79 Replies to “Weekend open thread: U Link’s 5th anniversary”

  1. As this five-year mark approaches, let us not forget that we are still waiting for publication of the FTA-mandated before-and-after study for U-Link, something that ST management promised would be delivered by fall 2019.

    1. It may have been produced but not published online. Under Rogoff, ST seems to be shifting away from making report documents available generally — sometimes in favor of presentation materials instead.

      1. @Al S.
        While I agree with your assessment about the agency’s reporting tendencies overall under Rogoff’s tenure, I think this is simply a case of ST not getting the job done as promised. Back in 2019, the expected delivery date for this report kept getting pushed out according to the monthly and quarterly progress reports. Then the U-Link project was dropped from these reports entirely as there was little if anything to report on each month. Also, if I’m not mistaken, around this same time the project’s public liaison position was wrapped up (and probably reassigned). I remember in early 2020 sending an email off to both ST and the point person at the FTA. I never heard back from the former but did eventually get a response from the FTA that indicated they were waiting on revisions from the agency.

        Here’s a link to the FTA’s page on this subject matter, last updated as of Jan 27, 2021:

      2. If it was sent to the FTA, they might have a copy someplace on their web site, but I’ve not been able to find it.

  2. Dare I ask … will there be a similar party weekend for the Northgate opening? Hopefully large crowds will again be allowed by September! When our pandemic suppression fades fully, there will be an even stronger urge to celebrate! I hope we can have this special day.

    Who will pay for it? ST kind of got hammered about the 2016 opening celebration cost. It could be strategic to promote the Kraken at the same time — and hopefully UW students and normal football will be returning to campus too. Of course, it will also be just before the Mayoral election so candidates should all be present.

    1. The U-District and Roosevelt stations will be our last two fully underground stations for quite awhile — with another not officially expected until the second Downtown/SLU tunnel opens. Even the 2016 West Seattle Link project had no fully underground stations on that segment.

    2. No, ST got heavily criticized for spending so much money on marketing. Even if it wasn’t a lot in the overall scheme of things, it was highly visible so easy to criticize. ST said future openings would be smaller and quieter.

    3. The Kraken can get promotion as soon as they change their name to something that doesn’t sound like crack or crackling wood.

      1. Who will be the first Kra-Ken (along with Kra-Barbie)? Lol

        Maybe they’ll just be known as the Ken’s at some point! Lol

      2. I never understood using that name. Spoiler alert…

        If you have seen either Clash of the Titans … last chance spoiler alert …


        You’ll know it did not end well for the Kraken. This will be a running joke among opposing fans, especially if the club has pre-taped cameo appearances of well-known fans saying “Release the Kraken” before the team makes its game-time entry.

        The only thing that makes sense to me is that the Kraken (albeit not by that name) comes from Norse, not Greek, mythology. AFAIK, the giant octupus sea monster simply roamed the sea freely, and so nobody had to “release” it.

        I suppose right next to a Link station is the best location for a pair of public ice skating rinks, and a better use of the station’s walkshed than a shopping mall. Hockey families will be able to have a lower carbon footprint than Futbol families, unless they live too far from a bus line. Will they eschew the plentiful free parking that even the neighbors opposed? Probably not in most cases.

  3. One of the best things about the 2016 opening weekend was the live music reverberating through the stations. I sometimes wonder if there should be an expanded sound experience program at each station with periodic live performances. Even periodic live DJs would be cool — and the genres could include everything from marching band music on Football Saturdays to dance music early on Saturday evenings to a Link Jazz Festival.

    Yeah it sounds a bit extravagant to have a program like this — but with a city so accommodating to art and music it seems like a good enhancement.

    1. I mean that would be fantastic. Do busking permits like NYC, but maybe make ’em free.

    2. When we were in SLC for a UW-Utah football game, one of the cool things on the Trax trains on game day (at least on the line to campus) was the playing of Utah marching band songs. It added to the game day experience. I haven’t noticed that in other cities I’ve visited on game days – you can get to 8* of the 12 Pac-12 stadia by some form of rail transit, which is pretty cool (and useful).

      * – the Rose Bowl is a bit of a walk from the Pasadena stations on the L/Gold Line, although it’s pleasant enough; Stanford’s stadium is served by Caltrain and the other 6 are all on/near local rail or streetcar systems.

  4. My dad and I will ride Link from end to end when it opens at Northgate for fun. By that time, both of us will have gotten our shots. He moved out of Seattle 4 years ago after living within the city limits for 73 years. Plus he worked in downtown for almost 20 years. Taking him on a ride is fun. He has lived here so long he is almost like a personal historian. I can’t wait.

      1. Sorry to not get back to you. I asked him over text and he gave me some answers. Not sure if they will be helpful. First of all, he believes, but is not sure, that he voted on the trransporatation portion of it. I found out that there were many taxes grouped in to the Fowrard Thrust Plan. They did not all have to do with rapid transit like I had always thought. I know for a fact that he voted for ST2 and ST3 so I will give my Dad a slide on that one.

        Then I called him. To get more info. Just like now, more liberal voters were for it and more conservative voters were against it. If you were against it, they nicknamed it the Upward Thrust and gave you the upward thrust of your fist with the elbow motion or the finger.

        He remembers it being a lot of tax increases all in 2 years. But I did not know they were not just Seattle but county votes. I would be very curious which areas passed it district by district.

        This is a memory of 50 years. Hope it helped a little.

      2. My parents have passed away, but I remember them both voting for it. My dad (years later) mentioned that the situation with BART didn’t help things. This was something he vaguely remembered, and now I vaguely remember the conversation. I’m not sure if early construction problems at BART (or maybe the controversy over the unique train cars) caused some folks to think twice about doing the same thing here.

        In any event, it got over 50% of the vote, but needed 60%. That was for the original 1968 vote. When they tried again in 1970 it got 46%.

      3. My parents (and grandparents) also voted for each of the Forward Thrust rail proposals; my Mom was always ticked off they didn’t pass. As someone who traveled frequently she was a huge fan of high-capacity transit’s usefulness. It didn’t hurt either that her father started out as a driver for Seattle Transit and ended up an assistant superintendent at Metro before his untimely death. We kids knew transit well and how to use it!

        Unfortunately neither parent lived long enough to ride Link, although Mom did vote for the first ST package and was always a huge supporter (Dad wasn’t around to vote on that).

        I never had the opportunity to ask my g-g-grandparents if they voted for the Bogue Plan – that would have been an interesting discussion!

      4. Interesting. I’m a late 1980s NY transplant to Seattle so my parents wouldn’t have been involved in these votes, though I’m sure they would’ve supported these measures had they lived here instead. However, my spouse’s parents and one set of grandparents were around at that time, though I’m not sure how or even if they voted on these two transit proposals. Does anyone know if King County prepared ballot materials in other languages (Chinese in this case) back in those days? I’m guessing that they did but I’m not really sure.

      1. My only issue with Sound Transit’s busking rules is that by forbidding amplification they restrict musical performance to vocal or acoustic only. (There are similar restrictions at the Pike Place Market, where both amplified instruments and horns are forbidden.) Electronic instruments do not necessarily have to be louder than acoustic, and this can controlled by a decibel limit rather than a ban on amplification.

        I understand that similar busking restrictions have been overturned in other cities as being a violation of the 1st amendment, by being a restriction on public expression.

      2. Why should people waiting for a train have to listen to an off-key wannabe caterwauling some narcissistic song or, especially, pounding arythmically on a drum?

        Especially if they’re also panhandling.

        If folks want to be entertained by music, they’ll wear ear buds.

      3. I might be OK with amplified busking if the other noise pollution in the underground stations were reduced. Already we get to hear random ear-splitting blurtings about staying back from the edges of the platforms, security notices, and other town crier non sequiturs. Failing that, I would be most happy with “quiet enjoyment” of transit as a goal.

      4. I’m with Tom on this one. Unamplified buskers that already use the system are too loud for me, even through noise canceling earbuds inside noise canceling headphones. I don’t want to have to hear potentially louder amplified systems that will penetrate what has already become a literal noise canceling suite/routine for me.

      5. The busking will continue. It’s just a question of whether the buskers are outside the station, or the more professional ones inside the station.

  5. I’m currently in the process of revampng the map I was working on last week. I want to show how an intergrated Everett/Community Transit network might look in that same general late 2020’s time frame that I was looking at before.

    A (albebit minor) bugbear of mine is how the Everett Transit routes would branded into the Community Transit system. There are three ways I’m considering about this:

    -One, add 100 to every route number, so 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 12, 18, 29, 70 become 102, 103, 104, 106, 107, 108, 112, 118, 129, and 170. The problem with this scheme is how some CT Route already have some of these numbers, but it’s the most straight forward and simple.

    -Two, renumber the Routes into the 15x/16x series. With this, ET 2, 3, 4, 6, 7,8, 12, 18, 29, 70 become CT 152, 153, 154, 156, 157, 158, 162, 168, 169, 160. It’s this set of renumbering that I think would be most likely in the event the CT/ET merger becomes a reality. Despite it being slightly less straightforward for ET passgengers, it would need no rebranding of existing CT routes, and it would also keep the sort geographical numbering that CT’s historically used, with higher numbered routes the further away from the King County Line.

    -Three, renumber the routes into the 35x/36x series. This would turn ET 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 12, 18, 29, 70 into CT 352, 353, 354, 356, 357, 358, 362, 368, 369, 360. This is the renumbering that I would want to see, even if I feel it’s the least likely. The idea here is that this scheme would be one part of regionalwide rebranding of Bus Routes across KCM, CT, PT, ST, and potentially KT and IT. For Community Transit, this would mean rebranding almost all it’s routes into the 3xx series. Given the much higher level of initial confusion for existing riders this would cause, I don’t feel it to be all that likely, but it would make regional travel for new riders much simpler, as there would be only one set of numbers to remember.

    1. I’d say go with the numeration scheme that you want. It’s your work!

      One other option I’ve thought about is to simply use a leading letter ”C” in front of the route number and not change anything else. (Note that Stride is S1, S2 and S3.) CT could even eventually switch the first digit from every ### route when Lynnwood Link opens in favor of the “C” — and just have C1 through C99 available. The Swift routes could either be a “0” route (10, 20, 30, 40) or be C-Green et al.

      As I’ve stated before, I really wish that the PSRC transit committee could weigh in on numbering and branding schemes. With Link soon running into many areas, confusion seems more likely (and I’m very happy that ST changed their branding away from colors last year). It won’t matter to seasoned riders, but I think infrequent users have a slightly harder time thinking of bus routes in three digits than thinking of a bus route with a letter and one or two digits.

      1. There’s less to remember in a set of 3 digits versus that 1 letter and 2 digits. One being that there 26 letters, but only 10 digits. The other being the issue of doling the letters to various parts of the region, epescially in regards to the letters k and s. It’s better just to bother with letters period.

        The scheme that I have is the same that been mentiong over the years here, but I’ll go over again:

        1-99: King County Metro routes in Seattle and adjacent areas

        100-199: King County Metro routes in South King County

        200-299: King County Metro routes in East King County

        300-399: Community/Everett Transit Routes in Snohomish County

        400-499: Pierce Transit routes in Pierce County

        500-599: Sound Transit Regional Express routes

        600-699: Bus Rapid Transit routes

        700-799: Intercity Transit routes in Thurston County

        800-899: Kitsap Transit routes in Kitsap County

        900-999: DART routes

        I think I might make 2 copies, one with the 2nd set of numbers, and one with the 3rd.

      1. Everett Transit only has like 10 routes right now, CT has plenty of space in their existing number scheme (only 14 routes in the 1xx series, and 12 in the 2xx series), and really think there should be just one set of low numbered routes in the region. Which is more understandable at a glance, KCM 7/KCM 107/CT 107/ET 7, or 7/107/307/357?

    2. Why does CT have no routes below 100? It’s like all routes are secondary, and it’s redundant when there are only 24 local routes, 2 Swift routes, and 19 express routes (4xx and 8xx). I would drop the first digit on the local routes and keep the express routes the same. Is there some distinction between 1xx and 2xx routes? CT may have reserved 1-99 to avoid overlapping with ET and allow for a future merger without renumbering.

      1. It could be simply to avoid confusion with ET routes, since some CT routes stop in Everett. It could also be to avoid confusion with KCM routes in Seattle. But, it doesn’t really matter. What matters more is that the frequency of the ET routes is terrible and needs some drastic improvement to be useful.

      2. Why does CT have no routes below 100?

        I think you answered your own question. It is to avoid confusion. Same with all of the numbering. The key here is to avoid having the same numbers in the same area. In Everett you have 100s, 200s, 400s and 800s from CT. You have signal digits from Everett Transit. You have 500s ST. You even have the 90X from Skagit County. The main thing is, *within Everett*, each number is unique. Thus there is no place in Everett where you would be confused, and take the wrong numbered bus. You don’t need to know the agency, you only need to know the number.

        It is no coincidence that CT skips over the 300s, and jumps to the 400s. That is because those buses go to downtown Seattle, and downtown Seattle has buses that go into the 300s. Thus there is no repeating the number in downtown Seattle either.

        It all works out. In each area, you avoid repeating the numbers. But in Puget Sound, you repeat numbers a lot. For example, there is a 3 in Pierce, Snohomish and King County. But it doesn’t matter, because they don’t overlap (they all stay in the their own counties).

        To answer your question, FDW, you don’t need to do a thing. The numbers don’t have to follow some region wide theme. They just need to avoid conflicting, and they do that very well right now (by design).

      3. @Mike Orr, CT isn’t the only Transit agency that I know was like this, Las Vegas’s RTD was like that when I lived there. Though Las Vegas probably borrowed their scheme from Los Angeles, who was doing a similar renumbering during the time it was developed.

        I think its better just to regularize ET’s routes in CT’s scheme, simply there aren’t many routes to begin with, and even with more service, there wouldn’t be that much more needed to serve Everett.

        @asdf2: I’m operating on the assumption that the amount of service Everett runs nearly doubles due to the how the merger with CT would work.

        @RossB: What you’re suggesting isn’t good enough. You have multiple services labeled “3”, that creates an overlap, an oppurtunity for confusion. The system of regional route branding has backwards in massive way since it was created by King County Metro in the 1970’s.

        Let me bring up the idea that this can be done. LAMTA renumbered ALL their routes in the early 90’s, taking the system that was inhereited from PE/LARy days, perserved through the SCRTD days, and turned it into the system they have now. My scheme is considerably less dramatic that what LA did, as large parts are already in place.

      4. @RossB: What you’re suggesting isn’t good enough. You have multiple services labeled “3”, that creates an overlap, an opportunity for confusion.

        No one is confused. There is no overlap. That is the point. There are “3” routes all across the country. But no one is confused, because they know that a Chicago 3 is different than a New York 3. Someone knows that an Everett 3 is different than a Tacoma 3 which is different than a Seattle 3.

        The only time it is a concern is if a bus from one system runs within the same region as another. This is why ST — which routinely runs buses in more than one county — numbers theirs in the 500s. Neither King, Pierce or Snohomish County does that, which is they they picked numbers in that range. Does it signify anything about where the bus is headed? Absolutely not. It just means that it unique. It made is easier for them to pick the numbers. They could have simply picked numbers that other agencies weren’t using, but that would have been more bother.

        Same idea with Community Transit. The only reason that CT uses 400s for the Seattle buses is because King County doesn’t. Likewise the 800s. Pierce County doesn’t even bother with ranges. They simply pick numbers that don’t overlap with other routes in those same areas.

        You are overthinking this. There is very little value in having some grand numbering scheme. It will simply add more confusion for existing riders, who wonder why all their buses have new numbers even though the routes didn’t change. Keep in mind, most riders never leave their county.

        There is some mnemonic value with grouping, but that is largely *within that system*. For example, the 400s go to downtown Seattle, while the 800s go to the UW. If you are in Lynnwood, and trying to get one place or another, this is a very nice feature. But you don’t have to worry about the fact that at that very moment, there may be bus in Pierce County with the same number, because it is nowhere serving that bus stop. It simply doesn’t matter.

      5. RossB: I have to disagree with you on an intense level. That kind of fief oriented thinking led to the ridiculous situation in the Bay Area with a half a dozen routes labeled “22” along with many other absurdities. Every metropolitian area in the United States should have just one set of numbers for their bus routes, and anything less than that is fundamentally unacceptable for me.

        Let me clarify Metro’s original numbering scheme from the 1970’s. They created not just the 0xx, 1xx, 2xx, 3xx scheme that’s used now, but also had routes in the 4xx series for Routes gong outside of King County. Both Pierce Transit and Community Transit inhereited these routes from Metro, but the latter has kept them closer to their historical role.

        While you bring up the cost of rebranding, Community Transit is not all that far removed from a major rebranding in it’s own right. Back in the early 2000’s their number scheme was more like what Pierce Transit still has, with the 1st digit being used to designate what kind of service it did. 1xx served SW Snohomish, 2xx Northern Snohomish, 4xx Seattle Express, 6xx Serving Aurora TC, and 7xx serving the Hwy 2 corridor.

      6. I was confused by the same route numbers used in two different counties. I had heard that the route 230 went to UW Bothell. So I drove up to Smokey Point, where I know there is a route 230, and waited for the bus. I took it all the way to Darrington. I was pretty embarrassed when I found out I was on the wrong route 230.

      7. Lol. Well done, Sam.

        I’m with RossB on this. It all seems like a solution in search of a problem.

      8. The 4xx were created by Metro for Snohomish County expresses. They may have been funded by CT until CT got its own bus fleet ready. I don’t remember any 4xx Pierce expresses. PT uses 4xx for Puyallup routes, and two of those go to Federal Way or Auburn.

        PT also has the 500 and 501, and the 594 was originally a PT route. It may be a similar case of ST funding it until ST Express was ready to launch.

        “6xx Serving Aurora TC,”

        So my memory was right that the Aurora Village-Everett route was 6xx! I thought it was when I took it, once to Everett in the 80s to see what was there, and weekly in the early 90s to north Lynnwood to a church.

      9. @Mike Orr I was basing my statement off my memories of this map of King County Metro in 1977:


        Upon seeing again though, I have to correct my statement. Metro was running service to Tacoma in the 1970’s, but it wasn’t numbered in the 4xx series. On the other hand, they DID have busses in the 4xx series serving Federal Way, which I might have misremembered as going all the way to Tacoma.

        Yeah, there was 610, 620, and 630. The 610 and 630 did the same thing as the 101/130 do now, while the 620 swung drunkenly back and forth in an effort every destinaton between Aurora TC and Everett Station.

        The other night I found some of CT’s old schedules via Web Archive from the turn of the millenium. It seems that back then, Half-hourly service on SW Snohomish routes was universal on weekdays.

      10. There are really only two goals when it comes to labeling the buses:

        1) Avoid confusion.

        2) Make it easy to remember the numbers.

        These goals are sometimes contradictory. Every agency in the country could use a different number (e. g. instead of Metro’s 3 it would be 34,003) but it would be very hard to remember them. So agencies come up with numbers that are unique for their system, and a particular area.

        But there is also value in establishing patterns. Back in the day, there were several Metro buses that went from the UW to downtown. These were in the 70s. It is much easier to remember 71, 72, 73 and 74 than it is to remember 14, 23, 82 and 99.

        In rare cases, different agencies can avoid overlap, while establishing a pattern. For example, the 500 and 501 are the only Pierce Transit (PT) buses that go from downtown Tacoma to Federal Way. This in itself is useful. But ST also has buses that go to Tacoma, including the 574, which is an express from Tacoma to Federal Way. Thus if you miss the 574, you can catch the 500 or 501. Another way to look at it, is that if you are in Tacoma, then every bus in the 500s (500, 501, 574, 586, 590, 594) leaves Tacoma. If you are trying to take a local trip (and most people are) you don’t want to take that bus. It is very common for agencies to have special numbering for their long distance, express buses and ST and PT manage to do that well.

        So does Snohomish County. Unlike Pierce County, Community Transit runs a lot of different routes to Seattle. There are 13 express routes to downtown Seattle, and 6 to the U-District. There is value in grouping these as two different blocks. With so many, using 100s (not 10s) makes it easier. It also makes it much easier to avoid a potential conflict with Metro. CT could squeeze in the numbers in the 300s, but they would not have the nice blocks that are available when starting with 400 and 800. It is very easy to remember: A 400 bus goes from Snohomish County to downtown Seattle; an 800 bus goes from the Snohomish County to the UW. This greatly simplifies things at the Lynnwood Transit Center (where there are a lot of buses). It takes a bit more knowledge to understand the 500 series (ST) buses, but like in Pierce County, you know it is not a local bus.

        Then there is history. I’ll admit, I have trouble figuring out some of the patterns for Pierce Transit. The 400 series goes through Puyallup … except for the 497, which goes to Auburn (I guess you can consider the 400 series as Puyallup/Auburn). Even then the 4 goes to Puyallup, just not the main part. The 200 series are similar. These are Lakewood buses that don’t go to downtown Tacoma. Like a lot of groupings, the relationship is relatively vague, and likely the result of history. Initially the streetcar routes just grew organically, with no attempt to create a pattern. Eventually they were redone, to create one. But cuts and growth has made that difficult, and you end up with the 100, the only bus in the 100s, and the only CT bus that goes over the Tacoma Narrows. The ST 595 bus goes to Gig Harbor as well, which means there is no pattern at all, making it more difficult to remember (they don’t have a single digit in common).

        Right now, the numbering system with Everett Transit and Community Transit is fine, although less than ideal. There is very good grouping within CT, and conflicts are avoided with the agencies. But if I’m trying to get from the south end of downtown Everett to the north end via Broadway, I can take the 201, 202 or 7. If ST extends the tail, then I might also have the 510, or 512. No pattern at all.

        But it doesn’t make sense to change the numbers unless you do a restructure. That is likely to happen. The 800 series is going away. It is quite likely the 400 series will as soon as Link reaches Lynnwood. It is also quite possible that Everett Transit will be incorporated within Community Transit. Any of these changes could result in a major restructure, and changes to the numbering.

        At that point, the only thing that CT has to do is avoid the conflict with Metro and ST, which means avoiding the 300s and 500s. I could see them adopting a system similar to what King County has, where the numbers under 100 never leave the biggest city (in this case Everett). Other than that, I think they would keep the same general pattern — the 100s stay south of downtown Everett, while the 200s run through it. Or they could some up with a completely different numbering system.

      11. The 800 series is going away.

        I would like to retract that statement. I don’t know what I was thinking (brain fart). Just because the 800 buses are going to Northgate instead of the UW doesn’t mean they are going away. The rest of that paragraph stands though. Once those buses end in Lynnwood, it doesn’t make sense to number then in the 400s and 800s.

    3. Even more importantly than the numeration, I’d like to see the fares on CT become even more like other neighboring transit agencies. The super-premium commuter fares will hopefully go away with the opening of Lynnwood Station. If CT then changes its commuter-route fares to match ST Express fares, that would make the concession fares identical to the concession fares for all ST services, Metro, the streetcars, and the monorail. Heck, I think that would make sense to do that in September for all the 800-series routes if CT wants riders to opt to ride those routes over the super-expensive-to-operate 400-series routes that will still go all the way downtown and park in the SODO all day.

      I’m also curious why nobody has proposed to split the SWIFT Blue Line, so that riders north of Edmonds College can have the bus slide over to Lynnwood Station instead of having to transfer at ECollege to get to Link or stay on the bus slogging all the way down to 185th St in Shoreline.

      1. I would assume that once Link gets to Lynnwood, the CT express buses go to Lynnwood (or go away). If they do run express buses to Seattle, then they should definitely charge a premium.

        I agree about the 400 and 800 buses as well. Once they send the 800 buses to Northgate, they should discount them. The only buses that charge a premium should be the 400 buses.

        I’m also curious why nobody has proposed to split the SWIFT Blue Line, so that riders north of Edmonds College can have the bus slide over to Lynnwood Station instead of having to transfer at ECollege to get to Link or stay on the bus slogging all the way down to 185th St in Shoreline.

        I don’t think there are many riders who would do that. North of Edmonds College there just aren’t that many significant destinations. There are very few stops, and not much at them. It is essentially just an express to Everett. (If you are in Everett, then you are probably just going to take an ST express to Lynnwood).

        Most of the good destinations for Swift Blue are south of 196th or in Everett. The two biggest on SR 99 are the college and the hospital. Even Aurora Village is a bigger destination than most of the stops north of 196th.

        This brings up another issue. The riders from the north (from largely residential areas) would have to transfer to get to the college, the hospital or Aurora Village. All the while, you have spent extra doubling up service along 196th (likely without any stops). That involves spending extra money, and it isn’t clear whether it is any better.

        I think they got it right. The main Swift is an express. It isn’t that much of a slog down to 185th. Some of the riders will take other buses to Lynnwood. I have issues with some of what CT does, but none with the idea that they run a bus on SR 99 as far as possible.

      2. I’ve often wondered why the SR 99/ Airport Road Station is listed as “optional” by ST. This is literally the crossroads between the Blue and Green Swift lines. I also think that a phased Everett Link project should end here rather than at Mariner.

        Perhaps the hesitancy had to do with nearby land uses. I could see reluctance towards creating a new urban village there.

        I’m could see splitting the Blue Line or deviating the route to Mariner Station if Link only goes to there. Riding the entire Blue Line just to reach Link seems unreasonable.

      3. I think the only reason that station is “optional” is money. It has much greater potential for development than every station in Everett Link. It wouldn’t be by the freeway, so they would just add apartments there. It would have connecting buses from the apartments up the road as well as the mall. If you don’t believe that station will have many riders, then you don’t believe in Everett Link. I’m not saying I do, but the inconsistency is damning.

      4. My understanding is the same as Ross – the stations that are conditional are mostly to get the subarea finances to fit into the initial plan.

        For that station, I can’t imagine it not being built, particularly as Snohomish is likely to end up having to build Everett Link in phases. I think at worse it will be like 130th, opening slightly later than the main alignment.

      5. “I think they got it right.”

        Yes; overall, CT’s plan is quite sound. Anyone making the suggestion to split the Swift blue line hasn’t taken the time to review the agency’s LTP, the network they are trying to build in the SW UGA and their emphasis on select transit corridors that align with the county’s and other jurisdictions’ comp plans. There is nothing to be gained by breaking up the Swift blue line (say below 196th) if one looks at the ridership detail currently as well as the projections for 2024. Additionally, making the connection with Link at Shoreline North through the planned Swift blue line extension project also makes a lot more sense from this perspective. With the planned improvements this will hardly be a “slog”. Riders from the north who are attempting to connect with Link for destinations southbound will certainly just stay on their bus rather than transferring to the planned orange line for a three-seat trip. Besides, at this point the ship has sailed on any alternative proposal for this part of CT’s Swift network.

        In 2020, CT applied for a CMAQ grant thru the PSRC Regional FHWA Competition round of funding for that year’s cycle. The request was for $3.2 million for the purchase of additional buses in support of the Swift blue line extension project. The PSRC awarded the funding to the agency in the full amount. On page eight of the application, CT answered the following question:

        “6. What is the expected increase in transit ridership from the project?

        “Currently the Swift Blue Line has 5,800 weekday daily boadings and had 1.841 million boardings in 2019.
        When the Swift Blue Line is expanded an additional 1.5 miles to serve the Link light rail station at 185th Street in Shoreline we are projecting 9,200 daily weekday boardings for the entire
        line, an increase of 3,400 weekday daily boarding from the extension and annual ridership will be approximately 2.9 million.”

        One final point regarding the discussion above about the “optional” Link station at Hwy 99 and Airport Road…

        AJ is correct in his response about this:
        “…the stations that are conditional are mostly to get the subarea finances to fit into the initial plan.”
        The only thing I would quibble with here is that I would state it the other way around, i.e., fitting the initial plan into the subarea’s projected financial plan. The underlying meaning is still the same however.

  6. Gosh that was a great time. What a great reason to have a civic celebration. Such a shame and so revealing about our sick culture that folks took the opportunity to squash it.

    1. I recall some legislators, including lefties, jumping on that bandwagon. Where are they now? Mostly retired by the voters.

  7. I hear the housing on top of the station is almost done. Most of the new stations are build next to a highway so I don’t expect much housing to happen.

    The celebration party costs were lower than 2 parking spots (and ST2 is building hundreds) but we can’t have nice things.

  8. Today I was on I-5 between Fife and Federal Way. It’s about 4-5 of pretty lightly developed land and it has a nice hillside on the stretch.

    Should there be some consideration of a future infill Link station (“Milton Station”) on this segment? It seems like a great development opportunity with the new 167 interchange going in below the hill slope. Building 4-5 of light rail without a stop on this stretch seems like a wasteful investment.

    I realize that it makes no sense to build a station where nothing is planned. However, the opportunity to develop here in the future seems attractive at some point in the future. Should ST design for “future suitable track platforms” on this segment? It seems like there should be something that could happen here.

    1. Of course it should. It might cost them an extra ten million to separate the tracks enough to have a center platform, but will they do it?

      Magic Eight Ball says, “Probably Not”.

      1. By the way, they’d get that $10 million back were such a center-platform station built later if it’s in one of the elevated sections, which is likely because of the gradieent changes around Milton.

    2. Seems like a frequent bus on 99 between the Fife and SFW stations would be more than sufficient to serve any growth that might arise adjacent to the Link alignment.

      If the need really arises, just build an infill side platform station like Seattle will at Graham street. TD Link isn’t going to have high frequencies, so side platforms should be sufficient.

      I could see Federal Way intrigued by a station next to Beamer high school to facilitate a redevelopment of Wild Waves in the future, but it that really appreciably better than a frequent bus on 161 between Edgewood and SFW station? Kent, FW, SFW, and Fife stations are all pulled away from the I5 alignment to improve the station footprint, but any infill station will be immediately adjacent to the freeway, so anywhere you put the station, half the walkshed is going to be either freeway or protected watershed (Hylebos creek).

      1. If the growth is not at high intensity, a bus would be fine. I’m only saying to reserve the option for a future station now in case it becomes a more ambitious dense urban destination.

        Value engineering kept the MLK rebuild from reserving land for a Graham St Station. It would be tragic for another short-sighted design decision to occur.

      2. AJ, the difference that I see is that this is about 4-5 miles without a station. “Anywhere else” would seem to have a station close by. Except for TIBS-RBS and the I-90 bridge, this seems to be the longest distance for Link without a station.

    3. AJ, there has to be a straight, flat stretch of track about 450 feet long to accommodate a station. Even if separated tracks aren’t created, some location should be chosen and the flat tangent declared.

      1. Maybe this isn’t railway engineering beat practice, but it’s possible to build stations on slightly curved track, isn’t it? Loyola on the CTA Red Line is built on a curve, I’m sure there are others.

      2. It’s the flat and straight 450 feet that seem to be the most essential basic requirement. Are there others? Track switching and signaling seem to require some disruption when adding an infill station but it seems significantly more minor in cost and closures compared to a major mainline track rebuild. I would think this accommodation would only require a few million in alignment adjustments now compared to hundreds of millions in extra cost later..

        It’s also a matter of funding. This stretch has “edge” geography (city limits and county lines) that make it harder to pitch allocating funding to ensure an easier future infill station to a government entity. The State or maybe Milton or maybe an adjacent major property owner could come forth. (I do think there is a larger need here — a “future proof” funding pot to address all the lost opportunities from intense project-budget-focused value engineering.)

        I do find great irony that this site seems much better for urban infill compared to others like 272nd, Fife and East Tacoma. (I’m can see how local politics of cities and tribes led to adding these current stations.) I could envision a large medical complex or a large mixed-use hub of activity.

      3. Between the freeway and the creeks, it seems a pretty mediocre spot for urban infill. There’s a reason it is ‘lightly developed’ and not already built out with a bunch of suburban houses like the rest of Federal Way.

        The best use for this land is probably light industrial, like the “lightly developed” old Weyerhaeuser campus on the opposite side of I5, and perhaps some modest TOD along 99. Orient development towards 99 and bus service rather than towards I5 and a theoretical Link station.

      4. “Between the freeway and the creeks, it seems a pretty mediocre spot for urban infill.”

        I tend to agree with AJ here. Also, if I’m not mistaken, that SW corner of Milton near I-5 involves multiple wetlands and sits on a regulated flood plain.

      5. Is the quarry/materials site actually in play? The city’s plans for west of I-5 are probably fine as I believe that area avoids the hydrology-related issues south and east of there.

      6. Looking at the West Milton Commercial District: long, narrow, and oriented around 99, not I5. Seems like it would be better served by several bus stops than just one rail station. Both ‘WMCD’ and ‘Uptown’ will benefit from strong bus transfers to SFW station.

        As for the quarry site, not sure if this development fell through (article is from Jan’20) but this articles says the city has approved a 118 acres, 2 million square feet warehouse center, so that ship may have sailed.

  9. Celebrations… waste of money. Put those $$$$$$ towards more transit. And if it is too “trivial” of an amount, drop it into the general fund for Metro bus service. Another reminder of my paying taxes towards transit, having no useful transit service, and being completely priced out of neighborhoods with good transit.

    It’s fine. I’ll continue the little guy’s rat race. Accumulate as much small-time wealth as I can, in turn contributing as little to the service-based economy as possible, in an effort to buy a home in a warm climate in retirement. This city has shunned me, therefore, I owe it nothing.

  10. I don’t think it is within ST’s power to decide whether people will celebrate Northgate Link opening day. The virus and human behavior will basically decide that. They can help impact *how* people celebrate.

    The celebration will need to be socially-distanced, with the mask-wearing requirement on ST property still in place. If ST wants to make the celebration safer, they can make proof of full vaccination a requirement to get a golden ticket for the first ride and being at each of the station platforms for the speechifying. Or just accept proof of vaccination (and wearing a mask properly) in lieu of fare. This doesn’t have to apply only to opening day. Spreading out the period of free-rides-for-the-vaccinated-masses to opening week or opening month could help with social distancing.

    They can arm security with thermometers (which, really, they could do right now and check everyone on the train or at the platform).

    Livestreaming the speeches and first ride could help encourage some to stay home. Maybe link to volunteer videographers doing their walking tours of the new stations.

    Spending 5 or 6 figures on protecting public health around Northgate Link opening celebrations would be hard for the haters to criticize, and could get souvenir masks with ST branding on the faces of hundreds of thousands.

  11. I know Ross and Mike have complained about this, but I find it hard to believe that the staff — who are presumably transportation professionals — have not said to the electeds, “You know, you really should have a dimension which isn’t just ‘cost’, but rather ‘cost per additional rider'”.

    Why are we paying millions in staff costs, if something so basic is consistently ignored?

    1. I’m not sure that I’ve complained about it. When I hear “cost per additional rider” it raises the opposite fear in me: that existing riders are being undervalued. ST has used “no additional riders” as a reason to skip NE 130th station and the Aurora Lynnwood alternative, and “many additional riders” (in future housing units) as a reason for 15th Ave NW over “real Ballard”. I look at it differently. The size and density of the existing ridership and city are sufficient justification for an infrastructure upgrade even if no additional riders materialize. Cities around the world like Seattle and with corridors like Aurora have subways. In Germany even smaller cities do, like Bielefeld, pop. 340K. A Seattle-Bellevue subway was justified in 1972 during Forward Thrust given the county’s growth management plan (which was all east). I spent decades from 1978 to 2009 and present wishing there were a subway between downtown, the U-District, Northgate, and the airport, and riding slower, less frequent, less reliable buses because there wasn’t one. Having high-quality transit gives access to a wider range of destinations and allows you to pack more activities into a day. If Forward Thrust had been built, my parents in Bellevue might have used it to go to Seattle rather than driving everywhere.

      The argument for the Aurora alternative and Real Ballard are the existing ridership of the E, D, and 40, the variety of destinations there, the concentration of pedestrians in Ballard (apartments, farmers’ market, bars, tourists, employers, hospital), the non-concentrated but linear number of pedestrians along Aurora (current riders), and the potential of larger urban villages in both areas. The argument for 130th is to indirectly serve the villages at Lake City and Bitter Lake, and secondarily for a future village at 130th & 5th. So that’s based mostly on existing riders, existing pedestrian concentrations and pedestrian-friendly businesses, secondarily on future growth, and also on a greater willingness to use transit when it’s high quality and as societal attitudes evolve. (I believe the postwar car-dependent mania is an aberration that will eventually diminish.)

      Sound Transit’s calculation is different. It can’t consider speculative future upzones, only current zoned capacity. And Seattle didn’t upzone Aurora when it had the chance, and it delayed the rolling citywide upzones for two decades until after the Link alignments had been decided. (Some have now gone through, like the U-District, Roosevelt, Northgte, and Mt Baker. Although most are shorter and smaller than they should have been.) At 130th ST calculated no additional riders, because existing riders would go to Northgate. ST didn’t measure how much time or quality of life they’d lose getting to Northgate, or consider that foreign cities would have included a station there because of the nearby villages. With Aurora, ST calculated that the four minutes’ longer travel time would lose more riders in Lynnwood than it would gain on Aurora. (And that I-5 would be cheaper, which also turned out to be false because of the age of the freeway.) Never mind that a higher-pedestrian, higher-storefront area intrinsically generates more ridership long term, and a subway there is more worthwhile even if it doesn’t generate more ridership (because you can walk to more things), and Seattle could have zoned much longer urban villages along Aurora and might do so eventually. In Ballard’s case, it was ignored in ST1 and 2 because it wasn’t a PSRC Urban Growth Center, even though it was obviously a dense, balanced jobs-and-housing center that attracts many pedestrians from outside the neighborhood. And 15th was always favored because of the potential for new apartments there. But what about the existing ridership to Real Ballard, which would have only grown? Developers have shown themselves incapable of building a new pedestrian center that’s as inviting or has as many diverse destinations as pre-WWII centers, so we should definitely serve those proven-successful centers, and not skip them for some speculative future development that will inevitably prove disappointing. Surprisingly, developers have proven they CAN restore old buildings and densify behind them, like the excellent Pike Motorworks, Melrose building, and Sunset Electric, yet they refuse to build new buildings with similar aesthetics, and owners and cities don’t demand that they do so. So 15th NW will probably end up looking like Roosevelt in the U-District rather than the Ave.

      Sound Transit considers more factors than just new additional riders, but most of its other factors are biased in the same direction, so they end up with non-pedestrian-friendly, non-urban-friendly, non-transit-convenience conclusions.

    2. And the covid factor, which I was going to mention. That has thrown a big wildcard into population projections in many aspects.

      1. The PSRC’s 2050 Vision Statement was based ion 2018-19 data. Two big unknowns post pandemic are:

        1. Will the three state ST district continue its past population growth. Even in 2019 population growth in King Co. was flat. To compare the four county area — including Kitsap Co. — to the Bay Area doesn’t take into consideration the enormous area of the four states, which determines density.

        2. Whether residents will continue to deurbanize . This was an issue with downtown Seattle before Covid. A TOD model relying heavily on peak hour commuter riders might not have the density.

        It isn’t the end of the world. Fewer new residents is probably a positive. But it does have significant impacts on total amount of tax revenue, and where (subarea) that revenue will be realized. The future is likely more, not less, sprawl.

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