m not sure what 65th gets you. There’s a school at 65th which means that Link might get some student pulses, but it also means that the northeast quadrant of the walkshed is taken for a long block and a half east and a long block north. The orientation of the blocks shifts at 65th.

        All the objections you make to redeveloping 14th and Market are even more true here, because the homes have been “middle class” for a very long time. Around 14th and Market what houses there are are often rentals squeezed in and around commercial and/or industrial users.

        He may have meant to write 85th.

      3. I can’t help but point out that if the SLU line was built to Capitol Hill rather than to Westlake, we would have the Ballard-UW connection just one station off (rather than two by sending the Ballard line to Westlake). We could also get a First Hill station rather than one at Midtown or maybe we could get both. (Think ID – Midtown – First Hill – Capitol Hill – Fairview – Aurora.) Lines crossing at Capitol Hill may be like kissing your sister in terms of direct connections but I could be more value-added than a line paralleling the existing one in Downtown while having nothing for Ballard-UW.

      4. Just meant 65th on the way to 85th. An extension to 85th would have a station at/near 65th, if only for good stop spacing? I’m also assuming Link should certainly be running at-grade (like on Rainier) by the time it gets to 65th, which as you suggest might be prohibited by the levy, in which case SDOT should only fund up to 65th and wait for another funding source to go further.

        For #5, if the project allows ‘light rail’ it should allow for the CCC, since the CCC is dedicated ROW? Unless the levy prohibits at grade operations, in which case Seattle shouldn’t use the authority because it will cause more harm than good.

      5. AJ, That is an interesting observation. You’re proposing having a Ballard line continue east from the Westlake Avenue station near Denny to some sort of station adjacent to CHS, right? It would probably have one more station at Fairview for the eastern portion of SLU and then bend south to First Hill if I understand your observation. Is that a fair summation?

        There is real value in this but it raises two questions.

        1) Where does it go from First Hill? This not a trivial question, but it may answer number two.

        2) My old bugaboo asks, where will the vehicles be stored and serviced? If this will be Link technology, as the volume probably would require, there probably isn’t enough room in Interbay for an MF unless BNSF vacates Interbay Yard. It may be willing to do so for sufficient compensation, but it has already shrunk Auburn almost to invisibility and the yards alongside SR99 by the stadiums are reserved for containers. If it wants to stay in the “freight all kinds” business, it needs yard space in Seattle.

        So, would it continue south to some connection with the Spine trackage?

        I’ve long thought that a Metro Eight subway should turn sharply south through First Hill rather than running along 23rd Avenue so I’m all ears.

      6. Also, you did explain that it would continue south to IDS via First Hill and Midtown.

        I’m sorry, that particular alignment can’t work. The curvature would be way too great, and the First Hill station would have to be 200 feet deep

        The only way to attach it around IDS would be to blast out of the hillside into the Dearborn Gulch, take a couple of lanes from the street over to I-5 and go into a shallow subway there with an east-west oriented station adjacent to IDS and King Street. It would have a single-track “service” service connection to the surface line to the south.

      7. OK, yeah, that makes sense. An extension up 15th, which was part of one of the original plans. I would definitely add a stop at 65th. It isn’t a big destination, but nothing other than the heart of Ballard is (15th isn’t, 14th is even worse). The high school actually makes it a minor destination (better than the area around 14th and 15th, although the latter isn’t too far from the big destinations). Meanwhile, you have decent density here and there. It reminds me of central Ballard ten years ago. There are some old apartments and multi-plexes: Some of the old houses and duplexes would likely be eventually converted to taller apartments. It is zoned for apartments in three directions — only the northeast corner is zoned for single family houses. You could make the case for moving the station to 64th, but it makes more sense to just change the zoning on that corner. There are no buses on 65th, but there could be (and likely would be) even if it becomes a zig-zag bus (

        As mentioned, 85th is the big payoff though. That connects to east-west buses, while being a similar station in terms of density. I would also add a station at 75th, and rezone. That area would transition quickly with a rezone (even without transit). With stations at Market, 65th, 75th and 85th, you wouldn’t have any buses on 15th (except maybe down by Leary). Thus the buses from Holman Road and 85th (what are now the 40 and D) are sent to 24th, doubling up this important corridor.

        Yeah, it probably would only be affordable as surface transit, although I would look into both elevated and cut and cover.

      8. Now that I understand all your ideas, I will say that I think all of them would be popular except the CCC. It is the only transit project that has widespread dislike. There are fans as well, but nothing has the sort of organized opposition like the CCC. It was purposely left out of Move Seattle for fear that it would cost the proposal votes. My guess is the same thing would happen again.

      9. Thanks Ross. I had CCC as my #5 priority, so didn’t feel super strongly about it. I think it’s a useful project so if SDOT has money to spend that it couldn’t spend on bus infrastructure, it seemed like a good use of money, but if was determined out of scope of the levy I wouldn’t object.

      10. Tom, I don’t see my idea ever happening unless some giant unforeseen problem emerges with the current WSBLE alignment. It’s also a concept that has not been studied. My comment is admittedly pretty much academic — although it has never been studied. Of course, much of the Seattle Subway’s hard turn up to First Hill as a segment of a longer light rail line is pretty steep as well as probably infeasible.

        The slope issues are steep but could be somewhat addressed by aerial sections near ID or in South Lake Union. Months ago, I detailed the station depths based on an armchair understanding of elevations from a topographical map. I don’t have that post handy but I showed how it wouldn’t be a fatal problem.

        ST3 completion does ignore some districts and makes some issues worse. It will actually add riders on the crowded segment between Westlake and UW. It still ignores First Hill. The ST way of designing tunnels ignores any possible branching in the future so that any Metro 8 line would need to be built without tying into a tunnel segment.

        There are other ways to address the twin challenges of crowding north of Westlake and missing service to First Hill.

        1. Build the CCC as a one-way corridor using Pike and Pine St between Westlake and Broadway (instead of First Ave) as well possibly extend it to Judkins Park (maybe even Mt Baker since overcrowding is projected under Beacon Hill as well). The FHSC line could remain while the SLU line would be extended to Pike-Pine, Broadway and probably along Rainier to at least Judkins Park. (A side wish to design for longer streetcars. One car streetcars is inane.)

        2. Create a U-Turn south of ID — continuing a second line through the new tunnel and doubling back into First Hill. MLK is limited on train frequencies anyway. An example would be continuing from Midtown to ID (new tunnels in ST3) to an aerial U-turn section near Holgate St to a new tunnel starting near Dearborn and I-5 with new subway stations at Little Saigon and one more station (James/ Broadway? Cherry Hill?) before terminating at Capitol Hill in a track tunnel fully east of the current one.

        3. The most direct solution — which is simply to add underground inclines from SLU to Capitol Hill and from Pioneer Square or Midtown to First Hill. They could each operate as two counter-balanced or independently-wheeled automated lines with a single track except for the station ends and a bypass section in the middle, resulting in amazing frequencies. This is how Istanbul is set up.

        Part of the drawbacks of our current process is that it’s incremental and self-validating. Why is an adjacent property owner a “stakeholder” but not First Hill patients, for example? Why are projects drawn on maps before the problems get identified and analyzed first? To be a city touted as “progressive” and “inclusive”, we still have a process that bends to backroom decisions that structurally favor who is the loudest and wealthiest rather than who objectively deserves better transit.

    2. A Light Rail line such that Jenny Durkan and Dow Constantine’s houses get eminent domain’d and demo’d.

      1. Durkan is not running again. She will soon just be a private citizen that’s soon retired.

      1. Yeah, that would be great. Of if the train crosses at 14th, then add a stop there, and then turn and serve the heart of Ballard (somewhere around 20th). These are things that should be considered.

      2. Ross, that seems optimal to me. It gives you the opportunity to Go Big east of 15th and still serve Old Ballard and the cluster of mid-rises for the three or four blocks north of Market along 24th.

        I would amplify it by making sure that the curve onto Market is stacked just in case someone wants to go up to 85th. The median on 14th is still available all the way to the high school. If we’re talking surface to 85th then using 14th to get to 65th is not a bad idea at all. It would require either taking some land from the school grounds or the row of houses across the street, but the station could be on 65th between 14th and 15th, avoiding the platform width problem at least for that station.

        Here’s how to make it work without destroying 15th’s auto capacity: make the stretch between 65th and 82nd (?) single-track with the 85th station either aerial or cut-and cover so it can be two track. That way the platform at 75th could be where the “other” track would normally be.

        It’s only a mile with a brief stop. The schedule could be made to work.

      3. Actually, the development on the south side of 65th is valuable enough that it would probably require that the single-track section continue around the curve and along the north side of 65th to 14th with the station placed south of 65th in 14th. Those beautiful pagoda trees would have to be trimmed up to accommodate the overhead and the sidewalk moved over toward them, but I think it could fit.

        Since the 14th Avenue shared station would be somewhere around 53rd to allow for the curve into Market, that would be a decent spacing. However, it would take the walkshed away from 15th where there is a nice row of apartments.

        In the best of all possible worlds the station would be in the stretch along 65th as close as possible to 15th, but that means that a train waiting for a delayed opposing movement can’t just hang out in the station longer than usual waiting for a clear track. It would have to wait at the turnout bringing the two tracks together.

        If you’re doing this with the two-car trains every three minutes there would be six-minute headways on the single track stretch. That’s pretty tight, especially with a stop at 75th each way. Figure the train will average 20 mph between the turnouts at either end of the stretch with just the one stop at 75th. It’s a bit more than a half mile from 14th and 64th to 15th and 82nd. So the train would take about a minute and a half to traverse the stretch plus whatever the dwell time at 75th would be, maybe 45 seconds? So that leaves only a 45 second “slack”, pretty tight indeed.

        If only every other train goes to “Old Ballard” that spur could be single-tracked west of 15th. I really believe that it must cross 15th in the air or under ground. Once it finishes the curve the lower southbound (east) track could swing across the center of the road leaving room for the upper northbound (west) trackway to descend so they’re adjacent when crossing 15th.

        After that the two tracks could descend together to about 17th where they’d merge into the single track to the station withthe same sort of treatment made at the terminal station. This one would have to be underground, though. Aerial would be too much of an intrusion into Old Ballard.

        If UT could resist the temptation to build an underground palace and just have direct entry to the platforms, it wouldn’t be the end of the world for the station to be dug. Not super nice, no, but livable with decking.

        The shared station at 53rd would be stacked as well, and I would think that the platforms should be on the east side to maximize the redevelopment potential of the area over to Eighth.

        Grant that going at grade between 65th and 82nd will play hob with left turns off of and on to 15th. There would have to be cross-traffic allowed at 70th, 75th, and 80th, lessening reliability.

    3. More light rail lines throughout the Seattle city limits. I think voters would be leery of letting monorail authority go to already ST dedicated items like DSTT2, infill stations, DT->Ballard, or DT->West Seattle lines. So anything on the Seattle Subway map that isn’t already being built by ST or the awful Ballard->UW concept is both what I’d ask and what I think would win.

      1. Good trolling. Praise the absurd Seattle Subway map while calling Ballard to UW awful. Nice touch. I think it is difficult to troll that well — pay yourself on the back. (Or if you are a bot, tell your programmer(s) to pat themselves on the back.).

      2. I don’t think it is trolling to ask what voters would approve in a HB 1304 levy. In fact, that is the a priori question. I don’t see how ST can begin any ST 3 projects in N. King Co. including a second tunnel without knowing the answer to that question.

        Would Seattle voters agree to basically fund ST 3 twice. IMO the ST 3 projects make more sense than some of the proposals by Seattle Subway, although they are very expensive, and SS strike me as amateurs who have no idea how to accurately estimate costs for these kinds of huge public projects (whereas ST does know how but chooses not to in order to sell levies). It was like that silly map on The Urbanist that showed a subway line to virtually every Seattle neighborhood.

        I agree with A Joy rail focused on the core and surrounding areas with some density including commuter ridership makes more sense than Seattle building and paying for most the spine to the hinterlands, but unfortunately that ship has passed. I think a great question for historians will be how the most influential player — Seattle — got suckered into paying for most the spine when the spine is designed to bring people into downtown Seattle, not the opposite direction.

        On a final note, I often read about a Ballard to UW “line”. According to Tom T. the line could not just intersect with an existing station/line at UW, so it would be separate, and would need its own station at the UW when the UW is not keen on stations on campus.

        Some say this line would not be cost prohibitive — even if it is in addition to ST 3 — but wouldn’t it run under I-5 and under existing, well used streets like 45th the entire distance. That sounds expensive to me. It is almost as if the hub has shifted from downtown Seattle to UW.

      3. Daniel, I think that most folks assume that a Ballard-UW line would have (a) platform(s) adjacent to that at Brooklyn (U-District Station) and in some way served from its Mezzanine. How this would be configured underground has not been clarified. The new platform(s) would have to be at a different depth from the Spine platform because the tracks would almost certainly be oriented at 90 degrees in relation to the Spine. The new tubes would have to be at least eight feet below or above the existing ones to avoid changing the pressures on the existing tubes, especially if the TBM for the new tubes passed over the existing bores. The machines are extremely heavy.

        This would be a tricky bit of tunneling and probably require that the station box for the new platforms extend to enclose and support the existing tubes. It would be an engineering challenge in a tight location.

        Furthrr, the existing station does not provide any obvious place for the necessary walkways to access the Mezzanine [e.g. a “demising wall” which is not vertically load-bearing], though there is probably some place it could be broken into safely.

        Ross has convinced me that it would be possible to make a non-revenue connection to the north of UDS, but it would require a 315 degree circular loop of tunnel east and north of UDS and a sizable trench in or adjacent to Brooklyn Avenue somewhere between NE 50th and 55th.

        So it is possible, but very unlikely to build a “standalone” Ballard-UW using Link’s technology.

        AJ has advocated using a different technology with its own maintenance facility located in Eastern Ballard or adjacent to the Interbay rail yard. That would probably use Citidis trams or something similar.

        That could be built without a track connection to either The Spine or a Ballard-Downtown Link line. However it might face some criticism for using a technology (“tram”) specifically designed for surface rather than “grade-separated” alignments.

        There isn’t much surface right-of-way between Ballard and UW which could be “reserved” but not cross traffic. To make good use of its “tram” nature such a line would pretty much have to take the old NP right-of-way east of Stone Way over to a station adjacent to Husky Stadium Station thereby displacing the Burke-Gilman Trail. That would be enormously unpopular. It is very unlikely to occur and in any case would serve the U District only peripherally at its southern edge.

        If The Ave were made a transit mall the trams could leave the BG under a bit east of the I-5 bridge and use the old 40th Street right of way over to The Ave and turn north. However since that would certainly be “at-grade crossing traffic” it would require a waiver from the “grade-separated” requirement.

        So as a result a standalone line becomes elevated or tunneled for its essentially its entire length, opening the choice of the lower-speed and technologically unique trams to criticism.

      4. No trolling here. Seattle Subway’s map makes Ballard->UW useful by extending it further than the ~3 miles such a stub line would be (Wallingford is only 2.2 miles wide along 45th, after all).

        I freely admit I prefer longer ST lines out to distant locales with fewer stops. Letting Seattle monorail authority money build the full extent of the Seattle Subway map serves my desires. The mini stub that wouldn’t relieve congestion in the area (but would admittedly get transit passengers out of said congestion) does nothing for a comprehensive transit plan.

        In general I like Seattle Subway’s map. Still too many stops, but it looks well beyond Seattle’s city limits.

      5. @A Joy,

        I concur 100%. The additional funding from the monorail authority shouldn’t go to backfilling funding shortfalls for existing projects already voter approved and promised by ST. The additional funding should ONLY go for additional Seattle only add-ons to the existing plans as already approved and funded.

        And I concur with your assessment of UW-Ballard. Data clearly indicates that the transit demand in this corridor is primarily Ballard-DT, Fremont-DT, and UW-North/south. With two out of three of those markets already satisfied with the existing/planned system, one has to wonder why anyone would propose spending billions on a line with so little actual utility.

        A better use of the money would be to extend DT-Ballard further north then east along 15th/Holman/105th/Northgate Station and then to Lake City. Such a line would increase overall system resiliency while giving Ballard residents two LR routes to the UW that are both far superior to the existing bus options.

      6. A Joy has a fairly well established history of taking contrarian positions just for the fun of it. These include (but are not limited to):

        1) Arguing over what it means to “flatten the curve” even after being shown repeated explanations.

        2) Denying the purpose and for the most part existence of successful bike share programs, again, after this was explained in great detail, in well respected sources like Wikipedia.

        3) Claiming that NE 130th does not got through to Lake City, when obviously it does. It is clear as a day on a map. 130th becomes Roosevelt which becomes 125th, which runs through the heart of Lake City.

        These sorts of arguments are all the behavior of a troll. There are nonsensical. Trying to reason with someone (or some thing — I still think it is quite possible “A Joy” is nothing more than a bot) in this manner, is like discussing philosophy with your cat.

      7. Are there any bots which would take on such an obscure topic as transit? Somebody could train an AI on transit topics, but why would anybody bother?

      8. I will respond to Lazarus, as I believe those comments are not trolling. I just think that Lazarus doesn’t understand transit in Seattle very well.

        The additional funding from the monorail authority shouldn’t go to backfilling funding shortfalls for existing projects already voter approved and promised by ST.

        The problem is that those promises are basically worth a warm bucket of spit. The station at 130th should be added with Lynnwood Link. The tentative schedule was that it would be built in 2031. Because the project is small, it could be delayed another 11 years*. So basically an infill station that should have been planned with the original line and will likely exceed most, if not all of the other stations could be delayed 18 years. I get what you are saying Lazarus — we *shouldn’t* have to pay extra for something so obvious — but if given the choice of having it in 2024 (when Lynnwood Link opens) or 2042, I want to pay the extra money. (As mentioned, it should be a loan).

        The case is just as strong for the Graham Street Station. When this was written** (before ST3) it was the second most cost effective project (in ridership per mile). Only the Ballard line was a better value. My guess is it is now first (as the Ballard line has gotten a lot more expensive). It should have been added a long time ago, but well, sometimes a low income minority district doesn’t get things that they should (shocking, I know).

        As far as Ballard to UW goes, there are a few things worth considering when considering a new line:

        1) Cost.
        2) Existing ridership per mile.
        3) Improvement in speed.

        Simply put, there is nothing that comes close to replacing the 44 with a subway. Its ridership per mile is the best in our system. It does this despite the fact that it is extremely slow (in contrast, the E is extremely fast). The only issue then is cost, but I don’t see any other line that would perform much better in that metric. Certainly not crossing the canal (that’s expensive). The existing cheap options (like running along Elliot and 15th) weren’t enough to make that corridor cheap (far from it). The only thing close to Ballard-UW in terms of value is likely the Metro 8 subway, but the Ballard line kind of screws it up.

        Most of the Seattle Subway plans are fantastical nonsense. No city this size has every built anything that big. As for extending the Ballard line to Northgate (and to Lake City) that would cost an order of magnitude more than Ballard to UW, while not changing the dynamic in most of the north end. With Ballard to UW, you make it easy to get to Ballard or the UW from anywhere in the north end. Just take one of the many fairly frequent, fairly fast buses south, then take the train east or west. A Holman Road subway doesn’t even go to the UW, the second biggest destination in the region. You connect to Ballard, but no one from Greenwood (or Phinney Ridge or either side of Green Lake) is going to take the bus north and then take the train south to Ballard. Likewise, no one from Ballard would take the train up to Northgate, and then over to the UW. It would be nice for Lake City to have a fast connection to Northgate (and Link) but it isn’t clear how that is supposed to work. Northgate Link is elevated, while the other line would have to be underground, making for a very awkward transfer. Lost of riders would just take the bus to 130th instead.

        It is important to understand the various possible transit lines in relation to the existing bus service. Generally speaking, north-south buses are fast, while east-west buses (when they exist) are very slow. The two can (and should) complement each other. This would be a major ridership driver with Ballard-UW, but not with the Holman Road line. The fact that Ballard-UW would do so for far less, and directly connect much bigger destinations makes it the clear choice.

        * In this document they categorize smaller projects (even those with very good ridership per dollar numbers) as inferior.

        ** In the charts they list projects in ridership per dollar (construction cost, operating cost, subsidy, etc.) and Ballard Link is first, with Graham Street second (this was written before the Ballard Link costs escalated). 130th Station is not on there.

    4. It’s hard for me to think about alternatives because ST3 is so big and so far away. It would be hard to get political momentum for an additional line while Ballard and West Seattle are 17-27 years out and delayed. Accelerating the infill stations would be an easy sell though. I’m not sure if ST would accept a Seattle loan rather than a grant.

      It partly depends on how much Seattle would accept Smith Cove-Delridge as enough of “Ballard-West Seattle” that they’d be willing to approve additional lines rather than accelerating the Market St and WSJ tails. A lot of people think Seattle needs an X-shaped service, and that’s what Ballard-West Seattle provides and other alternatives don’t.

      I’ve long thought the next lines after ST3 should be Ballard-UW and Metro 8. But ST3 is so far away, and all the controversies related to it are so exhausting, that my commitment to these additional lines is wavering.

      One thought would be to pay ST to move the Ballard station west to 20th.

      1. Now that’s a good idea, but it does foreclose the official long-term plan to extend to 85th. There’s no reason to remain wedded to that, but it would need to be removed from the “Long Term Plan” officially.

      2. Tom Terrific, thank you for such a thorough explanation of the engineering and political issues surrounding a line from Ballard to UW.

        Lazarus, you can’t eliminate using HB1304 funding for ST 3 projects, and then propose extending ST 3 lines with HB 1304 revenue. You have to build rail to Ballard (ST 3) before you can use 1304 revenue to continue it past Ballard. ST is making it pretty clear — since an $11.5 billion shortfall for ST 3 in Seattle is basically ST 3 — that HB1304 is an either or: ST 3 or something else that doesn’t rely on a second transit tunnel or rail to Ballard or West Seattle, which is why HB1304 requires grade separated transit, which is basically rail and tunnels because citizens and neighborhoods will object to cannibalizing road capacity and intersections for grade separated surface transit. ST wrote HB1304.

        HB1304 is simply ST 3 redux, although I am not sure Seattle can afford another $11.5 billion levy, or will pay twice to run rail to Ballard and West Seattle.

        Other than ST 3 projects, what other grade separated transit projects are there that don’t rely on ST 3 lines and tunnels, acknowledging the citizens are not going to allow road capacity to be diverted, or intersections eliminated, for grade separated surface transit that won’t be based on ST 3 projects that are never built without HB1304 funding?

      3. @Dan T,

        Absolutely not. HB1304 funding SHOULD NOT be diverted to cover funding shortfalls in existing, voter approved, ST projects. Period.

        The whole point of allowing monorail funding authority to be used for LR is to allow Seattle to tackle its transit needs over and above what can be tackled within the one tax rate/subarea equity model that ST operates under. Diverting HB1304 funding into existing ST coffers is a violation of that concept, and a slap in the face to voters who have supported transit levies in the past.

        And your argument about needing to build ST3 first before you can extend it under HB1304 is totally bogus. Timing of HB1304 projects isn’t known yet, nor is there even a project list. It is ridiculous to assume HB1304 funding needs to be diverted into ST3 funding streams before we even know what we want to build with HB1304, or when we want to build it.

        Your argument reeks of a government funding grab. It is how people lose fail in government. We don’t need more of that now. We have enough distrust of government.

      4. RossB, ever the fan of attacking the person rather than the position.

        1) Is simply laughable, and a matter of pure conjecture.

        2) Was never established. The two pieces of “evidence” you conjured up were incredulous. The first quoted collegiate studies that didn’t even study the position the paper said they supported. The second was an organization composed of for profit bikeshares from numerous US cities. They have a vested interest in making bikeshares look successful, and no obligation to provide factual information.

        3) is factually false. You can see on a map that NE 130th Street does not turn into Roosevelt, but continues east as NE 130th Street. It dead ends at 15th Avenue NE. I suggest you look at a map before continuing this false narrative.

        I am well aware that many of my opinions are unpopular on this forum. Nevertheless, they are opinions I honestly hold. I do not consider STB to be a popularity contest, and as such have no issue espousing and supporting views that do not push the status quo.

        As for the accusations of trolling, I will remind you that you have had several of your posts moderated for harassment and cyberbullying. If you wish to continue with the ad hominem attacks, I am certain that trend will continue.

      5. In response to A Joy:

        1) Is simply laughable, and a matter of pure conjecture. No, it really happened. Here is the first comment: It is worth reading the whole thread. It shows classic troll behavior. First, the audacious statement. Then, when the statement is refuted, new statements, that don’t even make sense (“Total deaths shows no signs of flattening. “). When those statements are refuted (“Total deaths would never flatten until the pandemic is over”) there are arguments over the sources, even though these are just common definitions. The whole point is to keep the argument going, not to use reason or evidence to support your case.

        2) Once again, you are doing the same thing. Bike share is designed for short term, point to point travel. You deny that anyone would ever want this, even though plenty of people have proven otherwise. It is as if you need proof that cell phones are popular, since we can get the same thing with a land line and a laptop. This may be a stubborn refusal to accept a new idea; I think it is trolling.

        3) Here is a map of a driver from Bitter Lake to Lake City: Notice how the driver initially starts on 130th, then it becomes Roosevelt, then it becomes 125th. This is the way the bus would go. It is the way that thousands of drivers go. It is the way that bikes go and it is the way that pedestrians go — because it is the only way to get there!

        Just to back up here You wrote (in this comment

        130th doesn’t connect to Lake City Way. 125th does, as does 145th.

        This was factually incorrect. 130th does connect, via Roosevelt to 125th, which then connects to Lake City. In fact, it is the *main* connection. Look at the driving directions for that trip on Google again. “Continue on Roosevelt”, “Continue on 130th”. You don’t need to make a turn to stay on the corridor.

        Now look at a trip to 125th and 5th: Notice how you have to turn left (onto Roosevelt) then turn right. This is clearly not the main corridor. Going across 125th *takes longer* than continuing onto Roosevelt (and continuing onto 130th). There there is the even bigger issue: 125th does not go over the freeway! You are saying this: is better than this: You are saying that we should force Metro to make a time consuming detour — delaying riders from *both* directions — because you don’t understand the street layout.

        This is standard troll behavior. It is meant to inflame, not insight. If this is not your intent, I suggest you spend a little more time trying to learn about these issues (e. g. why lots and lots of people have told you that you are wrong about 130th) instead of stubbornly insisting you are right. You are were wrong about what it means to “flatten the curve”, you were wrong about the purpose of bike share, you were wrong about 130th, and now you are wrong about infill stations. We are all wrong from time to time (to err is human) but refusing to learn from your mistakes is bad for everyone, and annoying.

      6. HB1304 funding SHOULD NOT be diverted to cover funding shortfalls in existing, voter approved, ST projects. Period.

        So what should Seattle do, nothing? Seriously Lazarus, what should Seattle do if ST comes back and says that neither the 130th station nor the Graham Street station can be built before 2040? Should we just wait?

        This is not a rhetorical question. I would like your answer.

        As for me, it is clear that is ST can’t figure out how to do their job, that Seattle should help. What we voted for is irrelevant. Sound Transit can’t deliver it. There are plans to change things considerably (stations moved) as well as changes in timetables (huge delays). There is no reason for extremely cost effective infill stations (like 130th and Graham Street) to wait that long. If Seattle can build it sooner, then it should. ST should pay them back, but they should still built it so it can get here sooner.

      7. “So what should Seattle do, nothing? Seriously Lazarus, what should Seattle do if ST comes back and says that neither the 130th station nor the Graham Street station can be built before 2040? Should we just wait?”

        Ross B. If they made me SDOT director, I would ask that Ballard to UW be the expanded monorail vote and do that first, do the low-hanging apple/cheap infill ST projects first, push back ST3 projects (which is going to happen anyways even without the monorail authority). Boom, E-W travel in Seattle is improved.

      8. 1) I am not denying the existence of the thread. What is laughable is your description of the conversation in the thread itself. I am willing to let my words there speak for themselves, so there is no need to further rebut.

        2)Bike share is not profitable, not even in China as of 2017. Nor is it needed, as a bike can be purchased for much less than the cost of even semi-frequent bike share use. “Plenty of people” have in point of fact not proven otherwise, and market consolidation as well as numerous companies getting out of the market have proven this to be the case.

        3) I do not know why you seem determined to push the ludicrous fallacy that NE 130th turns into Roosevelt, but here is a Google Map of the entire unbroken segment of NE 130th. It uses walking directions due to the one block on the far west side that is pedestrian only.
        Note that while it intersects Roosevelt, it does not turn into or become Roosevelt. I was incorrect in one part of my statement though. NE 130th does not make it as far as 15th. It lacks a segment between 8th and 10th. But my statement about NE 130th not turning into Roosevelt or going through to 15th still stands.,-122.3716428/801-999+NE+130th+St,+Seattle,+WA+98125,+USA/@47.724086,-122.3274762,15z/data=!4m6!4m5!1m0!1m2!1m1!1s0x54901141eb079ff9:0xaf87d2d18647d9be!3e2

        I am happy to learn from mistakes. I suggest you do the same. Your evidence is often scant at best, disingenuous at worst. Your assertions rarely rise above the level of “Nuh uh”, and yet you still insist this is meaningful dialog. In the end, we are at loggerheads. I responded to mdnative, and you chose to join in. I am committed to no longer replying to your posts, and only reply to your direct addressing of me. In the future, I hope you will join in me in making our shared and continued existence on this forum a little less adversarial, and do the same. I am not changing your mind, and you are not changing mine. The blog is big enough for the two of us, though. At least as far as I am concerned.

      9. @A Joy. I believe Ross B’s description of fact 3 is pretty spot on. Maybe a technical difference is that there is a Ne 130th St on both sides of 5th Ave Ne. But I would not say they connect to each other. The arterial definately changes from Ne 130th to Roosevelt Way Ne at that point if you are heading eastbound.

      10. @A Joy why don’t you try driving from Lake City to Bitter Lake and report back? Good luck staying on 125th!

      11. @barman, I’ve lived in Lake City. It’s how I knew NE 130th didn’t go through in any way, shape, or form. I’m not sure what NE 125th has to do with anything I’ve said. I’ll admit Bitter Lake has never been a destination for me though.

      12. @ A Joy

        1. OK, then, do you understand what “flattening the curve” means, because you clearly didn’t during that thread?

        2. More trolling. No one ever said bike share was profitable. Public transit isn’t profitable. It is clear that you don’t understand the entire point of bike share. You once again repeat an irrelevant argument:

        Nor is it needed, as a bike can be purchased for much less than the cost of even semi-frequent bike share use.

        Right, but it wouldn’t be bike share! Bike share is for point to point travel. Point to point. Point to point. I don’t know how many times I have to write it before you actually understand. It is an essential part of the system. A system without point to point rentals is not bike share. As to its popularity, check Wikipedia ( Seriously though, check Wikipedia more, you will save yourself a lot of embarrassment. For that matter, I suggest that once this pandemic is over, you travel to other cities in the United States, and the world. You will find that a lot of them have very good bike share systems, and they are thriving. Seattle really is an outlier, in that we thought we could do things differently, and not follow the examples of the many cities that have very good bike share. Holy cow, even Portland has decent bike share (that’s downright embarrassing).

        3. I do not know why you seem determined to push the ludicrous fallacy that NE 130th turns into Roosevelt, but here is a Google Map of the entire unbroken segment of NE 130th. It uses walking directions due to the one block on the far west side that is pedestrian only.Note that while it intersects Roosevelt, it does not turn into or become Roosevelt.

        More trolling, or more ignorance of geography. I really can’t tell. Assuming the best, I will once again correct you. Holy cow, just read the instructions from the exact link you created. Look at the fourth item:

        Continue onto Roosevelt Way NE

        What do you think “continue” means, in this context? Come on, it means that the road becomes a different road. You just continue. You don’t turn. In fact, look at that next line:

        Turn left onto NE 130th St

        Got it now? You can see this clearly from various vantage points. Here is a street view from roughly where the station will be: Look at the signs. To the left is Roosevelt to the right is 130th. You can’t continue onto 130th — you continue onto Roosevelt, and then turn off of Roosevelt to 130th ( Again, this is visible by simply reading the street signs (

        Oh, and the by way, there is the same dynamic between 125th and Roosevelt. Again, you can see it on the street signs: Again, to keep going on 125th requires turning *off of the main corridor* and onto Roosevelt for a tiny section.

        As with all of this, you are missing the point! You are arguing about semantics, and even then, you’ve got it wrong. The main east-west arterial is 130th/Roosevelt/125th. A car (or a bus) does not have to turn off of the main arterial to get from 130th to 125th. That is why the Google instructions say “Continue”, and not “turn”. This is an essential concept. It means that a bus can just keep going, either direction. This is huge. It saves a lot of time.

        It really isn’t that complicated a concept. It happens all over the city. Put it this way: Imagine the whole stretch — the whole 130th/Roosevelt/125th was renamed to say, Lenny Wilkens Drive. No changes to the street layout, no changes to the traffic lights, just a renaming of that corridor. Would that suddenly change your perspective of the station?

      13. @Jimmy James, Google Maps shows it as going through, all the way down to providing a Street View showing the intersection. I’m not sure how to respond to an answer like “I don’t believe the maps.”.

        As far as NE 130th not being an arterial for Lake City residents, that’s actually been my point all along. The NE 130th Link stop is being promoted as a boon for Lake City residents, when I feel in reality it is anything but. NE 130th in Lake City is a SFH, low use road. Definitely not light rail bus line material. The location is great for Pinehurst, though.

        There’s also the question of traffic congestion. NE 125th is pretty overused during peak periods. As a Lake City resident, even living south of NE 125th, I’d take Lake City Way up to 145th and head to the Link station there. It’s certainly farther away, but I’m pretty sure it would take significantly less time to get to.

      14. You really have to be purposefully missing the point to be this ridiculous A Joy.

        “NE 130th in Lake City is a SFH, low use road.”

        The station isn’t in Lake City, it is at I-5. In order to get to I-5 from Lake City you take 125th until it curves north directly to where this station will be.

      15. I’m not sure what NE 125th has to do with anything I’ve said.

        See, that sounds a helluva like trolling. Go back to your original statement:

        130th doesn’t connect to Lake City Way. 125th does, as does 145th.

        So you clearly understand that 125th goes through Lake City, and yet you think it has nothing to do with the station at 130th, even though we have explained it over and over again. Google has explained it. Street signs have explained it. It is why it makes sense to put the station at 130th. The arterial starts at 130th, becomes Roosevelt, and then becomes 125th. Or, from Lake City (heading west) 125th becomes Roosevelt which becomes 130th. It the only arterial that crosses the freeway between 145th and Northgate Way. It is by far the fastest way for a bus to get to 5th (where the train will be running). It is much faster than going on 5th (as I explained earlier). I really don’t understand why you can’t understand that this involves no turns, even though the street names change:, whereas this does:

        Unless, of course, you are trolling.

      16. RossB

        1) I understood what “flattening the curve” meant then and now. I am happy to let my words then stand, and be my final comment on the matter.

        2) Bikeshare has nothing to do with mass transit. Mass transit is a public service run by the public sector. As a result it is supposed to be profitable, no. Bikeshares are run by for profit companies in the private sector. They are absolutely supposed to turn a profit. They are not mass transit, or some last mile solution. Point to point travel is a meaningless term. There is neither need nor demand for it. Not even in China, where bike shares have been in use for much longer than they have in the United States. I suggest you stop looking at bikeshare at an on the street level and look at the entire city wide systems. Then you’ll see how poorly they perform as a whole.

        3) If you’re really claiming that a 131 foot jog is an actual change in a roads status as opposed to an elongated intersection, I’m not sure that we will ever see eye to eye. NE 130th is not an arterial for Lake City, the community or its residents. A Link station on it is not a boon for Lake City. Remember, this is what started the conversation so many blog posts ago. Your defense of it is what resulted in you making claims such as “NE 130th extends to Lake Cith Way”, which now you’re backpedaling on by saying you meant it turned into Roosevelt and then 125th. You’ve never made that claim until today, as far as I know. If you had, our conversations would have gone differently. We still wouldn’t agree on the Link station at 130th, but at least a lot fewer lines of text would have been typed by us both.

      17. You really have to be purposefully missing the point to be this ridiculous A Joy.

        In other words, trolling.

        Notice how the subject has suddenly changed. Remember, at first the issue was that this didn’t serve 125th, because it wasn’t on 125th (completely missing the street layout). Then, of course, it became a ridiculous argument over semantics, which while incorrect, was also off topic. Now you have this:

        There’s also the question of traffic congestion. NE 125th is pretty overused during peak periods. As a Lake City resident, even living south of NE 125th, I’d take Lake City Way up to 145th and head to the Link station there. It’s certainly farther away, but I’m pretty sure it would take significantly less time to get to.

        That is absurd. There is far more congestion around 145th then there is around 125th. Put it this way: Assume that Link is built to Lynnwood. What is the fastest way, by car, to get to a potential station from 125th and Lake City Way. It is, by far, using 125th/Roosevelt/130th. Just look at it:

        125th by itself: This requires a turn from the main arterial south, then back west.

        125th/Roosevelt/130th: No turns.

        The A Joy Route: Obviously slower (of course it is). It is much farther.

        A Joy is just stubbornly grasping at straws, trying to find arguments to support a position that was clearly based on ignorance.

      18. The arterial turns on Roosevelt and 125th, so that’s what cars, buses, bikes, and pedestrians do if they’re going to Lake City or Bitter Lake. The only people who stay on “130th” east of 5th are the ten people who have houses there. 125th & LCW is the center of Lake City, and 130th & Aurora is the center of Bitter Lake. Both are connected by one arterial that curves and changes names, just like NorthgateWay/N 105th Street does.

        The point is that a station at 130th & 5th Ave NE serves both Lake City and Bitter Lake via the curving arterial, which many people call “130th/125th”. Metro has already proposed a bus route that does just that, an extension of the 75.

      19. The only people who stay on “130th” east of 5th are the ten people who have houses there.

        I think you meant to put “stay” in quotes. Now I’m the one being pedantic, but you can’t actually stay on 130th. Can’t be done. A close up of the intersection shows that 130th actually disappears for a while ( and to “stay” on 130th actually requires turning off of Roosevelt.

        But yeah, you are totally correct. The arterial makes gentle curves back and forth. From the west (heading east) it starts as 130th, then becomes Roosevelt, then 125th, then Sand Point Way, then NE 45th (at which point you are actually heading west, not east). Your analogy with Northgate Way and 105th is spot on. Another one (I just thought of) is that Lake City Way becomes Bothell Way. Yet it is clearly the same street. In all these cases, you don’t have to turn to access the other street, it just becomes the other street.

    5. The big elephant is how much goes into backfilling ST3. That may wipe out any other expansion ideas.

      A second priority is potentially correcting any operational problems that ST3 designs missed. That may include new tail tracks, additional crossover tracks, resolving auto traffic conflicts in the RV or other things. Most systems end up with an operational problem they didn’t anticipate (like bad escalators or tracks not installed properly in our history). Resiliency in system operations in times of unexpected disruptions is a looming topic.

      A third category could be putting in accommodations for future branching. In particular, station vaults and aerial structures may need different design requirements for eventual future branches and current funding sources don’t allow spending money on.

      A fourth category could be buying expansion right of way. Land is cheaper before it is upzoned and especially before a tall building is constructed on it.

      If there is money left over, I would than look to general access improvements, such as last mile connections to areas missed. Given the grade separation requirement as now written (which as I’ve noted unfortunately limits street trams), that would likely mean short automated services such as a cable liner system or funicular/ incline. It may also include expanded vertical access at existing stations. Adding new long light rail lines is difficult and takes decades, while short improvement projects are more contained. First Hill incline? Lake City shuttle? Pike Place pedestrian tunnel? Aurora to SLU station entrance with escalators? Mt Baker transit connectivity? I’d think lots of other connectivity projects could emerge in our consciousness as ST2 opens and ST3 gets closer.

      1. Lazarus, I usually don’t get accused of being pro government/ST power grab on this blog. I completely understand a desire to not pay for ST 3 twice, or to simply hand ST HB 1304 levy money to ST. I don’t live in the N. King Co. subarea so my opinions don’t really matter.

        In any case I would remove the requirement for grade separated transit in HB 1304 to give voters and planners as much discretion as possible.

        I also am not sure Seattle voters will — or can afford to — pass a HB1304 levy for $11.5 billion (which is probably still underestimated) to complete ST 3 in the N. King Co. subarea. I think it will take some time for transit advocates to accept that.

      2. Is this debate about a station at 130th that isn’t scheduled to be built until 2042, if at all, and will require some kind of loan from a Seattle HB1304 levy to ST to fund? And I thought Metro was eliminating the 41, or at least decreasing its frequency, due to equity, so what is the point if buses run along 125th or 130th in a SFH neighborhood if there is no light rail station at 130th, and infrequent bus feeder service. Or am I missing something?

      3. Is this debate about a station at 130th that isn’t scheduled to be built until 2042, if at all, and will require some kind of loan from a Seattle HB1304 levy to ST to fund? And I thought Metro was eliminating the 41, or at least decreasing its frequency, due to equity, so what is the point if buses run along 125th or 130th in a SFH neighborhood if there is no light rail station at 130th, and infrequent bus feeder service. Or am I missing something?

        OK, sure. First of all, 130th becomes Roosevelt which becomes 125th: It is important to understand this, as the change in street names can cause confusion. The main thing to understand is that it is a major east-west corridor — the only one between 145th and Northgate Way. This is the main reason why the station makes sense.

        The area right by the station is currently zoned single family (although that will likely change) but the corridor is not. There are lots of people in Lake City (to the east) and Bitter Lake (to the west). There are also a fair number of people in Pinehurst (in between) and there is a high school (Ingraham) along the way as well. Oh, and travel along that corridor is fast. It is by far the fastest way to get from Lake City to a potential Link Station (faster than if the station was at 125th). It is dramatically faster for those in Bitter Lake. There are also bus connections on both sides, but especially on the west (Greenwood and Aurora). Thus there are trips from Lake City to those corridors that are made dramatically faster. You probably shave a good 20 minutes to a half hour off of a trip like this: Thus it won’t have “infrequent feeder service”. Frequent service would be justified, and likely happen.

        The 41 is going away, but there will be bus service on much of its route. Likewise, there would be a restructure to enable service along the 130th/Roosevelt/125th corridor. No one knows exactly what that would look like, but this is part of the long range plan, and it sounds quite reasonable: This is basically an extension of the 75 towards the station, then continuing on to overlap the 5. This has several really nice features (along with serving everyone on that 130th/Roosevelt/125th corridor):

        1) The 75 doesn’t make any turns, from NE 45th until all the way to Greenwood Avenue. The road changes names (45th, Sand Point Way, 125th, Roosevelt, and then finally 130th) but the bus would not make any turns that whole way. That means it is fast.

        2) It gives the existing 75 more high quality stops, including a solid anchor in the north (community colleges always get good ridership).

        3) If the 65 is extended to Shoreline Community College (pretty much a given) it would mean two buses running from SCC to Lake City. That is similar to how the 65 and 75 pair up to give riders two ways to get from Lake City to the UW.

        4) Likewise, it would give riders at Shoreline College a couple of different ways to get to Link (although unfortunately, the reverse would not be true).

        5) North of 125th, those who live on Greenwood would have a good connection to Link as well as Aurora. There are a lot of apartments along this stretch.

        There are other alternatives. I’ve considered send a bus from Lake City (Fred Meyer) towards Ballard. Or a short, but very frequent line that just runs between Lake City and Bitter Lake. There are various ways to do it, but the fundamentals are very strong for this corridor, and thus the station.

      4. mdnative, tell us how you’re going to do “the standalone Ballard-UW” line without a tie-in to the Spine. Are you going to build a small “private” MF for it? Are you going to tunnel all the way, or at least all the way between The Ave and Third NW? If not what are you going to tear down for the new right of way?

        This is not you, but with the exception of AJ who proposes using something on the order of trams, everybody advocating for Ballard-UW is the transit equivalent of a physics professor with chalk in his right hand and an eraser in his left. IOW, “handwaving”.

      5. @Tom — I’m pretty sure that mdnative meant that the Ballard to UW line wouldn’t have a service connection to any other line. Of course it would tie in somewhere. My guess is it would be between 45th and 65th. In any event, no one from ST has every raised this issue, despite a fair amount of study of the subject. My guess is they consider this a relatively minor cost (nothing like crossing the canal, or building another downtown tunnel). The big costs for Ballard to the UW are the costs of the stations, followed by the tunneling, with the tie-in being a distant third (or fourth, or fifth …).

      6. Ross,

        Of course the “big costs” are the stations, but just to be clear any such non-revenue connection to an existing tunnel requires what is essentially another station! As I’ve said before, the rings can’t be “broken into” for a merging track without first creating a vault around the tubes, supporting them and then very carefully disassembling them.

        Just because it doesn’t have platforms and a mezzanine doesn’t mean that it’s not a complex underground structure which looks a LOT like a “station box”. Yes, it can be somewhat narrower because no platform(s) is/are necessary, but it has to be nearly as long if a cross-over from the opposite track, is included. In the situation where a north-facing connection to The Spine were used, it is likely that UT would want such a cross-over to eliminate the need for out-of-direction running through Roosevelt station.

        It is true that trains could access such a loop connector from Forest Street by rolling past the turnout and then reversing into the loop. Whether UT would agree to that as a long-term solution for the daily deployment of trains is not clear.

  5. Idea:

    If WS and Ballard Link are both intended to be 4-cars at 6 minute headways, why not switch both to 2-cars at 3 minute headways, i.e. equal capacity? That would mean that WS and Ballard would be tied to each other and RV Link would need to stay in the old tunnel, so ST loses some operational flexibility, but the capital savings would be immense, particularly for the underground stations. Higher frequency is also important the shorter, intracity trips this line would primarily serve. High frequency 2-car operations would be very comparable to SkyTrain.

    2-car operations might also be very helpful for future extensions. At-grade stations would much more likely to fit the street grid outside the urban core, which will be very helpful in both lowering costs & raising political acceptance for at-grade operations. High frequency also makes branching more palatable.

    ST staff will need to model higher O&M costs for more drivers, but if Link is switched to driverless technology in the near-ish future, the incremental O&M becomes negligible.

    1. How would you avoid an Everett-Tacoma line? That would be 2 1/4 hours long, which ST thinks is too long for drivers to go without a break. That’s why the Spine was split, with West Seattle connected to North and Ballard connected to South..

      1. How would you avoid an Everett-Tacoma line?

        If one ran the WSBLE through a new tunnel, one would have three lines in the existing tunnel. That would allow six minute headways at the peak and nine for base period. Yes, this is not “clockface” and a definite drawback, but if one were willing to put up with 4-3-3 between SoDo and Northgate and 4-6 between Northgate and Lynnwood each line could be could be 10 minute headways).

        Tacoma trains would turn at Northgate with Everett to SoDo and Lynnwood to Redmond, just as planned now except no West Seattle.

        Turning regular service trains at Northgate would require having a two-track reversing tail or hot-seating. You might get a second tail track by building a fourth track parallel to the existing three and re-organizing the existing connections to the platforms to allow a double scissors. But that would require building a straddle track over First Northeast.

        Hot seating would mean that a southbound driver would board the trailing car in the Northgate station, the train would roll into the tail track under the control of the northbound driver who brought it from Tacoma. The southbound driver would take control of the train after it stopped, and then when signaled, move it into the station for initial loading. The northbound driver would exit the train when it stopped and begin his or her break. That driver would not take the next train into the tail track, or even the next after that but the second follower, in order to allow a decent length break. There would always be two operators off the train at Northgate station.

        Now, the question is, can trains on a six-minute headway be reversed in the tail track? If the same operator were required to do it, the answer would be “No”. However, with hot-seating the operator coming onto the train can enter the cab and insert her or his control to be ready to take the train out with only a brief electronic hand-off from the now-trailing end.

        Assuming that one still wanted direct West Seattle service — which is implicit in AJ’s proposal — this would allow the West Seattle line to gain the surface more quickly and take the bus lanes without requiring any reconstruction of the existing South Line.

        Recently UT has been mulling continuing the new tunnel south to Sixth and Massachusetts (without saying how they’re going to continue south of there….) so if tunneling farther is suddenly an option and the West Seattle line is supposed to be elevated over the busway, why not tunnel diagonally southwest from IDS to Massachusetts and Occidental and portal there at a more convenient “Stadium Station” and go elevated over Occidental with a much better SoDo station a block from Starbucks.

        Yes, I know that UT “looked at” such an option and rejected it for cost reasons. But they’ve just thrown the “cost” objection out the window by tunneling south the Massachusetts.

      2. How would you avoid an Everett-Tacoma line?

        You don’t. Imagine this scenario: There is no Ballard Link. There is no West Seattle Link. Costs are much lower than we are expected, and we are well on our way to completing the Spine. Is anyone worried about running trains from Tacoma to Everett? Of course not. It was never brought up in previous discussions. There have been dozens if not hundreds of official statements made by officials saying that we need to build the spine for a very long time. Very few ever brought up this issue.

        This is just one of those “Well, if you are doing that anyway, we might as well…” type things. There are other ways around the problem. You can turn back and overlap. You can swap out drivers. Sure, neither is ideal, but this is not a problem worth spending billions on. Heck, at some point operations will likely be automated, and we will wonder why they paired the trains this way, instead of the more logical pairing of Ballard to East Link (i. e. East Link to West Link).

      3. Ross, the agency believes that running uninterruptedly from Tacoma to Everett is too much to ask of operators, and they’re right. So don’t just dismiss Mike’s question. Propose a means by which “to overlap”.

      4. Metro has had routes where one driver has spent over 2 1/4 hours driving in one direction. The old 340 comes to mind, which was a one zone route from Burien to Aurora Village via Bellevue. Some drivers I spoke to even preferred the route, since their entire work day could be condensed into three trips.

      5. Tom, I was assuming 3 lines total: two in the old tunnel running 4-car trains (Snohomish to Tacoma and Snohomish to Redmond) and one in the new tunnel running 2-car trains (WS to Ballard). Both tunnels have 3 minute headways through downtown.

        Personally, I would upgrade Link to driverless so trains can run from Tacoma to Everett. But even with that tech, the trains from Tacoma probably turn back somewhere between Lynnwood and Everett; current ridership studies suggests Mariner.

        I’d like a junction to send the Tacoma trains somewhere other than Everett station; again, I’d look at Mariner and sending Tacoma trains up I5 to S Everett Mall (for redevelopment) while Redmond trains do the Paine Field loop.

      6. “Is anyone worried about running trains from Tacoma to Everett? Of course not. It was never brought up in previous discussions.”

        ST staff “discovered” the problem in 2015, and proposed to split the spine in the December 2015 board meeting which I attended. As to why it wasn’t identified earlier, it’s probably because ST didn’t look at the length issue until it went beyond the conceptual stage, it’s a judgment call that could go either way, and expectations for working conditions are evolving and political. ST’s initial vision had a lot more surface segments, from Intl Dist all the way to Tacoma probably, and I shudder to think what the travel time of that would have been. ST didn’t pay much attention to travel time until ST3.

      7. AJ, Lynnwood to Redmond is an hour and a half, so extending it to Everett seems out of the question. It takes 15 minutes via I-5 at 9 PM , so a train with four (?) intermediate stops would take 20. You’re close to two hours, and Everett suddenly gets TWO routes?

        No one has proposed two lines north of Lynnwood before. Lynnwood is a natural bus intercept because so many lines go there anyway. So I believe it makes sense to plan for it as a permanent turnback point.

      8. The current ST3 operating plan has Redmond trains going to Mariner, so I’m anchoring on that as the primary turnback, not Lynnwood. Mariner provides a transfer to Swift Green, which seems important.

        Personally, I’d go to at least airport road to service the 2nd connection with Swift Blue, but that’s an infill station so apparently others don’t value that station as much. Also, a junction at Mariner supports a future extension at-grade along I5 to S Everett, which strikes me as a a very low cost project (relative to other ST4 candidates) and therefore an excellent candidate for a future branch service.

      9. @Tom — My point is, you find another way around it. I mean, come on. How many years have officials been talking about the spine? Decades. And during that whole time, has anyone stood up and said “Wait a second — it won’t work — the drivers can’t be on the train that long. Back to the drawing board. ”

        Of course not, this is just one way of solving the problem. There are several options, as I mentioned. For example:

        1) Have a turn back at Lynnwood. Send the Everett train to Redmond, and the Lynnwood train to Tacoma. There is no way we need double the frequency all the way to Everett (which means there might be a turn back anyway). (This is what I meant by overlap — not a great choice of words, clearly.) Better yet, have a split right after Lynnwood, and send the “turn around” trains over to SR 99, via 196th. That would be more expensive, but would get you more riders.

        2) Swap drivers, and then keep going. This would likely incur a delay, but it is better than simply having your train end. You would design it so that relatively few people are hurt by the swap. For a northbound train, you would do the swap at Lynnwood in the morning, and SeaTac in the evening. For a southbound train it is reverse. Reverse commuters are delayed, but there aren’t likely to be that many. I have no idea how long it takes to switch drivers, but my guess is it wouldn’t take too long. Nothing like riding a subway in New York, where lengthy delays are common.

        The point is, this is problem that someone must have considered a while ago. Ballard Link is relatively new — for a while it didn’t look like it would be part of this project. But completing the spine has always been part of the plan. I’m sure there are other ways to solve this problem.

      10. Lynnwood to Redmond is an hour and a half

        I don’t think it will be that long. It is supposed to take 45 minutes from downtown Redmond to Westlake*. Lynnwood to Westlake is supposed to be 28 minutes**. So 73 minutes.

        Everett adds 33 minutes***. So that means 106 minutes, or basically an hour and 45 minutes. That is about as long as it takes to ride the A train in New York from end to end ( It is long, but still under two hours.




      11. Ross, just because one train can’t operate from one end of The Spine to the other doesn’t mean “back to the drawing board” which usually means “Start over!”

        Breaking runs into shorter slices inconveniences only a very few riders, but increases the pool of potential operators. The stretch from IDS to Northgate will always be the most heavily used, so in the Best of All Possible Worlds, it would have three lines. If Everett to Redmond is possible, then I’d say do that, Lynnwood to Sea-Tac and Tacoma to Northgate. That gives direct access to Sea-Tac to everywhere between Tacoma and Lynnwood.

    2. That is definitely worth looking into. It would be great for West Seattle as well (just pair West Seattle with Ballard, which is what most people assume is going to happen). West Seattle has a major problem with *stations*. The original plan won’t work because the station (to fit four car trains) was just a bit too long. Now they can go back to the original plan, which would not only save them money, but provide for a much better alignment (closer to the Junction). Better frequency makes the transfer a bit more palatable at both ends, but especially in West Seattle.

      The line would be all grade separated, so completely automating it would be easy. This would lower the operations cost overall, but especially if you ran it more often. As it is, the line would not be especially expensive to run, since it isn’t especially long (unlike the other lines).

      1. IMO, WSBLE could be fully automated even if the terminus stations were at-grade, but ST leadership may not be there yet.

        2-car, automated train operations would also translate well for Kirkland-Issaquah Link project (with or without interlining through Bellevue’s tunnel)

      2. Frankly, at 500 riders per day at South Kirkland along with the hassles of tying into the tracks next to Surrey Downs, I could see an automated line ending at East Main or South Bellevue as a different auto mated technology.

        One other benefit of automated technology is that single track sections are easier to manage. That might let ST develop as less disruptive across Mercer Slough and maybe tie into South Bellevue rather than East Main. Wherever the line ends, it could lay over so that riders can hop on for several minutes before the train leaves. Keep in mind that Seattle bound riders from this line appear to need to walk to the end of the train at East Main to cross the tracks as now proposed and designed.

    3. The more I think about it. The more I like AJ’s idea of two-car trains for Ballard to West Seattle. It has several advantages:

      1) Probably a huge cost savings. The big escalation of costs are for the stations. It is quite possible that a station at 20th in Ballard suddenly becomes a lot more affordable. Likewise, the station in West Seattle can go back to the original plan (with a station on Alaska, close to California). This is the best location, but was ruled out because it turned out the trains are just a bit too long. Thus you not only get cheaper stations, you get better stations.

      2) Big ridership gains. If you increase frequency, you increase ridership — this is true for any transit line. But some lines get a lot bigger increase than others. There are three reasons why this line would get a bigger increase than most. First, it is urban. There are a lot of potential spontaneous trips, unlike much of our system. Federal Way ridership will be commuter based — doubling the frequency won’t add that many new riders (just like increasing the frequency of Sounder didn’t). But increasing frequency to Lower Queen Anne will lead to a lot of extra trips. Second, on much of the line, it will compete with bus service. Let’s say I’m on Westlake, a couple blocks north of Denny, and I’m headed towards the other end of downtown. I can take the 40 and the C or I can walk a couple blocks and take the train. If the train might involve a ten minute wait, then I’m just taking the bus, especially since I’ll likely see one while walking those two blocks. If the train runs every five minutes (at worse) then the train is a lot more appealing. Third, a lot of these trips depend on transfers. Most of the West Seattle riders will have to take a bus to a station. If the train runs every ten minutes, a lot of those riders will just drive. Every line would benefit from running more often, but this line would benefit more.

      3) It costs less to run the trains more often here. Unlike most of our system, the distances are relatively short. It is 12 miles from Ballard to West Seattle. By no means is that short (there are entire subway systems that are shorter, and carry more riders than Link*) but compared to most of our system, it is short. It isn’t just operator costs that are the issue, it is also maintenance. The shorter the line, the less wear and tear there are on the trains and the tracks and the fewer trains you need. In this case, there probably is no additional cost (except at most operator cost). Increasing frequency here just costs less than increasing frequency elsewhere.

      4) It is the only section that could be completely grade separated, and thus automated.

      5) Improves the biggest pinch point in our system. The most likely area where there will be crowding is at Westlake, in the evening, on the main line heading north. You will have the combination of lots of workers heading home, along with lots of people heading out. When Ballard Link is built, you will also have a lot of workers who came from Lower Queen Anne and South Lake Union (and even Expedia) who are heading north as well. One big train load every six minutes does not match well with train loads going north every six minutes. It would be much better to run the train every three minutes.

      6) Less disruptive, both short and long term. My guess is there will be issues with sending the south part of Link to the new tunnel (to go to Ballard) as well as connecting West Seattle to the main line. Maybe not — maybe that will be done without any disruption in service. But you still have the issue of changing the line for south end riders. Let’s say you buy a condo in Rainier Valley while accepting a career job at the UW. You brag about how “you just take one train and you are there in no time”. Now, of course, you have to transfer. It is a relatively minor thing, but it is still a change. I would argue that overall it is worse for south end riders, but it is clearly disruptive –not at all what they expected, and what they’ve gotten used to over what will be years if not decades.

      This does create new issues, but those issues are minor compared to the extra value of better frequency, and the huge cost savings of smaller stations. Running two-car trains would save a lot of money — both short and long term — while creating a much better system for riders.

      I feel like this should be a post, really. This is a very good idea that should be studied by Sound Transit.


      1. ST is admitting that ST 3 in N. King Co. is $11.5 billion underfunded, and I don’t think that includes the true costs for the second transit tunnel, which is basically the total cost of ST 3 in N. King Co. (and suggests ST is using ST 3 revenue to complete ST 2, long suspected before ST 3 even passed).

        There seems to be a growing feeling that a HB1304 levy should not fund ST 3 in N. King Co., which I can understand from an emotional point of view, and I doubt Seattle can afford or will vote for another $11.5 billion. One benefit is that abandoning a second transit tunnel will free up $1.1 billion for the four other subareas, three of which might be having some funding issues completing ST 2 in their subareas.

        That means a two car train from West Seattle to Ballard using a second transit tunnel under Seattle is not affordable, even with smaller stations. We have come to an either or moment: ST 3 or Seattle Subway, and 1304 can’t afford ST 3.

        I think the discussion about smaller projects in a HB1304 levy like a station at 130th (which some call a loan, although how it would be paid back by one subarea to itself is not clear), or some other infill stations, makes sense. The most articulate explanation I have have read about a subway from Ballard to UW is from Tom T., and that just does not seem realistic financially, or even from an engineering standpoint to me, and I am sure West Seattle will question that.

        I still think ST thinks HB1304 is about ST 3, and that would be an interesting fight if a HB1304 levy was prepared for a ballot, especially with ST’s huge PR machine and close political contacts (and the fact Dow Constantine lives in West Seattle). In the end though, the Achilles heel for ST is there is no way a HB1304 levy could be $11.5 billion, or $8.5 billion, or even $5 billion, and so the gap for ST 3 in N. King Co. is just too large to bridge, because you know $11.5 billion is not the true underfunded amount.

        That is my realization. At first I thought ST 3 projects made the most sense for a HB1304 levy, but now I realize the amounts necessary — especially if the four other subareas balk at contributing to cost overruns on the second tunnel — are too great to start, let alone complete, ST 3 in Seattle. So ST 3 is done in N. King Co.

        I am not sure Seattle Subway truly understands the purpose of the language in HB1304 requiring grade separated transit, and who put that language in 1304 and why, but if I were SS I would have that restrictive language in 1304 removed. After all, the voters and planners can still insist on grade separated transit in a 1304 levy if they want. Otherwise 1304 is ST 3, just not enough, which is probably the worst outcome: a 1304 levy limited to projects it can never afford.

        The trick now is to sift through the Seattle Subway wish list, which reads like a Christmas list with cost estimates that make ST look honest, and see what is really affordable, doable, and would pass at a ballot, because one thing ST can teach SS is passing a levy means every neighborhood needs to get something to vote yes, and of course bike groups will want a cut.

        My prediction: HB1304 is not adopted this year, and it would not pass at a ballot unless very small, say $1 billion like Move Seattle, because no one in West Seattle or Ballard will vote for it because they will be aggrieved. Not much on the Seattle Subway wish list for $1 billion. So it looks like ST 2 and the spine will be it for a while, which is probably a good idea. Make ST 2 so fantastic the citizens will demand ST 3.

        Really though, in the end, it will come down to the one thing ST and many transit advocates never really considered: first/last mile access. There is simply no way Metro can provide feeder bus service to a 90 mile spine, so total trip times will be longer with rail and bus truncation than before.

        When congestion and commuting return my guess is the number one complaint will be slow bus frequency, and how that is funded and solved I have no idea if the spine is frickin 90 miles. The fact it is slower east/west than north/south in Seattle won’t help.

      2. I think you are conflating different issues. The monorail authority will only pay for small projects. It can’t possibly fill the gap that ST now has, and allow it to build things when they said they were going to build things. It can, however, speed up the smaller projects, as well as plan for future projects.

        The big projects will be late. It is question of how late, and how over budget they will be. The point that AJ and I are making is that two car trains should reduce the cost dramatically, while improving the quality. Nothing they are currently looking at is like this. They are considering stub lines, which will dramatically reduce the value (Ballard Link without Ballard has very little value). They are considering removing stations, or moving them well away from where they would get the most riders. Running a Ballard to West Seattle line with two-car trains may still be years and years away, but it would be better and cheaper than what they looking at now.

        They are two different ideas. The first has everything to do with the monorail authority. The second does not. The second would have to happen *within* the Sound Transit board, not outside of it.

      3. One other advantage is that a shorter vehicle type could be introduced. Since tunnels are bored, they have to be extra tall to accommodate the current vehicles with catenaries. Bored tunnels are made round so subtracting just a foot from the top also enables subtracting a foot from the sides combined. Shrinking a 25 foot bore to 20 feet saves 36 percent or over a third of the necessary area.

        I would define the vehicle by the length of the train rather than the number of cars. Car lengths can vary widely. I think two cars would mean slightly less than 200 feet maximum train length, which would appear to be five SkyTrain cars.

        The biggest drawback is that a new OMF would be needed.

      4. Al – I think the need for a standalone OMF probably puts the kibosh on a different vehicle spec for WSBLE, given the ease of tying in WSBLE to the Link rail network in SoDO. ST3 is building two rather large OMFs far from prime Seatle real estate. Sharing a single fleet and multiple OMFs yields operational flexibility and resilience … even if the 2nd tunnel handles shorter trains, it can move out-of-service 4-car trains , or be the sole operating tunnel if the other is closed for maintenance or emergency.

        Personally, I think it’s still worthwhile for Ballard Link to use the current vehicles if Link runs at-grade north of Market to 85th; the higher tunnel costs will be mitigated by several miles of at-grade operations. Same in West Seattle, if it’s extended further. I think it’s very important that when Seattle looks at building HCT outside of the downtown core, it uses at-grade (but not mixed traffic) operations whenever possible, whether its a bus or train.

      5. It makes sense to use our current fleet for smaller trains because our fleet is well suited for that sort of flexibility. If we had locomotives pulling cars, to run smaller trains more often would mean buying more locomotives. In our case, we don’t have to do anything special — the exact same fleet with the exact same number of cars should work fine. At most we have to hire more drivers.

        Likewise, I’m pretty sure at one point an ST rep talked about the flexibility in their system — that there are lots of places where trains can turn back. I can’t seem to find that link, unfortunately. This is a very long system, it makes sense that they built in that kind of flexibility. It isn’t realistic to assume they were going to run trains frequently to Everett all day long.

  6. I understand the distinction, I think. My point is there isn’t the funding in the N. King Co. subarea for a second transit tunnel or rail to West Seattle and Ballard, whether one, two or four car trains, even if the idea is a good one. The funding gap is just too large to fill. So ST should not even think about starting them unless a ST 4 passes, and I don’t see a ST 4 passing, and what is the point when subarea equity basically makes ST 4 five separate 1304 levies.

    I am not sure whether you are agreeing with Lazarus that HB1304 levy funding shouldn’t go towards any ST 3 projects, and those would have to happen “within the ST Board, not outside of it”, or you feel 1304 should support smaller ST projects. It looks to me, as an outside observer, that could be a real fight in any 1304 levy.

    The issue with Seattle Subway and HB1304 is I doubt any levy would pass for more than $1 billion, split of course among the various neighborhoods, so I am not quite sure what grade separated transit that could afford, which is why I do agree with you that the limiting language in HB1304 is a problem, and not by accident IMO. Just about any grade separated transit will exceed the likely amount of a HB1304 levy after all the special interests get their cut. It would be like asking what (rail) grade separated transit did Move Seattle build.

    I think N. King Co. is pretty much done with rail transit projects once the spine is completed, at least for a decade or two. It is out of money. The real issue is how to provide the first/last mile access to a rail system 90 miles long with bus transit services dealing with reduced funding.

    It is like debating first/last mile access routes from Lake City when there is no station at 130th and won’t be for decades, and reduced Metro transit service even if there were.

    I worry sometimes we are missing the forest from the trees. Without frequent bus service — when adding a seat and transfer to most trips — rail will be slower, and will be seen as a failure for the ordinary rider. The total time any trip takes, no matter what the form of transportation is, is one, two and three in importance, especially when transit begins with certain inconveniences cars don’t have, and routes that are fixed.

    Someone posted yesterday getting from Redmond to Lynnwood during non-peak times is around 15 minutes on 405 in a car, and nearly two hours on light rail. No one will take rail for that trip of course, which is why the shorter trips, especially work commute trips, need to be timely, which means walk to bus stop, catch bus, disembark bus, access train station, board train, take train to destination, walk to destination better be faster than walk to bus stop, board bus, get off bus at destination.

    1. Even within the realm of transit commuting, I don’t think it’s expected that people will take light rail all the way from Lynnwood to Redmond. You’ll start on the STRIDE bus, which takes 405, just like a car would. Then you have the choice of switching to the 250 at 85th it Link at Bellevue TC. Assuming the 250 runs at a decent frequency, making the switch at 85th should be faster. Even with the transfer, the two bus option shouldn’t take more than about 45 minutes or so, assuming the 250 runs with decent frequency. There is no need to go all the way around on the light rail.

      1. I can’t imagine anyone will take light rail from terminus to terminus, like Redmond to Tacoma, Everett to Tacoma, or even Redmond to the airport, let alone Lynnwood to Redmond. That was not my point.

        That is why the shorter trips — especially work commutes — need to be fast and convenient on light rail, but you have to get to and from rail first. Will a work commute from Lake City to downtown Seattle be faster or slower with light rail? That is the big question. And those are trips in which rail ends at the ultimate destination so another bus is not needed.

      2. I think it really depends on the day/ time and the destination. Stride is better suited for Downtown Bellevue station area trips. Other East Link stations will vary based on the location because the total travel times won’t be significantly different. Some decisions will depend on walking.

        Then there is ride comfort. Some prefer cushy buses and others prefer the smooth glide of a steel rail.

        The station transferring also matters. How many stairs are required does affect some people’s choices.

        Then there is the perceived “safety” of the waiting area. Things like lighting and unsavory loiters can affect decisions.

        The “just missed a vehicle” event can also result in someone picking the other path. Conversations with friends and coworkers also can affect things as it’s nice to chat with someone you like on a vehicle — even if their destination is before yours.

        Finally, there is the “concentration” aspect. Plopping down on a train for a longer ride may be chosen if that rider is reading or editing something. Very few people will prefer standing and will try another path if they find themselves standing too often. Some may choose the option which gives then the perceived biggest personal space.

        In sum, not all travel time is perceived the same. The quality of each trip can make it feel faster or slower.

      3. Will a work commute from Lake City to downtown Seattle be faster or slower with light rail? That is the big question.

        Not really. Commute trips to downtown make up a small subset of overall trips. Folks from Lake City go everywhere, throughout the day. Some trips will be faster, some will be slower. In my opinion, the big question for Lake City is what kind of network will be created after Northgate Link. Will buses to Lake City be more or less frequent? Will Lake City have better access to the rest of the city.

        As it stands right now, the 522 will run all day, and connect to Roosevelt, which is an improvement. From there you not only have access to Link, but plenty of other buses that go to other places. At the same time, there will only be one way to get to Northgate — the slower way. It will be less frequent than before, and certainly less frequent than having two options. Without the proposed 61, Lake City is worse in many respects. With the 61, they are better in just about every way.

    2. A couple things: First, ST has indefinite taxing ability. Everything they want can be built, eventually. It might take 50 years, but it can be built.

      Second, I think the monorail authority (if Seattle gets it, via HB1304) has limits on it. Maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t think we are allowed to propose a huge amount of taxes. I think it makes sense to focus on little stuff because that is all we can afford. Even if it was possible, Seattle chipping in to finish ST3 without major changes is unlikely, and would be unpopular. It makes way more sense to build the two infill stations, especially since they are likely the most cost effective projects in the entire package. That, and the fact that aren’t that expensive, especially since it would likely be simply a long term loan. We could even strike a deal that we get the money from the fare revenue at those stations, in which case the cost would be minimal.

      In any event, they are two different things. Funding is separate from design. Two-car trains is a major design change (for the better). It means the costs goes down, which means it can be built sooner (forty years instead of fifty :)). Only Sound Transit can decide to do that — Seattle can’t.

      I worry sometimes we are missing the forest from the trees. Without frequent bus service — when adding a seat and transfer to most trips — rail will be slower, and will be seen as a failure for the ordinary rider.

      I agree with that. Fortunately Seattle riders have been willing to tax themselves for more frequent bus service. There are limits, but we should be able to do OK if we tax at that rate. (We failed last time, because of unfounded fears of an anti-tax sentiment that didn’t show up — the tax measure passed with record support).

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