Locals are not the only ones celebrating Northgate Link. Transit fans from across North America are watching Seattle, often held as a model of success (relative to this part of the world). Here is one mostly positive take from Canadian transit content creator and analyst Reece Martin with comparisons to his hometown Vancouver.

131 Replies to “Weekend open thread: Canadian observations on Northgate Link”

  1. Nice timing, with the Whitecaps in town tonight!

    BC Place is the only other stadium in MLS currently requiring vax proof to get in. Two intelligent cities think alike! That said, BC has introduced the BC Vaccine Card, which appears very difficult for Americans to acquire. The card is needed not just for BC Place, but to get into most other public businesses in Vancouver.

    I’m all for being more airtight on vax proof. I just wish there were transferability between the private vax proof apps here and the BC Vaccine Card.

    I suppose it is not the end of the world if BC is trying to softly tell tourists to stay away right now.

      1. Thanks PhilW.

        I don’t in any way wish to make cooperation among vaccine passports sound like an urgent public need, except if it becomes necessary in order to add COVID vaccine mandates to the many other vaccine mandates already in place for international travel.

        I’m surprised airlines haven’t pushed to have passenger vaccine mandates on domestic air travel as well. Require vaccination to travel by airline, and I bet the unruly behavior incidents will vanish overnight.

        That said, the CDC hasn’t yet decided whether to continue mask mandates on transit (including airplanes) beyond the end of this year. I certainly won’t be flying or traveling by interstate bus or train without the mask mandate still in place, until the virus is eradicated.

    1. That’s so classist and communist sounding. Soon you’ll see the effects of your ridiculous thinking.. banning African Americans and other brown people from many activities in society who are unsure of the vaccine, and for good reason. I’m so tired of white liberals who continue to virtue signal because it makes them feel better about themselves. You should be ashamed of yourself.

      1. A mask is not a virtue signal. It is a proven tool to pre-empt the spread of the virus through the water droplets in our respirations, which is the main way it spreads. Mask mandates exist to protect us from infecting each other, not to improve our mental health. Yes, even people who are fully vaccinated can spread the virus asymptomatically, which is why if we care about our fellow human beings, we need to keep wearing them while we are around each other. While they might happen to virtue signal that one cares, they are actually provision of medical care.

        The vaccines are not virtue signals. They are saving millions and millions of peoples’ lives — people of all ethnicities all over the planet — and are central to putting the coronavirus out of our misery, so we can return to living without masks, vaccine card checks, etc.

        Vaccine mandates have become necessary because of the organized campaigns to trick people into not getting vaccinated by throwing every bit of FUD at the vaccines that can be thrown at the vaccines. I’d far prefer that people just exercise common sense, talk to their doctor (and, yes, we ought to have more doctors of color, whom people skeptical of the vaccine feel they can trust), and listen when their doctors beg them to get vaccinated. The vaccines have been tested on over half the population of the US, including the majority of people of every ethnic group. They have turned out to be extremely safe to take and highly protective (but not perfect) against catching, spreading, being hospitalized by, and dying from the virus. With the delta variant mowing down the unvaccinated population, the necessity of getting vaccinated should be clear by now.

        If turning people away from restaurants, sportsball events, etc gets them to pay attention to what is going on in the world, read up on the virus, talk to their doctor, and then get vaccinated, sure, that will make me feel good about myself, and any tiny role I played in convincing public officials to issue these sorts of policies. (But, honestly, I think I have had very little impact, except maybe to get a handful of people to ratchet up their mask hygiene.)

        If all I accomplish today is getting you to talk to your doctor about the virus, and get your questions about the vaccine answered, then I’ll be glad I put a target on my back. You don’t have to believe anything I say about the virus. But, please, have that crucial conversation with your doctor.

      2. A practical discussion about how to accomplish cross border travel during a pandemic is… classist virtue signalling?


      3. It wasn’t even that.

        The only part of Brent’s comment that was opinion was “I just wish there were transferability between the private vax proof apps here and the BC Vaccine Card.”

        I know one of the conservative groups is paying a bunch of people to show up at school board meetings and promote anti-mask stuff, but they must be really desperate if they are doing that for random web sites.

      4. Well then, go read RedState for the latest warped “take” on transit.

        How exactly can a statement be simultaneously “communist” and “classist”?

        Finally, nice example of the totemic use of African American skepticism of the American medical system to justify your own demand to infect thy neighbor. Did you get that from Steve Bannon?

      5. Virtue signaling used to be called “setting a good example” and it’s a good thing to do.

      6. You should be ashamed for using the “race card” to seek to diminish contrary opinion. Do you have any real points to refute or address the issue?

      7. banning African Americans and other brown people from many activities in society who are unsure of the vaccine, and for good reason.

        Good reason my ass. There is no good reason to avoid the vaccine. Literally millions of people around the world have taken it. What’s that you say — Black people are afraid to take the vaccine because of previous discrimination? Bullshit. The main reason is that Black communities have really bad health care. They don’t get regular health service, so they aren’t talking to doctors and nurses about the vaccine (or anything else heath related for that matter). If there is one group that should be terrified about the “White Man’s Drug” it is Native Americans. Yet the vaccination rates are better for Indigenous people than any other group. The big difference was the rollout — it was handled better.

        The biggest problem we have now is vaccinating young people. That is because way too many people are ignorant. They think the purpose of the vaccine is to protect the individual. It’s not. It is to protect the group. It it is to wipe out the disease. But young people (who are less likely to get hurt by the disease) think only of themselves, and are either too lazy, ignorant or selfish to get the vaccine. We need a better educational effort (and yes, more mandates) because the alternative — what Sean is suggesting — just means a lot more dead people (especially people of color).

      8. I’ve been monitoring the demographics and in King County the lower vaccination rates for black and LatinX people is pretty close to non-LatinX people at this point.


        Considering that black and LatinX people are younger suggests to me that in a given age cohort that non-LatinX whites probably have the lower vaccination rate at this point in King County; they are the largest block of unvaccinated people in King County by far.

        I tend to agree that our culture has warped the relationship between individual freedoms and societal responsibility. In the past, things like drivers licenses, car tags, transportation safety rules, seat belts, speed limits and enforcement were broadly accepted by the general public. Even mandatory school vaccinations have been around for decades!

        Our culture has a huge disconnect in how we interpret our roles as responsible members of society. As a result, the ambiguity and contradictions have now trained a new generation that think anyone can believe whatever they want — and call it “religious” even when there is no direct theological reference about it. The irony is that following “religious beliefs” by definition requires having a unified set of beliefs and that’s a higher bar than merely having individual knee-jerk whims.

    2. I’ve spent 7 weeks in BC since they opened the border. For US visitors a card showing proof of 2 shots plus a passport works instead of the BC vaccine card. Admittedly, I was in Alert Bay, way up at the north end of Vancouver Island, but I diligently tracked the rules and regs. Returned to Seattle yesterday.

    3. Having been living in Italy as a foreigner right now, the entry requirements for people who don’t have the Green Pass (Italy’s version of BC’s Vaccine Card) here is to have a EU approved vaccine with their country’s equivalent of a vaccine card. I haven’t been turned away from places though I know a Russian friend of mine at my university here who’s had a couple times being denied entry into businesses here, due to them having the Sputnik vaccine.

      1. That reminds me of currency in the UK. Scotland and Northern Island banks issue their own pound notes, which are supposed to be valid everywhere in the UK but some shops in England won’t accept them. So whenever I leave Scotland or Northern Island for England I go to a bank and exchange them for Bank of England notes. The tellers always think that’s strange, and say these notes are valid in England and banks will accept them, but I say I don’t want to be stuck with notes that businesses won’t accept and I can’t exchange before I return home. They’ve always had enough Bank of England notes on hand to give me. It seems like an unnecessarily complicated system. US dollars are accepted throughout the US; it doesn’t matter which regional bank printed them. And why are private banks printing national currency anyway? That seems like a windfall for those banks.

  2. If you ever get off at the future Seneca Station, and walk to the Bank of America, let me connect the two. Seneca street was thought to have been named by Dexter Horton, who was from Seneca Lake, NY. He created Seattle’s first bank. That bank later became Seafirst Bank, which was later was absorbed by the Bank of America.

    1. Succint history, Sam. Well done, and thanks. I’ve noticed the “Dexter Horton Building” but knew nothing of him.

    1. That’s the site where the California Pizza Kitchen once stood, correct? I used to work in the Koll Center across the street for a few years back in the 90s. (We had some amazing unobstructed views from our floor back then.) The transformation of DT Bellevue since those days has been truly remarkable.

      Thanks for sharing those pics.

      1. No, it’s up the hill from there. Up that walkway to the TC. It’s the site where an Ooba Tooba Mexican restaurant was, and a Blazin Bagel, and a few other businesses. If you’re at the TC looking west, it’s right across the street and to the left.

      2. You’re right. I’m off by one block. California Pizza Kitchen was one more block over (west) on 106th. Both lots were low rise buildings so I mixed them up in my head. I used to walk the path between the Koll Center/TC and Bellevue Square on nice days to grab lunch at the mall or somewhere near there. I’d grab a coffee at Veneto’s (espresso bar just outside the QFC little mall across from Nordstrom) to take back with me since the coffee in my office was garbage. Maybe you remember that place. This was back in the days when the Bellevue Arts Museum was still housed in the mall.

  3. What’s happening in Dallas? What I remember is light rail lines that get crawling-slow downtown, and a not-very-fast commuter rail to Fort Worth and the airport. Two of the YouTube commentators mentioned a subway and a Silver line. One of them also mentioned two hyperloops and two high-speed rails, although that may have been a joke.

      1. LA does not have an at-grade light rail alignment. It is building a downtown tunnel to connect two light rail lines for through service. Maybe you were thinking of Portland?

      2. LA certainly does have at-grade light rail in downtown? I rode the E (then the Expo) myself to the Staples Center a few years ago, and the Gold Line is at-grade on the other side of downtown. They currently don’t connect, but both existing lines operate within ‘downtown LA’ and the regional connector will convert some of current Gold at grade alignments into underground, in addition to creating the new through connection.

        But yes, the Expo/Blue alignment is being left as-is, which is less analogous to what DART is doing.

      3. I believe Dart’s plan is to build a second line through their downtown. The new line is indeed mostly underground, but the original surface line will remain and the current service will be split between the old and the new lines. It is now a replacement, but rather a complement.

      4. Yes, one of the at-grade Gold Line stations (at Little Tokyo) is being demolished and replaced with a subway station but that is pretty much at the tunnel portal so it doesn’t register in my mind as a substantial at-grade alignment.

        There is talk of grade separating that shared Blue/Expo section separate from Regional Connector because operations there is atrocious with no signal priority.

      5. Fair; I thought more of the alignment on Flower was being undergrounded. I didn’t realize it was an extension from, rather than a rebuild of, the Expo/Blue terminus in downtown.

      6. @Rob: Yes, but Los Angeles is planning on running more service on the Blue/Expo once the Regional Connector opens. Dallas isn’t trying to take advantage of D2 to increase service in anyway.

  4. Assuming ST3 Link routes and current infill stations are all built and finished, what do you think are the next best opportunities for high-value additional infill stations after that? Either in ST4 or a local funding measure.

    1. Although I think ST 4 or future light rail lines depend on ridership (and farebox recovery) I also think you have to break it down by subareas.

      The economic disparity among subareas and the much higher costs in N. King Co. (tunnels) would mean too much revenue in East King Co. due to uniform tax rates.

      That being said running rail along 405 is the best idea because the Eastside is built along 405, and 405 is simply out of capacity during peak hours.

      So Renton to Bothell elevated along 405 would make sense, and if there is more revenue than anyone knows what to with Issaquah to North Bend or Sammamish. Even Redmond to Duvall. Lots of land out towards Duvall.

      Just reading what I typed makes me shake my head. More park and rides and better bus service make the most sense on the Eastside, but any ST 4 that raises enough for subways and transit bridges in Seattle will result in massive revenue for East King Co. under uniform tax rates.

      I think if ST or N. King Co. float ST 4 that will be the moment some of the subareas bow out of ST. More rail just doesn’t make sense for them and the high cost of light rail.

      I think a better question would focus on Seattle or N. King Co. First, will N. KC be able to complete ST 3 in that subarea with ST 3 revenue, and if not how much will Seattle have to raise. That basically is ST 4 in N. KC.

      Then you are really talking ST 5, and from what I read East and north of Ballard, or Belltown to Aurora are the favored lines, if there is rail to Ballard. ,

      1. Is there a reason to truncate 405 at Renton and Bothell?
        Would it not make more sense to extend it and go from TIBS to Alderwood Tying both ends of the “East Spine” to the mainline. This would improve connectivity, and provide additional options when portions of the Mainline are closed for maintenance?

    2. 220th is next to a corporate headquarters, apartments, and easily developable land in a city with a history of upzones – this is a way better use of funding than the 130th and its golf course IMO.

    3. That’s a good question. (And Daniel, an infill station is a new station in between two existing stations.) With 130th, Graham, and BAR in ST3, the only remaining deferred one is 220th. Some have argued for a station at 133rd between BAR and TIB, but I don’t know whether ST has ever considered it. The stations I wish Link had were Bellevue Ave, 15th, and 23rd on Capitol Hill, and 55th in the U-District. There’s little chance they’d be built now because underground stations are expensive and adding one to an existing underground tunnel doubly so. Beyond that, I don’t know if I’d want any infill stations. Some have suggested 85th. If Link had been on 99 in South King County there would have been opportunities for more stations at urban villages like 212th, but it’s not clear that putting those stations on I-5 would be any benefit.

      1. Bellevue Ave would certainly almost be unconstructible.

        Really, the chance for a station in that area would’ve been to dig something directly under Convention Place’s footprint, but that ship has long since sailed.

      2. Convention Place is on the wrong side of the freeway, and would eliminate most of the walkshed. I used to walk from Summit to Convention Place in my commute, and it was very frustrating.

      3. I suppose the challenge is, where would you put a station with the massive footprints Sound Transit uses to cut and cover? Capitol Hill station is three blocks long.

        I just mentioned Convention Place as it was probably the last publicly owned massive plot around to dig from. There isn’t anything really fitting the description in Pike/Pine; it would’ve been the 2010s version of the West Seattle rising property prices fiasco.

    4. 220th in Snohomish is a planned infill station that isn’t funded under ST3, so that’s probably the next high-value Link infill in the queue. WSDOT master plan includes a rebuild of exit 5 in Renton, which could make for a good Stride station.

      I think there is really good opportunity for infill stations in 405 Stride, such as a connection to Southcenter and additional stops in Renton, and if Totem Lake builds out well an infill station at Eastrail would do nicely to serve the southern half of that growth center.

      A station at 133th/Gateway in Tukwilla might be interesting, if Tukwilla is interested in TOD in the station area? It’ll be interesting to see how the BAR station is oriented and how the local bus network reorients in response to that infill station.

      Depending on how some of the ST3 tails are built out (Ballard, Issaquah), there might be some additional opportunities, but I think most of the high value work post-ST3 will be in cheap(ish) at-grade extensions or a keystone project like Ballard-UW, to go along with more Stride lines, station access investments, and further investments in Sounder capacity/span of service.

      1. Yeah, as an Eastsider who spent years commuting on I-405 between Bothell and Renton for work and school I’d love to see more Stride stations. But first, don’t delete half of a pedestrian bridge from the Brickyard station.

      2. As a resident, I would love a station at 133th/Gateway in Tukwilla. It’s closer to the Tukwila Community Center, the Green River Trail, and the population center. There’s lots of low rise commercial that could be upzoned. It’s a flatter part of Tukwila (compared to the TIBS cliff). I’d also prefer if they extended A line hit that station instead of at BAR (I know, wishful thinking). I just prefer this station over BAR in general.

        I hope they design BAR expandability to be more than what’s in scope for ST3. I don’t currently take the Sounder because of all the backtracking to what is basically Renton. Hopping on the Sounder at BAR would be neat. That could satisfy my Rainer Valley bypass wish if the Duwamish Valley bypass never gets built. Although, I hope both happen.

        The upcoming election should bring in some new Tukwila Council Candidates. Hoping the next crop thinks about these things. I emailed a current council member about 133rd before, and she just replied, “Yup, BAR is happening”…

    5. “this is a way better use of funding than the 130th and its golf course”

      130th isn’t for the golf course, it’s for Lake City and Bitter Lake. 220th doesn’t have any comparable population concentrations. ST studied a 220th station in Lynnwood Link but deferred it because it didn’t think the ridership was there yet. The line is designed to accommodate a future station there, if Snohomish chooses to pursue it sometime.

      As for the projects in the front of the line for ST4, in Snohomish it would be an extension to Everett College, and I guess 220th. In Pierce it’s the extension to Tacoma Mall. In South King it’s the WSJ-Burien-Renton line. I hope 167 gets considered for Stride. In East King it’s harder to say; something around Kirkland probably. In North King, the ones that are furthest along are the 45th line and the WSJ-Burien extension. The Northgate-Lake City-Bothell line probably has some interest, but with brand-new Stride I don’t ST would want to replace it with Link so soon. And I have no idea whether what were thought to be North King’s next priorities still are.

    6. Tukwila is planning an urban village at 144th. That’s one of the reasons it wanted BAR Station, and for the A to be extended to BAR. I don’t think Tukwila has considered a 133rd station.

      How could Stride serve Southcenter without a time-consuming detour?

      1. There could be an inline station at Andover Prk W, but that would make for a long walk to most of Southcenter. Better would be to build a bus (or HOV) only ramp that allows direct access into Andover Park W and then overlay routes to provide frequent access into Southcenter but also ‘express’ routes that don’t exit the freeway, much like the Eastgate freeway station.

        Personally, I’m deeply skeptical Link will ever be built between WS and Burien, but instead expect ST to propose Stride between WS and Burien. One route could then go from WS to Southcenter via Burien, and then another Burien to Bellevue, with Burien (or TIBS) as a transfer point for through travel. Or have Southcenter transit center be the start/end, much like Bellevue TC will be.

    7. I believe that last-mile connections are what’s next. Building a new line will require subways, and building underground infill stations would require busting the train tubes for a vault. These are expensive. While there are opportunities to build infill stations on elevated or surface stretches, I don’t see lots of need for them because the ST3 system doesn’t appear to bypass significant destinations.

      So I expect to see the discussion to shift to the variety of important last-mile destinations not on the ST system. That likely includes driverless shuttles —either pulled by cables or by electric motors. It may be vertical or diagonal elevators, funiculars, cable loops, automated small shuttle trains like Seatac terminals have, gondolas or something similar in functionality. They also are quieter and have less vibration, smaller station footprints, ability to go at steeper grades — and can operate at good frequencies since there would be no drivers to pay, require less approval processes/ time and can get built faster (as these are all off-the-shelf technologies with less maintenance facility space).

      Destinations I think will emerge for consideration include Harborview, Central District , Queen Anne Hill, Admiral, Alki, U-Village, Fremont, Lake City, Southcenter, Downtown Renton, Downtown Kent, Downtown Auburn, High Point, Westwood Village, Burien, Downtown Kirkland, Edmonds, Issaquah Highlands, I’m certainly not expecting something to every one of these places and technologies will probably vary. Still, I see this as opposed to the Seattle Subway vision of just long, more expensive new lines that will take 15-40 years of money and work to open..

      One other thing may happen: Eventual overcrowding. As ridership builds on the long ST3 system, overcrowding will almost certainly eventually occur along segments of the line. (People near Roosevelt or Becaon Hill stations would howl if they couldn’t board a train in the morning because I’m everyone is too crowded, for example. The opposite is true for riders headed home from work.) Post-pandemic it may seem implausible but most mature rail systems get major overcrowding issues. That not only includes overcrowding at stations but overcrowding on vertical movement in stations (especially when conveyances fail.)

      1. I agree station access should be a major focus of ST4 (or other funding measures). Conveyance systems can be compelling (I really like what SANDAG is proposing with gondolas), but particularly in the smaller cities there can be great returns on more basic investments, such as pedestrian bridges, sidewalks, bike lanes, and so forth. If I was an advocate for leafline (https://leaflinetrails.org/), I would be working to get some of these more ambitious regional trail investment wrapped into broader regional transportation investments.

      2. I’d like to see a pivot to last-mile connections, but ST3’s construction period is so long it’ll hold things in limbo until the 1940s. What might happen is ST2 (including the parts of Redmond and Federal Way technically in ST3) will become so successful that people will demand access to it. That could lead to finally funding Metro Connects. Stride will also be an example. People can’t relate to it now because there’s no initial line running yet. But once it has been running for a few years, people may think it’s also great and demand access to it and more Stride lines and branches.

        Both of those (Stride and ST2 Link) could change people’s minds about what they want and how urgent it is to beef up the bus network around them. That could lead to more Stride lines, which are inexpensive enough that cities or counties could consider funding them rather than waiting for ST4.

        Burien-Renton Link was South King’s next priority for a long time, so I assume it will remain so. But it’s possible to consider replacing WSJ-Burien-Renton with some Stride alternative. I don’t think the original vision would work. The original vision was an extension of the West Seattle Link line, which would have a 40 minute Renton-downtown travel time like the 101, even with the West Seattle detour. You can’t replicate that with buses on streets. Burien-Renton Stride is coming anyway. If the Link extension isn’t built, it won’t make sense to take Stride from Renton to West Seattle and transfer to Link to downtown. Neither would Stride to TIB and transferring to like 1 (later 3) be popular because of the south Seattle overhead. So the alternative would be to strengthen the 101. It might be possible to consider a Stride from downtown to Renton and continuing on 167 to Puyallup. Especially since more Sounder time slots would be as expensive and scarce as ever.

        I would also like to see Issaquah Link replaced by Stride, but that depends on Issaquah getting over Link and East King being willing to change. I don’t know if either is possible in the next twenty years.

      3. Yes to the Harborview Incline. Yes, yes, yes. The park next to the courthouse is a natural base station, and the other could be in a structure added to the hospital building. It’s cheap and would carry hundreds of people per hour immediately.

      4. I agree, Tom. To me, neglecting Harborview connections into downtown is a huge system deficiency. The 3/4 buses are on James St and it’s hard to ride that sloped street while standing on a bus — and wheelchair riders must be apprehensive about this ride even though they are strapped down.

        It also would provide a connection between bicycle tracks on 2nd Ave and Broadway. I’m surprised that the bicycle advocates aren’t pushing for making a connection.

        I think most of Jefferson St between Pioneer Square and Harborview has adjacent public ownership already. The park at 3rd/ Jefferson could really use an upgrade and would be the natural place for construction staging followed by a new landmark terraced park.

        I’d gladly support a Seattle city referendum to pursue a project to make this direct connection. Still, it needs a good technology evaluation and concept plan alternatives to clarify what the technology and entrances (and costs) would be.

      5. Agree with Al and TT on the need for some kind of access to Harborview, probably along James (which has an underpass under I-5). On Friday I had an appointment at the Polyclinic. I started at 2nd to walk up James to 7th. I wasn’t carrying anything, but by the time I got to 7th I was sweating and feeling it. I guess I could have taken the street car and then walked down but the street car is sloooooooooow.

      6. “ST3’s construction period is so long it’ll hold things in limbo until the 1940s”

        No, ST3’s debit capacity blocks out new projects through the “period of maximum contraint,” currently projected for the mid 2030s. By late 2030, ST won’t have the capacity for megaprojects, it will certainly have the financial capacity for early ‘ST4’ wins, such as a ped bridge here and an infill station there. Basically, as soon as the last WSBLE TBM is out of the ground, ST can start working through ST4 early wins. If a project is delivered by WSDOT (as most 405 Stride stations are), then it’s even easier for an early win, particularly if the WaLeg continues to allows for interagency loans (ST and WSDOT try to net out their various overlapping projects, rather than continually write checks to each other).

        I agree that switching Issaquah Link to Stride would make for easier infill station in both Bellevue and Issaquah. Ease of infill (and ease of small extension) is very much part of the benefit of BRT over rail and perhaps might be a critical part of the pitch to Bellevue & Issaquah to concede to switching to Stride (basically, trade mode for more stations). Simillarly, I think Tukwilla and Renton will realize they can build upon Stride to achieve their goals much faster than Link all the way from WS; the direct connection from S Renton to TIBS might spark a paradigm shift for local leaders.

        More Sounder slots will most likely be an order of magnitude cheaper than WS-Renton Link.

      7. Thanks, Daniel, but I think Jefferson is a better route. The street uphill from Fourth is mostly just parking, so taking a couple of slots per block for the uprights would be a small price to pay. Also, HBV starts at Jefferson going south. With a gondola or funicular on James, folks would have to walk a block. Yes, it’s flat, but it seems better.

        But I wouldn’t turn down a line on James, for sure.

      8. By limbo I mean people’s attitudes. If they think of ST3 as finished, they’re more likely to pivot to something else, which can be enhancing bus service. If they think of ST3 as still under construction, they may want to wait until it’s done before jumping into something else.

      9. ST3 was sent to the voters before the bulk of ST2 began construction. I think anyone who argued, “wait, let’s see how East Link works out before we vote on ST3” was probably dismissed alongside everyone who was convinced BRT was better than rail (sorry Ross). I would expect it to be the same for “ST4” gestation. Once the early wins for ST3 come online in 2025~2027 and the WSBLE alignments is firmed up, 2028 will a good window to go to the voters.

        Further, ST3 will continue to run into financial, technical, and political roadblocks, like all megaprojects, so ST4 will likely help ‘finish’ some of ST3’s goals, just like ST3 did for ST2 (Redmond, FW) and ST2 did for ST1 (Northgate, 220th). As much as each levy builds upon the prior, each levy also resuscitates the prior levy, doubling down on some projects and pivoting away from others.

    8. I would push for a Seattle only measure. Ballard to UW, Seattle Center to Capitol Hill all seem important, as would extending the Ballard to downtown line north or west. Extending the West Seattle line further south could be another option.

      How much of this Seattle would actually be able to raise the money to build in the next 100 years, of course, is another story.

      1. I’ve never been particularly convinced by the west-of-Capitol Hill portion of the Metro 8 subway. On completion of ST3, one will be able to do the entire western leg of the 8 as a two-seat ride (Seattle Center and SLU will be on the Ballard line, and Westlake to Capitol Hill already exists.) At which point the only gap is fairly tiny, with only three stops on the current 8 as it is (Fairview, Stewart/Bellevue, Summit).

      2. Last mile projects are easier and more appropriate to sell as needing local rather than regional funding sources.

      3. Sure, I just don’t think Metro 8 (at least the version put forth by Seattle Subway) isn’t highly duplicative on its western end.

      4. Henry, Denny Way won’t serve the heart of Belltown well at all. I will forever think less of SDOT for letting WashDOT fill both halves of the Battery Street Tunnel with concrete trash. Half of it would have made a spectacular automated people carrier over to the heart of the highrises. Stations at Fourth and First or even in the air over Western.

      5. I think the Metro 8 idea is probably going to have the same fate as Chicago’s unbuilt Circle Line. With DSTT2, there is little need to offload regional capacity. It’s benefit is most to serve areas that are currently unserved. So here are examples of much cheaper and more effective solutions.

        Belltown: A streetcar with priority between LQA and downtown would provide the linkage. A shallow underground automated shuttle loop with two or three platforms would also work and be much cheaper.

        Denny Hill: This would be much better served by a service designed for a slope like a funicular, gondola or rubber tired shuttle that can handle elevation changes much better. An added bonus would be a Bellevue stop.

        East of Capitol Hill: A John Street east extension of the FHSC can run to 15th or 19th or 23rd. It could turn south and end at 19th and Union if 19th is the terminus.

        23rd: This is the toughest area to serve. I could see a split for FHSC with a branch to 23rd or MLK using Jackson or Yesler or even Jefferson.

        Judkins Park connections: The buses today provide very little waiting between JP and Mt Baker. A two-stop single-track shuttle between the two areas could also be built using the median of Rainier or MLK.

        So why spend probably $10B or more on this line when the need can be addressed for a much lower cost?

      6. Wouldn’t just giving the 8 the Madison BRT treatment on Denny be the most cost effective? Ensure the 8 can flow freely on Denny across I5, add an infill station on the Monorail for Belltown, and call it a day.

      7. Certainly that is an option, AJ.

        I’ll add that the Denny Hill + SLU is the most congested part of the Metro 8 corridor, so that a separate guideway is most beneficial there. The other parts of the Metro 8 corridor have some congestion but it’s relatively minor to that stretch of Denny.

        Of course if DSTT2 crossed at Capitol Hill rather than Westlake, both this segment and First Hill could be served. The current DSTT2 tunnel alignment instead follows Westlake Ave — a corridor with a streetcar and RapidRide line already. For through riders it maybe would add 1-2 minutes only.

      8. The Metro 8 subway, as proposed, is a pretty bad way to serve Belltown in that it’s very roundabout.

        Wasn’t the monorail supposed to get an infill stop at Bell at some point, or something? I vaguely remember something like this.

      9. A monorail infill station has been proposed in real studies (i.e. not just comment threads). I don’t think there has been any funding put behind it beyond just early design, but I think enough work has been done to indicate it is a real option.

        @Al, I’m good with a new guideway, particularly a new crossing of I5 if that’s better than redesigning the existing Denny interchange, but I don’t see why there would be a need for a new mode? It seems to me a bus traverses that corridor just find, the problem is simply road congestion and lack of bus priority, not slope or capacity.

      10. AJ, a Monorail station would be pretty close to the Denny Way Link station. It would be “nice” but not critical. Something needs to be done at First or Western about Battery or Cedar in the heart of the highrises.

        Preserving half of the Battery Street tunnel would have been perfect. Yes, it would have had to be renovated, but how much would that have cost? A few tens of millions plus the tracks and simple stations. And two blocks of new tunnel of course to get to Denny Way.

      11. It would have cost the same as building an entirely new tunnel because there was nothing structurally safe to preserve. Viewing the old tunnel as an asset has a much grounding in reality as those who wanted some of the viaduct preserved as a walkway; both structures needed to be fully decommissioned.

        Only savings might have been the cost of acquiring ROW, but then the city is repurposing the tunnel portal for a school so it’s ‘free’ to either Peter (SDOT) or Paul (the school district).

        Could that alignment be desirable for a future tunnel because we know exactly what is underground (bits of viaduct, no unexpected boulders, utilities, or waterways)? Perhaps. But it wasn’t a ‘renovation’ job.

        Belltown isn’t the upper east side; it’s a reasonable walk to downtown and SLU. 3rd Ave is a frequent busway. Run that waterfront shuttle frequently along Alaska Way to help those unable or unwilling to walk up to 3rd.

        There’s a reason the 8 turns to the Seattle Center and not Belltown. Maybe if the 8’s busway is Thomas, rather than Denny, it could go straight through the Seattle Center, turn left at 1st or Western and drive into Belltown, to closer mirror the Seattle Subway alignment … but even then, wouldn’t it just follow the same route as the D through Belltown?

      12. AJ, of course it wouldn’t have cost the same as a new tunnel. Even assuming completely new sidewalls as well as new road decking, the trench would already be there. No utilities would require movement; that already happened in the 1950’s.

        And what is your problem with the highest density residential neighborhood in Seattle? The strip from Battery to Denny between Elliott (both sides) and First is the closest thing to Vancouver we’re likely to see. Yes, the U-District is being transformed, but it will be at most 50% residential. There are a LOT of jobs headed there, too.

        Obviously, that’s great for transit; UDS will be one of the two or three best stations in the system forever. But an automated people mover from Western and Battery to Denny Way Station with good security would be a huge benefit to the mobility of folks living in “Northwest Belltown”.

        It would be much more likely if the tunnel had not been filled with concrete trash.

    9. They wouldn’t be infill stations in the purest sense, but I do think that in the coming decades there will be increased calls to grade separate the Rainier Valley segment, or at least remove the conflicts with car traffic.

      If it could be done with an acceptable level of cost and disruption during construction, we’d remove what seems to be- by far- the largest source of reliability problems along the 1 line and with some other investments (expanded vehicle fleet and O&M space, upgraded signalling), it would also allow for greatly increased frequency and capacity along the the entire 1 line.

      Finally, it would put the stations in the poorer areas of the city on par with the stations in the wealthier areas of the city.

      I don’t know if separating the line from traffic would pencil out on it’s own or relative to other possible uses of transit funds, but it would have some surface appeal.

    10. As far as big-ticket things go, to be honest the next truly regional frontier would be Sound Transit building its own pair of electrified tracks for all-day, 15 or 30-minute Sounder service, at least in the south. To the north, possibly worth building an alternate right of way down 99. If HSR is going to be a reality, we are going to need to build a new pair of tracks somewhere, and we may as well put it somewhere not already covered by Link to use for regional rail service.

      If 15 minutes to Lakewood and Everett sounds like overkill, build spurs swinging to Renton and down 522 to Bothell.

      1. Agreed in principle, but not in detail. Double track the UP, bridge over it at the major arterials and complete the third track through Auburn and you have a much cheaper and efficient system, since all freights headed all the way to Tacoma (except locals) could use the UP.

  5. So I talked to someone who commutes from Everett to Capitol Hill, and I asked them if the light rail improves their commute.

    They did say it improved it by about ten minutes, but found the bus situation confusing. Depending on the time, they have to take either the 510 to/from Downtown or the 512 to/from Northgate, which means they have to figure out if they want to head in one direction or the other. Why not just have the 510 stop in Northgate, or run the 512 at all times?

    1. I saw the answer to that while I was looking down from Northgate Station and a 510 went by. The 510 would have to leave the express lanes to get to the station, which would make it not very 510-like.

      A bigger question is why not truncate the 510? I don’t know, ST seems to consider a one-hour nonstop from Everett important. It may be because of travel time from Everett and north of it.

      Your person may find it one half dozen to the other, but that’s only because Capitol Hill is so close to Westlake where the 510 stops. If they were going somewhere else like Pioneer Square or Mt Baker or Ballard, Link would unquestionably be better.

      1. Yeah, not sure what the best solution is. Maybe extend the 511?

        It just seems kind of shitty that during peak hours, Everett to Link is three seats (take the 510, change at Mountlake Terrace, change again at Northgate)

    2. Maybe Snohomish County should hold a vote:
      1. Continue the current situation.
      2. Replace Sounder North with more direct Snohomish County to Seattle or Link bus routes.

      That way, there could be some Everett to Link and Seattle direct buses, as well as Mukilteo and Edmonds.

      An awful lot of money is tied up in peak service trains that run twice per day.

      I actually kinda like Sounder North, but I’ve never taken it because the bus routes that could make it really useful aren’t synchronized with it. It could be the fastest way to my friend’s place in Shoreline to King Street Station, if it weren’t for the 130 to Sounder connection taking 25 minutes because the bus gets there 5 minutes after Sounder leaves.

      Under these circumstances (rather than what it could be under more ideal circumstances) Sounder North is more of a hindrance to better transit service.

      1. It would require Sound Transit’s consent, and Sound Transit has so far blocked it.

        I suppose Snohomish County could hold an advisory vote. But Snohomish County is probably pushing ST to continue Sounder North.

      2. Yeah, I think doing it before the completion of Everett Link is probably politically DOA, since the headline pretty much writes itself (“Everett loses direct rail service for buses”).

        It will be interesting to see what the status of Sounder North is in the 2040s though, given that Everett Link travel times, even with the Paine Field diversion, will only be a minute longer on Link than on Sounder to Downtown Seattle, and that the Link gets you closer to jobs vs. King St.

      3. I think the first opportunity to mothball Sounder North will be in the Lynnwood Link restructure. Northgate is too early, but it doesn’t need to wait for Everett Link.

      4. Honestly the problem with Sounder North is a lack of stops and wrong vehicle type in my opinion. Having been to Copenhagen recently, their S-Tog system is well used by having multiple stations in the city limits both in Central Copenhagen and in the outer rings of Copenhagen city limits. And not using absurdly large trains but rather trains that be akin to a BART like train though . To me if the Sounder line was like an S-Bahn in terms of stop spacing and frequency would make it a valuable asset instead of seen as a hinderence. Like having a stop in Midtown, Belltown, Seattle Center area, Interbay, Magnolia, Ballard, and Shoreline on top of the ones that exist already.

    1. Well, until only recently the Monorail was just an expensive toy for tourists, and was owned by the City, not SDOT or Sound Transit.

      (I wonder if there are any other examples in the world of toy systems that were successfully integrated into the real transit system.)

    1. The CCC really needs to just die. Even with the large federal subsidy, it’s still a very high cost for very little benefit. City-wide, 1st Ave. downtown, 2 blocks away from the Link tunnel and the 3rd Ave. bus spine is the least of our transit problems. Bringing back the 61 and running buses more around the city more often would be a far better use of the city’s money.

      To make an analogy, imagine that you receive a coupon in the mail for 70% off a new TV. You already have a perfectly good TV, but go racing to the store to buy a new one, simply to avoid letting that 70% off coupon go to waste. You feel like you’re getting a good deal, but you’re actually the sucker who got tricked – since you already have a TV, even with the 70% off coupon, getting a new one still isn’t worth the other 30%.

      It’s the same thing here. The connection between South Lake Union and the core of downtown already exists via the 40 and C-line, which, combined, are extremely frequent. The connection between Jackson and the core of downtown already exists via the 7 and 36, which, combined, are also extremely frequent. These routes all run on 3rd Ave., which is very nearly a bus-only street, so they do not get stuck in traffic there.

      The 40, C, 7, and 36, are our “existing TV’s”. The streetcar is the “new TV” and the federal subsidy is the 70% off coupon. Instead of spending money on a new TV, just because it’s 70% off and has a few extra bells and whistles, it is better to just toss the coupon in the trash and spend the money on something else (e.g. replace the broken dishwasher) that you actually do need.

      (The fact that the feds rate projects like the CCC so highly for grant money in the first place has also made me quite skeptical of the federal grant process for transit in general, at least the way it’s run today – Jarett Walker has a good post on this subject: https://humantransit.org/2021/09/what-should-the-criteria-for-us-federal-transit-funding-be-theyre-asking-you-now.html)

      1. Au contraire. 1st Ave is not the western edge of Seattle. Thousands of people live and work on Western Ave., Elliott Ave., and Alaskan Way. All of these people are deprived of public transportation unless they hoof it uphill to 3rd. Why can’t buses run along 1st as they used to do?

      2. Agreed and well said. The CCC project is a low value project from a transit network perspective, despite the FTA’s biased rating system. It needs to just die.

        I like your analogy but you have it backwards. The voucher from the FTA is the 30% “discount” and the buyer, Seattle, is on the hook for the other 70%. In actuality it’s a bit worse than that as the local share has gone up as the project’s price tag has soared.

        FY2018 FTA Project Profile (November 2016 Rating Assignment):

        “Significant Changes Since Last Evaluation (November 2015): The total project cost
        increased from $134.88 million to $166.55 million due to additional design, increased administrative costs and a refined utility relocation scope. The City of Seattle’s anticipated Small Starts funding amount did not change, but the Small Starts share decreased from 56 to 45 percent because of the cost increase. Additionally, the City now anticipates receiving an
        SSGA in 2017 rather than October 2016.”

        And now the most recent update….

        FY2022 FTA Project Profile (November 2019 Rating Assignment):

        “Significant Changes Since Last Evaluation (November 2018): The capital cost increased from $252.17 million to $285.51 million based on increased escalation costs due to an extended project schedule. The CIG funding request remained the same, and the CIG share decreased from 42.4 to 26.3 percent.”


      3. It’s especially lacking in Belltown. The difference isn’t as notable on the south end of downtown, but towards the north end it’s Elliott, Western and then 1st, and only the 29 goes south through there.

      4. “Au contraire. 1st Ave is not the western edge of Seattle. Thousands of people live and work on Western Ave., Elliott Ave., and Alaskan Way. All of these people are deprived of public transportation unless they hoof it uphill to 3rd.”

        True, but once you’ve already hoofed it uphill to 1st, you’ve already done the bulk of the elevation, so the extra uphill hoofing to go two additional block to 3rd isn’t that much.

        While the problem is real, a solution to it is not easy. The simplest solution is to just choose an arbitrary bus route down 3rd and shift it to 1st, which sounds great for people living west of 1st, but has obvious downsides for existing riders on the route. They give up the 3rd Ave. bus spine in favor of mixed traffic on 1st Ave. If two buses go to similar destinations (e.g. 5/28 or 3/4), you lose the ability to wait at one stop for whichever comes first, and have to look at the schedule to plan where to wait around a specific route. While people who live west of 1st getting on the bus save two blocks of uphill hoofing, people getting off the bus headed to an office building east of 3rd get two additional blocks of uphill hoofing. So, shifting a bus from 3rd to 1st doesn’t even really remove the uphill hoofing, it just shifts it from one group of people to another.

        A second option is to create a dedicated shuttle route that just goes down 1st. Unfortunately, this idea has been tried in years past and failed miserably (the route was actually cut several years ago due to very low ridership). Essentially the problem is twofold: 1) Once you’ve already hoofed it uphill to 1st, it’s not that much more uphill hoofing to just go two more blocks to 3rd where you would have much better bus options. 2) While a lot of trips may have origins or destinations downtown, very few trips beyond walking distance have both the origin and the destination downtown. A shuttle that just loops around downtown may go closer to your home, but it only really serves the trips where both the origin and the destination are downtown. If you want to go anywhere else, you are better off just walking to 3rd than waiting for the shuttle to take you to 3rd, as enduring an additional bus connection to save two blocks walking is almost never worth it. There is the special case of people who cannot walk up hills, but if you live west of 1st, you had to walk up the hill anyway to get to 1st, which means you’re capable of walking up the hill again to 3rd. So, the set of people willing to take a shuttle down 1st to use as a bus connection to 3rd is now limited to the tiny set of people who are both disabled *and* live along 1st itself (not Alaskan, Western, or anything else). While such people do exist, they are simply not numerous enough to sustain a whole bus route just for them.

        The proposal of solving this problem with the streetcar is worse than both of the above. Sure, the CCC would be a godsend for that small slice of people that live right on 1st Ave. *and* are not able to walk to 3rd – especially those in wheelchairs (boarding a streetcar with a wheelchair is easier than boarding a bus, one of the very few tangible advantages that streetcars have over buses). But that’s a huge sum of money spent on a very tiny slice of the population, even compared to paratransit.

        Meanwhile there are other parts of the city which are underserved, that are much further away from good service, so people can’t get away with working around their underservice simply by walking two blocks. For instance, there is still no bus from First Hill to Queen Anne/South Lake Union without a long, slow slog through downtown and/or transfer. Frequency is lacking, which many core routes still running only every 30 minutes on evenings and Sundays. For the greater good, people who live on or west of 1st should simply walk the extra two blocks so that the money can be spent in other parts of the city, which have greater need.

      5. Deborah, it’s because of the rampant stoplight violation by pedestrians at Pike. It might ruin streetcar reliability also, but people are leerier of walking in front of them; they know the cars can’t stop quickly.

        Jaywalkers completely destroyed bus reliability, so Metro moved service to Third.

      1. Yes, if this was going someplace new it might be worth it. But the proposed route just connects the two questionable routes that we have. Imagine if it connected the other end and went from S Lk Union to Seattle Center and then down to the waterfront and connected with 1st Hill like the old Benson line. Cruise passengers dump big bucks and would certainly use a SC to access the city. With the reopening of the Arena there would be year round demand baked in. But this doesn’t serve Seattle Center or the waterfront but follows a route that’s already saturated with transit.

      2. I’ve been told by someone in Germany they don’t invest in any sort of new railed transit unless it can be made faster than driving. That means streetcars don’t operate on the street unless there is no other choice.

        Those “other benefits” of streetcars don’t happen unless people USE the streetcar.

    2. I want my 15-minute frequency back on the 10 and 11. The 20N needs 15-minute evening frequency. I thought about going to Schmitz Preserve Park yesterday but with the 50 and 128 at 30-minute frequency I was deterred by a possible long wait. Can’t we address issues like these that have no alternative two blocks away before building the CCC?

    3. Several things in Reece’svideo. First, those aren’t our streetcars. They’re higher-level streetcars that have twice the capacity as a bus, have dedicated transit lanes often by replacing parking lanes, and are run at high frequency throughout the day. He distinguishes his recommendation from the “newer American streetcars”, which is what ours are. If we want high-quality streetcar lines, we’d need to invest more money in them.

      Second, he says operating costs are lower than a bus, and electricity is cheap. Then he rattles off less street maintenance costs, longer vehicle life, etc, but these are capital costs, not operating costs. Metro found our streetcars cost more to operate than our buses, so it had to reduce service hours to operate the streetcars. That translates to less bus frequency or coverage on other routes. He says one streetcar can replace thee buses so you only need a third the drivers, but again that’s not our streetcars. Our streetcars aren’t larger than our buses. We could have those kind of streetcars, but you’d have to replace the fleet, and maybe enlarge the stations and right of way, and that’s not likely to happen. And when he says electricity is cheap, it may be in Canada where there’s more hydro than they know what to do with, and it’s pretty cheap here due to hydro and Bonneville’s fee structure, but it’s more expensive in other parts of the US.

      The CCC finally has dedicated center lanes as I’ve been advocating for streetcars, but it’s only for one mile out of a four-mile network. The operating plan is both lines operating on 1st Avenue (maybe between Westlake and intl Dist), with each line 15 minutes and a combined 7.5 minutes. That’s less than the 3-10 minutes recommended in the video. And the combined segment is only for a short part of it, which doesn’t help many trips like going to Little Saigon or Denny Way. It only helps trips like Pike Place to Pioneer Square or the art museum to Westlake. (If the overlap even extends to Westlake.)

      It was funny when he said core bus routes and streetcars should run at least every ten minutes to be a minimum quality route. Ours are running at 15-30 minutes. But that’s why we’re not a transit-oriented city. To be transit-oriented you need the transit.

      1. I wasn’t saying that I agreed or disagreed with his video. I just thought it was an interesting video and linked it. Even he said his opinion would stir comments. I haven’t had the chance to see all of his videos. Thank you for your input.

      2. Last I checked, The national transit database shows Portland Streetcar more expensive to operate per vehicle-hour than MAX trains. MAX trains operate in pairs mostly, but they require maintenance of stations, right of way, bridges and elevators, which seemed to be averaged in to operating cost per vehicle revenue hour.

        Specialty cars are just more expensive to maintain by the twos or threes than by the hundred. Rail transit is very much a game of scale.

      3. At least according to the Environmental Assessment, the overlap is 5 minutes (10 minute legs): https://seattletransitblog.wpcomstaging.com/2016/05/11/center-city-connector-takes-another-step-forward/ It’s also between Thomas St and Little Saigon, so it pretty much covers the whole SLU-ID.

        If we had better foresight, we’d have a Convention Place station, the First Hill streetcar would’ve gone up Boren (and actually replaced the Boren/Madison proposed light rail station), and we’d have a single streetcar line doing SLU -> First Hill -> ID. Down to Judkins Park or Mount Baker as the next estension. I’m still waiting for the mythical Metro Connects Boren bus.

      4. Here’s the data:
        Portland Streetcar:

        and TriMet:

        Costs per vehicle hour are just overall operating system costs (including things like station maintenance) divided by vehicle revenue hours. You can do the division from the upper lines of the tables yourselves if you want.

        Portland streetcar:
        $276.26 per vehicle revenue hour.


        For bigger stations, longer trains, higher speeds, park and ride lots, tunnels, signal systems, and various other complexities that are supposed to make light rail more expensive than streetcar.

      5. My personal preference would have been for a one-way streetcar loop on Pike and Pine streets (and perhaps for general traffic too) between Broadway and Westlake Center. It would run by convention center entrances, and provide for branches that could turn north and south at Broadway on one end and branches to SLU and Belltown at the other.

      6. Read a little closer, Henry. I said that i envisioned that one branch would turn south on Broadway, and that would be the FHSC tracks all the way down to the ID.

    4. I trace the core problem with the CCC was that it’s primary goal began assuming that the two lines should be connected. The study began way before ST3, and before the FHSC was open.

      I think it has a niche benefit. Still, it lacks the systems improvement that a streetcar to Belltown and Uptown, or perhaps to 15th and John or Judkins Park Station would have. That’s because the Third Ave tunnel and bus transit mall are just about 500 feet away (2 minute walk if flat) and they operate much faster and will be much more frequent in 2023.

      I would rather that Seattle look into punching some tunnels to connect to Link station mezzanines as an alternative way to spend the money (like what Beneroya Hall has). Once open, the public expense becomes only maintenance and security features. Add to that more escalators or elevators to the Link station platforms.

      Following that, I would look at looking for systemic ways to get up and down the hill, because it’s the climb more than the distance that I think needs the improvement — like an escalator system, a funicular, a gondola or something similar. Now that the viaduct exits no longer exist, the pressure to leave the cross streets open to general traffic is much less and that makes it easier to close a street or at least a lane for a project to get people up and down.

  6. Throwing this out to the gondola horde. Assuming Seattle gets the authority to raise money on its own to pay for it, what is the one route that you would push for? IIRC, the OG Gondola folks wanted to put gondolas on Denny (sort of an airborne 8) which could connect Cap Hill to Sculpture park. Lately, I’ve heard the gondola to West Seattle (I think Dow C. figuratively shoots that down) instead of ST 3.

    What say you, gondola folks?

    1. Up Capitol Hill would be nice, since the ST3 vision leaves the very busy west-of-Capitol Hill 8 mostly served by subway with a short gap between Westlake/Denny and Broadway/John.

      I suppose the other obvious massive hill would be Queen Anne; up from Seattle Center, through the top and ending in Fremont. Though gondolas do have a hard length limit.

      1. The length limit is not quite as short as you might think. The mining tramway (a gondola line built for ore) in eastern Washington near Colville on one of the old maps I have is in the 12 mile or so range. The problem is that over longer distances, higher speeds become more desirable for passenger operations, while freight doesn’t matter as much.

        Part of me is thinking something along the lines of Husky Stadium station to Kirkland would be useful, making Kirkland an Eastside northeast transit hub, but not sure that would pencil out in terms of speed, and politically probably not feasible.

        Something like a Sculpture Park to Coleman Dock line might be a useful tourist attraction as well as provide a useful downtown length bypass for D, 24 and 33 riders from the north end. It can take a long time for those buses to get from one end of downtown to the other.

        It would never be politically possible, but something like a Magnolia Village to Expedia station line could help some rationalization of bus routes in Magnolia.

        Discovery Park to Ballard might help for access to the park without driving, and give the 33 + gondola a different option for getting to Ballard.

      2. Doesn’t 520 have a provision for light rail?

        That particular journey might make more sense as an extension of the stubby Issaquah line, assuming you can ever get Kirkland to agree to light rail through Kirkland (and I have a feeling they’d object to gondolas if they’d object to light rail.) That’s also a fairly obvious tie-in then to a Ballard-UW line.

      3. I think there could be merit into moving the monorail to operate along the waterfront, and using 5th Ave for part of Link’s SLU-Ballard line (subway or cut-and-cover shallow tunnel). The views would be awesome and the moved monorail would augment the visitor connectivity and experience. The current ride is not particularly picturesque. The Fifth Ave monorail structures are 60 years old and probably could use rehab or replacement anyway.

      4. Montlake to Kirkland is about 2 miles. That’s an easy length for a gondola (Silver Mtn ID is 3+ miles) but you’ll never get buy in for towers (or a gondola) to cross the lake. Fast ferry service I believe was part of the proposal for The Landing in Renton. Kirkland to S Lk Union would probably be the highest ridership segment. I don’t believe there was any proposal to stop at Husky Stadium. Union Bay is really shallow once you deviate from the marked channel. The UW School of Oceanography already has a mighty fine dock on the Cut right next to the Hospital that I could see working. The ferry proposal was going to be privately funded by The Landing development consortium.

      5. A Monorail from Seattle Center to the Waterfront is a great idea. There’s no way a SC can be put on the new AK Way without running in traffic. That wouldn’t be the end of the world but a Monorail would be faster and maybe attract more tourists. I wouldn’t attempt to “move” any of the old equipment. It does provide a real benefit for accessing events at the Center and continues to be profitable as a tourist attraction. One that served Seattle Center, Pier 66 and all of the attractions along the WF plus connecting to Link would almost certainly be able to run at a profit; if the Seattle Center runs it, not Metro. You’d still have some resistance from people that just got a view back from the viaduct being torn down but I think a modern design might make it through. And there’s center islands that provide space for the piers. And in trade for some view residents get great transit access and business gets tourists with deep pockets.

      6. > Montlake to Kirkland is about 2 miles. That’s an easy length for a gondola (Silver Mtn ID is 3+ miles) but you’ll never get buy in for towers (or a gondola) to cross the lake.

        @Bernie: that’s not two miles *between* towers, is it? Because as far as I can tell, that’s not possible, and towers in the center of deep Lake Washington are DOA.

        According to 5 minutes of Googling, Peak 2 Peak in Whistler is the longest unsupported span gondola, but that isn’t the kind of gondola that could support mass transit style capacity.

      7. 520 is compatible with light rail, but it will require adding more floating pontoons. wsdot.wa.gov/Projects/SR520Bridge/About/Mobility.htm

      8. @Henry
        Peak to Peak is a long run but it’s got a huge drop. I think you’d be looking at 1000′ boarding stations at each end to do something similar UW to Kirkland; it’s just not feasible. Lake WA is deep is a myth. There’s really only one hole that’s 300′ deep near where 520 approaches UW. It’s been passed off as gospel for years to support the notion that pontoon bridges are the only way to cross Lk WA. That’s a lie, the reason WSDOT uses temporary pontoon bridges is because it’s cheap(er) to build but way more expensive than building a real bridge.

        Yeah, light rail compatible on 520 means if you give up the HOV lane an possibly have to reduce the GP lane to one direction it could, in theory be done. Let’s see how well trains on bobbing pontoons works for East Link. My prediction is max life of the I-90 segment is 20 years. ST and WSDOT I think have it at a more optimistic 30 years. Call it 25 and it’s still a terrible “investment”. I’ll be dead so not my problem; unless it turns out to be 5 years which given the cracks on the W Seattle bridge I could totally see happening. Engineering guestimates, paid for by someone that wants a favorable result, are often way off.

    2. I’ve always thought a gondola from the convention center to the Great Wheel was the right mix of gimmick and useful to be successful. Much like the monorail, it would be both a tourist toy and a useful bit of infrastructure. Ideally it would be a public-private partnership, so I would support some public funding to get it off the ground and/or to subsidize operating cost if it was fully integrated into Orca (like the monorail is now, finally).

      If the FHSC was extended north up Broadway, something to close the ‘loop’ with the SLUT could be intriguing. To me, a 2 station gondola connecting northern Cap Hill with northern SLU (or southern Eastlake?), if paired with robust investment in a busway for the 8, is a better project than a standalone, multiple station gondola running along Denny that still leaves the 8 mired in traffic. The Denny corridor is flat enough it should just be a (high quality) bus route, but further north the elevation difference (and I5 in a viaduct rather than trench) may mean a gondola actually makes sense.

      And to me, a gondola should still be a studied alternative to the high rail bridge over the Dwamish, but I think that ship has sailed.

  7. If it was feasible I’d say SODO Station to West Seattle Junction. When discussed before it was thought this and a connection to the Fauntleroy Ferry could be built for substantially less money than a Link extension. Travel time would be longer but there is virtually zero headway or transfer penalty. This seems like a natural use of the technology because it spans the Duwamish without requiring a new bridge. As for the connection to the ferry, thinking about it, it probably makes more sense to just put the money into improved RR-C. If they don’t already, have a bus waiting for every ferry landing. Maybe add a whole new RR-S from the Junction to SEA. I still think you’d be way under the bloated Link extension and it could be operational in a few years instead of maybe in a few decades (probably never).

    1. Well, Victoria Clipper just recently resumed service so I’d expect not too far into the future. It’s a race to see if BC service starts before the By Pass opens ;-)

      1. The earliest the Amtrak app shows availability is June 3rd, 2022.
        Probably because they’re waiting until they see the whites of their eyes

      2. That’s better than Greyhound. Their US site doesn’t even show Vancouver BC as a destination option.

    2. Canadians are only allowed to fly to the US. I can’t think why but the US govt. seems to like it that way. Canada has a higher vaccination rate than the US and BC is allowing children 5-11 to be vaccinated.

      1. Victoria Clipper doesn’t allow Canadians to travel to the US; only US citizens to travel to Canada? All of the news stories I’ve heard say it’s Canada that has the tight restrictions not the US. Which makes sense as they are more on top of this than the US. I don’t like mandates. I think if you don’t want to get vaccinated you have the right to stay home or move to your own private Idaho.

  8. The up escalators were out at Northgate this morning. One week. That’s all they got before a breakdown. Unbelievable.

    1. All the Northgate and Roosevelt escalators were working midweek. I don’t remember which days, but I went to Northgate for a north Meridian walk, and to Roosevelt to the produce shop at 65th & 15th. (I told the cashier I was a longtime customer, but I hadn’t been there much since the pandemic started, and now with Link it’s much easier to get to Roosevelt so I’d be coming more. He said he was happy the extension opened and expected more customers because of it. Although he thought it was ST3 and I told him ST2; the extension was approved in 2008.)

  9. Fun question: if single-family zoning were abolished on Mercer Island, King County wide, or statewide, what would be the net result on Mercer Island or in other places? Assume seven-story buildings were allowed everywhere, as well as row houses and 4-8 unit two-story apartments.

    1. Eliminating single family zoning doesn’t change height, setback, lot coverage or parking requirements per se. I would think one major MI impact would be to create complete (with kitchen and lockable entrance doors) “servant’s quarters” or “caretaker’s quarters” or “returning adult children’s quarters” so that the octogenarians there can stay in their homes. I could also see a new interest in stand-alone cabana dwelling units for some of these homes.

      I don’t see MI allowing for taller buildings or more lot coverage even with a statewide law banning single family zoning.

    2. If statewide SFH zoning were banned, I don’t think it would particularly impact Mercer Island all that hard, since developers would have options across the metro area and Mercer Island is not really any kind of obvious first or second choice.

      It’s the same reason I think opponents of such legislation are misled because they think Hong Kong in Magnolia is going to come rushing out of the floodgates.

  10. This is in The Urbanist today, and may explain project costs rather than SEPA:

    “For many months now, the Move Seattle Levy Oversight Committee has been working with the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) on a set of criteria for updating that portfolio: looking at which categories are projected to come in with fewer deliverables than were promised, and how any added projects would be prioritized if funds became available. Last week, SDOT presented an initial proposal to that committee for utilizing an array of funding sources, some guaranteed and some less-than-certain, to bolster levy goals. When the Mayor’s 2022 proposed budget came out, it didn’t contain any proposals to significantly increase levy deliverables: this proposal here gets much closer.”

    “The criteria that the committee settled upon were: prioritizing projects that “advance opportunities in BIPOC [Black, Indigenous, and people of color] communities and minimize harm,” further citywide goals around Vision Zero, climate, equity, and asset management, and are able to be completed by the end of the levy in 2024.”

    And I thought Move Seattle was about transit and mobility.

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