A glimpse into what we might have had if Forward Thrust had passed.

This is an open thread.

95 Replies to “Weekend open thread: The system we could have had”

  1. The Forward Thrust plan did not include the Orange or Brown lines shown in the animation and the path to Bellevue was the same as East Link takes through Seattle.

    Who came up with the new lines and changed routings?

    1. Also, the southern end of the Blue Line is wrong. It was planned to go down what is now the busway, not 15th South.

    2. It’s revisionist. No commuter rail and no Tacoma Link. And I think West Seattle would have been a rapid bus line. I guess the idea is that, if we started with Forward Thrust some of those ST and Seattle Subway ideas would have followed – but that’s a leap I think. It’s not clear a multi-county rail organization would have come about in that case.

      The point is probably that if Forward Thrust had passed we’d have a lot more rail now. But my takeaway is different. If our forerunners had passed Forward Thrust, we’d have an urban mass transit system designed by engineers to meet projected urban travel needs. Stations would have been located in places pedestrians congregate, and rail wouldn’t go into lower density areas. But because FT didn’t pass, we got Sound Transit two decades later, and that system was designed by politicians to spread suburban real estate development around the region. Stations are located at freeway interchanges where no pedestrians want to be in order to make 40-mile commuter rail trips using light rail technology. The outcome is predestined by how the governance model is set up, and now that infill development is finally happening in Seattle, we still need an urban mass transit system.

      1. You do understand the “Seattle Way”, right? Forward Thrust would be subject to the same political pressures that have shaped Sound Transit, except Puget Sound politics were even more murky and corrupt than they are now.

        The little video above is just lines on a map. None of this was built because it was politically impossible. Even if Forward Thrust would have passed, there is no way those lines on the video would have ever been built that way, or in that time frame. Right now Sound Transit is rubber stamping plans to build subway stops 200 feet underground, because the car lobby says so. Back in the ’80s the car lobby was much stronger. Looking at all the public works projects Seattle did in the 70s and 80s, they were mostly crap. Forward Thrust would have likely been the same– a heavy rail project built on the cheap– something straight out of the USSR school of design.

      2. “Sound Transit is rubber stamping plans to build subway stops 200 feet underground, because the car lobby says so.”

        The car lobby wants 200 foot deep stations?

      3. “Stations would have been located in places pedestrians congregate, and rail wouldn’t go into lower density areas.” That’s the opposite of what happened to all other American mass transit systems built at the time Forward Thrust would have been. Seattle would have been under simillar political constraints (particularly at the Federal level) and societal biases & priorities as BART, WMATA, and MARTA, so I would expect a simillar system to be built. I’m not as pessimistic as tacomee, but a system built in 70s/80s would have been heavy on freeway alignments and large surface parking lots.

        It’s possible Seattle could have built something closer to Calgary, where highly concentrating Class A office space in a single CBD (as Seattle has mostly done, supporting a commuter bus network rather than commuter rail network), but station placement, parking, and TOD would have been very comparable to BART/WMATA/MARTA.

      4. I think that is a great summary Quasimodal. I agree with all of your points.

      5. You do understand the “Seattle Way”, right? Forward Thrust would be subject to the same political pressures that have shaped Sound Transit, except Puget Sound politics were even more murky and corrupt than they are now.

        I don’t think you understand the process that lead to this proposal. It took months of effort, and lots of committees to get to this point. Money had already been approved by Congress. The “Seattle Way” (which is really nothing unique) had already been done. It just needed voter approval.

        You are also missing one enormous distinction between this and Sound Transit: This was a county proposal. Sound Transit proposals look different because it is a regional board. Regardless, the point is, the map for this was already done (much as the map for ST3 is already done). There might have been some minor tweaks here or there, but overall, that was the plan.

      6. “Stations would have been located in places pedestrians congregate, and rail wouldn’t go into lower density areas.” That’s the opposite of what happened to all other American mass transit systems built at the time Forward Thrust would have been. Seattle would have been under similar political constraints (particularly at the Federal level) and societal biases & priorities as BART, WMATA, and MARTA, so I would expect a similar system to be built. I’m not as pessimistic as tacomee, but a system built in 70s/80s would have been heavy on freeway alignments and large surface parking lots.

        You are ignoring history. The planning had been done. The federal government had already agreed to fund 2/3 of it. The map that Henry linked to below is the map that voters were shown, and the federal government had approved. The so called “political constraints” lead to that proposal. Of course there could have been minor modifications, but that was the plan, just as every Sound Transit proposal has a plan.

        As far as U. S. transit systems go, there is nothing special about that era. If anything, what is striking is that when folks wanted to build things back then, they built them. If there were cost overruns, they simply delayed the project. The First Hill fiasco with Sound Transit seems far less likely, given similar systems back then. If there was a cost overrun, it would have delayed construction to the outer edges — they likely would have started with downtown the UW (with all of the stops) and then downtown to Bellevue. BART may be crap, but they ended up with the crap they wanted. This is different than Seattle, which lost their First Hill Station in a different era.

        The idea that the 70/80s were “heavy on freeway alignments and large surface parking lots” is true to a certain extent, but it is true throughout the post-war period. The best post-war system — the most like an old subway system or something built in Europe or Asia — is one of the systems you mention, WMATA (or DC Metro). Compared to what Sound Transit is building — or every other postwar system in the U. S. — it is the Paris Metro. The idea that we were foolish then, and have learned our lesson now, ignores the reality that ST3 represents. We aren’t alone, as cities like Denver and Dallas did the same thing (much later). Put it this way — what is the best U. S. system built in the post war era? Clearly it is the WMATA, the one built in that era.

        If we had done the same, then our system would have been much better. There would have been a lot more stations (stops) between the UW and downtown. Bus service would have been far more complementary, both in the city and the surrounding suburbs. It is easy to imagine a very nice bus grid for the most urban part of the city (including BRT on Madison — something we are building anyway). The plan called for express buses on the freeways, and it is easy to imagine the rail eventually connecting to them. But since this was a county proposal, there would be no plans to go all the way down to Tacoma, or up to Everett. This means that it wouldn’t have followed the freeway to get there, or had the problem of trying to be both commuter rail and a metro at the same time (failing miserably at both, while spending a fortune). Additional lines, or splits, would be focused on serving the areas that have people (e. g. Rainier Valley) or make urban connections (Ballard to UW) not just trying to get out of town. It would not be “BART del Norte”, it would be the western version of the DC Metro (or a southern version of SkyTrain, the best transit system on the west coast).

        I have great respect for Liebniz, but we don’t live in the best of all possible worlds. Sometimes mistakes are made. The world would have been a much better place if a handful of voters in Florida understood their ballot, and Gore was elected president. This region would have been much better if they passed this proposal. This was a lost opportunity to build something much better, much sooner. Hell, a majority of people actually wanted this; the problem was that it required a super-majority (60%). So instead we got the Kingdome. That wasn’t a good trade.

      7. “… a system built in 70s/80s would have been heavy on freeway alignments and large surface parking lots.”

        Have you actually ridden BART, MARTA or WMATA? The only major segments in medians of freeways are these:

        BART. SR 24 and I-580 (not added until the 1980’s). A few miles of I-280 in southern SF run next to a freeway but not the median.

        WMATA. I-66 in Fairfax County and the new Silver Line. It runs along side some other roads but not in medians.

        MARTA. GA 400. All other segments are subway or an existing rail corridor.

        All of these systems have mostly corridors not inside freeway medians.

        I agree that the FT lines would have many more parking garages. However, of the next Link segments opening, 11 stations have parking. We are adding miles of track inside I-90 and along I-5 in both South King and Lynnwood Link as well as on 520 for a few miles. We are building a more freeway oriented system than these other regions did.

        In other words, I just don’t see that the ST1/2/3 system would have been less auto commute oriented than FT would have been — and not any different that what these other three systems are.

        I see that the biggest difference is with train speed. Our long extensions will have much slower trains than these cities got. It’s not the alignment we are getting wrong; it’s the vehicle technology.

      8. Why is everyone so certain that the plan as proposed would have not been built as designed, had the bonds passed?

        And what is this sneering at BART, WMATA and MARTA about? They all offer very high quality services.

        It’s true that WMATA and MARTA have serious maintenance issues, but that’s more an issue of transit being at the back of the line through the eighties and nineties than an indictment of heavy rail.

        BART still crosses the Bay and the Oakland Hills at eighty miles an hour. That there aren’t clusters of high rises at every station is more a failure of political vision than the systems themselves.

        It was a very sophisticated plan, including BRT to West Seattle instead of rail. I’ll say clearly that “a multi-county rail ogganization” is the root of the problem with Link.

        Had FT passed with the required super-majority Lae City would not have those car dealerships; they’d be along Fifth NE north of Northgate, Lake City Way would be a smaller version of the U-District, and northeast King County transit would not be at the mercy of a hostile developer owning the land necessary to make it great.

        SLU and the Central District would more closely integrated with downtown Seattle, and First Hill would have its subway station, regardless whether those “dreamlines” on the visualization had everr been built.

        Seattleites would have had a full urban system now for a decade and a half — probably more. And though the Rainier Valley wouldn’t have a subway, some sort of tramway would have been built independent of the heavy rail system.

      9. I don’t need to wonder about political pressures and bad outcomes in other cities; I just need to look at the actual Forward Thrust proposal. It put rail lines to connect urban neighborhoods and on Forward Thrust maps you can see where the stations would have been.

    3. This whole thing should have happened a long time ago possibly around 2008 when they first started this whole thing but since it didn’t go through I think that’s why we’ve got problems already together. However, I think what needs to be told here is this they should have done the rerouting before all this got started back in 2008 what sound transit started doing their work on Link light rail. But now it’s going to start doing all this stuff now basically they’re going to try to do all this stuff anyway during the weekend to get things done. I mean I don’t mind riding transportation for a week and that is for free, and I think what needs to be done is very simple. What needs to be done here is after this whole weekend of bus riding and train riding for free comes to end I think what needs to be done is I think that people need to understand that what happens is really what happens. But what could end up happening is that their website and their app could end up being hacked. And that’s got me a little concerned. But I’m pretty sure they can get a handle on it and basically put it into it. that way we can prevent the hackers from stealing our information right off the website and off of our orca cards. Because basically hackers have no business getting into that stuff. I think it’s about time that everybody start realizing that they need to basically watch out what they do especially online when they go to purchase their bus passes that’s right there are monthly orca passes. Because I think what’s going to end up happening is that we need to also understand that this needs to end. However the only way it will end? Is that we make sure that everybody have strong passwords that are so strong not even a mouse could get in there to get our information.

  2. I wish that some of the lessons here would have carried over, like branching just north of Downtown and more stops on Capitol Hill. However, I prefer a system where SE Seattle wasn’t skipped like it was here.

    I also wonder how realistic some of these lines were given the elevation challenges in Seattle. It looks great on a map but it’s a 2D representation.

    Wasn’t Forward Thrust proposing third rail vehicles that could go faster?

    Finally, I’m not sure where the later year projects came from. I don’t Forward Thrust but it does seem speculative. That’s especially true if Tacoma was part of the system but Snohomish and South King (including SeaTac Airport) never got thé light rail that ST2/3 provides.

    That said, it’s curious to compare and contrast.

    1. It’s interesting that Lake City and Renton are not even on the radar for ST3 while they were early in Forward Thrust.

      1. Forward Thrust had the right idea: avoid freeway rights of way if at all possible.

      2. Forward Thrust was King County only.

        If you want a closer in system that covers King County, with the mileage we’ve currently got planned, then the route that makes sense is a city-center trunk with two northern branches (Ballard and 522), three south/eastern branches (Redmond, I-90, and Renton). Which is what the proposal for Forward Thrust actually was.


        There’s even something that looks mostly like I-405 BRT and a busway to West Seattle and SeaTac.

        Most likely the next courses of action after that are, in priority order:

        * subway replacing the BRT to Seatac
        * subway extension from Lake City to Bothell
        * subway extension from Ballard to Shoreline
        * subway replacement of West Seattle BRT

        That gives you 2 northern branches and 4 southern branches. At a very achievable 2 minute core frequency that means a peak train every 4 minutes on each northern branch and every 8 on each southern one, which is fairly decent. I don’t think there’s really a need for a second city center tunnel with full subway trains every two minutes; most of the MARTA-generation subways are severely underutilizing their trunk lines, with the exceptions of BART and DC.

        Stretch goals are probably a line through the Rainier Valley, a line through 99 in the north, extending from Seatac south, and then a line down 167.

        I don’t know that Sound Transit ever comes to existence in this context, or at least looks radically different. In the Bay Area we see the non-BART counties contract with BART to bring extensions to their areas with a lot of drama about it. In Atlanta there has been a whole will-they wont-they about joining MARTA, usually landing on the “no” side until fairly recently. I doubt Pierce County would ever join; Snohomish is more likely.

      3. ” most of the MARTA-generation subways are severely underutilizing their trunk lines, with the exceptions of BART and DC.” Aren’t MARTA, BART, and DC the only three examples of MARTA-generation subway lines?

      4. Forward Thrust was King County only.

        Forward Thrust had the right idea: avoid freeway rights of way if at all possible.

        Exactly! These go together. Subway lines that follow the freeway are largely doing so to cover more distance. In some cases (like following I-90 to get to the East Side) it makes a lot of sense. Leverage what is there, because there is literally nothing in between (but water, in this case). But most of the time, it is a terrible idea. Subway systems thrive when you have lots of stations within the urban core. They fail when they mimic a freeway, especially to distant suburbs. There are a number of reasons for this, and plenty of evidence as well. Since this was a county proposal, and not trying to go to Everett or Tacoma, it is more like a traditional subway.

        The one time it does make sense to connect to the freeway is as a bus intercept. Freeway express buses should connect to the nearby subway, and either end there, or keep going (allowing the riders the best of both worlds). But there should be only one station doing that. The train should not have several stations along the same freeway.

    2. Yes, Forward Thrust was a “heavy rail” proposal with cars similar to BART’s, but without the wide gauge. I think they would have ended up looking essentially like Atlanta’s.

      That Tacoma to Everett line that appears in the 2000’s is essentially a clone of Sounder North and South. It’s not the electrified heavy rail of the subway system.

      1. @Tom Terrific:

        Seattle would’ve probably tacked on to DC’s orignal order, which basically BART cars built to *Standard American Metro Dimensions.

    3. Al, yes in spads to the Orange Line which has stations roughly at Pioneer Square and on top of First Hill along Boren. How do you build that? Well, you don’t.

    4. You can build deep stations, the Moscow Metro is famous for deep stations that double as fallout shelters.

      The idiotic thing is when you decide elevators only is the way to go building a deep station. You can build a long, angled escalator shaft (and it can even be accessible, they have inclined elevators that are basically mini-funiculars), or you can build a shaft full of normal-length escalators that switchback.

      1. Elevators can work too; it is just expensive to get them right. In a busy downtown area, you need a lot of them (and they need to be fast). Barcelona has some very deep stations, and way more people using the elevators than we ever will. This is expensive. It also is problematic if you are trying to connect to another station at a different level — it is best if you are headed right to the surface. But when all is said and done, you can do it (and do it well) but it won’t be cheap.

        This is why it better be worth it. If you are running a second line that is significantly far enough away from the first line, it usually is. A line on Boren, for example, probably would be. But the station at “Midtown”, probably isn’t (because it is too close to the main line). The two other downtown stations are problematic, because of the need for transfers. Current ST3 plans call for something that the planners either ignored, or were unaware of. Very little value is added with the new tunnel, and to do the stations right, you need to spend a bunch of money. That is a bad combination.

  3. This week’s Sound Transit Systems Expansion Board meeting will discuss a $33m contract for: Series 3 Light Rail Vehicle. Are these just more Siemens vehicles or will they consider automatic trains?

    1. I don’t think there is anywhere in the current system where automatic trains could be used. I’m much more interested in whether they will specify trains with fewer driver’s cabs.

      1. Automatic trains can be used across the entire system. Fixed route autonomous driving is already deployed on systems with at-grade crossings. There remains a huge leap in technology for dynamic route autonomous driving (e.g. autonomous SOVs), but fixed route is achievable with today’s tech and will be off-the-shelf by the time Series III is deployed.

    2. At $4-5M per car or $16-20M for a train, that’s just two trains — so it will be similar to vehicles.

    3. “I’m much more interested in whether they will specify trains with fewer driver’s cabs.”

      When they regularly become crushloaded and the public howls for more capacity. Then there will be a several-year crisis while ST raises the funds and the manufacturer schedules construction and delivers them.

      1. How much additional capacity would be realized by eliminating a few driver cabs? 4? 8? When a four car train can hold 592 passengers.

        I don’t think capacity will be an issue. The busiest line is ID to Northgate, and East Link will halve frequency and double capacity on that line, probably with few eastsiders on them.

        Based on ST’s pre-pandemic ridership estimates on East Link — which it hasn’t amended — and maximum 8 minute frequency there were concerns capacity could be an issue cross lake during peak hours, but today no one thinks capacity will be an issue on East Link. Just the opposite. The Eastside transit restructure recognizes that.

        My understanding of Al’s idea for smaller driverless trains for WSBLE is ridership will be low and smaller driverless trains would require smaller and less expensive stations, and perhaps increase frequency to make up for the smaller trains.

        But in that scenario the real issue IMO is the low estimated ridership on WSBLE, and the high dollar per rider mile ratio.

        The reality post-pandemic is that pre-pandemic concerns about capacity were the good news compared to the opposite today, and likely ridership well below ST’s estimates in the future.

        Had we passed Forward Thrust I am not sure rail ridership would be any higher than today. It turns out build it and they will come — or want to live next to a rail station or line — misunderstands why folks ride transit, and the competition for transit like Uber, driving, or WFH, or something truly transformative like a pandemic.

      2. Regardless of what the overall ridership numbers look like, there always be event-driven demand surges where capacity is an issue.

        If the space taken up by an operator can could hold 10 additional people in crushload conditions and there are two operator cabs per car, and four cars per train, the adds up to 70 additional passengers per train (not 80 because the operator can at the very front of the train is unavoidable). It’s not nothing.

      3. The original Forward Thrust system, unmodified, would probably carry fewer south-end passengers than Link does, because as Al noted, it bypassed the Rainier Valley. But the north end ridership would be even higher because it would have those two stations along the Pine corridor and gone up Lake City Way instead of the freeway. Lots of potential for development along Lake City Way.

      4. 70 additional riders per four car train seems optimistic. Then you have three train cars that are not interchangeable if a car with an operator cab is required, the reason ST ordered all train cars with cabs. I would think increasing frequency for an event makes more sense, although with East Link a train that can hold 592 riders in non-crush mode will arrive every 3 minutes which is pretty good, at least northbound and 8 minute frequency eastbound. I can’t see event goers rising up in arms over that capacity (assuming the train doesn’t stop in a tunnel).

      5. “How much additional capacity would be realized by eliminating a few driver cabs?”

        25% by my estimate. MAX has ends with a U-shape of seats, and it can seat 6, or 12 with standees.

        “Had we passed Forward Thrust I am not sure rail ridership would be any higher than today.”

        It would certainly be higher for trips within the comparable TIB-Northgate-Redmond area; the question is how much higher. FT had closer station spacing than Link and a less-freeway alignment, so more housing and businesses would have been within walking distance. People who wanted that would gravitate to those station areas. The cities might have made Renton, Lake City, and northeast Seattle denser and larger than they are now. The post-1980 population explosion would have occurred with Forward Thrust already there. That might have affected land-use decisions and personal housing and job decisions throughout the county.

        A rail network gives the OPPORTUNITY for these things; it doesn’t guarantee them. It gives the opportunity for people to live, work, and shop near stations, and for cities to densify station areas. Sometimes they don’t, as in BART’s stations between Bay Fair and Fremont, and even Lake Merritt I’m disappointed in. But sometimes they do, as in the excellent TOD along the DC Metro in DC and Virginia. I’m not holding my breath that Renton, Bellevue, and Seattle would have done better than they did. The 1970s one-story style was awful, and maybe it would have inevitably happened around stations because it was such a popular style then, and there wasn’t the scarce-land pressure on housing prices like there is now. But maybe the cities would have done better, like DC, Alexandria, and Arlington did. Or Vancouver BC for that matter, since it densified around the time Forward Thrust would have been built.

      6. Re higher ridership, below I outline how I could have used it as a teenager and young adult. I would have raved about it at work and in social groups, and some of them would have started riding it. We could have club meetings and social get-togethers at stations and people could come by train; that would introduce them to the network and some of them might use it further. Travel guidebooks would say Seattle has a first-class transit network, and that would have attracted tourists, and some of them would move here and wouldn’t get a car. That would have changed the county’s demographics. There are millions of Americans who long for a good transit system but for whatever reason can’t live in New York, DC, Chicago, San Francisco, or abroad. They would have gravitated to Seattle more than they did, while those who don’t care about that wouldn’t have moved here more than they did. And with a high-class transit network, that might have generated more jobs of the kind transit riders tend to like (e.g., more tech jobs, and a wider variety of cosmopolitan/creative fields).

      7. One reason Metro was so minimal in the 1980s was that its director was anti-transit. He thought carpools and vanpools were better than buses so there was no reason to expand the bus network. The only problem was peak congestion; off-peak everyone could drive SOVs. In the 2010s, long after he’d left Metro, he co-led an Eastside transportation forum with Kemper Freeman, and again espoused these pro-vanpool, anti-transit views. He added that autonomous cars would increase street capacity, eliminating any remaining need for transit. So unsurprisingly, he wants to cancel East Link, reject any bus expansions, and ideally eliminate Metro.

        So the first step in post-Forward Thrust transit improvements would be having a better Metro director in the 1970s and 80s. That could have led to an expanded bus network and eventually more rail lines than we have now.

        Another thing different in the 1970s was the federal government paid for 90% of subway expansions, at par with highway expansions. So Forward Thrust would have cost a lot less than Link did, even adjusting for inflation. In this alternate history, California’s Prop 13 property-tax revolt in 1979 might have remained a local phenomenon, and Carter remained president in 1980, or Reagan wouldn’t slash federal transit grants. Even if anti-tax sentiment continued to grow, it might not have been as strong. That would have allowed more transit expansions, both local bus, metro rail, and BRT bus options.

        We can look to Europe to see what could have happened because they did it. The Netherlands was growing similar to Los Angeles in the 1960s, prioritizing cars and highways. But a spate of child-pedestrian and child-bicycle deaths made the Dutch public turn away from pro-car policies to better bike, pedestrian, and transit infrastructure. The net result is some one third of the population uses bicycles for daily errands, including grandmothers and people bringing home groceries. In Europe in general, the 1970s oil-price shocks caused those countries to minimize dependence on mideast oil, so they redoubled their transit efforts and anti-subsidized driving. Germany became highly urban in the 1800s as a defense-and-prosperity measure, and in WWII cities were devastated, so it rebuilt in a walkable, transit-centric manner. And in the 1970s it adopted a new generation of tram technology, building surface light rail lines with downtown tunnels in cities both large and small. In Canada, Vancouver BC in the early and mid 20th century was also following a Los Angeles model, but in the 1970s it turned toward dense walkable development and high-capacity transit, and opened its first Skytrain line in 1986. Toronto and Montreal similarly stuck to a walkability-and-transit model. And Calgary, while more like a US city in layout, has three times the transit share.

      8. To be fair to Metro, in the 1970’s and 1980’s the region was going through a recession, and there was an exodus to the Eastside. Metro couldn’t serve the Eastside except bus service to Seattle due to the size of East KC and lack of density, and as Mike notes lack of roads. Buses need roads too, and the Eastside was essentially rural back then.

        The major demographic on the Eastside — and Seattle too — was families with kids, so buses really didn’t work well. It is only fairly recently that Seattle households have so few kids. As a result East KC was more focused on roads and road funding rather than transit, and that continues today.

        If 90%+ trips are by car then expect 90% of funding to go to roads, which serve buses too. Light rail serves a tiny sliver (much of it along freeways) and depends on first/last mile access on roads, it’s Achilles Heel.

        It really didn’t matter who the head of Metro was in the 1970’s to 1990’s, budgets and shifting population centers, and a rural Eastside, determined where transportation funding would go, and county wide transit levies were not likely to pass. Not unlike today. Metro depends on roads, housing desires, and funding, and the Eastside restructure shows that mode is way down on the list of factors folks use when it comes to trips, including buses vs. light rail. Add a transfer and you have just kneecapped light rail, at least for the discretionary rider.

      9. Bellevue was no longer rural when I moved there. Lake Hills, the Northup Way neighborhoods, Medina, Vuecrest, Somerset, South Kirkland, were pretty much the way they are now, with quarter-acre tract housing, and apartments on the north-south arterials. The Bombay Bicycle Club and Cacutta Canoe Club apartments on 140th were there, as was the stately Colonial apartments on 156th, and apartments all along Bellevue Way north and south. The Lake Hills shopping center was smaller, as was 68th in Kirkland, and there was no shopping center on 70th and no Google cluster, but the houses were there. The areas that had scant development were Richards Road, Allen Road (which didn’t exist yet), Newport Way east of 150th, Redmond, Kent, Issaquah, and Woodinville. When I first took the 150 to Kent, the area west of downtown was the middle of nowhere, but Bellevue and Kirkland weren’t like that. I also spent time on Vashon Island (weekends for several years), and that really was rural, but the Eastside and south King County weren’t like that.

      10. Vashon Island has an annual festival, and once there I found a friends of the library book table with some books I liked, and I discovered the island has a King County library branch. I was stunned, “This is still King County?” Because it was so rural it seemed like another county. So no, the Eastside wasn’t rural. In high school a friend said his father had moved to Bellevue in the 1950s and there were farms where 405 is now. But that was all long gone by 1972.

      11. The Forward Thrust proposal got a majority of support in the county (it just didn’t get the needed 60%). Bellevue voters actually approved it (with over 60% of the votes). Hard to imagine that support if Bellevue was rural.

        This is all from this article: https://www.washington.edu/uwired/outreach/cspn/Website/Articles/Mullins/ForwardThrust.html. It largely lost because of cost. Forward Thrust interviews after the election found that voters were concerned about three things: the steep costs, the impact on their taxes, and the uncertainties about obtaining additional funding. It had business support, and support amongst the low-income communities (especially the Black community). But the white middle to lower middle class voted against it. Basically the same demographic that enabled Trump to win (he didn’t get a majority either).

        To further quote that same article: the main point was this: the freeways were simply not sufficiently congested to persuade property owners to take on more taxes.

  4. As I was viewing this Cher’s song If I Could Turn Back Time played in my head. Because I wish I could go back and talk some sense into those who voted against Forward Thrust. A bad decision we are still paying for and will continue paying for decades to come.

  5. Wow, I never thought about when Forward Thrust would have opened. I moved here right after it failed, but I was a preschooler then and didn’t know about it until later. It would have really helped me in 1979 when I started going to the U-District and Broadway, 1985 when I went to UW, 1989 when I graduated and moved to the northern U-District, and 1990 when I started working in Licton Springs, downtown, and Harborview. After I first saw a subway station in 1982 (Chicago O’Hare) and rode one in 1985 (BART), I wished we had a subway between downtown, the U-District, and Northgate. But everybody said it was impossible because voters wouldn’t approve a subway, they only wanted highways.

    The Eastside lines seem like they would have opened earlier since they were part of the original plan. So I would have expected them in the 1980s rather than the 2000s. If I remember it would have approximated East Link going from Bellevue to Redmond. But the I-90 line to Eastgate was also in some proposals somewhere. There was a time when growth was going to be channeled to the I-90 corridor, so the I-90 line would have fit in with that. I don’t see a phase to eastern Mercer Island and then nothing on the Eastside for twelve years.

    Sounder wasn’t part of Forward Thrust that I heard, so everything after 2000 seems to be borrowed from ST2/3 or other speculations.

    “It’s interesting that Lake City and Renton are not even on the radar for ST3 while they were early in Forward Thrust.”

    “if Tacoma was part of the system”

    “Forward Thrust had the right idea: avoid freeway rights of way if at all possible.”

    That shows how much has changed since the Forward Thrust votes in 1968 and 1970. The economic center was a triangle southeast to Renton Boeing and northeast to Lake City. Growth was to be channeled to the Eastside, essentially inside the triangle. I-5 and 405 had just opened or were under construction so they hadn’t affected affected commute patterns much yet. Before I-5, Seattle had 90% of the population, and typical commutes were north Seattle to downtown or Beacon Hill to Boeing Renton.

    Northgate wasn’t important enough to be on Forward Thrust, and Southcenter and Sea-Tac were nowheresville. Southcenter was originally going to be in Burien, but the developer then decided to put it at the convergence of I-5 and 405 converge.

    “The region” then meant part of King County. Auburn, Tacoma, and Everett were mostly separate job markets, except for Boeing employees who commuted to all the factories. Shoreline and Lynnwood were marginal.

    I don’t recall Forward Thrust going south of Renton, so all the Pierce County stuff seems like a neologism.

    If Forward Thrust had been built, it might have encouraged densification and walkability, since there was now an advantage in living in those places near stations. So Renton and Lake City and the areas in between might have gotten more multifamily housing near stations. That might have dampened the rush to freeways and sprawl and encouraged further investment in transit, because there was now a viable alternative to driving to freeway exit low-density neighborhoods.

    Likewise, the evolution of regional transit might have been different. In 1970 the commuter belt was mostly between Lake City and Renton wast of Lake Washington. In 1990 it was between Bothell and Kent west of Lake Sammamish. In 2000 commutes from Snohomish and Pierce Counties were common. So regional transit might have followed that trajectory. Or the trajectory itself might have been different.

    Sound Transit was created in the 1990s out of frustration over the lack of all-day inter-county express routes, and the county-based transit agencies’ apparent inability to build them because they always got prioritized last behind neighborhood wants. And Sound Transit was created in the absence of Forward Thrust or any other regional transit authority. So Sound Transit might have been something else in this scenario.

    I’d hope that Forward Trust would have lead to additional incremental improvements to the transit system. Better Metro funding could have led to 2000s-level frequency in the 1980s; i.e., more 15-minute corridors. In the 80s, most Seattle corridors were 30 minutes, and most suburban corridors were hourly. The 150’s “unusually good” service was 30 minutes daytime, 60 minutes evenings/weekends. Rail expansions might have accompanied it. I won’t speculate on particular rail routes, or on Snohomish or Pierce Counties, because it’s too depressing to think about what we could have had but have to suffer without.

    It’s ludicrous to think that nothing at all would happen in Snohomish County beyond Sounder. If Tacoma gets a streetcar, then there would have been some thought on something to Lynnwood. Those Mountlake Terrace houses were built just after WWII, and the population would continue to expand and would need a center and a transit network. Lynnwood would inevitably have become the city center magnet, since it’s right in the middle and where I-5 and 405 converge. (And where the Interurban went in the early 20th century.)

    1. “After I first saw a subway station in 1982 (Chicago O’Hare) and rode one in 1985 (BART)”

      It was the other way around: 1985 BART, 1986 Chicago O’Hare station, 1987 MAX and Amtrak. So my first subway experience was BART, and I’d always lived in the suburbs, so that’s why these city-suburban metros (instead of city-only) don’t bother me like they bother some people. And I was always impressed that it ran every 10-15 minutes instead of half-hourly, hourly, or a few times a day. I didn’t like Caltrain because it was so infrequent, and I was always mad at San Mateo, Santa Clara, and Marin Counties that they’d voted BART down. San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties said Caltrain was sufficient for them, but I didn’t like it because Caltrain ran only every 1-2 hours off-peak. So I vowed that if I ever moved back to the Bay Area, I’d live in San Francisco or the East Bay, not in the South or West Bay or Marin. Then Silicon Valley happened in the South and West Bay, so it got difficult because the tech jobs were on the opposite side of the bay from where I wanted to be. And the tech jobs weren’t in San Francisco: that only started in the late 90s. (Because San Francisco offered low rents on live-work lofts in the SoMa renovation to attract artists, and tech startups abused the opportunity.) Now Caltrain is finally becoming frequent one of these decades, so that lifts my objection to it.

      1. Poor frequently is only one of Caltrain’s problems. It’s also slow for the distances involved. Once, when at a work conference in Sunnyvale, I decided to go into San Francisco for the evening. The way there, I took the company shuttle, it was just over 45 minutes in the height of rush hour. The way, I took CalTrain, and it was 90 minutes. And still needed a short Lyft ride at the end to get from the Sunnyvale train station to my actual hotel. Which brings problem number 2, that most of the destinations in silicon valley are not within walking distance of CalTrain stations, and the frequency of the connecting bus routes is also terrible. If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to switch over to the VTA light rail, which runs every 15 minutes during the day, which is still not all that great.

        The good news is that silicon valley did turn out to be much more bike friendly than I was expecting. It’s paint only bike lanes, but the absence of parked cars and door zones helps a lot. As does the fact that the terrain is flat. The bike lanes also seemed a few inches wider than they do here, and every extra inch separating you from traffic helps. Sunnyvale even has a few Burke-Gilman-style trails, one of which goes right to the San Jose airport. On my return trip, I actually rode a Spin bike from the Sunnyvale convention center to the airport for $1, with about 80% of the ride on off-street trails. Being able to just leave the bike at the airport entrance and walk right in to catch the flight home was wonderful.

    2. That raises and interesting topic, Mike!

      What is the first transit system each of us rode?

      My aunts took me on a small middle American local bus as young as 3 in the early 1960’s. I always though it was fun! I rode my first excursion train sometime in the 1960’s as well as amusement park trains in that decade.

      My first actual subway system I saw was Chicago in 1972. I rode the Disneyworld monorail in 1976. I think my first urban rail experiences were Montreal in 1979, and then Philadelphia and DC in 1980 or 1981. DC Metro was new then and was very impressive as an introductory experience. Maybe that’s why I believe there should be three escalators in every subway station if possible.

      Thanks for jogging my memory! I’d be curious to learn how others got introduced.

      1. These are my earliest memories of buses. My grandmother didn’t drive. She took my sister and myself to the Seattle Center Fun Forest in maybe 1978. Hard to remember. At least 2 times that year. I think. We took the 5 “Phinney” to the old Monorail terminal. Rode the monorail, went on rides, got ice cream at the Center house. Once we rode that Bubble elevator. I found out when I was older, the bus went right by the Seattle Center and she took us further in to downtown to let us ride the Monorail. It would have been faster to get off and walk directly to the Center.
        About 2 or 3 years later, my parent’s friends from my church took me to a few Seakawks games. We would cut out of church in Fremont to go to the Dome. I got to ride the new “bendy buses” from Fremont to somewhere near the Kingdome. I have no idea where we got off. But it was also the 5 route.

      2. George Benson. Probably about 1984.
        Vancouver Expo line at the expo.

      3. New York Central RR Harlem Division – to GCT,
        then various points on the IND, IRT, and the BMT.
        (the Flushing line, Lexington Ave. line, and of course…
        the Times Square Shuttle)

      4. My mom fondly remembers growing up in 1950s San Francisco riding the cable cars, streetcars, and her bicycle. My dad grew up in rural Lakewood and presumably drove. By the time I was born they lived in San Jose and drove everywhere and preferred one-story “town-and-country” architecture. That continued in Bellevue, and when I chose to go to a junior high across town they drove me. But I’d read children’s books about 1920s children who could walk to the library and town center and a streetcar line, and I knew that in New York City children rode buses and subways like my mom’s childhood. That awoke my nascent urbanism.

        I saw the Metro buses on NE 8th Street and eventually started riding them to school and to Seattle. That was around 1979 when I was in 7th or 8th grade. The 226 ran from Overlake Village to Northup Way, 8th Street, Bellevue Way, Mercer Island, 4th Avenue, then turned into the 255 and came back across the Evergreen Bridge, Kirkland, Totem Lake, and Kingsgate. Fares were 40 cents one zone, 60 cents two zones (crossing the Seattle boundary). All the Eastside buses were single (non-articulated). The 226 was the first Eastside route to get articulated buses. Eastside routes were hourly, although the 340 was half-hourly (405 north and south), and the 210 was every 90-120 minutes (Seattle, Newport Way, Issaquah, some runs to North Bend). My closest routes were the 226, 252 (Eastgate, Lake Hills, NE 8th Street, Bellevue, Medina, U-District), and later the 210.

        I lived on Somerset for a few months going to Bellevue High School, and carried a handwritten schedule of the 210, 240, 252, and 340. In the morning I walked ten minutes to the 210, took it west to Mercer Island, waited a short ten minutes doing math homework, then took the 226 east to school. In the afternoon there wasn’t such a good transfer, but there were several alternatives. I could walk to 108th and take the 240 to Newport Way, or walk to 112th and take the 340 to Coal Creek Parkway. Both of those transferred to the 210, or I could a couple miles if it wasn’t coming. Or I could go to Bellevue Transit Center and take the 271 the long way to the foot of Somerset, but then there was a 20 minute walk uphill.

        Then my dad moved to an apartment off south Bellevue Way, so I could walk to school and to downtown Bellevue, and the 226/235 were half-hourly to Seattle. That was the most urban environment I’d ever lived in, and I loved it.

      5. In the late 1960’s my family lived on lower Capitol Hill/Upper Montlake (19th and Crescent). I was 10 and my little brother was 8. My mom would give us bus fare, money for the movies, and a malt to share afterwards

        We would walk to the bus stop across from Stevens Elementary and next to the ravine to catch the bus to The Blue Mouse Theater on University and 5th. Once someone bought a ticket just to dump their baby beagle in the theater, which the manager gave to us and became our family dog.

        Parents would never do that today.

      6. Suburban Transit System riding from Edmonds to Seattle Center in the late 60s.

      7. Started riding MK&O buses from the downtown Y to home — about three miles — on Saturdays when I was eight. About ten I started walking most weeks, in order to spend the quarter my mom gave me for bus fare on a chocolate sundae.

        Pack it in and walk it off.

      8. Bus from Kaysville to Salt Lake City with a few teens a bit older than me to see the opening of Star Wars, so 10 years old. 1977.

        Took the DC subway in my teens. Then moved to NYC after college. And it was love.

  6. Having grown up in a city with a subway, one of the issues with the DC Metro has been maintenance/upkeep– partners (cough, Northern VA, cough) who weren’t willing to spend to keep it up– resulting in some horrible (fatal) accidents. Given the status of our current infrastructure, does anyone think Puget Sound region would have paid the necessary money for upkeep– if it meant more taxes, or gasp, an income tax?

    1. Even just visiting Washington D.C., it felt like there was some sort of construction-related service disruption nearly every weekend.

    2. ST 1/2/3 includes a “State of Good Repair” budget, which is supposed to replace the trains and infrastructure when they reach their end of life. The problem with the DC and NYC subways is they apparently didn’t have that, so when it came time to refurbish the lines decades later there was no capital funds saved up.

      The DSTT escalators were also in that position: the capital project didn’t include ongoing funding for maintenance; it was just assumed they’d never wear out or the county would raise a new levy to replace them. What ultimately happened was that Metro applied for federal grants to fix the escalators when they broke, and that took several months to get the money, Then ST2 approached and the county was ultimately going to sell the tunnel to ST for Link exclusively, so it just deferred maintenance to let ST pay for it after it acquired it.

    3. Given the status of our current infrastructure, does anyone think Puget Sound region would have paid the necessary money for upkeep – if it meant more taxes?

      Yes. The city has boomed. It has relatively few of the problems that larger cities have (but is starting to get them). A majority of people approved this proposal, and presumably money for maintenance would have come from a simple majority, or just the county council. The county has funded bus service over the years. Maybe not to the levels we want, but they still fund it. It seems highly likely they would have funded rail maintenance.

      This would have been a far more efficient system than what Sound Transit is building. The distances are much lower, and there are more urban stops. This would result in much better fare recovery. It would have rode the urban wave quite well, resulting in calls for new lines, along with additional maintenance (if it needed it).

      There would probably be problems, like some escalators not working, but that sort of thing happens almost everywhere. In my opinion, Vancouver has by far the best transit system on the West Coast, and they struggle with problems of that nature. Problems I would consider minor cost Vancouver years of much needed expansion when they voted on a new package. That might have happened here, depending on the timing of votes, and the state of the system. But overall, I would expect it to run relatively well, just because the city has done quite well over the years, and it would be a fairly efficient system.

      1. Exactly, Ross. The line to Renton would probably be somewhat under-used, but Link south of Rainier Beach is too. It was a far better system than what Seattle will have post-ST3, assuming its completion as designed.

      2. SF, Atlanta, and DC are also wealthy cities & metros. I assume Seattle would have bungled SOGR just those transit entities did, especially when the upfront costs are paid with OPMs so there isn’t a robust local revenue stream to handle major mid & end of life expenses.

        That’s not to say the system would be great. BART & DC Metro are great and MARTA is good at what it does. But Seattle’s system would have been a tire-fire of deferred maintenance, just like its peers.

      3. In DC, the system had a lot of federal money for construction, but apparently not a long term commitment to preserve the system. My impression is that we’ll be in better shape for preservation because we have a continuing revenue source – but only if we use revenue now used for debt service to preserve the system instead of investing in new lines once the bonds are paid off. It’s a golden rule of public finance that it’s more rewarding politically to build new things than to preserve the ones that have already been built.

  7. Oh boy, Open thread!

    So the other day, I found out about Johnathan Ho’s Minecraft Transit Railway project:


    First part in the series above. Betweeen this, and the “Minecraft Earth” project, I think it’s possible to create full scale renditions of exisitng transportation systems, and full scale rendering of what their future system could look and function like.

    1. Also, is it now effectively policy that fares are optional on Link? Half the ticket machines are out of service, most of the ORCA readers are covered over. I know that is for the system upgrade, but it sure sends the message that you don’t have to pay. I have not seen anyone checking fares in my last ~40 rides. And I have read that you don’t have to show ID.

    2. I was waiting to board a Link Train from CapHill to Angle Lake this evening. I stepped on one train and immediately walked off the train. There was either spilled food or feces spread all over the train car floor. I didn’t want to take the long trip and smell it, nor did I want to track anything into my vehicle or domicile. I reported the issue to ST, but I have yet to hear anything.

      As I hop onto one of the new Siemens trains, a female sits dazed on the train. Seemingly having been on the train for hours. Food containers litter the floor underneath her blanket. Food contents spilled on the floor. She and the food containers have been there for hours.

      In a time where we want to promote trying to save money by riding transit, I’m starting to feel like I should just drive myself to town. This is gross. This is unsanitary and does nothing to promote transit ridership.

      1. Charlotte, your experience is why many of us don’t care if East Link never opens.

        The reality is ST is eliminating fares and allowing Link to become housing. This situation will only continue to deteriorate.

        The limited mobility East Link offers the Eastside over buses and cars is not worth a direct connection to Seattle. The Eastside should continue to focus on free parking, Uber/Lyft, WFH, and one seat direct buses from park and rides for peak travel, especially post pandemic.

        Truncate East Link at Mercer Island if East Link is truly necessary. My guess is any employers requiring Eastside workers to commute to Seattle will have to provide private shuttles, or cities will demand/subsidize buses like the 630, or those employers will open offices on the Eastside.

      2. No Link train I’ve ever seen is like the video the link or CharlotteRoyale describe. I also took Link from Capitol Hill to Roosevelt and back this afternoon, and the passengers were regular transit riders and the trains were clean. The Roosevelt escalator was broken, as is not uncommon. I don’t want to say these experiences didn’t happen, but they’re completely different from my experience on Link. I sometimes see homeless people on the train, but only occasionally, and not with their food or posessions spread all around them. Maybe there’s a recent increase at night, but not that I’ve seen in the daytime or early evening.

      3. ST thinks that they are a PR agency trying to please voters with glossy presentations about spending billions of public money. Their audience are developers, property owners and ejected officials.

        ST is not yet able to run a transit system. They contract out drivers, and fail at day-to-day maintenance of vehicles and escalators. Their own service standards are low and there is no shaming when these aren’t met.

        As more extensions open and more trains and stations are put into service, this disconnect will be increasingly apparent. Of course, it won’t be addressed until a group of elected officials finally make an issue of it.

        The problem these days is that the destructive segment of the homeless population seems to be treated with more respect than the well-behaved low-income transit user. No matter what income or age or ethnicity is involved, a well-behaved rider deserves a “safe” train and that includes unsanitary human remains as well as belligerent riders .

      4. I meant elected officials, obviously. However, if they don’t wake up to how bad ST is operating Link, they may need to be ejected officials from their jobs.

        Seattle is way too forgiving to incumbents. This needs to change.

  8. Walking around Capitol Hill around noon this Sunday, the street parking I passed was full, I walked passed several cars that were double parked, and several other cars wedged into places that were not legal parking spaces. I watched one driver hit the accelerator and nearly slam into a bicyclist while trying to jam his SUV into a spare sliver of asphalt.

    At least for Capitol Hill, it seems to me nuts to make parking on Sunday free while running reduced transit service and charging full fares. Capitol Hill has a light rail station, a streetcar, and at least 6 bus routes, plus a cycletrack, and the neighborhood is extremely walkable. Almost everyone can get here without a car, but we’re encouraging people to drive. We’re burning more oil, increasing greenhouse gas emissions, while making the streets more dangerous.

    Charge full price for parking on Sundays, make transit fare-free, and run the buses, trams, and trains as frequently as staffing will allow.

  9. When did TOD infostructure partnerships become part of transit expansion planning in cities like Seattle? Did it first start becoming important because of commute times, environmental reasons, or housing prices? In the late 1960’s none of these issues in Seattle were as common like the east coast cities. If TOD was part of the Forward Thrust projects, I did not know about it. I only know a little about the history of the voted projects. Maybe it was a consideration. Just curious.

    1. It wasn’t part of Forward Thrust; construction then was one-story with surface parking. Bellevue had plans for a dense downtown, and that’s why Forward Thrust served it, but I don’t think there were any specific requirements for multistory mixed-use buildings adjacent to stations, or withdrawing FT if lower-density were built instead. That’s why I said the Renton stations could have become denser clusters but there was no guarantee, and the same for Lake City, Model Neighborhood (the CD), and northeast Seattle between the U-District and Lake City. It might have developed denser, or it might have gotten exactly the same density it has now.

      In the 1950s or 60s there were a few highrise buildings outside downtown: the Madison Park towers, the Beacon Hill public-housing tower, and Mount Safeco and the University Tower Hotel in the U-District. That generated a backlash and zoning was tightened to block any more. Downtown there was a movement called CAP to limit towers to forty stories or so. So most of the momentum was on blocking highrises, and single-family-only zoning got stricter along with that. There was no movement to encourage missing-middle housing or low-midrises around Forward Thrust stations that I heard of.

      TOD started here in the 1990s, when modest urban villages started to grow.

    2. When did TOD infostructure partnerships become part of transit expansion planning in cities like Seattle?

      Is it part of Seattle transit expansion? I know this is common in Japan, but I don’t know of anything like this in Seattle. ST buys up land that it needs, and then sells it. If I’m not mistaken, they now turn it into low income housing. This isn’t a TOD partnership (it is nothing like Japan). If it was, the projects would likely be a lot cheaper.

      What we have is zoning changes. Sometimes these occur close to stations, sometimes they don’t. When people put up apartments next to transit, we call it “TOD”. When it occurs somewhere else, I’m not sure what they call it (just “D”?). Anyway, apparently the term was coined early 1990s (https://escholarship.org/uc/item/7wm9t8r6).

    3. Colony Square in Atlanta — and Midtown and Buckhead upzoning in general — were pretty much validated by MARTA.


      DC Metro planning was guided by the NCPC Wedges and Corridors planning that happened in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Several jurisdictions like Arlington too proactive steps to densify.

      The term TOD was coined by Peter Calthorpe about 30 years ago. The concept is however much older. Most rail systems were actually initially built with adjacent denser land use development and even the 1960’s new systems had adjacent land use strategies for most stations.

  10. I took Link between Roosevelt to ID today.

    At Roosevelt station, 2 of 3 ORCA readers out of order (for upgrades). Down escalator from surface to mezzanine broken. 1 of 2 down escalators from mezzanine to platform broken.

    At ID station, up escalator broken. Half of ORCA readers out of order.

    Train back to Roosevelt was held at Pioneer Square until security could respond to a disruptive passenger.

    I’m an avid transit rider and advocate. But it was a frustrating set of operational issues. Especially at Roosevelt which is less than 1 year old.

  11. I’m pruning my bookshelf. Does anyone want a copy of Walkable City by Jeff Speck or The New Urban Crisis by Richard Florida? I might be willing to part with The Option of Urbanism by Christopher Leinberger.

    Longer-term it would be nice if somebody had an STB library collection, or we could pass books around. I’d offer to host a library but it would contradict my minimalist tendencies.

    If others have things to give/receive/show, we could meet at the Broadway farmers’ market next Sunday.

  12. Watching the Forward Thrust video, it’s apparent that the rail development seemed to favor the Boeing facilities in Boeing Field and Renton. These are major trip generators. I’m surprised that ST didn’t try to link these facilities to its development.

    1. The oft-delayed BAR station would’ve been rather close to the Forward Thrust Boeing station.

      And also, that video is highly inaccurate. The Eastside for instance, had a line with a similarr alignment to what’s being built for Link. And the timing of all the infrastructure is way off. The orignal plan was going to be complete by 1985. WAMTA, MARTA, MTA, Metrorail, all had considerable delays in construction and funding gaps due to inflation/shifts in federal policy, so it makes sense that Forward Thrust would’ve taken longer to build too.

      1. That’s the route of existing rail lines? I don’t think Boeing was Longacres at the time?

      2. @Rossb:Yeah, here’s the link:


        And it in Google Maps:


        The reason for not serving Rainer Valley right away (and giving West Seattle a Busway) was because many people were heading to jobs in the Duwamish Valley.

        Rainer Valley was certainly in consideration for future extensions.

        And going through the Bus plan, the Forward Thrust Bus plan was proposing a ton of things that King County Metro took decades to actually fufill. They had a version of the 8 (through running with the 27), A combined 542/545, a version of the 106 that also served First Hill, having the 15th Ave NW bus ALSO serve NSCC and Northgate, the 13 route to SPC, etc.

        Someone should really throw together a map of what was being proposed.

      3. The FT line would have followed the Duwamish Waterway on the west side with stations at 16th South and opposite the two biggest Boeing facilities. It then continued down Interurban Avenue to Grady Way and east to Renton.

        That might have been modified somewhat when Boeing largely abandoned the Boeing Field premises.

      4. The Ballard Station looks to be around 17th and Market. There are THREE First Hill/Central District stations. I had forgotten about the Madison and King Boulevard one.

        They got just about everything right with this plan. What a fustercluck that it failed.

      5. @Tom Terrific: About Renton, FT would’ve used the Renton Subdivision, and had the exisitng Freight corridor moved to I-405.

      6. FDW, I think you’re assuming something which would not have been necessary. The Google Maps version shows the subway crossing the old Milwaukee tracks just east of Black River Jct and cutting through the park as the freight line bellies north.

        When the freight track rejoins the FT alignment I’ll make a substantial bet that the subway would have been elevated over the freight tracks, all the way through Renton to Boeing. There would have been no need to use the NP ROW along Grady for freight.

        I misremembered that.

      7. “The oft-delayed BAR station would’ve been rather close to the Forward Thrust Boeing station.”

        It’s six miles away from Renton Boeing. The “Boeing Access Road” refers to the Boeing facilities on East Marginal Way, which aren’t used as much and don’t help the factory workers in Renton.

    2. The big lost opportunity to serve Boeing plants was the commuter rail system. Every Boeing plant lies along the rail line, for obvious reasons. All that was needed to serve those sites was some imagination and intent. All the initial commuter rail service was headed to work in Seattle (not Everett or Tacoma, and not Boeing). Reverse-direction trips tied to shift starts, plus shuttles from the station to plant entrances could have captured a lot of Boeing commuters.

  13. @Tom Terrific: From page 14:

    “The terminal is in the north Renton industrial complex. Express buses connect this terminal with the Bellevue and Eastgate areas. The route proceeds south on aerial structure and land-scaped embankment along the existing Northern Pacific Railway tracks across the Cedar River, and into a subway station in the vicinity of the Renton business district.

    The route swings west along the existing Pacific Coast and Milwaukee Railroad rights-of-way to a station near Rainier Avenue South. This station will provide direct cross-platform bus-to-rail transfer as shown in Figure 5. The bus system radiating out into the surrounding residential areas will provide connections not only to the regional rapid transit system but also to the Renton business and civic
    center. This station is designed toserve as a connection for bus service
    to the Green River Valley andSouthcenter. Relocation of the existing at-grade Northern Pacific, Pacific Coast, and Milwaukee Railroad tracks to a
    location farther south, parallel to Interstate 405 on a common grade
    separated right-of-way, has been studied as a concept. Its actual feasibility is
    dependent upon future detailed engineering investigations and specific
    negotiations with the railroads. The relocation would be financed by use of
    the right-of-way cost saving to transit through the use of existing railroad land
    plus other funding. This concept would greatly reduce traffic congestion and the
    inconvenience caused by the present location of the railroads through Renton.

    The route proceeds west at surface level to the Duwamish River, and from there north parallel to the existing railroad tracks along the river. A future station could be added in the vicinityof Tukwila to serve that area, and also provide bus connections to South-center and Sea-Tac Airport. The route crosses over East Marginal Way onviaduct to the Duwamish Station in the vicinity of the Boeing Developmental Center. Provision is made at this site for a possible future branch line to Sea-Tac Airport, which may become feasible with future population growth in the Southwest corridor and if supple-mentary funds become available. This industrial area is a good site for a major storage yard and maintenance shops for rapid transit cars.”

    1. OK, I guess that was the plan. It looks like they were thinking about cloning the Chicago, Aurora and Elgin, a third-rail interurban that electrocuted a lot of people.

      I seriously doubt that “decision” would have stood. They would have found that elevating the whole thing from Black River to Boeing Renton would be a LOT cheaper than threading a brand new freight rail line through the I-405 interchanges. Even if Renton succeeded in demanding a subway through downtown [Redmond isn’t making that demand], it would be cheaper to fly over the freight tracks.

      Third rail transit must be grade separated. It can be fenced if there are no road crossings, but doing so erects an impenetrable wall through a community.

      1. There are no road crossings on that section of Rail, so just fencing would be fine. It’s a mostly industrial area with no adjacent homes.

        Though I agree that certain parts would wind up changing, due to politics (Local/National), I don’t think taking away a DT Renton subway would be in the cards, especially when Bellvue is getting one (in Forward Thrust). If anything, the changes would be probably shifting some open cut segments to full subway.

        But it’s not the segment that has me concerned, but rather this bit on Page 11:

        “The route runs west in tunnel to the Capitol Hill Station at Broadway, which is well located to provide a convenient connection to the Capitol Hill bus routes. It also serves the Seattle Central Community College, Seattle University, and the hospital complex on First Hill. The route continues west in tunnel, crosses over the multi-level Interstate 5 freeway and then into subway near Denny Way and Minor Avenue, then heads south-westerly to the Westlake Station. The Northeast Route joins the Northwest and Downtown Routes in subway, just north of the Pine-Pike Station.”

      2. FDW, yeah, that seems really hard to do. It would have been quite the dive from passing OVER I-5 to ground level for a portal around Minor and Denny. There’s some “wishful engineering” going on there….

        That said, what a spectacular place for an in-fill station just south of Denny on Minor has become! If, somehow, ST says, “We can’t afford the downtown tunnel, so we’ll do the ‘dogbone’ for Ballard”, having the “first” SLU station somewhere around Minor and Denny would be great. It has been a dream of mine for a couple of years.

        If you haven’t read the posts about “the dogbone” [my term] check here: https://seattletransitblog.com/2022/03/15/are-st3s-deep-stations-a-problem/#comment-891415

        Jonathan Dubman came up with it, and it’s brilliant, because with the addition of a center platform at Westlake, EVERY transfer to and from SLU/Ballard can be made on the same platform. It even handles the “access to the Maintenance Facility” problem, though trains moving from the MF to Ballard have to come from the north, requiring a reversal, probably at Northgate.

      3. @Tom Terrific: I think it’s possible, but a Train would’ve been doing 4% pretty much the entire way between Westlake and Capitol Hill. Keep in mind that Westlake is a most likely a drop from Pike/Pine.

        When I first heard about the elevated bit over I-5, I assumed that Westlake was Elevated, and that the Portal would be closer to 3rd Ave.

        I’m more than aware of the kind of conversation that you guys are having about DSTT2. I don’t participate in them because I find it stupid. DSTT2 is way too deep, and on the wrong alignment, but I would NEVER pass up an oppurtunity to build extra Core Capacity.

        And that the thing that also strikes me about Forward Thrust, there was eventually going to be another line built through the core. FT might seem manageable with 3 Southern branches (in the initial system), but longer range plans were talking about 7 branches to the South (adding Airport/Kent/Rainer Valley/West Seattle). There’s also the issue of asymetric demand on the Northern branches, the plan was projecting 5 times the ridership on the NE branch as on the NW branch (though it realisitcally would’ve been more like 3) .

      4. FDW, that makes sense because there is a smallish hill between Westlake and Third north of Pine that would allow a more graceful portal than the “Red Line Wall” in North Chicago.

        I think you’re wrong about taking whatever is offered. Sometimes a firm “No!” begets a better “next solution”.

      5. @Tom Terrific: Look, I’m favor of blowing up the current WSBLE process. I’m not, and will never be in favor of anything that doesn’t create new through running tracks through Downtown Seattle.

        I have a much higher standard of what is “acceptable service” for Seattle. As for my pet alternative, it’s elevated options.

  14. Interesting West Seattle Advisory Group meeting tonight:


    The Advisory Group basically trashed the poor planning around Delridge station. Several members called out the perceived opinion that ST prematurely tossed the Pigeon Point tunneling given how wildly the costs now are so close between tunneling and aerial. They also called out ST for giant station designs and urged them to reduce vertical changes and prioritize bus integration.

    The debacle of the overly expensive and rider unfriendly WSBLE project is clearly no secret to many observers. Yet ST continues to muddle through like nothing is wrong as each member got a rehearsed “thank you for your comment” without saying “even though we don’t actually care” as no staff followed up with any clarification or even a sentence to indicate that they actually listened. They treated them all like they treat speakers at a public hearing.

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