This is a semi-open thread on transit in Snohomish County. I’m trying this as a new idea to group topics by broad areas. The next one will be on Pierce County in a week or so. If you have any Pierce-related links, or ideas for other semi-open threads, you can email them to contact at seattletransitblog com.

Everett Transit has a restructure planned for next March and is asking for public feedback. Thanks to Jordan for bringing this to our attention. One potential flaw is a loop in the middle of Route 2, which would add coverage but make trips between the outer thirds of the route longer. Does this make the route overall better or worse compared to the existing 2? The alternative may be no service northwest of 112th and 4th.

This gets into many other issues regarding how well the overall transit network works for passengers in Everett and Snohomish County. How well does Everett Transit’s proposed network meet Everett’s residents needs and trip patterns? What about the surrounding Community Transit and Sound Transit networks?

Everett opted out of Community Transit to avoid a higher sales tax and loss of local control over its routes. So Community Transit’s routes bypass the county’s largest city in the middle of the network. CT routes 201 and 202 run local north and south of Everett but express through Everett, with only three stops in the city. The Swift Blue line is a joint endeavor, so Everett Transit pays Community Transit for the Everett segment. The City of Everett was adamant from the 1970s through the 2000s that Everett Transit should not merge with Community Transit. With the 2008 recession and 2020 pandemic it has started to reconsider, although there’s nothing definitive at this point. Would a merger improve Everett’s service and Everett’s connectivity with the surrounding area and region? Would it lose important Everett-specific corridors that would be low priority for Community Transit’s countywide focus?

What would an ideal network for Everett look like? And for Snohomish County in general? What is the current multi-agency network doing well for passengers? Which trip patterns (origin-destination pairs) is it still missing?

On-topic comments for this article are all of the above and other issues regarding transit in Snohomish County or to/from Snohomish County. Other comments belong in an open thread.

120 Replies to “Snohomish County Transit”

  1. I like this new broad-topic thread idea!

    The proposed new Route 2 basically looks like two routes interlined, one from Everett Mall to Paine Field and another from Paine Field to Mariner P&R. Whether this is a good idea depends on how they expect the ridership on those two new routes to compare with the ridership on the old Route 2 from Everett Mall – Mariner.

    What I’m more dubious about is the new Route 8, which turns north from 112th to end at Paine Field. There’re hardly any flights from Paine Field, and I’d be surprised if many of them take transit. Wouldn’t it be better to end the 8 at Mariner P&R or South Everett Freeway Station?

    Really, all this shows the confusion about having three transit hubs in southeastern Everett: Everett Mall, Mariner P&R, and South Everett Freeway Station. I don’t know what should be done, but something should be.

  2. Please consider the area of NW Marysville there are numerous New Apartments going up and New House’s

      1. Despite the article being about ET, it says the thread is about “transit in Snohomish County”.

        More than just NW Marysville, the Marysville network could use improvement in general. But, I don’t think CT can afford it.

    1. It’s about both. Snohomish County needs an integrated transit network that matches the largest cross-section of people’s trips, so that more people can meet more of their needs without a car. So where do we start? One obvious problem is frequency, but that solution is straightforward: increase frequency. It’s harder to determine where the routes should go, and how closely the current network matches it, so that’s a more urgent question. My experience is mostly south of 164th and Swift Blue, so I don’t know much about the other parts of Everett.

      I took the 201/202 to Smokey Point a few years ago to see what “the fastest-growing area in Snohomish County” was like. It was 15-minute frequent in the daytime, and I saw the new apartment buildings and Costco and a group of people getting on and off there. The county planted an industrial center there. Community Transit plans to upgrade the 201/202 to Swift in the medium term. There’s one STBer who has written about Marysville a few times. I’ve sometimes attended MMA tournaments in Arlington, and wished there were more Saturday evening service so I could get back without a car or staying the night. Mostly I don’t go because of this.

      1. IMHO, it would make much more sense to have the 201 terminate at the Tulalip outlets/casino, rather than Smokey Point Transit Center. You’d then have a half hourly one seat ride from Lynnwood TC and Everett TC to the Tulalip outlets, casino, and all the businesses surrounding it (currently a bigger employment hub than the up-and-coming Cascades Industrial Center), vs. a transfer to once an hour busses (and a bit of a harrowing transfer, wide roads, narrow sidewalks, no bus shelters!). I bet many more people would ride it. My wife would have done so when she was working at the outlets. BTW this could use 116th ST NE rather than 88th, so you also hit the businesses along that stretch that currently have no bus service–which many Marysville residents work at and often have to take Uber to get to. The 202 at least serves neighborhoods, whereas 201 between 116th and 152 ST (which is where the 202 comes back over) is pretty desolate. Note that this would not require any additional service hours on the part of Community Transit, just the expense of the new bus stops along 116th.

        Better Yet: Consolidate the 201/202 bus hours into the Lynnwood TC to Tulalip “spine,” and run a local bus route where the 202 branches off currently. Again, this could likely be done without adding service hours.

        As it stands now, the Smokey Point TC works best as an express park and ride (close to the freeway), not very good as the terminus for your most frequent “spine” routes.

      2. That’s a good point I haven’t thought of. The casino and outlet malls is a big commercial destination and should get better than hourly bus service. It should also be a one seat ride at least from Everett, without a forced transfer in Marysville. As you say, this could be done by moving route 201 to the outlet malls and the 209 to cover what’s currently route 201. Of course, existing riders of the 201 would probably be pissed, which is the problem you get with any cost-neutral service restructure, even if it leads to increased ridership overall.

        One thing that did surprise me about the Tulallip area though. The streets actually do have sidewalks, so you can walk from one business to another without getting run over, which is better than I was expecting given the view from I-5 I had driven by numerous times. There’s even a grassy park between the outlet mall and casino I was not expecting.

    2. My guess is service to Marysville won’t change until Lynnwood Link is implemented, as described here: That site is interactive. For Marysville, you want to check the “Northwest: Arlington, Marysville, Stanwood” checkbox, and then several bus routes will appear. When you check on the checkbox, it goes into more detail for those routes. There are some changes in that area.

  3. More than anything, we just need Community Transit’s Swift network to share bus stops with ‘regular routes’ just like King County Metro does (see: South Lake Union and its RapidRide + Streetcar + ‘Regular’ King County Metro buses stops).

    If you haven’t tried to transfer between Community Transit Swift and a local route – either Everett Transit or Community Transit – it’s a huge pain, if not impossible, outside of the terminal stations. Almost always a 50+ foot distance from the Swift station, so not enough time to run between the two and flag a driver of the other route who shows up earlier. This is especially impossible for people who can’t run. The stops for local routes are also just metal poles in the ground while Swift stations get lighting, real-time arrival, seating and glass wind screens.

    1. I think the Swift system needs an overhaul. There is too much overlap with other routes. It is very odd to have a system like the one they have, which is an all-day, frequent, limited-stop bus along with an all-day, frequent, every-stop bus following the exact same pathway. This just doesn’t happen outside of the United States (which means it is a bad idea).

      Basically they need to look at every stop, with three options in mind:

      1) It should be part of Swift.
      2) It should be part of an infrequent coverage bus (running say, every hour).
      3) It shouldn’t have any service at all.

      Ideally, you don’t have option number two at all. Otherwise, you just spread yourself to thin. There will be the occasional overlap, but the bus stops should be shared, or at the very least, next to each other to make transfers easy. I get why you don’t want a “regular” bus to slow down a “BRT”, but the answer is to not overlap so much. The 7 runs every 15 minutes, and much of the time, it is serving the exact same corridor as Swift Blue. This is overkill for agencies that clearly have funding problems. I would blame that purely on lack of cooperation between the agencies, but the 101 does the same thing (although not quite as frequently).

      It is worth noting that Swift Blue is very long, and will be made longer with Lynnwood Link. I could see it being split. Run the Blue Line from the 185th station to Everett Mall. Then run a different Swift line from Mariner to Everett Station. That replaces the 7 and 101. Move that money into other bus routes.

    2. “It is very odd to have a system like the one they have, which is an all-day, frequent, limited-stop bus along with an all-day, frequent, every-stop bus following the exact same pathway. This just doesn’t happen outside of the United States (which means it is a bad idea).”

      In other countries the limited-stop route is a train. Swift is a poor man’s subway. San Francisco has a Geary Local, Geary Rapid, and it used to have a Geary Express that may have disappeared in the pandemic. The rapid is for longer trips between activity centers and transfer points. The local is for shorter trips to smaller in-between stations. Chicago has the Red Line el and the Clark bus. Each serves a different purpose. The lack of a limited route from Clark Street to the Blue Line between Fullerton and Lawrence (or anywhere else) makes it take a long time. Consolidating Swift and local shadows would make it harder to get around the county or accomplish as many things in a day, the way it currently is on the E.

      The solution is to fund American transit agencies properly so core routes can have frequent service full itme, not pit one set of passengers against another or say that longer-distance trips are unimportant. Transit is competing with cars, and cars don’t have these limitations.

      1. Consolidating Swift and local shadows would make it harder to get around the county or accomplish as many things in a day, the way it currently is on the E.

        An E is a great comparison. Let’s imagine they turned the E into what Swift Blue is. Instead of one bus route, running every ten minutes (all day long) you have two. The “express” runs every 15 minutes, while the “local” runs every half hour. It is still six buses an hour, just with different stops. They can’t possibly be timed, so frequency has a baseline of 15 minutes for about half the stops. For the other half, it is never better than every half hour. So, right off the bat, things are worse. Frequency has gotten worse for everyone (and much worse for many). Half hour buses suck. It is worth noting that a lot of trips on the E are strictly along Aurora. It isn’t like everyone is headed downtown. So even if you walk to one of the bus stops that has 15 minute frequency, you may have to let that bus go, while waiting for the bus that runs every half hour. Or you walk a really long ways.

        Sorry, but this is just worse. It is easy to wave your hand and say “Oh no, no, no. You run the express every ten minutes, and the local every fifteen”, but where is that money going to come from? That is the fundamental problem with this. It isn’t that there isn’t benefit from this sort of express/local setup, it is that it comes at a very high price. There simply isn’t enough ridership along Aurora (as good as it is) to justify that kind of service.

        It is also worth noting that the E does have an express version. It is has it for years. Buses from the far north used to go downtown, now they go to Northgate TC (and hook into Link). But these express buses only run when the E is crowded. During peak, the E is running so often, that any improvement in frequency is negligible. But this only happens at rush hour. The rest of the day, something has to give. If you keep the E like it is now and run the express buses you would be providing a massive subsidy for only a handful of riders. If you pull the money out of service for the E, then riders of the E are worse off. You could pull money from some other route, but then those riders would be worse off.

        Now imagine you do the reverse. Make Swift Blue like the E. First thing is to make tough decisions: Which bus stops do you add to Swift, and which bus stops do you completely eliminate. Once that is done, some riders have a slower trip. Other riders have a much more frequent trip. But remember, we are still talking about international style stop spacing (like on the E). The bus isn’t stopping every 100 feet (more like every quarter to half mile). In some cases, if there is no reason to justify a stop, it will have a mile between stops. The bus is still relatively fast, as boarding is quick (due to the off-board payment). Traffic and traffic lights are a bigger concern.

        Meanwhile, ST adds frequency or even a brand new line to some other corridor. This other line is bound to have more riders. Remember, the bus stops along the Swift corridor that didn’t make the cut — that weren’t worth serving at every quarter to half mile — must not have been very good. Even from a coverage standpoint there is bound to better options. If Swift is making stops every mile, at worse the folks along that corridor without a stop have to walk a half mile. There are plenty of places in Snohomish County with longer walks to a bus stop.

        it is also worth noting that there are usually alternatives for the really long trips. Consider one of the longer ones — downtown Tacoma to Edmonds College. Adding a few stops would slow things down (although I still think it wouldn’t be that slow). But there is an alternative. You can take an express bus to Lynnwood, and then one of several buses from Lynnwood TC to the college. You are really aren’t hurting that many riders, and those riders aren’t being hurt that much while many others come out way ahead.

        There is only so much money to go around. In an ideal world, sure, we have buses running in the manner you describe along with lots of other buses everywhere. But Community Transit clearly does not live in that world.

      2. “It is easy to wave your hand and say “Oh no, no, no. You run the express every ten minutes, and the local every fifteen”, but where is that money going to come from?”

        You need to start with the goal and then figure out how to get there. Not doing that implies the goal is unimportant, and that’s been the problem with US transit for seventy years. Even if the goal is unattainable, it’s important for transit agencies and politicians to explain to the public why it’s necessary. The reason it’s necessary is so that people can get around conveniently with out a car. Many other countries poorer than the US have a frequent two-level transit network. They achieve it because they prioritize it, they don’t waste money subsidizing driving and inequality, and they make the rich pay their fair share of taxes. It’s important to have the goal even if you can’t achieve it now, so that you know how far from it you are, and you can take any opportunity to get closer to it. It’s important to those who would ride it, and to those who want a viable alternative to driving.

      3. You’re also assuming what the agency would do to achieve it, and assuming it would choose the worst outcome: cutting frequency in half to turn one route into two. The agency doesn’t know what it would do since it hasn’t considered it. The first thing is to have the goal. Then find ways to achieve it. Reject alternatives that lead to poor outcomes, like cutting frequency in half or deleting another route that’s needed. If the agency can’t do it within its own budget, explain to city and state officials what resources it needs and why it’s necessary for a well-functioning city, and to get to the average of non-American peer cities.

      4. Mike, there are goals and there are fantasies. The Eastside transit restructure taught me Metro lives with goals while ST lives with fantasies, at least until the money ran out.

        I don’t know enough about transit in Pierce or Snohomish Co. to tell those agencies what to do, but I do know the counties fairly well.

        Both are huge, and mostly rural. They have a large percentage of jobs that require driving, like bringing tools. Everett and Tacoma are not “dense”, and outside of that you get to areas that have more vegetation than development. Forget about SFH vs. multi-family. There is just trees and shrubs. And this is along some of the major roads. Drive the Maple Valley Highway, highway 18, or the Issaquah to Hobart road to Ravensdale and Kent. And that is King Co.

        Ross made a comment I thought should be a starting point in this thread: it really is possibly to run any kind of meaningful transit coverage in SnoCo. I agree. The county is fairly poor, tax averse, most need to drive for work, first/last mile access is impossible, the zoning goes from rural to 5 acre to SFH, and even Everett has very little core.

        God bless CT and ET for trying, but SnoCo is where urbanist ideals about transit fall apart. I can’t imagine living in SnoCo without a truck or car, or taking transit there. How many from King Co. will take Link to Everett?

        Everett and SnoCo are not going to come up with more money for transit, especially since ST exhausted transit tax capacity. The 2021 subarea report suggests to me Link will have to end in Lynnwood. Was that worth it for ScoCo? Link to Lynnwood?

        Don James use to say a goal is a dream with a schedule. Assume transit funding in SnoCo is fixed and work from there. That is the “goal”.

      5. You’re also assuming what the agency would do to achieve it, and assuming it would choose the worst outcome: cutting frequency in half to turn one route into two.

        But there is no other choice! Look, the agency only has so much money. If you add frequency to one route, you have to take it from another. It is just the way it works. It doesn’t matter if you have a lot of funding or a little bit of funding, there are always trade-offs. This is why the company that Jarrett Walker runs (an agency that recommends transit restructures for its clients) is an international company. They deal with underfunded cities and wealthy ones. You always have the same set of tough trade-offs.

        It is also worth noting that CT did almost exactly what I describe. RapidRide E runs every ten minutes. In contrast, Swift Blue ran every twelve minutes (prior to the pandemic). They also ran the 101 every half hour. Many of the stops that Metro would have included for the E were not part of Swift. Thus many riders had to wait for the half hour bus while they saw a Swift bus go by. Swift didn’t run as often as the E, in part because they also ran the 101. So even if you were lucky enough to use the Swift bus stop, you had to wait longer than you would in Shoreline or Seattle. It is pretty much the exact thing I said Metro would end up doing.

        Except there is a small difference. With Swift Blue running every 12 minutes instead of 15, it means that Community Transit was running 7 buses an hour on that corridor, unlike the 6 that Metro runs for Aurora. This means that CT is spending more to service the corridor than Metro. Some other corridor has less service. For example, consider the 196, which connects Edmonds to the Lynnwood TC and then Ash Way. It runs every half hour. If CT adopted the same approach for Swift as Metro does for the RapidRide, they could run that bus every 15 minutes AND increase Swift frequency to 10 minutes AND serve more people along the corridor at no extra cost. The trade-off is that a few long distance riders have a slightly longer trip to their destination.

        Look, I get it. We all want everything. We want express buses and local buses and we want them all to be frequent. We also don’t want to transfer — we want buses that will go close our house and take us close to our destination. But we don’t live in that world. Just consider the East Link restructure. The first thing that struck me is the same thing that everyone is struck with when looking at transit at in Snohomish County: the buses aren’t frequent enough. The savings that come from Link aren’t big enough. Not only are there areas with infrequency service, but there are areas with no service at all. These aren’t remote, rural areas, but areas with apartments and mini-malls — typical higher density locations for the East Side.

        Thus you had many people suggesting all sorts of changes. None of them were necessarily great or an obvious way to make the system better. In contrast, Community Transit has adopted a pattern that is especially inefficient. It is doing something that is very unusual*. It can increase frequency along that corridor (or other corridors) by doing what its neighbor to the south already does, which would enable them to increase frequency (and/or coverage) in other areas.

        * There are plenty of express/local combinations in the world, but not when ridership is as low as it is along that corridor. It is worth noting that the RapidRide E was Metro’s most cost effective bus (in ridership per hour). But the buses were not full in the middle of the day. It wasn’t like a busy subway line, which could use a skip-stop version. Swift Blue (which has way fewer riders and runs less often) is clearly not at the point where it makes sense to have a baseline route and an express overlay.

      6. The RossB comparison with the E Line was done in history. Before February 1999, Aurora Avenue North was served by routes 6, 359, and 360. Route 6 ran seven days a week and served Stone Way North and had stop about every two blocks; Route 6 turned back at North 145th Street when Route 359 ran; Route 359 ran Monday through Saturday and served stop about five blocks apart; Route 360 had several one-way peak-only trips with limited stops. In February, routes 6, 359, and 360 were deleted; Route 16 was revised to serve Stone Way North; new Route 358 served the Route 359 stop pattern and pathway. Both routes 16 and 358 ran every 20 minutes. With new service subsidy, in fall 2003, the off-peak headway of Route 358 was reduced to 15 minutes. Ridership and productivity on Route 358 improved; that on Route 16 remained stagnant; it was slow and unreliable.

    3. Yes, I never understood why CT maintains separate local bus stops adjacent to the Swift BRT stops. Neither are frequent enough to really need separate stops.

  4. Snohomish county transit has lots of problems, but probably the single biggest one is frequency. Hourly buses 6 days a week, daytime only, is not good, and leaves Everett transit offering only marginally better service than Butte, Montana.

    In terms of routing, I’d like to see more parts of Snohomish county better connected to the Lynnwood Transit hub, particularly once Link goes there. For instance, the 512 should be serving downtown Everett so that it’s a one seat ride to Link, rather than a two seat ride. The SWIFT orange line should serve downtown Edmonds, rather than leaving it with only hourly service, on a route that is largely duplicative. And Everett Transit should definitely merge with Community Transit.

    I’ll also point out that the one time I rode an Everett Transit bus, the routing within downtown Everett didn’t seem to make much sense. The kept zigzagging, jogging north a block, then back south. An around the block detour to serve one building. All of the routes need to be streamlined, and run in a straight line as much as possible.

    1. Transit in Snohomish County is a mix. There are hourly buses, but in various parts of King County, the same area would have no service at all. I suppose you could argue that at some point you are better off with nothing, but I’m not sure people in those areas feel that way.

      There are also areas where there is good service. Mostly this is along the main corridors (SR 99/Evergreen Point being the big one). But it isn’t the only place with a decent level of service. The 201/202 form a big “spine” for a pretty long distance.

      The biggest problem is simply the way the area developed. It gets back to the open thread video Mike linked to the other day. It is about land use (which in turn drove density). It is just very difficult to have good transit when you are so spread out. It is perfectly reasonable for a small town (like, say, Darrington) to have bus service every hour, to the big city. The problem is, the big city (Everett) is spread out, and surrounded by other cities that are spread out. This is a development pattern that you won’t find in most of Europe, Asia or South America. Instead you have cities, with small, relatively compact towns surrounding them. If a town gets pretty big (say, the size of Marysville) it is still compact, and thus relatively easy to serve with transit.

      Maryville has around 70,000 people. This makes it roughly the same size as Dinslaken, in Germany. At first glance, it looks similar from the air: It kinda sprawls as well, and there is no obvious separation from its neighbor. There are farms nearby and clearly folks own cars, with plenty of parking lots. But zoom in and you can see there is a very big difference ( This is essentially an urban area. There are apartments, shops and basically lots of people everywhere, in the center of town. As you get to the outskirts of the small city (the suburbs if you will) you still find density (clearly not as much, as those backyards are huge) but those are large apartments sharing those yards ( Then there is a fairly abrupt end, and it is clearly rural. There is still a bit of housing in between those levels (what we in America consider “normal” suburbs) but very little. Mostly it is just a lot more compact, despite having plenty of parks and rural land. It is only about 4 miles from one side of town to the other (not counting the purely rural area to the east). It is just a lot easier to serve a city like that than Marysville.

      Keep in mind, I’ve never been to this town. I chose it by based purely on its size. I’m sure there are towns that have even fewer people, but are more impressive in their urban flavor. Whether it is the city, a suburb or a largely independent town, things are just more compact.

      I don’t want to pick on Marysville, either. You could say the same thing about just about every small city in the United States. Large portions of the population are spread out, in very low density areas, making transit service very difficult. That is the hand that Community Transit has been dealt (along with Pierce Transit, and much of Metro) and it is tough to play. I would definitely change some things (as I will mention below) but there is no way the vast majority of the county will have great transit. The land use simply doesn’t support it.

      1. In Europe it is prohibitively expensive to build in areas that are not served well by the urban infrastructure. In the US we have an abundance of conservative cry-babies who demand the vast infrastructure needs of rural areas be paid for by city folk. Road maintenance, emergency services, sewer and water, schools, and yes even transit service wouldn’t happen if rural residents had to pay their full share of the services they use. Instead rural folk cry to the county, state, and feds for funds for their basic services. Every development in a rural area represents a tax on non-rural people.

        If you want to live the rural lifestyle then you need to bear the brunt of paying for ALL your infrastructure and not ask for handouts from the county, state, or feds.

      2. I agree Jon. It makes little sense to attempt to provide anything but skeletal transit to rural or semi-rural areas (which basically is what they get), which is why I have been a critic of the “spine”. Imagine spending $142 billion (at current estimates) to run light rail to Lynnwood, Everett, Federal Way and Tacoma that I have to pay for. Those rural folks own cars and can use cars. If they can’t afford a truck or car they should move to the city and live in a shoebox for the transit or buy a bike.

        [Off Topic]

      3. Lynnwood, Everett, Federal Way and Tacoma are not examples of rural areas. Car-dependent suburban hellscapes on the periphery perhaps but we absolutely need light rail to these well-established cities and more.

        Most European models for growth are much better for walkability, transit, sustainability, and are more conducive to healthy living than ours. The American model of subsidized sprawl is unsustainable, unhealthy, and expensive. It needs to be confronted and its perverse subsidies rooted out.

        As president of the Seattle chapter of the Washington Society of Professional Engineers it never ceases to astound me when relatively wealthy engineers and planners are so disconnected from the less wealthy people that they mostly serve. Cities requiring their residents to have a car at an average cost $1,000/month is unacceptable. Zoning predominantly large lots and mandatory parking minimums, failure to prioritize transit and walking/biking, dumping good money after bad trying to”alleviate congestion” are all examples of ways we design peoples lives to be worse. We need to do and be better.

        [Edited to remove off topic part that were in response to off topic comment]

      4. Right on, Daniel Thompson! I’ve also thought about trying to charge people to travel down the street I live on, but for some reason everyone at the city keeps telling me “you don’t own the public road” and “please stop calling me, I have better things to do.” Glad you’re with me, though!

      5. “Most European models for growth are much better for walkability, transit, sustainability, and are more conducive to healthy living than ours. The American model of subsidized sprawl is unsustainable, unhealthy, and expensive. It needs to be confronted and its perverse subsidies rooted out.”

        This is your opinion Jon, and I certainly support your right to live in an area and type of housing you prefer. As far as I am aware, there are many large cities in the U.S. with an urban core, and many areas in Europe with little density. Try Switzerland, Wales, the west of Ireland, and so on. Lots of small houses on large lots.

        I have no idea how you plan to “root out” existing U.S. zoning, considering just about every plat in private hands has been platted and zoned for some kind of development. Is upzoning these outer areas so more folks move there going to create European type development? Is Auburn going to condense? Of course not. Just the opposite. Why would you want to encourage more folks to move to these “perverse” sprawl type areas? What you are really arguing is these areas should have never been zoned residential in the first place, although that horse is long out of the barn.

        I don’t know if I would agree with you that the areas surrounding Lynnwood to Federal Way are not “rural”. They certainly are not “walkable” or “bikeable” and never will be just based on distance, which is why first/last mile access along Link is such a huge problem and most riders will need a car to take a train. Local transit agencies like Metro, CT, ET and PT can’t possibly serve as feeder bus service to these huge areas with their existing budgets, which are declining. It was very, very foolish to spend billions to run fixed route light rail to these outer and undense areas rather than a more complete bus network for the same money on existing and paid for roads and highways on the hope these areas would “densify” so Link would make more sense. As Ross always says, build it where they are, not where you hope they might be in the future, because people decide where to live based on many reasons, transit and “sustainability” being around number 20.

        Pierce, Snohomish Co,, and SE King Co. have little density, and I agree with you the commercial and retail sprawl in these semi-rural areas is unfortunate, but folks moved there for the SFH zones. That is what they like, if you don’t. They also like trucks. Telling them their neighborhood is “unsustainable”, (whatever that means), unhealthy, and expensive” when they see the concrete jungles of urban areas with high crime and white-collar urbanists just isn’t believable to them, and they moved to their “rural” SFH zone because the housing was more affordable than the big city. I doubt a condo in Laurelhurst will be more affordable than their SFH in Auburn, even if they didn’t have kids and a big dog and truck with tools (and Laurelhurst has poor transit). I don ‘t think anything drives these mostly conservative folks crazier than urbanists telling them they are not smart enough to know how they want to live, or their choice is less moral or more stupid.

        If — as some on this blog argue — your goal is to go to a pure use tax system I and my city would like that. Everyone pays their own way. I also support bifurcating east and west King Co. for this same reason.

        [Removed off topic parts]

      6. Daniel, let’s start with any transportation solutions that predicate the user spend $1,000/month as the ante to use it leaves a lot of people without transportation. Especially when most people live paycheck to paycheck. Especially in poorer areas.

        Whales, Ireland walkable? Yeah. Even tiny towns. I need to get to Switzerland to check it out, will report back.

        Do I expect Auburnites to give up their car? How about Granite Falls since this thread covers CT and that’s one of my favorite small town destinations. My expectations is that as car subsidies are removed and transit options grow then fewer people will rely on cars. That’s all.

        [More editing of an off topic debate]

      7. [Edited to remove off topic discussion]

        The point I try to make is we don’t have to rezone the U.S. or change how folks want to live to provide better transit. At best only around 10% are ever going to ride transit in any urban area, and post-pandemic that has declined. So focus on the transit, not the housing. If the powers that be need to change the zoning to justify light rail, or any transit, then that fails Ross’s fundamental test.

        If you provide better transit I imagine more — but not much more — will ride it, it is safe and clean, they have first/last mile access, the cost is worth it, they don’t need to drive for work, and they don’t mind mingling with the public. Those are what I call the discretionary riders. There were a lot on the eastside pre-pandemic who commuted to work in downtown Seattle due to traffic congestion and the costs of parking. Now they no longer need to commute so they don’t take transit because they don’t need it. But they very, very rarely moved to a more urban area for their job; instead they suffered long commutes on packed public transit which were not very pleasant. Very few ride transit for the fun of it.

      8. OK folks, this is a gentle reminder. This is supposed to be a transit discussion and it is supposed to be specifically about transit in Snohomish County. Everything else is off topic. I’m sorry that I had to delete so much of what was written — especially since much of it was written only in response to one person’s comment.

        In fact, all of it was caused by one person going off topic. If I may make a suggestion, since this isn’t the first time this has happened: Separate your comments into different threads. For example, the writer who started the off-topic discussion did so in the middle of a very long comment. If it was a separate comment, it would be easier to remove (along with responses to that comment).

        Another alternative is to simply stay on topic. Remember, we are discussing transit issues, and specifically Snohomish County issues.

        Another suggestion: It is common for off topic items that are controversial. If this is off topic, then it is best to simply note that this is off topic, so that folks like me can remove it, and we don’t get into an argument as to the validity of said claims. Lighthearted off-topic discussions (Hey, how about them Huskies?) or less controversial off-topic issues (Anyone have any snow today?) are not bound to be as big of a problem. I really don’t want to come in here and edit comments, but I also don’t want this to be a free for all where we argue every political issue in the world. It makes it annoying for those who want to read these comments and get ideas about transit issues (or discuss them).

        I didn’t completely remove the thread because there exists, in the middle of all of that, an on-topic, reasonable response to my comment. I’ll respond to that, as others have.

      9. The point I try to make is we don’t have to rezone the U.S. or change how folks want to live to provide better transit.

        No, but the point I (and others) have made is that it is very difficult to do that. It is very difficult to create a very good transit system if the development pattern is very poor. This is what that video explained the other day. This is what this comment was about. Let me go into more detail though, and to do that, I’ll start by coming up with some definitions:

        1) Urban — People living in fairly dense neighborhoods. Not Hong Kong style skyscrapers, but 3 to 6 story buildings, like in say, Copenhagen or a Brooklyn Brownstone neighborhood. These typically have shops nearby, and are integrated with major and minor destinations.

        2) Low Density — Low density suburban neighborhood, like that typically found in the U. S. and Canada. Large track housing developments with very little in the way of other amenities. Often these lack a rectangular street grid. Even worse, they often have dead ends (i. e. cul-de-sacs) making pedestrian access to main streets difficult.

        3) Rural areas — Very low density areas where people typically live off the land.

        Notice I don’t call the second group “suburban”. That is because there are many suburban neighborhoods (especially those outside of the U. S.) that fall into that first category. Suburban Paris, for example, is very urban. There is very high density, with lots of nearby amenities. Likewise, there are plenty of places inside cities that are low density. Downtown Bellevue is urban. West Magnolia is low density.

        OK, now consider two different areas, with the ratio of people in the various neighborhoods:

        A: 85% urban, 10% low density, 5% rural
        B: 20% urban, 75% low density, 5% rural

        The first describes a typical area in Europe. The second more or less describes Snohomish County. Notice that in both cases you have that 5% that is rural. But look at the numbers for those living in low density (non-rural) areas. These are the people that are very difficult to serve with transit. They are difficult to serve if they are in either city — it is just that there are lot more of them in the second city.

        Now consider how an agency responds. In the first case, the vast majority of people can be served relatively easily. You can provide very cost effective options, regardless of the size of the city. Even a small city (or big town) is fairly easy to serve with transit if it is compact. The cost-effectiveness of serving these people allows the agency to more easily subsidize those that live in low density or rural areas.

        In contrast, to provide decent transit for the majority of residents in that second city requires a lot more money. That is why transit in Snohomish County is so poor. Many neighborhoods, with thousands and thousands of people, have either infrequent transit, or no transit at all. They could double spending and it would still be bad. They could subsidize the rural transit to a great degree (e. g. run the 230 to Darrington every hour) but that would mean a huge subsidy to a relatively small number of people, while thousands upon thousands of people have poor transit. It isn’t about the transit funding, it is about land use.

        The answer is not to force people to move into more urban areas. The answer is to make it easier and cheaper for them to do so. Essentially *allow* them, not force them. Loosen the restrictions that prevent density, so that the first city can become more like the second. If I’m wrong, then changing the zoning will be like outlawing the licking of turtles. Nothing will change. But if people really want to live in more urban areas, then liberalizing the zoning will allow them to. This won’t be easy, nor will it be immediate, but in the long term there will be much better transit (in Snohomish County).

      10. Please don’t curse. I’ve been guilty of it myself, and have been told that it offends people.

  5. It would be nice for ET Route 18 to run more frequently on weekdays and run period on weekends.

  6. Would it pencil out from a cost benefit analysis for the swift blue line to median run in its own lanes along SR-99 kind of like a Mexican style upgraded BRT route?

    My understanding is that this is probably the highest ridership corridor as well as the longest in Snohomish county

    1. That would be ideal, but expensive. The corridor is really long, which would add to the cost. The first thing they need to do is add BAT lanes for the entire corridor. There are a lot of them at the south end, but not a lot closer to Everett.

  7. With Lynnwood Link about two years away from opening day, I would try to think about a post-Link bus network as the primary goal. Many of the stations are somewhat close to the few important transit destinations but they are still a bit too far to easily walk to from a Link station.

    Similarly, Stride comes a few years later. I’m not sure how that service will affect Snohomish County transit travel, but I will say that stopping at Lynnwood seems a bit like a missed opportunity.

    To me, this points to creating somewhat shorter routes with strategic time points and a focus on reliability to reach places less than two miles from Link. With buses not very frequent, I would look at structuring routes that have one or both ends at a Link station — and where not logical having one end at a timed transfer point. The only thing worse than a bus running every 30 or 60 minutes is not reliably connecting to other routes or Link.

    Then I would augment the system with a few routes that serve destinations further away to run on freeways to the neighborhoods that they are meant to serve (channeling Everett and a Marysville).

    I’m not sure how to adjust the Swift routes in that setting. CT seems locked into the routes and enhanced stops.

    It’s easy for me to talk generalities — but it takes a deep dive by planning staff to assess how to apply these principles in the field. Since I rarely step into Snohomish County (no matter what mode I use), I can’t be specific on how to proceed.

    1. Community Transit actually does a good job of having a good anchor at both ends of a route. I’ve been impressed with how much it has improved since the 90s: the routes go to strategic transfer points, they’re straighter than they were, they have good speed, and there’s Swift. The main thing they’re missing is frequency. A few corridors have 15-minute daytime service, but only a few.

    2. With Lynnwood Link about two years away from opening day, I would try to think about a post-Link bus network as the primary goal.

      That is what this is all about: Obviously that doesn’t include Everett Transit, as Everett Transit is basically just trying to get through the next year or so. I think it makes sense to also consider Sound Transit, and what its routes will look like in the future. The 510/511/512 are relatively successful, cost effective routes (for ST). But they overlap parts of the CT system. That seems to be a common theme. The 7 — the flagship of Everett Transit, a bus that runs every 15 minutes, even now — overlaps Swift Blue (the flagship of CT, a bus that runs every 12 minutes). With a bit more cooperation, they could improve operations in the county. The same is true with Metro, where there is a physical overlap that is smaller, but still significant.

      The first thing I would do is merge Everett Transit with Community Transit. This isn’t essential, but it would simplify things. After that, I would look to cooperate with the other agencies.

      As a general outline, I would start with CT’s plan for post Lynnwood Link. As a baseline for Everett Transit, I would go with the suggested map linked on this post. I don’t know if ST has made their plans clear (if they have and someone knows about it, please add a link). I don’t feel like trying to come up with a comprehensive suggestion, but I think we could do a few things at no extra cost:

      1) Change the model for Swift (as I describe below). This means adding more stops along the corridors that are served. Stops that aren’t worth serving with Swift should not be worth serving at all (this is the way most agencies do it).

      2) Split Swift Blue. The southern half would go from Everett Mall to the 185th Station, while the northern half would go from Mariner Park and Ride to downtown Everett.

      3) End the 7, 101, 105 and add service elsewhere. This is a significant amount of money. Many of the routes that people complain are too infrequent would become frequent.

      4) Have CT and Metro cooperate as I suggested here: While I propose certain details, the big idea is that Community Transit — which already has plans to run buses into King County — could add a few stops and either be paid by Metro for doing so, or have Metro return the favor. Either way it would mean service improvements for CT.

      5) Reduce redundancy along I-5 between the CT and ST routes. This is tricky. The 101/102 operates very much like an ST express from Everett to Lynnwood. It is hard to restructure that. I came up with a proposal, but I’m not thrilled with it: What the area needs most of all is better frequency and the best way to achieve that is by making the system more efficient. My proposal doesn’t actually deliver much in that regard.

      It is worth noting that ST doesn’t cover any place north of Everett. Thus it can’t really take over the 201/202. It could overlap in Everett, but that seems like overkill. One option would be to have the 201/202 skip Ash Way. I would also have it stop at South Everett (which means it wouldn’t stop between South Everett and Lynnwood TC). ST would backfill CT service by running a truncated version of the 201/202, from Mariner Park and Ride to Lynnwood TC. You could extend that to South Everett if you need to. That way, riders from Everett headed to Ash Way could transfer there. With both buses running every fifteen minutes, the transfer wouldn’t be that bad. This doesn’t save a huge amount (you avoid overlapping between Everett and South Everett) but it offers an improvement for some (but a transfer for others). I would have to look at stop data to see if it is worth it. My guess is that there are relatively few riders going from Ash Way to Everett. That is the case on the 512 (where data is available). Of the 2,300 riders a day who used to take the 512, less than a hundred rode from Lynnwood or Ash way to Everett. Thus this change might even save overall rider time, while saving the agency a bit of service (which would go into other routes).

      If ST doesn’t want to run that sort of route, then it could take over routes like the proposed 902 as well as similar peak-only expresses. I do think it is likely that it would continue to run the 511 (truncated in Lynnwood). Given its short distance, it might be extended somewhere (again, reducing the need for Community Transit to do the same).

      1. RossB, point four. Yes, the Swift Blue line pathway between its current pathway and the North Shoreline Link station should use Aurora Avenue North and North 185th Street and NOT Meridian Avenue North. The Ross reasons are sound: Aurora would be faster and have fewer turns; Aurora has BAT lanes; it has more markets that Snohomish County riders may want to reach; there would be common stop transfers between Swift and the E Line at North 192nd Street. In addition, the county and WSDOT will continue the park-and-ride capacity at North 192nd Street. The new ST2 garages at Link will fill early each weekday morning. Auto access riders will find the Shoreline lot second best. Swift will attract more riders if it serves the lot than if it does not; the auto access riders will be better off with the service frequency and span of Swift than that of a Metro local route. So, CT, please revise Swift in Shoreline. If CT is concerned about transfers between Swift and routes 130 and 101, could a stop pair be added on Aurora Avenue North between North 200th and 205th streets? Or might Route 101 terminate at the Shoreline lot rather than at AVTC?

  8. Here’re some vague thoughts on the Everett Transit restructure.

    Basically, in south Everett, we have three and a half east-west corridors ( 112th, 100th / Mall, Casino, and Merill Creek) and five north-south corridors (Broadway, Colby/Beverly, Evergreen, Dogwood, and Seaway/Airport). Let’s try to make them a grid.

    Also, we have three hubs close by each other – Everett Mall, South Everett Freeway Station, and Mariner P&R. Unfortunately, we can’t very well consolidate them without Community Transit’s agreement… though if we can get them to move their Mariner hub to South Everett Freeway Station, that’d be really great!

    So here’re some bullet points:

    * End the north end of the 29 at Everett Station. It seems duplicative in the north, and that’ll reclaim some mileage.
    * Extend the south end of the 29 down Everett Mall Way and 100th St to end at Paine Field.
    * Extend the 12 to South Everett Freeway Station.
    * Cut the Glennwood / Merill Creek loop from the 3; add it to an extended 12. I might extend this back west down Madison in a U, but I suspect this would get low ridership.
    * Reroute the 2 to just run from Mall Station along 112th to Paine Field.
    * Reroute the south end of the 8 to go down 4th to Mariner P&R instead of Paine Field.
    * Leave the 7 alone for now. If people want to transfer to regional routes, they can take Swift instead. The 7 can connect them to their shopping at Everett Mall.

    1. First question: Are you basing these modifications on the new map, or the old one?

      Second question: You suggest extending the south end of the 29 down Everett Mall Way and 100th St to end at Paine Field. Are you saying you would follow the current routing for the south end (to Mall Station) but just keep going to Pain Field?

      1. The new map, and yes.

        (These are my suggestions for Everett Transit acting alone; you’ll notice that downthread I make some other suggestions if Community Transit is willing to work together with them to consolidate service at South Everett Freeway Station.)

      2. Excellent, thanks. Here are my thoughts:

        End the north end of the 29 at Everett Station. It seems duplicative in the north, and that’ll reclaim some mileage.

        Sounds good except you do lose coverage on Poplar. I don’t see an easy way to backfill it without a new layover/turnaround. How important is service on Poplar?

        Cut the Glennwood / Merill Creek loop from the 3; add it to an extended 12.

        I like that idea, but I feel like what they have is temporary. The 3 isn’t good, but it won’t be like this forever. Once they fix Mukilteo Road, the 18 will move back there, and the 3 can take a more direct route to downtown Everett. At that point I would add a loop — maybe even a bigger loop — to cover that area. Starting from Seaway TC, go east on 75th, then left (north) on Hardeson. Then take a series of rights that gets you back to that point: A right at Merrill Creek, Glennwood, Beverly Lane and Casino Road until you are back at Hardeson and 75th. From there you take a left, completing the lollipop loop. This is a coverage route without a major destination, but it connects to corridors with frequent service. Hopefully this could come with running the 3 more often — the connections between a transit center and the nearest major destination (downtown Everett) should be frequent and relatively straight (otherwise it isn’t much of transit center). Ideally the lollipop loop would be tacked onto another route, but it would be very confusing if it was tacked onto the 12. It would make more sense tacked onto something like the 103. But I think it is long enough to work as a stand-alone line. But again, I wouldn’t mess with that yet — that should be something for later.

        * Extend the south end of the 29 down Everett Mall Way and 100th St to end at Paine Field.
        * Reroute the 2 to just run from Mall Station along 112th to Paine Field.
        * Reroute the south end of the 8 to go down 4th to Mariner P&R instead of Paine Field.

        I like that combination a lot. I think that could work really well, and greatly improve the network. Everything is much straighter, and you’ve covered it. I think this set of ideas is likely the most plausible, as it involves the fewest trade-offs.

        OK, here is another idea. Extend the 12 as you suggested, to South Everett Freeway Station. But don’t end there. Instead, do a live loop of Silver Lake. The 12 is short enough to handle a live loop of that nature. This would save a considerable amount of time for the 29, which is important because it is more frequent than those other buses. It seems like the Everett Mall/100th/Paine Field corridor is stronger than a loop around Silver Lake. So not only do you save service hours by only doing a one-way live loop, but you save service hours on the more frequent bus.

        Leave the 7 alone for now.

        Yeah, that makes sense. I think the 7 should be altered when CT makes big changes (with Lynnwood Link). At that point, they may be the same agency.

      3. @RossB, I really like your Silver Lake live-loop addendum!

        (And I’d appreciate your comments on my combined ET/CT idea downthread?)

        I don’t see your point about moving the 18 letting ET reroute the 3, though, unless you’re talking about sheer service hours? Either way, I like your larger loop idea.

      4. What I’m getting at with the 18 is the proposed change is temporary. It is only happening because they are closing off Mukilteo Boulevard. On it is written: “Due to bridge repair closures along Mukilteo Blvd., Route 18 is unable to access large portions of its current route.”

        When the 18 goes back to Mukilteo Boulevard, the 3 can go back to its current routing. Then we can add that big loop to cover other parts of that area.

        I’m going to comment on your other suggestions below.

  9. With the state legislature and other agencies/businesses discussing high speed rail from Vancouver to Portland, how is new HSR infrastructure through SnoCo envisioned?

    The existing railroad ROW is pretty space limited and doesn’t seem to have room to add additional trackage for dedicated passenger rail ROW between Seattle and Everett. I think it would be great to secure new ROW for HSR that could be used for an improved Sounder North, with much higher frequencies, express trains, and possible extensions north to Marysville, Arlington, and even Mt Vernon. As an aside, I feel that this would be much more in line with SnoCo transit needs than ST3 Link to Everett. The challenge is the alignment, and the postwar suburban development patterns. Would the old Interurban ROW be an option?

    It seems like Sounder South through Pierce County and beyond would be fairly straightforward compared to anything up north.

    1. The current rail ROW in Snohomish County seems poor for HSR. First it runs along the water, where it is not straight, and subject to mudslides from time to time. Some walls have been built to help with the slides. In Everett and to the north the state has spent $$ to fix some ROW problems to help with faster and more reliable service for Amtrak Cascades, but it is hardly HSR speed.

      The old interurban line ROW is effectively gone. Some of it was along what is now Hwy 99, some now I-5. One segment has been turned into a bike trail. Trying to build a new ROW would be very expensive and time consuming. Extending Link to Everett quicker than what, 2041(?) and on farther north would be a better idea.

    2. Sounder north always had poor ridership, and Everett Link makes the case for investing further resources into it weaker,. It stronger, as Link is expected to achieve Everett to Seattle to travel times nearly identical to Sounder, in spite of serving many more stops.

      HSR to Vancouver would also be a huge money pit, similar to California HSR, that is unlikely to ever get funded, so setting aside land for it now in Snohomish county doesn’t make much sense.

      From the standpoint of Snohomish county transit, what’s really needed is not more rail, but simply more bus service. And, to the extent that there are large pots of money that can be spent *only* on rail, it should go towards extending Link northward, not Sounder. In truth, I don’t think even the costs of operating Sounder North passes cost/benefit muster, as the per passenger subsidy is huge. The line should be discontinued, and the money spent on more bus service, including bus routes connecting Edmonds and Mukilteo to Link (particularly Edmonds) at a frequency that is better than once per hour.

      1. I would think a Swift line between the Edmonds waterfront and the Mountlake Terrace Link station would be a prime candidate.

        The question is – would there only be Swift stations on the north side of NE 205th St?

      2. Jim, yes, but best to avoid 244th/205th. Use 228th, Lakeview and 236th. It’s shorter and avoids the backups between Meridian and the freeway.

      3. If Swift runs along 244th/205th and stops, there would be stations on both sides of it. CT might have to get permission to install stations on the south side, depending on whether Shoreline owns the sidewalk. 145th has complicated ownership.

        CT has two or three more Swift lines planned beyond Blue, Green, and Orange, and extensions to the Blue and Green. So it will finish those before it considers new corridors like Edmonds-MT. Upcoming plans:
        – Blue extension to Shoreline North station. On 185th with no stops.
        – Orange line from Edmonds College to Lynnwood Station, Mill Creek, and Silver Firs.
        – Green extension to UW Bothell. Awaiting Bothell street reconfigurations and full funding.
        – 201/202 line from Lynnwood to Everett, Marysville, and Smokey Point.
        – A line on Highway 9?
        – Another line?

        I’d always assumed the Orange Line would continue to downtown Edmonds like the existing route, but C envisions just the highest-ridership part of the route.

      4. Good point, Tom.

        The route is might not need be branded specifically as Swift (using the same off-board payment and articulated buses), but could be accomplished with a ‘Direct, Limited stop, Frequent, Express style’ bus that could work well not just as a commute option, but also as a recreational (tourist) option.

        One problem with taking 228th at Westgate Chapel is that tight jog turning off SR104, and the climb over the hill at the water tower on 228th.

        Currently the 130 bus serves that function (Edmonds to Mountlake Terrace Link), but takes about 1/2 hr, including the Aurora Village Transit Center stop.

        An express style bus could almost cut that in 1/2.

        However it misses some of the apartment complexes further south on SR104 by about 1/2 mile.

      5. I admit I don’t know the profile of the streets. If it’s too steep, then it obviously can’t work. However, there’s already a bus, the 130, east of Pac Highway on 228th/Lakeview, so maybe have the route continue on Edmonds Way to 238th like the 416 does where it jogs over to PH, then go back north to 228th there. The bus could share the northbound Swift stop at 238th and a new Swift stop could be added somewhere between 238th and 228th. Doing that would avoid that rapid double right turn you mentioned just getting off Edmonds Way and keep the buses off current non-bus streets.

        This would be considerably longer than turning at 95th Place, but it would not be much if any longer than 244th/205th, and experience a whole lot less traffic.

      6. Extending the Swift Orange line from Edmonds College down the hill to downtown Edmonds would likely be the best option–even if they did it as every other bus. Also has the benefit of serving the neighborhood along the way, vs. the SR104 highway.

        Incidentally, I live along the 130, which is the current “go to” route between Lynnwood TC and downtown Edmonds. One would think that the bus route between the busiest SnoCo transit hub and the busiest ferry terminal would run better than hourly! To their credit, CT has restored the half hourly weekday peak service, which hasn’t been the case on some other local routes.

      7. I would think a Swift line between the Edmonds waterfront and the Mountlake Terrace Link station would be a prime candidate.

        That’s not the plan. This is the plan: If you look at page 19 of the report (or page 24 of the PDF) it covers that corridor, and states clearly that it won’t be made a Swift line.

        That document is fairly old though. Things change. An updated document (—PAC-51117) has it listed as a “Future Corridor Network” (on page 12 of the PDF). So basically once they get done building all of the Swift routes they plan on building, they might consider adding that one.

        It does seem like downtown Edmonds is underserved to a certain extent, but that may also be outsider bias. Folks who don’t live in Snohomish County can see ourselves occasionally going there, as opposed to various places in Lynnwood. But that doesn’t mean that the buses should go that way. Under the future proposal (for after Lynnwood Link) there will be a couple buses connecting downtown Edmonds to Mountlake Terrace. Neither is especially direct or frequent. I have argued for sending the 130 to 185th, while having the (Metro) 331 backfill service on 76th (connecting Mountlake Terrace with Aurora Village) but that requires inter-agency cooperation (

    3. Yes, WSDOT, ODOT and the BC counterpart have all allocated funds to plan ROW, some may be along I-5. Yes, this is a huge undertaking, but still cheaper/easier than building a new airport as SeaTac will run out of space or adding another lane to I-5. Cascadia HSR (separat from CascadiaRail) had done some early planning, but their site seems to be down. I think regional rail on a new HSR ROW would be the best way to serve Everett and Tacoma rather than building Link. Until then, ST Express/Swift buses would suffice. In fact it might be worth to jumpstart the HSR efforts by building a regional line from Everett to Tacoma as a first stage before building the whole line from Vancouver to Portland.

      1. If HSR is built to Vancouver BC, it will go through Bellevue, not Seattle. It is simply impossible to enter Seattle from the north without a fifteen mile tunnel, and it’s not worth that.

      2. “If HSR is built to Vancouver BC, it will go through Bellevue, not Seattle. It is simply impossible to enter Seattle from the north without a fifteen mile tunnel, and it’s not worth that.”

        That is a good point, Tom. Any train travelling at that speed would need to be underground or encased is an above ground “tunnel”, or reduce speeds to around 35 mph through the cities and residential areas, which would be a large portion of the route.

        One area in Seattle that might work is along the waterfront. The land is relatively flat. Or say use Alaskan Way for the HSR train. It would require a huge above ground enclosure that would block access to the waterfront, and block views, and traffic would migrate to the new tunnel or along avenues through Seattle like the old viaduct, but I could see that area working (depending on the docks), although I imagine existing property owners would object to the noise and danger and being cut off from the rest of the city.

        When you say “Bellevue” I think you really mean the “eastside”, and by eastside I mean really east along the Cascades. Otherwise Bellevue, Redmond, Issaquah et al (and Tacoma) will demand tunnels too. As we have learned, the eastside is not besotted with transit or rail, and SeaTac airport is just down the road.

        The reality is siting a HSR line won’t be any easier than siting a new airport. There was a good letter in Sunday’s Seattle Times pointing out how few travelers would actually use a HSR compared to flying and/or driving, especially compared to the cost and especially travel time as you get to the real population centers from northern CA to southern CA, and noting that siting such a line from Vancouver to Portland would be just as difficult if not more than siting a new airport because the route would require some kind of local and regional transit once the HSR got to the stations that would be fairly remote like an airport, rental car lots, and stations. Ironically probably one of the most popular stops along any HSR would be SeaTac airport.

      3. @Daniel Thompson, your Alaskan Way idea sounds interesting. But on the one hand, it’d re-divide the waterfront from downtown like the Viaduct did. And on the other more serious hand, where would it go north of downtown? If we build it along the seaside like the existing line, it’d be subject to all the problems of the existing line. But, anything else would require a long tunnel to get out of the city.

      4. CascadeHSR had suggested a tunnel under Beacon Hill and Central District with entrance in Rainier Valley and North Seattle and a station connecting to Link at Beacon Hill. Some people considered the Eastside. I proposed another layer on top of I-5:
        I don’t think the city would allow a waterfront alignment with all the investment in the waterfront development.
        Building a 15mi tunnel is not that expensive, the highest expense is building an underground station.

      5. If HSR is built to Vancouver BC, it will go through Bellevue, not Seattle. It is simply impossible to enter Seattle from the north without a fifteen mile tunnel, and it’s not worth that.

        And if it doesn’t serve downtown Seattle, it isn’t worth doing. The main advantage to intercity rail is that it connects downtown to downtown. Not secondary downtowns, but the major downtowns. It a big advantage over flying.

        It also wouldn’t be cheap to go to Bellevue, or do any of it, for that matter. That is really what it comes down to. We will never be able to afford Japanese style high speed rail. We simply aren’t big enough and the terrain is too rough.

        In contrast, we *can* afford much faster, more reliable rail, connecting right into every city. We already have the blueprint ( We just need to implement it. Fantasies about something even faster are actually counter-productive (sometimes the perfect is the enemy is the good). Those fantasies will never happen, and they get in the way of implementing what we should have by now.

      6. Sorry, Ross, there’s no effective Higher Speed Rail right-of-way north of King Street, at least, not without that fifteen mile tunnel. You obviously can’t use the coastal trackage; it’s just too slow, although it is beautiful.

        There’s probably enough Nowhere north of Lynnwood still to thread a largely surface line through the farms and suburbs, at least as far as Everson. But then you have another twelve mile tunnel through Chuckanut Mountain.

        And of course then there’s the hill under White Rock BC…

        It’s just not worth it, and anyway Canada will close the border when the country gets full-on Fascism from the next (and permanent) Republican administration.

        And Daniel, I don’t know what you’re smoking, but I’d like to know your Dispensary. HSR trains run in the open air on the surface or structure throughhout the world. They don’t need a Hyperloop tube to “protect” them.

      7. Sorry, Ross, there’s no effective Higher Speed Rail right-of-way north of King Street

        I think you are misunderstanding what I wrote. If there isn’t a way to build very high speed rail between downtown Vancouver, Portland and Seattle, then it shouldn’t be built. Spending billions and then bypassing downtown Seattle would make it an even worse value. The bottom line is that there are way too many obstacles (both physical and man made) to build this cheaply (even if you skipped Seattle) and way too little demand to just pay the price. It makes way more sense to just improve the existing rail system as described in the document I referenced. You get 90% of the benefit for 10% of the price.

      8. Ross, we don’t need to take a Japanese/French approach to build a new line but take a more incremental approach like Germany did on HSR. OR/WA/BC are spending some money on figuring out the best approach which will hopefully include both types of approaches. Let’s see, either way, I think it would be better to build a regional train system based on that work than to figure it out separately. I do hope that SeaTac would be connected though, the 2006 Amtrak plan didn’t seem to take it into consideration.

      9. TT, alas I am too old to smoke anything these days. My point — really question — was how do you run a 200 mph train through an urban/suburban area on the surface. Link has collisions with cars and pedestrians at 35 mph where it runs on the surface, and even slow freight trains run over folks.

        I agree with you it is too late to run HSR on the surface through Seattle (or Bellevue) and agree with Ross the concept, and cost, is ridiculous when rail lines already exist on this corridor and can be made faster, still at significant cost.

        The U.S. is not Europe. It is huge, and in the west sparsely populated. That is just how Americans like to live, God bless them. Vancouver to Portland is very unpopulated compared to the eastern seaboard, and even there Amtrak struggles financially.

        If HSR struggles from LA to San Fran — because even in CA there is a huge amount of nothingness — it makes no economic sense in the PNW, even on the surface hitting cars and pedestrians at 200 mph.

        Airports and planes for long trips and cars and freeways bookend in HSR to a niche, like D.C. to NY to Boston where the population per mile makes rail at least plausible, if it runs from city center to city center (and I am talking Boston and NY., not Portland and Seattle). That just doesn’t exist in the great open west.

      10. “Any train travelling at that speed would need to be underground or encased is an above ground “tunnel”, or reduce speeds to around 35 mph through the cities and residential areas, which would be a large portion of the route.”

        You all make it sound as if Shinkansen, TGV, HST and ICE were all built through the middle of Death Valley.

        There’s been 50 years of work aimed at making this stuff quiet and reasonably well accepted in dense urban environments. Well maintained track and wheels don’t make anywhere near as much noise as you think, and for this type of operation they have to be well maintained.

        The political problems are far larger than any physical ones. What predated high speed rail in Europe was a nice, efficient 125 mph network of conventional trains to help build feeder networks. DB class 103 in Germany and HST125 in the UK predated high speed trains by decades in those countries.

        If the political will doesn’t exist to get Cascades up to decent speed and frequency, how will there ever be enough to support high speed rail? It would be like building I-5 before the city streets were paved. It’s a nice addition, but doesn’t have the vital network required to feed passengers to it. The only countries that have built high speed rail with no good transit network underneath (Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan) are authoritarian governments that built the lines more for show than to serve their population.

      11. I disagree with the notion that high speed rail to Vancouver and Portland is only alternative to another airport.

        First of all, I don’t think the Puget Sound region needs another airport, period. But, even if it did, building HSR wouldn’t really avoid that, since flights to Portland and Vancouver are only a small percentage of flights out of SeaTac, and most of those flights would remain, even with HSR, as they would be vastly more convenient for people making connections to other planes.

      12. RossB, thanks for linking that long range plan again, I remember reading it a couple years ago. Is there a good place to track its progress? I’d like to know how many of the goals have been accomplished.

      13. Ross, Martin, I am all for “Higher Speed Rail” (110-125) between Seattle and Eugene. I’d even run it north to Bellingham as an alternative to adding lanes to I-5 north of Everett, except that there are those the two long stretches that would require tunnels for anything over 60 (45 along Chuckanut Drive).

        But even Higher Speed that operates often enough to be meaningful costs a couple of billion just to double-track and overpass the UP between Black River Junction and East Tacoma. Adding a third, higher speed track south of Nisqually Junction all the way to North Vancouver would be even more.

        The State just does not have the non-highway funds for it, and so it will spend a couple of billion “closing the gap” of three lanes on I-5 between the Chehalis River Bridge and the end of three lanes south of the Jackson Highway interchange.

        They have fuel, excise and EV taxes and fees for that.

      14. @Tom — The 2006 plan mentions the costs and who could pay for it. Since the plan is now fairly old, the numbers are out of date. But this plan is still the best blueprint for improving train speeds and reliability along the corridor. The numbers are high, but not ridiculously high. It is quite reasonable to spend 6 to 12 billion* dollars on the corridor to get East-Coast style high speed rail. It is crazy to spend 100 billion (or more) to build Japanese style high speed rail. Yes, we can do it, but that is nuts for as many people as it would serve.

        *To fully implement the proposal, the plan estimated $6.5 billion in 2006 dollars. Obviously that number has gone up. But some of the work has actually been done, so maybe not by that much. The improvements are not all or nothing. It specifically mentions the increase in travel speed (and reliability) as we reach the “mid point” of the work. Thus even if don’t do everything in the plan, we would still see significant improvements without spending a ridiculous amount of money. To quote a bullet point item under “Purpose”:

        1) Provide a viable, cost-effective travel mode that significantly increases
        options for intercity travel.

        This plan does that. Dreams of bullet trains do not.

      15. Ross, while yes, the ultra-long cross-overs necessary for Cascades 90 mph operation have been installed in many places in no place between Nisqually Junction and North Vancouver has the necessary third main track been installed.

        Fortunately, in most places that third track can lie adjacent to the existing pair, albeit with a wider separation from them than they have between themselves.

        That is the new standard for new main track installation ever since the Powder River Subdivision was doubled and tripled in the early 1980’s.

        But the document fails to itemize the dozens of at-grade vehicular crossings which will have to be closed or overpassed to achieve anything over 110. And the civil work to add the more direct third main track between South Chehalis and Napavine will be through the roof because it’s not on BNSF prooerty. Just as has happened in California, landowners through whose property the new track will pass will team up with the reactionary, autoista Greedy Old Party County Council in control of Lewis County to extort the State out of hundreds of millions of dollars for the “environmental damages” the track will “cause”.

        That six to twelve billion is a pipe dream.

      16. Martin, that “UHSGT” document is a complete fantasy. There are simply not enough people traveling between Seattle and points south to centralVancouver or Seattle and points north to central Portland to justify the stratospheric costs of this thing.

        Dude, business travel is never coming back — we have Zoom and Teams! Why does someone need to get to downtown Seattle, ride a “UHSR” train to Portland Union Station and then get to, say, Beaverton via MAX to have a face-to-face meeting with someone? Much less an entire team.

        With HDTV’s they can connect in a couple of minutes and it’s very close to being there.

        Leisure travelers want their car at the endpoint.

        Come on. Cascades is running three round trips between Seattle and Eugene today, and most days the trains are nearly empty.

        I love train travel, but it’s not what people want. They might change some day, “UHSGT” is the “Gondola” of intercity transportation in the US.

        Nice on paper, but running empty.

      17. But the document fails to itemize the dozens of at-grade vehicular crossings which will have to be closed or overpassed to achieve anything over 110.

        Of course it doesn’t itemize each each and every action necessary to improve speed and reliability. That is not the nature of the document. This is what is presented to representatives and the general public, not engineers. If you look at the budget plans for WSDOT, for example, they will give estimates for large freeway projects. The engineers have done the detailed work, and have a good idea of the costs. But they don’t list all of the details when they present the information to the legislature (or the general public). It is actually very difficult to get that level of detail, whereas getting the number for the entire project is easy. For example, the Puget Sound Gateway Project was estimated at $1.96 billion, now it is at $2.38. I found that with a simply Google search. In contrast, I have no idea how to get an itemized list of everything that they actually have to do to make it happen.

        My main point is that this is by far the most detailed study to date on how to improve speed and reliability. I’m sure they have looked at all of the crossings and overpasses necessary (they specifically call that out as part of the work that needs to be done). That being said, it clearly states that many of the estimates are rough. It is also quite possible that the numbers have gone up. But at the time, it s reasonable to assume that the numbers were quite accurate (well within a fairly large range) given how it was done.

        In comparison, there has been no such study for ultra high speed rail (what I call “Japanese style”). All of those estimates are based on just hand waving, or what other parts of the world have paid. Those estimates are bound to be very, very rough. There isn’t much harm in coming up with more meaningful estimates, but I am certain that as soon as we do, we will find that it just doesn’t make sense to build that type of rail. There simply aren’t enough people who will ever make that trip.

    4. I think the best route for HSR would be right in the median of I-5 through Snohomish County south of Everett. The median of I-5 appears to be wide enough for 2-3 tracks. It wouldn’t be full HSR with 220 mph speeds; probably the best you could get would be around 110-125 mph which is still pretty fast, and it would be electrified.

      This is much more cost effective than digging a long tunnel for a 220 mph line, and most HSR lines around the world travel on slower speed lines in urban areas anyways. The California HSR is also doing this between SF and San Jose (a distance of 40 miles) using an already existing line and electrifying it.

      The side benefit to doing this is that you can move Sounder and Amtrak trains to a corridor that is more centrally located through North Seattle and south Snohomish County, which will actually result in the Sounder getting decent ridership, and it will eliminate the need for light rail north of Lynnwood. From my time that I’ve been lurking here, I can see that most people disagree with extending light rail to Everett and this seems like a much better alternative to that.

      Thoughts? (I know, this is quite a first post…)

      1. I-5 also has curves in it. Not a big deal going 60-70 mph, but to go 220 mph, the route would have to be straighter.

      2. @Anonymous:

        I am aware there are portions of that stretch of I-5 that already have other things in the median that make it so that you can’t use it for rail.

        For the segment near 130th in Seattle, there is space in the ROW on the west side of I-5, or you could put it on a viaduct down the middle of the freeway (similar to this: )

        At Mountlake Terrace, you would probably do the same thing. Also, the freeway station will probably be made redundant by the light rail and could potentially be removed to put rail in its place. I’m pretty sure all the bus routes that serve that freeway station will be replaced by light rail, right? Unless there are plans to put other bus routes there that I’m not aware of.

        As for Lynnwood, the rail line would most likely curve to the north side of the freeway so you don’t have to worry about the HOV ramps to the transit center being in the way. And plus you’d most likely want to put a station there anyway.

        For the ramps in the median that go to the Ash Way Park and Ride, those aren’t that much of an obstacle either. Just have the rail cross over to the east side of the freeway and then cross over 164th and then it can then return to the median when space becomes available.

        And I know someone is going to ask about what you’d do south of Northgate, and I think the best option would be to replace the express lanes with the rail line.

        Using I-5 isn’t perfect, and there are some places that the rail would have to weave around, but I don’t know of a better route to use than that.

      3. @asdf2:

        Not sure how closely you read my original comment, but I did acknowledge that I-5 isn’t straight enough for 220 mph HSR line. The highest speed you’d get is probably 125 mph, and yes you’ll have to slow down on at least a few of the curves, probably no slower than 80 mph though.

      4. Cascadia HSR (not sure how it is funded, separate from CascadiaRail) has proposed the following alignments: they use existing I-5 and BNSF ROW in many places and suggest a tunnel under Seattle with a station in SODO/Beacon where Link enters the Beacon Hill tunnel. The HSR tunnel would start there, too, but going North instead of East.

      5. They use I-5 and BNSF right-of-way in many places

        No, they don’t. Look at the enormous amount of Blue line on those diagrams. It is WAY over half the total distance from Seattle to Vancouver. They don’t even try to find any surface ROW south of Marysville.

        What a ridiculous fantasy.

      6. @Martin, yes, it looks like this Cascadia HSR plan calls for a very long tunnel (which is what the blue line represents) between Seattle and Everett. If that’s the only way to get a 220mph line between these two cities, then it just is too expensive. So that’s why it should just use I-5 even if some curves on the freeway are sharp enough that the train has to slow down going around some curves. (e.g. the curve on I-5 just north of 220th St SW in Mountlake Terrace)

        Even if there are some fairly sharp curves on I-5, it’s still a better rail alignment than the current rail line along the shore because there’s less curves overall.

      7. I agree, @Evin, their plans is too ambitious, the latest goals by CascadeRail (different organization!) and WSDOT have been more realistic though they still plan a tunnel under Seattle.

  10. I’m realizing that – with appropriate cooperation between Community Transit and Everett Transit – it’s very doable to consolidate from Mariner P&R to South Everett Freeway Station. This will greatly improve the regional transfer situation, as well as getting buses out of freeway traffic at the 128th St interchange. I think it’s also revenue-hour-neutral or at least only slightly negative.

    * Instead of the 101 turning on 128th, extend it up Evergreen Way to 112th; have it turn there and end at South Everett.

    ** Due to this, Everett Transit can delete the 2 from 112th.

    * Instead of the 105 and 106 turning on 132nd/128th St, extend them up around Silver Lake to South Everett. The 106 can end there; the 105 can keep going on 112th to Airport Road (if they really want.)

    ** Due to this, Everett Transit can delete the 29’s diversion around Silver Lake.

    * Instead of the 201 and 202 exiting at 128th, they will exit the freeway (southbound) at South Everett along the existing ramps to 112th, take 112th west to 4th, and 4th south to Mariner P&R and their existing route.

    ** Due to this, Everett Transit can delete the rest of the 2. 100th can be served by rerouting the tail of the 8. This may still be revenue-hour-negative due to the added frequency of the 201/202, but I think it’s worth it.

    * The 109 and Swift Green will stay on their existing routes. Existing transfers will be repositioned, but the only transfer lost is 109/101, which I think is rare and can be done at any rate by an intermediate trip on Swift Green.

    This means that all routes except the 109 will be able to transfer to all-day Seattle service at South Everett Freeway Station, as well as local Everett Transit service. Given this, it will probably make sense to reroute one of the existing Mariner-Northgate peak expresses to serve South Everett. Perhaps they could even go there after Mariner and enter the freeway there, instead of at Ash Way like at present?

    1. It looks like some of your ideas are for restructuring Community Transit routes before Link gets to Lynnwood. I don’t see that happening. I’ll start from the basis of the 2024 proposal ( This means there are some differences, but I think most of your ideas are still applicable. I also assume we make the changes to Everett Transit suggested above (which are based on the CT 2023 proposal).

      I also assume that ST doesn’t send buses to Seattle. As I see it, the main ST bus is the 510, truncated at Lynnwood TC. It would stop at South Everett Freeway Station (SEFS) but not Ash Way. This makes it faster, especially when there is traffic.

      Instead of the 105 and 106 turning on 132nd/128th St, extend them up around Silver Lake to South Everett. The 106 can end there; the 105 can keep going on 112th to Airport Road (if they really want.)

      Due to this, Everett Transit can delete the 29’s diversion around Silver Lake.

      This is very similar to what I proposed up above, except I have the 12 serving Silver Lake, instead of the 105. Either way works. As a live loop, extending the 12 makes more sense though. It is shorter, and the loop is at the end of the line. I would just send the 105 up to South Everett Freeway Station (SEFS) as well, but only around one side of the lake. I would go via 19th (to pick up more riders). That becomes a pretty straightforward pathway from SEFS to SR 527. With express buses frequently stopping there, that connects downtown Everett to that corridor.

      The 2024 plan calls for eliminating the 106.

      Instead of the 201 and 202 exiting at 128th, they will exit the freeway (southbound) at South Everett along the existing ramps to 112th, take 112th west to 4th, and 4th south to Mariner P&R and their existing route.

      I like it. This is especially valuable with the new 510. The new 510 is still a bit redundant with the 201/202, but having the 201/202 serve more destinations (off of the freeway) makes it less redundant.

      Due to this, Everett Transit can delete the rest of the 2. 100th can be served by rerouting the tail of the 8.

      OK, but I’m not sure if I follow you exactly. Up above you suggest extending the 29 across 100th to Paine Field. I assume this would no longer be the case. You basically would have this:

      2 — Gone.
      8 — From the north, it eventually heads south and then west on Casino Road. Then it turns south on 5th, which becomes 4th. Then east on 100th to Paine Field.
      12 — Extended from Mall Station to SEFS and then a live loop around Silver Lake.
      29 — No longer loops around Silver Lake, otherwise the south end is the same.
      101/102 — As you describe.

      That looks really good, except there are a few sections that wouldn’t have coverage. Specifically 4th, between 100th and 112th as well as 112th, between Airport Road and 4th. Most of these sections don’t have service today, but would under the new CT proposal.

      If we want to add coverage, one option would be to send the 8 straight south to Mariner (as you suggested above) and then have the 2 serve 100th and 112th as a loop ( One way loops are not ideal (as riders are often going the opposite direction of where they want to go) but for a coverage route it is a great way to save money (which in turn leads to better frequency). The plan is to run the 2 every 45-60 minutes (both directions). You could run it every 30 minutes and save money (more likely, they would run it every 45 minutes, and save even more). It isn’t a great loop in terms of destinations, but it does connect riders to plenty of more frequent routes (7, 101/102, both Swift lines) which connect to the main destinations (downtown Everett, Lynnwood TC, Edmonds College, etc.). Some riders will walk to a more frequent bus, but that is true no matter how they serve those sections. A big looping coverage bus seems appropriate and cost effective.

      There is some redundancy with that setup, but the Everett Transit buses aren’t that frequent, and the redundant sections are not that long.

      The 109 and Swift Green will stay on their existing routes. Existing transfers will be repositioned, but the only transfer lost is 109/101, which I think is rare and can be done at any rate by an intermediate trip on Swift Green.

      The plan is to replace the 109 with the 132 and (peak only) 901. The 132 ends at Mariner, while the 901 ends at Lynnwood TC. The peak service connects riders straight to Lynnwood TC, while off-peak riders headed to Lynnwood transfer (to the relatively frequent 201/202). Riders headed to Everett transfer to the 201/202. They don’t connect to SEFS, but I don’t see that as a big deal, since the 201/202 can get there there.

      Overall, that looks really good. There are a few weaknesses, but it does look better than what they plan on building. If they find money under the cushions, I could see how it could be made a little better. For example, the 29 goes between SEFS and Everett Mall every half hour. The 12 does the same every 45 minutes. If we can boost the 12 to every half hour then they could combine for 15 minute service between SEFS and the mall. The rest of the 12 looks fairly solid, too (you could justify 30 minute headways along Casino Road, as there are a fair number of apartments there).

      1. You’re right, I didn’t look at the CT 2024 plan while developing this. You’ve got some good insights from there, and Lynnwood Link does change things… though the freeway station does stay useful, and consolidating transfer points is always useful.

        Yes, you correctly understand things – since the tail of the 8 is going unused (with the transfer point moving to SEFS from Mariner), I’m sending that down 100th instead of the 29.

        You’ve got a good point about a hole for one more coverage route. However, rather than that simple loop, I’d instead advocate connecting to some transfer point. Everett Mall might be easiest, so how about instead of your loop?

      2. Yes, I think the South Everett Freeway Station will be as useful as ever.

        how about instead of your loop?

        That definitely works. It is a bit longer to go out and back than make a loop, but a lot more useful. I kinda want to keep the 8 going straight, but turning it works well and probably saves a couple minutes. Overall that looks like a good network, with more straightforward routes. Works for me.

      3. South Everett Freeway Station seeems like it would be extremely useful for an assortment of freeway services.

        What about connecting it to a local transit hub with an automated people mover?

      4. A better connection between South Everett Freeway Station and Everett Mall would be great. It’s only 3100 feet as the crow flies, but 1.3 miles by foot (on the Interurban Trail) and 1.8 miles by car or bus.

        I think an automated people mover would be overkill, but maybe at least a better pedestrian bridge connecting to the trail? Or maybe even automated golf carts down the trail?

      5. I almost suggested a gondola as a connection between South Everett Freeway Station (SEFS) and the Everett Mall, but then the power went out. Anyway, there is some merit to that idea. It depends on how we view things.

        If you think of transit in Snohomish County as cash starved, barely being able to afford hourly routes along significant corridors and twice-a-day runs to smaller cities, then it just doesn’t make sense. You just muddle along with whatever bus service you can afford. On the other hand, if you think of Snohomish County as an area that will invest billions in transit (as part of ST) it makes a lot of sense. It is expensive, but saves service hours while providing pretty much an ideal transit experience. It is just the right distance for a gondola. While gondolas aren’t cheap, they are a lot cheaper than what is being built, and the cost per rider, or time saved per dollar spent would likely be better than Everett Link.

        But that is not the corridor that ST is focused on. For a while, SEFS will be very important. After Link gets to Lynnwood, ST will serve it with frequent service, and it is likely that CT will as well (or at least they could, as they will have buses that run right by it). But who knows what will happen after Link gets to Everett. It would be tempting for both agencies to just save their money, and let Link do the work of connecting Everett to Mariner, Ash Way, Lynnwood, etc., even it if is slower. That means that the 201/202 is split into two routes. The northern one ends at Everett TC, the southern one serves Ash Way (the road itself). Now there are no buses going along I-5 between Everett and Mariner, greatly reducing the value of SEFS (it is no longer “on the way”).

        Then there is the mall itself. Malls have become highly stratified. They go one way or another. They either thrive, becoming major centers, or they collapse. The successful ones still have plenty of commerce, but they add a lot of housing, as well as other attractions (the Northgate Mall is a great example). Some malls happen to be next to housing (or offices) like Bellevue Mall. It isn’t clear which way Everett Mall will go. It is obvious when you look at Everett Transit that they care a lot about the mall. There are almost as many buses to the mall as there are to downtown Everett, despite the fact that serving the mall is awkward. Like Northgate, it is essentially at a dead-end. A bus can’t easily serve it and keep going the same direction (the way buses operate while serving downtown Everett). Yet despite all that, it has four routes serving it, including the most frequent routes, the 7 (every 15 minutes all day) and 29 (every 30 minutes all day). It is obviously important to Everett Transit. There seems to be a disconnect between Everett Transit and ST’s plans for Everett. The former thinks it is very important, while the latter largely ignores it.

        Thus I could see it going either way. They could make a commitment to the mall by building a gondola from SEFS. This would imply (if not explicitly state) that SEFS would have good bus service indefinitely. Then they could work with development teams to try and revitalize the mall (and make it more like Alderwood).

        Or they could muddle along, and hope for the best. The mall might survive without such an investment, or it might fall apart.

      6. I’m not sure I’d go for a gondola. I’m not sure there is sufficient demand for that. The staffing minimum for a gondola is somewhere around 3 or so I think.

        I’m thinking of something little larger than an elevator car. Years ago I remember seeing a line like that at one of the airports in Florida, which connected the parking garage with the airport. It was about 2,000 feet long, and operated pretty much like an elevator, using elevator technology (call buttons, elevator type doors, etc). It looked like it could be put together really cheaply, but I’m not finding a product anything like that on any of the usual suspects web sites.

      7. Glenn, modern gondolas can be fully remotely operated. If ridership isn’t high, for a short distance an aerial tram or pulse gondola may be sufficient. Ross, if you build a gondola, would it make sense to keep going to Everett TC or even Paine Field? Then you could live for a lot longer without extending Link or you could continue Link along the freeway or Hwy 99.

      8. Glenn: I would think that a people mover (of the type you describe)
        would cost as much to operate and more to build than a gondola. Physically, this is exactly the type of situation where a gondola makes sense. There is challenging terrain, because South Everett Freeway Station (SEFS) is in the middle of the freeway (you have to get up and over the freeway). The distance is fairly short, even though driving takes a while because you have to go around ( You could maybe build a pedestrian bridge, but it is a bit of a walk between there (over 3,500 feet, or 1.1 km). That is more than twice the distance of walking between the Northgate TC and North Seattle College (which is a bit of schlep).

        I’m not saying a gondola makes sense. It is quite possible that it just isn’t worth the money. But a gondola *could* be just the thing to spark development there. It gets in the news. People want to ride it just to ride it. It could create a cycle of development and transit improvements around the development. The gondola would be similar to the one that Kirkland is considering (which some have said would “give Kirkland more of an identity”). In the case of Kirkland, they are trying to connect to a more mature development. In this case, it would be starting from a smaller base, but hoping for more.

        Ideally gondolas have strong, continuous demand between points. This would not. This would be about serving the buses (like the case in Kirkland). This means more of a pulse demand. For periods, there would be absolutely nothing, then there would be a lot of people getting off the bus. So the gondola technology would likely be based on that sort of pattern.

        if you build a gondola, would it make sense to keep going to Everett TC or even Paine Field?

        No. In both cases it would be a lot farther and a lot more difficult to build. From Everett Mall to downtown Everett is over 7 miles. A bus from the Everett TC to SEFS makes that trip in about 8 minutes. The includes bus stops along the way (in downtown). That is the other thing. A bus can make additional stops after Everett TC. You can do the same with a gondola, but then it becomes really expensive if you wanted anything like that in terms of functionality (quarter mile stop spacing). The case for even serving SEFS — and thus building a gondola from it — is based on the fact that buses can very quickly go between Lynnwood TC and downtown Everett (while also serving much of Everett, and even much of Lynnwood without a transfer). Building an alternative would be very expensive (whether it is light rail or gondola.

        Building a gondola line from Everett Mall to Paine Field is not quite as bad, because it isn’t quite as far. But to get to where they want to put the station (at the north end of Paine Field) is still a fairly long ways for a gondola, and would require a fair amount of money. The station area is also not very centralized (making it a poor choice for either a light rail station or a gondola). It makes way more sense to simply send buses there. The buses would have tails that involve going around to the various destinations (mostly employment based). That means serving it from various directions. There is already strong freeway-based infrastructure around there — at most you would build off of that (e. g. add BAT lane ramps).

      9. The more I think about it, the more I think a “regular” gondola would be just fine as a way to connect the mall to the freeway station. At 30 km/hour, the gondola would take a little over two minutes end to end, much faster than even an express bus. Your friend could offer you a ride from the mall to the station, but it would be faster to take the gondola, simply because it is a much shorter distance. (OK, that doesn’t count the time to get up to the platform and all that, but still.)

        Meanwhile, the other big advantage to a gondola is that headways are tiny — measured in seconds, not minutes. Thus the wait time is minimal. When leaving the mall this doesn’t matter much, but it would be nice when going the other direction. You can get off the bus, head to the gondola, and be on your way in seconds. This minimizes the time you spend at the freeway station, which is an unpleasant place to wait (it is literally in the middle of the freeway). This would be another advantage of the gondola, in that at least going one direction you avoid waiting there.

  11. This past week, there have been A LOT of people waiting at the bus stops at the Alderwood Mall and Alderwood Mall Blvd., in the evenings and weekends (think: Shopping hours!). Community Transit should really be running extra 115/116 busses in the evening and weekends during the holiday shopping season.

    BTW I did finally see one of Lynnwood’s microtransit vans over the weekend. It was stuck in the mall parking lot traffic, and didn’t seem to be carrying many passengers. I tried to tell them….

  12. Is STB even aware that ET and CT are over a year into a deep effort to develop a consolidation plan? It’s great the blog is picking up its head and looking outside Seattle. This study process is really important for Snohomish County and could lead to a public vote within Everett to annex into CT’s territory in 2024. A lot of the issues raised in this thread will be addressed in that plan.

  13. Is the Mountlake Terrace I-5 median stop going to go completely away? Is it going to have any value at all?

    1. I haven’t heard anything about it. I know we’ve discussed it here, and the thought was that it might be used by vanpools or intercity buses. There is also the possibility they keep a few express buses (you never know). I don’t see much point in removing it.

      1. I assume the freeway stations and other similar freeway-oriented bus infra will be minimally maintained as backed for eventual bus bridges required for maintenance or emergencies.

  14. This thread about Snohomish Country transit would not be complete without mentioning that the transit options between Snohomish County and East King leave a lot to be desired. In particular, there is no bus down highway 9 between Snohomish and Bothell/Woodinville, nor is there a bus down SR-522 between Woodinville and Monroe, except for the 424, which runs only twice per day, Monday-Friday only. Having the SWIFT Green end at Canyon park, with Bothell reachable only by a 105, which runs only hourly, is also not good.

    Yes, I get that filling these gaps would be expensive. But, if the best the transit system can come up with for a trip from Kirkland to Monroe at noon is to spend 2-3 hours taking the 255 to UW, Link to Northgate, 512 to Everett, hourly 271 to Monroe – for what in a car is maybe a 20-minute drive straight down a major highway…that feels tantamount to providing no service at all.

    Yes, I get that such a service would have a high cost per rider and would be cost-prohibitive to make frequent. But, even a Bothell->Woodinville->Monroe bus that connects with both of the future STRIDE lines and runs even once per hour would still be a huge improvement over service along that corridor today.

    1. This. All three routes you mention. I know someone who’s moving to Monroe soon; it matters.

      In addition to extending the Green Line to Bothell, I’d run an all-day truncated 424 at least to UW Bothell, if not south all the way to Bellevue (as they’re planning to run the rush-hour version after East Link.) Given that, I think the Highway 9 bus would be a lower priority, though admittedly still a good thing.

    2. CT intends to extend the Green to Bothell. It’s waiting for street improvements in Bothell and full funding. I guess the street improvements are in progress and I’m not sure about the funding.

      Highway 9 and Monroe-Bothell area “transit emphasis corridors” in the long-range plan update linked by RossB above (page 13). So they’re on CT’s radar.

      1. Yeah, Bothell is really a different beast. It is dense enough and has a significant destination (in UW Bothell). It is also relatively convenient (it is “on the way”). Not only should Swift Green be extended there, but you also have the SR 522 and 405 Stride that will serve it. I would also add an express bus from UW Seattle to UW Bothell, running every 15 minutes or so. That would stop at every freeway stop (Totem Lake being the big one). It doesn’t take too long to get between the campuses if you take the freeway, and those freeway stops add ridership. The ridership per mile should be very good (especially given the distance covered). It would integrate well with 405 Stride, Swift Green and buses from Woodinville.

      2. The Green Line extension is fully funded and has been accelerated two years to align with the Stride schedule. Planning and design funds are in the 2023 budget.

      3. “CT intends to extend the Green to Bothell.”

        I should have said UW Bothell. The city of Bothell extends quite a bit into Snohomish County, including Canyon Park.

    3. I think Bothell and Monroe are very different. Monroe is quite a ways from Woodinville, with very little in between. Bothell is much bigger, much closer to other cities and has a big attraction (UW Bothell). There are only about 20,000 people in Monroe and not much, other than the prison (that doesn’t have bus service). That is a decent size, but most of the people live outside the central core, in lower density areas, hard to serve by transit. It has got a pretty good main street, and the area by the highway does OK, but in that area there are only around 4,000 people (according to the census). Snohomish is similar, and smaller.

      Making matters worse, there are no BAT lanes for most of SR 522 (between Monroe and Woodinville). This means the one time when bus service is bound to be reasonably productive (rush hour) the bus is stuck in traffic. Not only does this cost the agency money, but provides a disincentive to use transit. WSDOT is expanding the road to two lanes each direction, but neither lane will be a BAT lane. This is a terrible decision by WSDOT, but nothing new.

      There are the jurisdictional issues, as mentioned. Monroe is in Snohomish County, while Woodinville is in King. Better service really should be provided by ST. They have lots more money, and these sorts of routes are right up their alley. It is common for them to provide these types of routes, despite the very high subsidy. Unfortunately, Monroe falls outside of the service area.

      Community Transit plans on replacing the 424 with the 908. But it will still be peak only, with buses running every half hour. In the middle of the day, riders will continue to have awkward trips from Monroe to Seattle. It is actually better to Snohomish, but it is still a three seat ride. Take 405 Stride to Canyon Park, then take Swift Green to McCollum Park and Ride, then the 132. The first two are fairly frequent, but the 132 is not (running every hour). If you are going to Monroe you can do all that and then take the 270/271. These run a combined half hour, but the 270 doesn’t leave the highway, which means that in most cases it requires a long walk. But my guess is the majority of Monroe residents have a long walk to any bus. Riders headed to Monroe could take Stride to Lynnwood, then an ST Express to Everett, then the 270/271. This is very indirect, but avoids one of the transfers.

      It is tempting to run a bus on SR 9 between Snohomish and Woodinville. The problem is that there is basically nothing in between there — it is largely just farms and forest. Like the 522 corridor, that is a long distance without picking up anyone.

      Running the 908 every hour in the middle of the day would be nice (even if the midday run ended at Woodinville) but you could say the same thing about a lot of routes. There are plenty of hourly buses that could be made half hour buses as well. It is hard to see what I would shift to achieve better service to either Monroe or Woodinville. It really gets down to CT having limited funds and the county being extremely difficult to serve (given the land use patterns).

  15. Those sections of Hwy 9 and SR-522 are outside Community Transit’s service area. There is a reason the 424 does not have any stops between Monroe and Woodinville. The stop in Woodinville is there because it is on the way – and already existed in addition to providing a connection to Sound Transit Route 522 for connections to Bothell and the north shore of Lake Washington.

  16. There is some merit to the comments about the #8 serving PAE. However, a planner should not only be looking at “today,” which the commenter was, but also tomorrow. PAE has just been identified as the preferred location for more flights while a new “greenfield” (airport from scratch) is being designed and constructed. I was told by an airport official a few years ago that there was room for “five or six gates” at PAE, and between next June, when PAE will likely be named the choice to take on the additional capacity, I would expect additional service to be approved there, as Sea-Tac reaches capacityi n the next ~5 years! The second consideration is the plans for light rail, which is at least another 15 years to reaching the PAE area. However, Sound Transit has no plans to put a station at PAE.

    All that said, if I had to choose, I’d pick connectivity at the South Everett P&R, which is woefully underserved. The one time that ET folks answered an email that I sent them, they said that routes didn’t terminate there because it wasn’t possible to put in restroom facilities there. Apparently, like too many people, at that point, they give up rather than speculate on what they could do. I even offered them these options. First, interline the ET #12 (which goes in-between Boeing/Seaway and the floundering Everett Mall) with the ET #29, an overly-lengthy route that goes all the way up to downtown Everett (~12 miles away) and Everett CC. Another suggestion was to pull back the #29 to the lackluster Eastmont P&R, which only the ST #513 serves, and extend the #12 to that point. The ET folks don’t even time the #12 and #29 routes so one can realistically transfer most of the time. Is serving Boeing really as important as County Executive Somers keeps clamoring for? Answer: apparently, only for light rail, for Boeing folks are apparently bus-adverse (they’ve had limited stop, local fare bus service there for decades with poor ridership).

    The other angle to serving the South Everett P&R is for ST’s #513 to serve there while using West Casino Road with some limited stops (to put it on par with downtown Everett and downtown Bellevue) instead of having only a single bus stop on East Casino Road. After serving Eastmont, continue down 19th to serve the robust South Everett P&R, which offers connectivity to Eastside routes. The one time an ST planner responded was to say that they didn’t want to add the supposed extra time to “inconvenience their customers.” Hah! Every time I’ve ridden the #513, I could count the number of riders on my hands that go beyond Lynnwood. I always have seen zero boarding at Seaway. Since that comment, ST planners had no problem adding Ash Way, which takes their buses off of I-5 and onto city streets, including an icy uphill/downhill jaunt (since they foolishly have avoiding completing the northside access ramps), and Lynnwood, which takes their buses off of I-5 on a ramp.

    Re: a merger, that would be the worst thing for the citizens of Everett. Their transit sales tax would double and their fares would rise significantly (CT is the only transit agency in the state with a 1.2% transit sales tax that also collects fares, and those are at the high end of the spectrum), they would only get 1 board member (their population’s proportion merits 2), and they would get no service guarantees (e.g., service proportional to their population) from an agency that focuses on serving corridors, e.g. Airport Road, and not destinations, e.g. the PAE terminal. If you’re able-bodied, serving corridors is fine, if you’re not, tough tooties.

    1. That’s great news about PAE expansion! When it happens, I’ll be all for routing another bus route there. But, I don’t think future expansion should route the 8 there today.

      I think connecting South Everett P&R (and even Mariner, if Community Transit doesn’t reroute routes) is more important today.

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