April 30th is the deadline for the public to comment on Sound Transit’s various options to make up for the current mismatch in projected costs and revenues for ST3. Here’s where we stand:

There is no effect on the Sound Transit 2 projects (Link to Lynnwood, Redmond, and Federal Way) and these are expected to arrive in accordance with current schedules, and roughly 1-2 years after the timeline voters were given in 2008.

Updates to the economic model have reduced the funding gap from $11.5 billion to “only” $7.9 billion. $527m from the first Biden stimulus, plus $4.6 billion more in projected tax revenue is partially offset by $595m more in cost inflation. The NE 130th St Station alone has increased $64m as engineering went from 30 to 60%.

This handy graph shows how other considerations have more than made up for lower tax receipts, and it’s exploding capital costs that have put the project in doubt:

These are Year of Expenditure dollars, so overall numbers are highly sensitive to assumptions about construction inflation, economic growth, and so on.

So that’s the budget hole. How might ST fix it?

One strategy to seek more money. Federal dollars don’t really involve difficult tradeoffs. State grants might, and any local revenue source will take political or statutory capacity from other transit projects.

The other strategy is to deliver some things roughly on time and build others much later than planned. The survey asks you to prioritize projects within each subarea you care about. The staff has tried to attach some sort of higher principle to assigning priorities, but it’s likely that a mixture of these principles is used to justify a plan that matches the balance of interests on the Board, which is really the only way in can be without the powers of Robert Moses. Your input in the subarea in which you vote is especially useful in this exercise of making as many happy as possible.

The good news is that the new revenue forecast is roughly equal to a $4 billion infusion in staff scenarios (1, 2). These scenarios place projects into 4 tiers. The first tier would be about 2 years late, a product of planning and Covid delays not really related to the budget gap. The second tier was facing 5-8 years of delay, but now 2-4. Tiers 3 and 4 sometimes gain a few years, and in other cases is still stuck opening 14-15 years later than planned.

If you ask me, the second downtown tunnel is the most urgent thing here. Many projects are serving areas with development potential, but the bit from Westlake to Lower Queen Anne is already at rail densities, and with destinations of regional importance.

The Board is supposed to decide on a plan in July.

65 Replies to “Public input on ST3 realignment this week”

  1. “Federal dollars don’t really involve difficult tradeoffs. State grants might, and any local revenue source will take political or statutory capacity from other transit projects.”

    Wrong. Sound Transit has tax authority from the state to assess LIDs and use the revenues to secure bonds. It did not even disclose that option to the board in that 4/22 presentation.

    1. Citation? I’ve never heard that before. The only tax I was aware of that the Board hasn’t yet used was a rental car tax, which would raise some money but not enough to materially impact the realignment calculus.

      1. Thanks. Seems like this would be a good mechanism with which to raise “3rd party funding”

    2. If ST uses uncommitted taxing authority, that’s still using transit statutory capacity. As I said.

      1. Using LID Assessment authority would not be using “statutory capacity from other transit projects,” which is what you wrote. That assessment authority isn’t used for anything now, and it certainly isn’t used for any other transit projects.

      2. Does it though? I’m not convinced debt issued by a LID counts towards the parent agency’s bonding capacity; a LID is an independent taxing authority.

      3. Depends on how the bond covenants are written. If the bond holders consider the LID a truly independent taxing authority, Ron might have a point.

        If Seattle or a county creates a local improvement district, can that LID borrow money independent of the sponsoring entity’s bonding limits? I believe ST is capped at borrowing more than 1.5% the assessed value within the district. If LID debt doesn’t count towards that 1.5%, that seems like a pretty big loophole.

        Martin still has a point that LIDs consume the political capacity for transit taxes.

    3. Wrong. Sound Transit has tax authority from the state to assess LIDs and use the revenues to secure bonds. It did not even disclose that option to the board in that 4/22 presentation.

      That would be opposed by developers so it is a non-starter. You think the owners of properties near a proposed station would pay for rail? You don’t understand Seattle politics.

      1. They paid for a waterfront park.

        A LID vote would be a very effective way to determine if people want to put their money where their mouth is. Vote yes for a LID and get a tunnel, Vote no for a LID and get an elevated alignment. Seems just.

        If they don’t want to pay for a LID, then we can ignore their calls for tunneling.

    4. Even if Sound Transit has the authority to create LIDs (complicated at best), it doesn’t have any meaningful unused tax authority to grant to the LID. You can’t just create new taxing authority by layering subentities.

      Nor can there be new debt authority created on net. Sound Transit could maybe grant some of its authority to the LID, but that’s just reshuffling overall capacity.

      This is a dead end, which is why Sound Transit’s always innovative legal team isn’t considering it.

      1. “Does it though? I’m not convinced debt issued by a LID counts towards the parent agency’s bonding capacity; a LID is an independent taxing authority.”

        From my reading of the relevant statute, I think Ron’s comment above is correct. The RTA has the explicit authority to create the special taxing district, i.e., the LID, under RCW 81.112.150 but any subsequent indebtedness incurred through special assessment funded bonds for the LID do not create a lien on the authority itself:

        “…Special assessment bonds issued pursuant to this section shall not be an indebtedness of the authority issuing the bonds, and the interest and principal on the bonds shall only be payable from special assessments made for the improvement for which the bonds were issued and any local improvement guaranty fund that the authority has created. The owner or bearer of a special assessment bond or any interest coupon issued pursuant to this section shall not have any claim against the authority arising from the bond or coupon except for the payment from special assessments made for the improvement for which the bonds were issued and any local improvement guaranty fund the authority has created. The authority issuing the special assessment bonds is not liable to the owner or bearer of any special assessment bond or any interest coupon issued pursuant to this section for any loss occurring in the lawful operation of its local improvement guaranty fund. The substance of the limitations included in this subsection shall be plainly printed, written, or engraved on each special assessment bond issued pursuant to this section.”

        With that said, I do agree with your larger assertion that looking at this authority as a possible solution for the ST3 funding gap is ultimately a dead end. ST would have to create multiple LIDs and then those created LIDs would have to get voter approval for the additional assessments. It’s just not a feasible path.

  2. “The other strategy is to deliver some things roughly on time and build others much later than planned.”

    The board wasn’t told what the implications to taxpayers of that would be. Hint: it’s REALLY ugly.

    1. That’s because they don’t need to be told; they understand how ST works. If ST borrows more money over the life of the plan, the ST3 taxes will remain in the place longer to pay off that higher debt. It’s pretty straightforward.

      1. How much extra taxing do you think will result above what voters were told to expect by ST3 by the increased bonding the board already announced? ST3 said $10.9 billion of bonds would need to be sold, and the 2021 budget document says $17.8 billion of bonds need to be sold. You think the board has any idea how much more taxing that will mean? Obviously the boardmembers have no clue — they don’t want to know, so staff does not tell them. What’s your estimate, AJ?

      2. At current rates, $17.8 billion of bonds is roughly $17.8 billion of tax revenue in 2020 dollars. For YOE, the big scary number you are fishing for, I’d have to have an actual model in front of me giving all the other moving parts. If I had to guess, ~$40B to be collected in the 2070s.

  3. “If you ask me, the second downtown tunnel is the most urgent thing here.”

    Ridership is pathetic now, and even rail cheerleaders around the country recognize the impact remote working even half of each month would have on commute levels. The current rail tunnel under downtown will be woefully underutilized, the tunnels under Beacon Hill and Capitol Hill will be woefully underutilized, and the LAST thing anyone needs is Sound Transit launching into more rail tunnel projects. Sound Transit says a second tunnel as ST3 proposed would allow 65K passengers per direction per hour, a capacity double what any light rail system in the world is designed for. Newsflash: as every city in the Western World is learning the end of mass daily commutes to business district worksites means the massive costs of light rail no longer are justified, and that goes triple for here where an abusive “tax regressively to the max to secure a mountain of new debt” financing plan was settled on because harvesting tax revenue from the poor is considered “good sport.”

    1. “Ridership is pathetic now, and even rail cheerleaders around the country recognize the impact remote working even half of each month would have on commute levels.”

      It even had an impact on the freeway rush hour… which now is fairly smooth and fast, save for the drivers with the “itchy braking feet”.

      “Newsflash: as every city in the Western World is learning the end of mass daily commutes to business district worksites means the massive costs of HIGHWAY EXPANSION is no longer are justified, and that goes triple for here where an abusive “tax regressively to the max to secure a mountain of new debt” financing plan was settled on because harvesting tax revenue from the poor is considered “good sport.”(i.e. The GAS TAX)”

      There, fixed it for you.

      1. Rush hour commutes to Seattle and Bellevue by auto also are down — another reason WFH policies should be encouraged.

        There is a huge difference between highway maintenance/improvement paid for by gas taxes and light rail paid for by sales taxes and car taxes. The former type of taxing is indistinguishable from a user fee: drive more, you pay more for road work. The latter financing scheme in contrast is nothing like a user fee. You pay heavy sales taxes and car taxes whether or not you use light rail, and most low-income households suffering the disproportionately-heavy impacts from Sound Transit’s excessive regressive taxing use light rail a miniscule amount (if at all). It is the antithesis of equitable, and unlike how efficient, enlightened governments pay for light rail elsewhere.

      2. “There is a huge difference between highway maintenance/improvement paid for by gas taxes and light rail paid for by sales taxes and car taxes. The former type of taxing is indistinguishable from a user fee: drive more, you pay more for road work.”

        I’m amazed how often this statement is made, without the serious questioning it really needs. It’s as if it were some religious doctrine –
        “In Gas Tax We Trust”.

        It is quite different from a user fee.
        A “user fee” example is a fare paid to be able to use a particular facility.
        To gain access to the ferry, I pay a fare at a toll booth. To gain access on transit, I pay a fare. To ride the train, I pay a fare. To use a bridge, I pay a toll.
        In many cases, those tolls/fares are used to retire bonds used in capital improvements (construction, major new equipment procurement), and possibly ongoing maintenance (and as in SR520 – demand management).

        Where does the gas tax go? Who pays and what highways get the benefit? The I-405 widening is a $10 billion dollar project, and the users “gas tax” doesn’t cover that. I’ve calculated that over the 30 year (average bond life) period, it’s around 30% at best, and that’s if you assume the new lanes are full from day 1 after completion. So, where does the difference between the gas-tax-burnt-driving-on-I-405 portion that the actual drivers pay come from?
        It comes from everyone else. We are all taxed to relieve congestion for what is a subset of the driving public. Aside from a ‘voluntary’ Express Lane toll, the commuters on I-405 are living off the backs of the people… with a regressive sales type tax, which is what the gas tax is.
        Let’s not forget the commuters from Lake Stevens having a cow over paying a toll for a new Hewitt Avenue Trestle.

        Maintenance you say? Let’s ask WSDOT where the money goes.
        The only reference to maintenance I see is “8.22¢ – Used to fund transportation construction and pay bond debt service for Connecting Washington projects statewide. ”

        Oh, and I don’t remember voting for that last gas tax increase.
        (“2015 Connecting Washington Transportation Package”)

        You want equity? Let’s put it all to a vote:
        New Lanes in Puget Sound? – Statewide Vote
        New Trestle for Everett? – Statewide Vote.
        New Bridge between Vancouver and Portland – TWO Statewide Votes!
        Hate LIGHT RAIL, which was voted on by the portion of the state that it will be used by?
        Then set up the “Repeal Vote” with the same boundaries as the original.

    2. Traffic is much lower on weekends. If we had longer weekends, maybe we’d need to spend less on transportation.

      1. Spending transportation money because of traffic is bad idea. If you spend it on roads, you don’t reduce traffic. If you spend it on transit, you don’t reduce traffic. The only way to reduce traffic is with tolling.

        Successful transit has very little to do with traffic. For example, UW/Capitol Hill/downtown is by far our highest ridership segment. Yeah, there is traffic part of the day, but that’s not why it works. It works because there is a lot of demand between those places, and it beats the alternative, even when there is no traffic.

      2. Has anyone ever calculated how much gas taxes and vehicle fees including sales tax on car purchases — which at 10% of the purchase of a car is a large amount although most purchasers see it folded into the monthly payment — and tolls go toward funding road and bridge maintenance and repair. This link suggests in WA vehicle fees and taxes fund 54.2% of roads and bridges. https://taxfoundation.org/state-road-funding-infrastructure-2017/ I wonder if that includes sales taxes on cars and trucks.

        I read this debate on STB all the time. I know ST’s goal is 40% farebox recovery, Metro 20%, and I think ferries are 65% (and of course buses use the roads and bridges as well), but I always wondered what the general tax subsidies are for roads and bridges, and how they compare to transit and ferries.

      3. RossB, that’s exactly the justification every municipality uses for road construction. It’s what gives a politician the re-electable sound byte of “See, I helped with fixing that nasty interchange that y’all whined about!”

        Daniel, you’d be getting into some pretty granular analysis, and the closest I can link to is the Bothell SR 522 Stage3 improvements, which has a breakdown of funding sources.

        What’s interesting is that the other half of that downtown Bothell interchange is Bothell-Everett Highway is maintained by WSDOT, from I-405 north (Canyon Park). The rest is apparently Bothell’s responsibility, which includes the grand boulevard they built somehow with the original attempt via a parks levy (Prop 1) being voted down.

        If you don’t want to see the “who pays for what” discussions, then people should stop calling the gas tax, a “user fee”.

      4. RossB, that’s exactly the justification every municipality uses for road construction.

        Yeah, and you have to wonder if they are delusional or simply lying. I’m sure when they cut the ribbons for the last I-90 expansion, there were folks celebrating the “end of traffic jams over the lake”. Even sensible fixes, like nasty interchanges, just shift the traffic around. I often drive up to the mountains to go hiking. I sometimes come back at rush hour. I remember merging onto I-5, heading north (after going over the lake) and being very surprised at the lack of traffic. There were no new lanes, just a bad accident south of the city. I won (and so did others doing the same thing) they lost. Traffic through the new interchange will be better, but for those “downstream” it will be worse. It is a zero sum game, because it doesn’t scale. It is the opposite of transit, which does.

      5. Daniel,

        I don’t have the calculation ready, but one also has to consider the sales tax exemption for gasoline when considering subsidies for cars.

    3. Amazon was crowing over the weekend about their on-site vaccine clinic and getting all their downtown workers their shots. The downtown employment market is coming back. Believe it.

    4. “… the tunnels under Beacon Hill and Capitol Hill will be woefully underutilized …”

      These tunnel segments are already well utilized. The ST2 and ST3 forecasts all predict these tunnels will be some of the most utilized Link segments in the future per train. Their benefit is also how quickly they can move riders when any parallel surface alternative — bus or streetcar — would take quite a bit longer.

      This statement can be easily refuted.

    5. “a capacity double what any light rail system in the world is designed for”

      Link is not like other light rails. Conventional rail scales down to streetcars and up to metro subways and mainline trains. The subcategories and boundaries within this are arbitrary and inconsistent. Most light rail networks are mostly surface like MLK or along a freeway. There’s a gap between that and fully grade-separated metros, which are usually heavy rail and often third-rail powered. Link is in the middle of that gap, because it has more tunnels and elevation than most light rails. That makes it faster and more useful than other light rails. It’s also what makes it more expensive than other light rails. Other cities would have used heavy rail for this kind of alignment and made it fully grade-separated like Forward Thrust would have been, but ST chose light rail. So when you compare it with other light rail networks it’s partly apples and oranges. You have to compare it to both light and heavy rail networks because it’s something in between.

      As to why ST chose light rail, it’s because it could run surface, elevated, and tunneled — all three. Heavy rail is incompatible with street running so it must be grade separated. But ST wanted light rail because it envisioned a higher percent of surface segments than we ended up having. It intended it to be like other light rails, with surface everywhere except where it couldn’t (downtown, hills, waterways), to keep capital costs low. And MLK and SODO were built like that. But as the other segments went through design one by one after that, the community successfully convinced ST to grade-separate them. Tukwila didn’t want surface trains on Intl Blvd which it had just spruced up. Roosevelt wanted an underground station at its center instead of emerging at 63rd. And in ST2 and 3 the default assumption was that everything would be grade-separated. And it was until Bellevue wanted a downtown tunnel and asked ST to economize elsewhere in East King for it, so that led to surfacing parts of Bellevue Way and south Redmond. But everything else is grade separated or in a freeway ROW where level crossings aren’t an issue. So we backed into a mostly heavy rail like alignment with light rail technology.

      1. I’d save we evolved into rather than backed into heavy rail-esque alignment.

        I’m still optimistic that we will have corridors in ST3 that take advantage of the flexibility of light rail, perhaps though a value engineering exercise simillar to Bellevue’s Bel-Red alignment. Tacoma, Everett, Kirkland, and Issaquah are all good candidates, in particular for at grade operations at a terminus, simillar to LA’s blue line in Long Beach.

        ST4 will include several opportunities for at grade operations, including arterial running in NW Seattle, Tacoma to its Mall, Everett to Everett CC, and Kirkland along the ERC.

      2. Yes, that is an important point Mike. Our trains, which can hold 800 people (full but not overflowing) are not only far beyond most of what passes for “light rail” in the world, but are actually quite middle-of-the-road for “true” metros/subways. The Paris Metro has smaller trains — 600-700 riders (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paris_M%C3%A9tro). SkyTrain has smaller trains — a six car train has less capacity than our 4 car trains (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SkyTrain_rolling_stock). For a city our size, our trains are really big. The Boston Orange Line (a “real subway”) carried 220k/day before the pandemic, without ever running more frequently than every six minutes. Their capacity is exactly the same as a four-car Link train. Our trains are not tiny — they are plenty big, and will likely never experience crowding on a normal basis. The problem, of course, is that they may never come close to carrying 220,000 a day, as we are making every mistake made with metros in the United States (which leads the world when it comes to making transit mistakes).

  4. “The second downtown tunnel is the most urgent thing here. Many projects are serving areas with development potential, but the bit from Westlake to Lower Queen Anne is already at rail densities”

    That sums it up pretty well. The rest of the ST3 Link projects are designed to serve what will be there, not what is there now, so if Link arrives later than planned, that mostly means the corresponding densification will also arrive a bit later.

    1. The rest of the ST3 Link projects are designed to serve what will be there, not what is there now

      That’s simply not true. Graham Street is there. Of course it will grow, but there are enough people there to justify the relatively low cost of the infill station. Lake City and Bitter Lake is there, which justifies the cost of 130th station. Kenmore is there, and justifies the cost of 522 BRT (although not the parking garages). The riders of the C and D are definitely there, and could use better frequency.

      The fundamental problem with the second downtown tunnel is that it is largely redundant. It would be one thing if this was a spur, or part of a new tunnel that went somewhere else, but its not. From SoDo to Westlake, you are paying for a brand new tunnel that adds nothing in coverage. Every stop is either identical to an old one, or so close that it might as well be.

      Worth noting, this is what ST calls the Downtown Seattle Light Rail Tunnel (https://st32.blob.core.windows.net/media/Default/InteractiveMap/Templates/July1/LRT_BallardtoDowntownSeattle.pdf). The new section — from Westlake to Lower Queen Anne” is part of “Ballard to Downtown” light rail. I just want to get the terms right (I assume you are talking about the section from the Seattle Center to SoDo). This includes the new section (Westlake to Seattle Center) and what ST calls the downtown tunnel.

      This new section has three stops, and is a worthy project. Unfortunately, it requires building the other tunnel. We are essentially paying twice as much for those stops, because it comes with a redundant tunnel (that adds nothing). And consider the stops:

      Denny — A good stop in terms of density, but it is very close to Westlake. This doesn’t matter if you are on the line, but reduces the number of people who would transfer to get to it. If you are headed south of Denny, it is faster to walk. If you are north of Denny, you are better off getting the more frequent 40/C combination.

      South Lake Union — This appears to be either poor or terrible from a walk-up standpoint. The goal of this station is not to serve South Lake Union, but to connect to the E. This is all good and well, except they are going to the same place. If you are on the E headed downtown, you just stay on the E. You get some riders from Aurora to Lower Queen Anne, but not a huge amount.

      Seattle Center — By far the best of the new stations. This would add a tremendous amount of value, if not for the fact that we already have a mass transit line which connects Westlake to the Seattle Center: The Seattle Center Monorail. This would be an improvement, but not a big one. For those who transfer downtown (by bus or the train) it isn’t much different.

      In general, this would be an improvement, but not a big one. There are only three new stations. A lot of the cost goes into building a redundant tunnel with redundant stations. Overall, this is extremely expensive for the value added.

      A new tunnel only makes sense if it is attached to something else (e. g. a line from Ballard). As a stand-alone stub it would get only a handful of riders. Those traveling within downtown would choose the slightly slower, but far more frequent buses over the infrequent train (which happened when they kicked the buses out). The stub only makes sense if you are making longer trips — I. D. to Lower Queen Anne — and there simply aren’t enough people making those trips.

      Without a line from Ballard, you would have to send trains from the East Side or south end there. Sending trains from the East Side has some merit. It is far enough that a transfer (to get to Capitol Hill) is quite reasonable. There has been no talk of doing that, unfortunately. Instead the plan is to send trains from Rainier Valley to the Seattle Center. While the three new stops add value, this is a clear degradation. Capitol Hill is a bigger draw than Uptown. UW is a bigger draw than South Lake Union. Just about anything is a bigger draw than the E-intercept. You also just have more stops (two at the UW, Roosevelt, Northgate, etc.). My guess is you would lose overall ridership on the southern section if you send the trains that way. Riders who now transfer at Westlake (to the buses or the monorail) are maybe a bit better off. But those who are headed to Capitol Hill or the UW (or any of the future stations) now think twice about using Link at all. Surface routes, if adequately funded, suddenly become a better option, especially when the trains are running every 10 minutes (which is most of the day). At best you are robbing Peter to pay Paul. The numbers for the new tunnel would look good, while the numbers on the old tunnel go down. It just isn’t worth it.

      The new tunnel (to the Seattle Center) does add value. But the combination of very high costs and not much added make it a poor overall value. It should only be added when the rest of the line (from Ballard) is added. That will be a while.

      1. I too think that there are ST3 projects that justifiably serve what is there today. That includes stations at Alderwood, Factoria, Bellevue College, Avalon, Alaska Junction and Ballard.

      2. I too think that there are ST3 projects that justifiably serve what is there today. That includes stations at Alderwood, Factoria, Bellevue College, Avalon, Alaska Junction and Ballard.

        Let me address those, one by one:

        Alderwood — Way too small and too far away to justify the cost. It should be part of a feeder bus system (which it is) and nothing more.

        Factoria — Not part of ST3. Metro will serve it with buses (which is appropriate) .

        Bellevue College/Eastlake — Not big enough demand from downtown Bellevue to justify the high cost. No one bothers to run an express bus now, even though it would take less than ten minutes (https://goo.gl/maps/KB9F8mgXcYUPUaLw8). There simply isn’t enough demand between those two stops.

        Avalon — Will make for a decent station. The problem is that it is part of a line that is extremely expensive, with very little value added. No one talks about it, but frequency from Avalon to downtown will go down once Link gets here. Instead of the combined C/21, they will only have Link.

        Alaska Junction — Similar to Avalon. It would have to be much bigger (or there would have to be lots of places along the way) to justify the expense. The lack of stations between the freeway and downtown is a major weakness. Oh, and there is a freeway, which means very little in time savings.

        Ballard — Yes, absolutely. Unfortunately it seems like ST will forever screw this up. Not only will it access Ballard from the south (dramatically reducing the improved connections while increasing costs) but it appears as if they will manage to miss the core of Ballard. You pretty much kill any spontaneous trips if the station is at 14th — it becomes a station only used during rush hour. This is a really bad idea given the cost. To be clear, Ballard Link is by far the best big project within ST3. But with the current alignment, I really can’t recommend any large ST3 project. The only good projects are the little ones.

      3. “No one bothers to run an express bus now”

        Beware of assuming the current service is the ideal service. Metro has lots of missing expresses and missing frequent service due to budget limitations. That doesn’t mean the service isn’t worthwhile. It just means we don’t fund our transit system adequately. The 271 clearly needs more service, and all off-peak service from Issaquah is less frequent than it should be.

      4. Ross,

        I’m mystified by your dismissal of many of the destinations while asserting that Graham St. needs Link capacity today.

        I don’t object to any of these Link stations, but the highest priority should be the places that are already extremely dense today.

      5. Metro has lots of missing expresses and missing frequent service due to budget limitations.

        Well then, shouldn’t the first order of business be to fix that? Not with multi-billion dollar rail that won’t be here for decades, but with express buses?

        In this case, I don’t think it has anything to do with the budget. The closest thing to an express is the 556, run by ST. But they can’t justify running the bus that often. It has to do with demand.

        Metro ran express buses from the U-District to downtown AND local buses for years, in good times and bad. Likewise, they have been running the 41 for decades, and continue to run the 41. The 67 — connecting all the stations of Northgate Link — used to run every 10 minutes, and now it runs every 15 (because of budget cuts). Originally the plan was to run it every 8 minutes. There is clear, obvious transit use amongst those stations. In many cases, the train will dramatically increase the speed with which you can go between those stations (e. g. Northgate to UW) but also other stations (Northgate to Capitol Hill).

        None of that is true with Issaquah Link. The 271 has never run that often, even though it has one of the most cost effective segments run by Metro (downtown Bellevue to UW). If the segment between downtown Bellevue and BCC was its own route, it would probably have worse ridership per mile, since it wouldn’t be carried along by the northern section. The 271, by the way, underperforms in rides per mile both during peak and off-peak, despite that very productive UW to Bellevue section. The 556 is the same way. The bus never got full, even during peak.

        The idea that an express — missing those stops in between — can not only perform extremely well, but so well that the obvious next step is to build a train connecting those stops is absurd. It is nowhere near that busy.

        To be clear, I would welcome an express. Run the 556, truncated at UW, after East Link is complete. Skip the south Bellevue stops (which hardly picked up anyone) which means using the freeway. Run it all day, every 10-15 minutes. Coordinate with Metro, to have it take over the UW to downtown Bellevue section. I think you’ll find that downtown Bellevue to BCC/Issaquah doesn’t perform great (nothing like a typical Metro bus) but it performs OK. Like the 556, it would never come close to being full, but get about 20-40 riders a trip.

      6. Bellevue to Bellevue College in 10 minutes? Man, you really do think there is no traffic outside of Seattle! That can take 40 minutes at 5pm; I used to drive that regularly. There’s a good reason ST doesn’t burn 556 hours on a bus route that is slower than driving all day, and it’s not lack of demand for travel on the corridor.

        If you gave the 556 HOV lanes from Bellevue to Bellevue College and deleted the 21X series, it would be crush loaded during rush hour.

      7. Bellevue to Bellevue College in 10 minutes? Man, you really do think there is no traffic outside of Seattle! That can take 40 minutes at 5pm; I used to drive that regularly.

        You must think that most transit trips take place during rush hour. They don’t. Yeah, sure, traffic is bad during rush hour. But either that makes up a teeny, tiny amount of the trips, or it a terrible choice for an all-day transit line. Look at that link again. I made it at 3:45 PM, and it took less than ten minutes and now, at 1:30 PM, it is less than ten minutes. Most of the day it is very fast. If it is fast *most* of the day, then why don’t they run an express *most* of the day? The simple answer is, there isn’t enough demand.

        In fact, the only time that ST bothers to run it is when traffic is at its worst! They only run it at rush hour, because that is the only time they can come they can get a decent number of riders. The same is true with plenty of buses. The 257 and 311 only run during rush hour. The encounter plenty of delays making a similar turn (from 405 to 520). In the middle of the day, those buses would be blazing fast. Why don’t they run then? Not enough demand.

        In contrast, there are express buses that do run all-day. They encounter terrible traffic some of the day, and nothing at all the rest of the day. They run as an express because even when traffic is terrible, it is a lot faster than taking the surface streets. But mostly, it is because there is enough *demand* to justify the express. Neither Sound Transit nor Metro feels that is the case between Eastgate and downtown Bellevue. They are right.

      8. https://www.wsdot.wa.gov/partners/erp/background/ST3%20Draft%20RidershipForecastingMethodologyReport_6March2015.pdf

        Table 3-3
        In 2014, looks like the 3 hour PM peak is >40% of daily bus ridership. Add in the morning peak and looks like peak ridership is a clear majority of all transit trips across all agencies and all modes.

        I don’t think you understand how high capacity transit works. A frequent midday express isn’t going to get good ridership if it is not paired with a peak express that also gets good ridership. Since the 556 can’t preform well enough to during rush hour to compete with driving, it is not going to be worth running during midday; the midday frequency is only valuable when it buttresses good peak service. Otherwise, it is not HCT but local service that merits local frequency, which the 271 does just fine.

        Show me a route anywhere in the region where an agency provides better midday frequency than peak frequency.

        Issaquah Link is an attempt to make improvements in that corridor sufficient to draw strong ridership. To look at the current 556 and dismiss Issaquah Link is a classic error of looking at bad bus service and concluding that people won’t ride good bus service.

      9. I’m mystified by your dismissal of many of the destinations while asserting that Graham St. needs Link capacity today.

        I’m mystified by the fact that you ignore cost.

        Graham Street is relatively cheap. That is why it is quite likely the best in terms of ridership per dollar. When this report came out (https://www.thetransportpolitic.com/2016/04/06/youve-got-50-billion-for-transit-now-how-should-you-spend-it/) it was in second place, behind only Ballard Link. Since then they’ve increased the ridership estimate for the infill station, and greatly increased the cost of Ballard Link, which means if they did that assessment all over again, that infill station would likely be at the top.

        Of course Ballard Link is an outstanding project. That’s not the issue. This is about money. What is the best bang for the buck. Ballard Link is extremely expensive, and unfortunately, has a lot of flaws (e. g. a second downtown tunnel with no new coverage). Yet it is by far the best big project in ST3.

        These are not meant as insults to those destinations. That’s not the question. The West Seattle Junction, for example, is a solid place to build a station. From an abstract standpoint, it is quite a better better than Graham Street. But is it a good idea to build West Seattle Link? No, of course not. Not with the extraordinarily high costs (before the recent estimates), the lack of new station connections and the fact that there is a freeway within spitting distance. It is just a tremendously bad value, and yet again, looks brilliant compared to most of the distant suburban projects (the exception — which isn’t distant — is the extension to Redmond).

        Consider that extension for a second. The Redmond station will perform well. By being part of an extension, you both minimize costs, and maximize use. Riders will be able go to several of the places on the line, include two of our biggest destinations (downtown Bellevue and Seattle). The station area is solid, but not spectacular. It has good density, as well as plenty of retail. It is a good project, for all those reasons.

        But imagine if it was the only thing on the East Side. Imagine if there was no downtown Bellevue or Microsoft. This would not be an extension, but its own line, from downtown to the two new stations. It would be a horrible project, obviously.

        We can’t ignore geography and cost. We aren’t building community pools, and arguing about which neighborhood deserves one and which one doesn’t. It doesn’t work that way. We have to consider cost, and how the stations (and line) fits into the overall network. Most of ST3 light rail just doesn’t work well from a cost/benefit standpoint. They are too far, too small, or too expensive.

      10. I don’t think you understand how high capacity transit works.

        Oh, I think I’ve got a pretty good handle on it.

        A frequent midday express isn’t going to get good ridership if it is not paired with a peak express that also gets good ridership.

        The pairing has nothing to do with it. The peak service is basically like a sample. If a route doesn’t perform well during peak, it probably won’t perform well the rest of the day. There are exceptions of course (like the 7 and 10) but almost all routes do better during peak then the rest of the day. My guess is all of them do better in terms of ridership (its just that some of them are faster in the middle of the day, to make up for the slightly lower ridership).

        Since the 556 can’t preform well enough to during rush hour to compete with driving, it is not going to be worth running during midday;

        Very few buses can compete with driving, yet they have outstanding ridership. The 7 and 44, for example, are one of the best performing routes in terms of ridership per mile. They are extremely slow throughout the day. They are slower midday than the 556 is during peak. Yet they have outstanding ridership simply because they have lots of demand.

        the midday frequency is only valuable when it buttresses good peak service. Otherwise, it is not HCT but local service that merits local frequency, which the 271 does just fine.

        Yet there is good peak service! The 556 is by far the fastest way to get from Eastlake to downtown Bellevue. It just doesn’t get that many riders, even when there is basically no traffic (e. g. 3:00 PM). It has the usual peak ridership (as you would expect) it just isn’t that big. If you live in Issaquah, and work in Bellevue, it clearly saves you oodles of time over any alternative. But there just aren’t that many people making that trip.

        You are jumping through some crazy logical hoops here. The express isn’t popular because it isn’t that fast (even though there are much slower, much more popular routes). Without the high speed during rush hour (absent in other routes) they just can’t possibly run the routes the rest of the day (even though Metro does that all the time). Absolute nonsense.

        It really isn’t that complicated. You just need to think of this as a route like any other. Like all routes, you can measure the ridership per hour of service. In many cases, the only time a route can be justified is during rush hour, when there is a lot of demand. It doesn’t matter whether the route is considered an “express” or not. It only matters what kind of ridership it gets. There simply aren’t enough riders going from Eastgate to downtown Bellevue to justify a route.

        There are enough from Eastgate/BCC/145th/Lake Hills Connector/116th, but even then, it is merely enough to run around 15 minutes during the day, even if it is part of one of the best ridership generators on the East Side (connecting downtown Bellevue with the UW).

        But hey, what do I know. I’m not a professional transit planner (although I know a few, and they would agree with me). But I do know how to read, and I feel like quoting this once again:

        “any corridor without enough ridership to fill a bus every few minutes should not be a light rail line.”

        Does that sound like Eastlake to Bellevue? Absolutely not. Not even close.

      11. No station at Factoria? Sorry Ross, but you’re just plain wrong about this.

        My mistake. I stand corrected. OK, Factoria is very much like the other places. Too small to justify the cost, especially given the other dynamics I mentioned (being too close to the freeway, poor connectivity, etc.).

        It once again doesn’t pass the bus test. The 241 is not frequent, and performs poorly. It has about 14 riders an hour at rush hour, and 10 during peak. In contrast, the 24 (with similar frequency) has about 42 riders during rush hour, and 25 during midday. The 24 is often mocked, for the zig-zag way in which it serves the low density parts of Magnolia (which is to say, almost all of it). Yet it dwarfs the ridership of the 241. The 241 is essentially a coverage route, not performance. The 245 performs a bit better, but still below a typical bus headed downtown or to the UW. I haven’t read the stop data for the 245, but I would be very surprised if it is carried along by the Factoria to BCC section. There just aren’t that many people going between those places to justify anything but frequent bus service, if that. Fifteen minute service is fine, although more frequent rush hour service — connecting to East Link, which provides fast service to *both* Seattle and Bellevue — is quite reasonable.

    2. During the discussions over East Link and capacity ST stated a four car train can hold 592 passengers: 150 riders per car (standing room only, but not “crush load” as seen in Asia in which passengers are pushed into train cars which is 200 passengers per train), less the two conductors per train car.

      The joke was on us. We actually believed ST’s ridership estimates and worried about 8 minute headways due to post tensioning and the bridge span joint, and trains reaching the Mercer Island station full during peak hours, and the need for a second transit tunnel. Ha ha ha.

    1. When I read AJ’s comments it appears he is arguing ST has unlimited bonding authority as long as it extends the repayment and completion dates, and the funding goes toward projects identified in ST 3. Mike’s explanation was helpful.
      That makes me wonder why ST estimated project costs at all for ST 3 if they will be completed come hell or high water.

      When I read “The Letter”, and move past the self-congratulation and sanctimonious dishonesty, it seems to me ST is telling the Board it does not have the money to complete ST 3 projects (the figures are not all that clear, but $12.1 billion is mentioned, along with the comment these figures are volatile at this time), along with a request for some “direction” from the Board, which of course are elected officials who are probably wondering how did a $12.1 billion hole materialize since 2016, what are the real numbers, and how are we suppose to sell this shit when ST has done everything it could to piss off the voters.

      What does make sense is the request to wait until at least 2022 to see where the dust settles, although I think 2024-25 might be a better reset date. Between ST 2 and 3 ST has the funding to complete the spine (although I agree with Ross that much of the spine will have low ridership).

      The three key metrics going forward for ST 3 are ridership (farebox recovery), general fund tax revenues like sales tax, and something mentioned before, the fact rising ROW and construction costs so far appear to exceed revenue, which makes extending completion dates less than a zero sum game.

      I still think the number one issue is the second transit tunnel, because of its increasing costs, unknowns except that digging tunnels in this area comes with risk, and because I am not sure the four other subareas will or can pay for the new estimated costs, which are still probably low at $3.65 billion. The second transit tunnel was sold, at least on the eastside, to meet capacity for East Link, but now we know that was a lie: there will never be 52,000 riders/day on East Link (certainly going across the lake), and the existing tunnel has the capacity for the spine. A tunnel that could cost $4-5 billion when done seems like a lot for West Seattle and Ballard if you don’t live in the N. King Co. subarea.

      The second issue is I don’t subscribe to the “build it and they will come/ride” theory. TOD’s, upzoning, etc. are not going to remedy the lack of population growth this system assumed in areas where density does not exist, and zoning likely won’t be changed.

      The idea Lynnwood will become the next Bellevue is ridiculous: the only reason Bellevue has become Bellevue is because of the issues in Seattle shifted development that should have always gone in downtown Seattle to Bellevue (why the eastside built East Link to begin with), including the aging Millennials and desire for a SFH and good schools. I am 62 and have lived in this region my entire life and I have never been in Lynnwood proper, and doubt I ever will. Because a city upzones doesn’t mean development appears. The reality is already attractive cities like Bellevue and Kirkland don’t want light rail in the city cores, while cities desperate for development like Shoreline and Lynnwood do want light rail because they need the development, but any development won’t be downtown Bellevue kind of development.

      Third is I don’t see any kind of plan for frequent first/last mile access by bus, which means a transfer and a trip that is longer than before rail. More then extending completion dates or bond payoff dates this will viscerally piss off riders.

      I also am not sure many riders who can drive will switch, and why would they if feeder bus service sucks. I think a lot of the “build it and they will come/ride” is somehow predicated on folks giving up their cars when transit for many parts of the spine will become less convenient, transit’s Achilles heel. Unless most of the region’s population growth will be folks who can’t afford to buy a car, which is probably not the ideal demographic the PSRC is hoping for.

      I don’t know what WFH will mean in the future. Tom T. claims I believe WFH and some issues in downtown Seattle will result in the apocalypse, when in fact what I have argued is both will result in a 5% to 20% decline in commuter transit, especially to Seattle, when ST’s and PSRC’s ridership estimates are already very optimistic in a region with flat population growth since 2018.

      What does that mean to me? The cost deficits to complete ST 3 are going to continue to increase.

      But the wait until 2022 or 2024 is not just to determine accurate cost and revenue estimates IMO, the wait is to find out whether ST can deliver on the spine, or transit got worse and total trip time longer with light rail. If that is the case, ST 3 makes no sense on that basis alone, let alone the astronomical cost. If ST 2 doesn’t work forget about ST 3.

      1. I live nearby and tend to agree that Lynnwood won’t likely be another Bellevue. More like a downtown Redmond, perhaps. Lynnwood has enough regional draw to become a small-mid sized urban/business center if it wants to, but not one of the big league city centers like Bellevue. Unless for some reason multiple large employers decide to set up a large presence in those new office towers they’re planning to build in “downtown” Lynnwood. But no, I suspect it will be more residential, services, and retail/dining oriented for the foreseeable future.

  5. How do the insanely low interest rates affect ST3? Won’t they be higher when the loan money is needed in 5 or 10 years? Is there a way to lock the borrowing rates?

    I keep reading about the fund shortage and wonder how a shift in the cost of borrowing money will affect the cost volatility.

  6. The RossB assessment of the tunnel seems sound.

    The focus is on the capital program. There seems too little focus on operations. Link peak headway could be six-minutes, yet ST has lengthened the headway to eight minutes. Off-peak Link headway also seems too long. The headways of ST bus routes 522, 535, 545, 550, 574, and 594. Why do so many buses sit in the yards and so many LRV sit at South Forest Street? What is the fiscal tradeoff between service hours today and ST3 capital tomorrow? In 2021, we will have a great Link network; it should sing and provide short waits.

  7. Well, filling out this survey was the first time I realized how useless most of the ST3 projects are. The Downtown Seattle tunnel is good, Link to Ballard is also good, Link to West Seattle is OK, the Graham and 130th infill stations are maybe OK.

    Everything else is: light rail far out into the suburbs, right next to the highway, where no one will ride it; bus rapid transit in a region where labor is too expensive for it to be cost-effective; or parking, which we shouldn’t be spending public money on under any circumstances. We’re just lighting money on fire, in my opinion. I really think that, after the Lynnwood and Redmond extensions are completed, there’s nothing more for the region as a whole to be funding, at least not before some drastic changes to our urban planning.

    Seattle is the only place that can really take advantage of more transit investment, and they should really be able to fund it on their own. If they can’t, then we really need to look at giving them more flexibility on raising their own taxes.

    1. I’ve made this point before — but most of ST3 projects were corridors identified in ST2 that were given “study status” back in 2008 often because their utility was more questionable. ST did not do a cross-project assessment to figure out how much to allocate to each project segment. They simply let officials put the project descriptions that they wanted on each subarea’s “shopping list”, ran the subarea totals, identified ways to get each subarea to balance out within the theoretical parameters and write the measure. It was an impressive budgeting exercise — but it was a budgeting exercise and a popularity building exercise — but not a systems planning exercise.

      Along with that, the Board wanted to complete the spine without asking voters again. When the final list was priced (somewhat poorly in a few cases, I may add), the time it took to raise the revenue embarrassingly pushed it to 2041.

    2. That’s what ST is, an aggregation of county- and city-based powers. The cities supposedly know best what’s best for themselves and their counties, so those are the corridors that end up in ST’s studies, prioritized as they define them.

      1. Except of course, in the rare case when a city really does know what it best for them, and only because they hire a transit consultant to figure it out. Then the recommendation is ignored, and instead they build a spur line consisting of one station in a large parking lot close to the freeway, miles away from the commercial or residential center of the city. The line to the station won’t even connect it to the biggest destination in the region, but one of the secondary ones. To get to most places — even from the station itself — you will need to take a bus — the same sort of bus you take now.

    3. The sad part is, a lot of people won’t come to the same realization until it is built, and we’ll be stuck, as a region, with the cost. You will have the same arguments. Those who point out the sky high costs and low ridership will be told they are anti-transit. Or that we just have to wait, because eventually, in another 20 years, the region will fill in, with all the growth neatly surrounding the freeways stations. Or they will blame the local agencies, for not allowing residential towers or skyscrapers, as if there is demand for that there. Meanwhile, the buses just keep doing all the heavy lifting, with barely any help from the trains, now running less frequently, as maintenance costs mount. Unfortunately, this is common in America.

      It is like like the George Floyd murder. It took his gruesome death, captured on video, for many Americans (almost all white) to realize that we had a policing problem in this country. When an NFL quarterback took a knee, sacrificing his career, it wasn’t enough. When a group was formed, with a clear message (Black Lives Matter), it wasn’t enough. Even locally it wasn’t enough when the DOJ found there was “a pattern or practice of constitutional violations regarding the use of force that result from structural problems, as well as serious concerns about biased policing.”* This was Seattle — a progressive city, with a history of hiring progressive police chiefs — and we had a clear problem. Of course this was a national problem. Even politicians, like Mike McGinn, seemed shocked and unable to handle the situation. Holy cow, the guy becomes mayor, and suddenly he realizes a big part of his job (if not the biggest) is handling the police (maybe the thought it was all bike lanes and streetcars).

      If the mayor of a big city can be blindsided by a police problem, it is no wonder that local politicians have no clue when it comes to mass transit. It is not their main job. They can build crap, and no one will notice. Even the current set of cost overruns is being ignored. Planning mistakes are usually ignored, as ignorant people shrug their shoulders, assuming that is just how it is done (of course you put the stations next to the freeway). But big cost overruns usually come with a big penalty. There is finger pointing. Heads roll.

      But not us. We just calmly wonder if someone will bail us out, without ever bothering to ask whether this was a good plan to begin with. No one is asking the tough questions. Is this the best use of our money, given the newfound information? Was it ever? Given the mistakes, should we hire third party consultants to see if they can make more cost effective transit changes, or should be blindly just assume the same folks who were so wrong when it came to calculating costs are right when it comes to designing the thing? Unfortunately, I think we know the answer to those questions.

      * https://www.aclu-wa.org/pages/timeline-seattle-police-accountability.

      1. Well said. You get my entire book of five gold stars (my daily allotment) for summarizing our situation so accurately and succinctly.

        I have one question for you, pertaining to the following:
        “Even the current set of cost overruns is being ignored.”
        Were you referring to the ST3 mess and the pending realignment (3.0) process? I ask because the agency keeps trying to push this false narrative* about all but one of the ST2 projects being on time and on budget. I just wasn’t sure which capital program you were referencing here.

        *Yes, Mr. Rogoff and Mr. Patrick, if one moves the goalposts enough times then all of your projects will always fit this narrative. It just happens not to be actually true for the majority of the ST2 light rail projects.

      2. Ha, no. I was talking about the cost overruns for ST3, not the cost overruns for ST2 or ST1.

        Yeah, good point though. Keep moving the goal posts, and people forget.

  8. Of course, by public, they mean Seattle. The rest of us are supposed to shut up and do what we are told.

  9. the bit from Westlake to Lower Queen Anne is already at rail densities, and with destinations of regional importance.

    Yeah, sure, but I don’t see them building it without building the rest of it, which is largely redundant. It is almost an exact replica of what exists already*. This won’t add value for much of the line, which means the cost is extraordinary for what is added.

    Then there are headways. If there is no new line from West Seattle, then it means that either it exists as a stub, or one of the other two lines will be diverted. Diverting one of the lines would be worse from a network standpoint, as smaller destinations replace bigger ones. It would also hurt frequency in the core. When East Link opens, we will finally have decent frequency in the middle of the day, with trains from Northgate to I. D. running every 3 to 5 minutes. If one line (e. g. East Link) goes to Uptown, then we are back to running trains every 6 to 10 minutes in the middle of the day. This is a clear degradation, which would dramatically reduce ridership, especially with our bus dependent systems. It is one thing to be told that you have to transfer to a train; it is another to be told you have to transfer and wait a long time. People just won’t do it, and ridership will suffer. Even if you live close to a station and want to go to a different station, you think twice, since so much of your time is spent waiting.

    You could build a stub, from SoDo to Uptown as a stand-alone line. It wouldn’t add much, but it at least wouldn’t make things worse. You probably wouldn’t get anywhere near the ridership projected (since much of the ridership is simply people being forced to shift to different downtown stations from the south) but you would get something. It would be extremely expensive, and provide relatively little, but that’s ST3 for you.

    * It is worth pointing out how unusual if not unique this is. Most cities, when building an additional line downtown, seek to maximize coverage. We won’t.

  10. My survey comments:

    SEATTLE AREA: 130th is most urgent because it brings two urban villages into Link (Lake City and Bitter Lake). without a time-consuming trip to Northgate. RapidRide C & D are second as an interim stopgap because Link in the 2030s is so far away. I’m ambivalent about how Ballard/WS Link alignment alternatives are going so that has dampened by support. The best Ballard station location is 20th. 14th is bad because it’s so far from the pedestrian concentration. West Seattle stations should be where the best bus transfers are (although multi-line BRT would be better than Link there). I second Balducci/Durkan/Constantine’s letter to slow the large realignment decisions to July 2022 when hopefully more sense will prevaill and when we’ll have more clarity about Northgate Link’s outcome and post-covid travel patterns.

    EASTSIDE: The three Stride lines are most urgent. Renton first because of equity. 522 second because the corridor is highly supportive of transit and squeezed into one arterial. Lynnwood third because it’s neither of these. Issaquah Link is a solution in search of a problem so it can rot in hell. The only high-volume portion is Bellevue to Bellevue College, and this could be addressed with Stride, as could Issaquah. The South Kirkland tail is ridiculous; defer it until you have some solution for downtown Kirkland at least.

    SOUTH KING/PIERCE: Renton Stride first as above. Parking last: it’s an inefficient use of limited capital dollars. Tacoma Dome Link is in the middle: it’s not that much benefit but it’s the best among the Pierce projects. Tacoma CC after that because the egg-dropper shaped alignment is not very useful and the shared-traffic lanes stunt it further.

    SNOHOMISH: Stride first. A Link extension to Mariner or Ash Way second. Beyond Mariner explore BRT options, including one straight to Everett, one to Seaway/Everett, and/or investing in Swift Orange which also goes to Seaway. Don’t forget Mukilteo and the ferry terminal. Put parkign last as above.

    The survey gave minimal information. E.g., it said nothing about how the draft planning criteria would affect different projects. Since the survey was asking us directly how we’d prioritize the listed projects, I just told them, and didn’t bother to comment on larger meta-issues. The 5-level ranking was a good exercise that forced me to rank Ballard/WS, 522 Stride, and the small projects linearly. My result wasn’t quite what I’d expected. I had to put 130th first because of Lake City and Bitter Lake and the synergy with Lynnwood Link. The Ballard/WS alignment debates and transfers have been going in such a disappointing direction that I couldn’t put Ballard or DSTT2 first or second, and having RapidRide C&D improvements quickly is sounding better and better. In contrast, 522 Stride is clearly a benefit and doesn’t have any of those problems so I put it second. West Seattle Link I’ve always thought it’s unnecessary, so when it didn’t make it into the the to 5, jeez, I’ll have to leave it blank. Graham I debated; it has some benefits but isn’t that critical, and I couldn’t turn my back on Ballard and DSTT2 so much, so I couldn’t get Graham into my top five.

    1. Yeah, I too found it to be an interesting mental exercise because of the survey’s format. I didn’t feel bad about not ordering all of the five (or whatever the total number of available selections was for each subarea), meaning that I didn’t let the survey format force an additional selection on me. I didn’t support ST3 (after voting for Sound Move and ST2 previously) as most of it was of dubious value and vastly underestimated on cost at that. My opinion about that has not changed, so my selections on the survey reflected those ST3 projects that I feel have some value, like the 522 BRT for example. For the record, my number one choice for the N King Co subarea was the 130th St infill station as I’ve long since advocated for that station to built with the Lynnwood Link extension.

      Oh, btw, it’s the Swift Green Line that goes out to the Seaway Transit Ctr (not the Orange Line). I know you know that and probably just misspoke, but just wanted to correct that for other readers.

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