In “Every City NEEDS a Transit Hub”, Reece Martin at RMTransit explains how sticking with the originally-planned second CID Link station is a unique opportunity to create the biggest and most-used multimodal transit hub in the Pacific Northwest. It would connect all of Link lines 1, 2, and 3, Sounder, Amtrak Cascades, Greyhound, the First Hill Streetcar, the proposed City Center Connector streetcar extension to Pike Place Market and SLU, the two stadiums, the walkable Chinatown neighborhood, Union Station’s hall with potential reactivation uses, King Street Station’s hall, and potentially in-station retail.
Alternatives like a “North of CID” station at the King County Administration building would both miss this opportunity and make transfers incredibly bad.
The “Fourth Avenue Shallower” alternative is a reasonable compromise between the default Fifth Avenue station (which activists in the CID don’t want) and a station too far away. It’s more expensive, but this is an existential issue for the network. The #1 issue for a multi-line subway network is good transfers between all the lines. Over half of Link’s destinations will require a train-to-train transfer. This is key to maximizing ridership, getting the most out of our investment in it, and making the network far more useful.
162 Replies to “A CID2 Link Station is Important”
“ Over half of Link’s destinations will require a train-to-train transfer. ”
I’m having trouble finding any data showing what transfers are in the DEIS documents. Can someone point to the actual numbers of expected transferring riders?
To drive the point home, this number of expected 2040 transferring riders appears to be 100K to 150K riders on a weekday. It’s not just a notable percentage; it’s over three times (300%+) the number of all of the forecasted West Seattle Link segment riders! That’s more than the total number of Link riders today on 1 Line!
While there are other transfer points, clearly many if not most of the transfers were expected with at the CID/ King St hub.
So in addition to the post’s percentage statement quoted above, I think it’s really important to drive home the point that the affected number is two to three times bigger than entire segments being planned or built today (that ST is spending a few billion on each)!
Finally, these transfers affect riders who live in every subarea. This affects riders across the entire district — including most South King and Pierce Sounder riders, every rider from north and east of Downtown Seattle who wants to get to SeaTac or Seattle Center and many many others. That’s on top of the huge hit to transit mobility to SE Seattle Link riders.
I agree Al. If Link will require half of its riders to transfer from Link to Link, plus first/last mile access, Link will fail. It doesn’t matter how seamless the transfer is.
Link was designed as regional rail. It covers long distances with slow technology with several bottlenecks like RV, which means it will be slooooooow, even without transfers. Add in the fact many stations are where people are not, which means first/last mile access, Link better eliminate the rail to rail transfer if it hopes to attract discretionary choice riders post pandemic.
That’s just silly. Transfers are common on all large mass transit systems. If anything, it would be weird to design your system to avoid them. It happens all the time with bus systems, but those systems tend to be tiny, with very few riders. The larger your system, the more likely you are to have transfers.
A single transfer is not a big deal especially if the frequency is high enough to compensate. This is why services that don’t benefit from interlining and require a transfer must be frequent
As for speed link is actually faster than many heavy rail systems. The mode choice for such long distances is poor for capacity reasons and stretches like the RV are poor for reliability reasons but if you were to focus on the service that link offers instead of the infrastructure I wouldn’t consider it slow compared to other regional subways. At worst it’s painfully average
The DC silver line for instance from London Gateway to L’enfant Plaza (about 30 mi) takes around 1 hour 4 minutes quite comparable to the estimated travel times of Everett station to king station on link.
Now that stretch to Everett could be made even faster (by possibly 10 minutes) if Snohomish County Representatives weren’t so stubborn about choosing the more expensive airport road alignment instead of just going up the interurban trail right of way and maybe serving Boeing via a branch but that’s an entirely different problem that stems from politics and governance
Tacoma to Seattle is also comparable to the DC silver line in distance travel time ratio but the Sounder south right of way is such a better low hanging fruit with much better population walkshed and travel times (even without any infrastructure upgrades) that I almost feel like pierce county is getting screwed a bit regardless of whether or not their representatives feel that way
Pierce is at a disadvantage because of the distance from downtown (Everett is only slightly further than Federal Way), and the lack of major activity centers in between (nothing like the U-District, Northgate, Lynnwood, or Capitol Hill).
Making Sounder South run every 15-30 minutes would be astronomical because BNSF would charge monopoly prices for timeslots, and it wouldn’t even offer them because it would cut into freight capacity so much, and the governments would oppose losing so much freight commerce. The state could buy out the BNSF line and add a passenger-priority track, but the state isn’t interested, and ST and local governments doesn’t have that kind of money.
Pierce knew or should have known what Tacoma Dome Link would be like, but it chose it anyway and said it’s the subarea’s highest priority. Not everyone in Pierce want that, but the influential decision-makers do, and they’re the ones who decide.
However, Tacoma Dome Link won’t be as bad as we earlier feared. We thought it would be 40% slower than ST Express buses. But when I recalculated it a few months ago, Westlake-Tacoma Dome came out in the midrange of ST Express (faster than peak congestion, slower than Sunday morning) — like Everett and Lynnwood). Federal Way isn’t quite so lucky, but the difference is less than was thought. So Tacoma Dome won’t get faster-than-75-minute service, but it will be comparable to the current ST Express, and immune to the collision-created gridlock that occurs at least once a week.
I think Pierce and Snohomish County bought into the idea that Link would generate business. This is a common idea. It is like streetcars on steroids. There actually is some evidence to suggest that streetcars can help the businesses. Likewise, a major transit investment can definitely help cities. Unfortunately, that doesn’t apply to a system with stations in the middle of nowhere, or next to freeways. A fast, frequent connection from downtown Seattle to downtown Tacoma would definitely help Tacoma. A subway line with poor stops along the way won’t. Most of the day, a bus would be significantly faster. Cities like Tacoma and Everett are simply too far away from Seattle for a subway extension to make sense, and have too little in between to benefit much from that either.
You’ve described the situation as it currently is very accurately.
My original comment describing this as “without any infrastructure upgrades” while technically true is still a fair but misleading once one understands the the current situation
There have been ideas proposed by advocates in the past such as the SPIRE proposal but I really am not sure whether or not BNSF would be ok with track swapping of any form or what kind of extortion/betterment they would want out of such a deal which really is what such a idea would hinge on in regards to its financial feasibility. Such a plan I think would be in ST’s capacity but state support would still be preferable (think benefit to Amtrak cascades throughput as well).
The only thing that such a plan could possibly offer to south king to convince them to pinch in is possibly a Georgetown station which may not be convincing enough either
A lot of this is lines on the map thinking but were there ever to be a situation where track swapping could work allowing for a exclusive freight corridor and exclusive passenger corridor political elites would be naive not to take advantage of it
I should have proof read what I typed on my phone. Jeeze what a mess of a comment
What I find extremely frustrating is, regardless of what one thinks about light rail going all the way to Everett or Tacoma, a more “spine” oriented alignment for Everett link would actually be better than what the current representative project is
The reason being the stations (or should I say station given SR99/airport road would be the only station between mariner and Paine field) along airport road will not be redeveloped. There is no residential nor small block retail development inhabiting the area and we have no reason to assume that this will change because stakeholders are not interested and the alignment itself is simply poor for it
A spine oriented alignment possibly using embankment right of way adjacent to the interuban trail would require less elevated sections than airport road, pass through neighborhoods that at the very least have residential and retail (of which airport road has essentially zero), and could be redeveloped for more if local zoning is overridden to some degree
Here are the possibly better hypothetical stations that will make a poor and expensive line slightly less poor and slightly less expensive.
1. An at grade station at the south Everett park and ride. Yes it’s next to I-5. Yet more residential housing and businesses with in its walkshed than SR99/Airport Rd. Quite eye opening
2. Elevated station at Everett mall. Mall could be redeveloped. Nobody would care. The Everett mall is Everett transits (defacto or dejure? I’m not sure actually) south Everett bus hub. Many bus lines intersect here because there isn’t really anywhere else in south everett for them to intersect at. From this point the light rail would need to go elevated down west mall dr back to an at grade alignment down interurban trail and under boeing freeway. Mind you despite these elevated sections the alignment would *still* necessitate less elevated sections than the representative project which will run elevated about the same or longer distance over the I-5 boeing freeway interchange
2. Beverly Blvd station at intersection with east casino. At grade or below grade (no tunneling). Adjacent to small block business. Not next to highways. Close to Cascade high school. Residential area. Could be developed were zoning overridden
3. YMCA? (Ok this is a stretch). Residential. Could be redeveloped were zoning overridden. Still using the trail right of way. Getting here would require some elevated sections along Colby or commerce drive. Some displacement. Possibly could run at grade along the edge of the golf course through some eminent domain but probably insignificant distance for it to count.
4. And then back onto Broadway via an elevated guideway
Mind you these stations have much more potential for redevelopment possibly meaning more ridership. Offers more connection to at least partial destinations possibly meaning more ridership. The alignment certainly would be faster possibly meaning more ridership. Displacement quite possibly may even be less than the representative project by using existing ROW meaning lower costs. *And* the alignment would necessitate less elevated guideway than the representing alignment meaning lower costs. To give you an idea of costs of elevated rail lines in this general vicinity of Everett ST estimated that and fully elevated (not partially elevated) alignment over Broadway would cost $100M more from casino road station to Everett station than an I-5 alignment from casino road station to Everett station. An alignment not fully elevated taking advantage of trail right of way would be even less and possibly serve more people
Regardless of the merit of Everett link itself this seems undoubtably to be a cheaper and higher potential right of way than ST’s current alignment yet they refuse to study it. I think that alone tells you more than enough about the people currently managing our multi billion dollar regional transit expansion
Link won’t fail; it’s already succeeding. It just wouldn’t reach its potential, or be as transformative as it would otherwise be. If you’re concerned about spending billions of dollars on it, then you should be concerned about getting the most out of the investment.
Unfortunately, the most cost-effective segments of Link are already open. By opening much longer lines with fewer riders per mile in the future, the “success” of Link is going to look worse and worse. Farebox recovery will fall with most of the new segment openings — especially the ST3 ones.
Consider too that once a line is open for 10 or 15 years maintenance issues grow significantly. The current escalator and elevator problems in relatively new stations will likely get worse with age — and the huge number of new stations opening by 2026 may really multiply that issue by 2030 or 2035.
Rather than fantasize about what a 2040 Link map will look like, the focus should be on what a 2040 Link operation (including station use) will look like.
“Success” is fulfilling people’s trips. Are the current ST Express routes unsuccessful because they have fewer riders per mile than Link will? No, they’re successful, because people do use them. It’s impossible that Link won’t have riders from the Highline College area, Bellevue, Redmond, Federal Way, Tacoma Dome, and Everett, because people go to there and from there.
It is hard to say what “success” or “failure” means in this context. I suppose there is the real possibility that ST3 doesn’t get built. That could be considered a failure.
But assuming it does get built, does that mean it is a success? Using that measure, it really doesn’t matter what we build at this point. It is a success if we call it done.
A more meaningful measure would be whether it was worth the money. This is objective, but there are subjective measurements. The simplest is ridership per dollar spent. If the numbers are really low, I think it can be considered a failure. More significant numbers, like ridership time saved per dollar spent, are harder to calculate, but can be assessed based on the other data. For example, if ridership on the new lines is very poor, then obviously there wasn’t much in ridership time saved. But just because ridership is good doesn’t mean that riders saved a lot of time. They may have just switched from a bus — a bus that could have actually been faster. Likewise, another measure is overall ridership. If we spend all this money and it doesn’t lead to a significant increase in overall ridership (or modal share) then it will have “failed” in my book. But again, such terms are objective in this case. American transit systems known for being poor (Sacramento, Dallas) are said to have “failed” despite no concrete definition for the term.
“I’m having trouble finding any data showing what transfers are in the DEIS documents. Can someone point to the actual numbers of expected transferring riders?
Al, did you check out “Appendix N.1, Transportation Technical Report”?
Look at page 3-41 specifically and table 3-30 for info regarding rail-to-rail transfers at CID.
I looked at table 3-30. It’s not telling how many people transfer at CID.
That’s because it’s not clear how many are transferring between 1 Line and 2 Line in the No Build. The new alternative removes this connection.
Then it’s not clear if the two stations are treated as two stations or one big station. It may be that the transfers between the old and new stations are simply not counted.
It’s also not clear what are transfers to Link versus transfers to Sounder, Streetcar or Metro buses.
The report puts in lots of unrelated data that mixes boardings, ridership and transit trips in all sorts of ways. I’m not sure if the author is confused or it’s deliberate obfuscation.
The report doesn’t explain how much time is assumed to get between the station entrance and the platform. It does talk about needing only 90 seconds — but what if there’s a line to use the elevator or escalator because there aren’t enough of them? What if one of the many conveyances is out of service?
All in all, it doesn’t get at the most important transfer pattern— areas in RV and South King including SeaTac with areas north of Downtown.
The report does contain some gems like:
Building West Seattle Link doesn’t change the transit mode share in SODO even 1 percent. Table 2-11 has 19% transit for both Build and No Build south of Lander. So why are we spending billions to build WS Link and DSTT2? For no increase in transit mode share? Wow. Just wow!
Table 2-18 shows the same 2042 daily mode share data for Ballard. A 1 percent improvement north of CID and a 2 percent improvement north of Denny Way. The only place where transit mode share shoots significantly up is at the Ballard Bridge, which has 11-12 percent increases in the transit mode share. That pretty well explains why the most useful part of WSBLE is Ballard to SLU.
Sadly, the Board never gets presented nor looks at these kinds of data. If they did, they would go back to square 1 on WSBLE — and ask more strategic questions like:
– Should we relook at First Hill?
– Should we look at a design that uses automated trains that could run more frequently (reduced wait times for a train) and attract more riders as well as save money by shrinking the platforms?
– Should we introduce some at-grade segments?
And of course all the DEIS alternatives assume transfers at CID. The latest proposal talks about eliminating that transfer! Will the resulting forecasts end up with a worse transit mode share than the No Build?
At the very least, the Board should probe these things before going along with the notion to remove the CID station.
I pointed out earlier that the DEIS does not forecast any significant mode share increase on the WS segment and certainly not until SODO is connected to downtown. There is no good reason to build WSLE, certainly not with the decrease in peak transit we have experienced since the pandemic (as bus bunching shouldn’t be an issue anymore).
Yes, Al, if we increase frequency using automated trains, we may raise the attractiveness of transit and therefore get higher mode share improvement. The Ballard line would be a great starting point.
I’d also be happy with consolidating all trains into DSTT1, an automated Ballard-West Seattle line, or terminating Ballard at Westlake. But if ST insists on DSTT2, this is a way to make it less bad. I think ST is more willing consider other CID2 station alternatives then it is to do any of the others.
Mike, I agree.
But the CID has waged an excellent equity campaign to stop a second CID station on 5th. The shallow(er) station on 4th is $700 million more when DSTT2 is cutting the midtown station, and would cause years of traffic congestion simply to connect two smallish residential neighborhoods. WS and Ballard.
Let’s hope the DEIS adds a station on 4th, a midtown station (which I think is as important as a CID/4th station), an underground station on 15th or 20th in Ballard, and various designs in WS and SLU, to the a la carte list.
I wouldn’t count on redeveloping old, vacant county buildings to fund any of this, and think the a la carte list will be $20 billion with all the goodies, and DSTT2 around $4.2 billion for the north CID plan with no midtown or CID/4th stations, and over $5 billion with those stations less the cost of the Pioneer Sq. station.
It all comes down to money and politics. That is why a CID station is out, and a station on 4th. That pretty much left Constantine, Harrell, and the ST Board using the vacant administration building for the one downtown station with a tunnel to Pioneer Square.
But first you need the money. I think Harrell and Constantine have known all along DSTT2 and WSBLE are not affordable by the subarea which is why they are so hesitant to expend any political capital on either.
Seattle and the county should help defray the cost of the 4th Avenue Shallower station. This is the most critical third-party investment in Link they could possibly make. The Administration building lot will be redeveloped anyway, and the county will get any income for it. If we have to have Ballard on 14th and skip Midtown station to pay for it, that might be tolerable.
“years of traffic congestion simply to connect two smallish residential neighborhoods. WS and Ballard”
It’s not just two smallish neighborhoods, it’s the entire network. Trips to/from SLU, Uptown, Seattle Center, Interbay, Jackson Street, SODO, Beacon Hill, Rainier Valley, the airport, the Highline College area, Federal Way, transfers to Kent and Auburn, and Tacoma — all would be affected by transfer quality.
And Ballard is not “a smallish neighborhood”; it’s Seattle’s fourth-largest urban village. It can be part of the solution for housing and retail with good access to the rest of the city and region, IF it doesn’t take half an hour to get to from Westlake or U-District. And there’s SLU, with highrises.
Seattle and the county should help defray the cost of the 4th Avenue Shallower station.
Sorry, no. We shouldn’t even be building a second tunnel in the first place. For that matter, we shouldn’t build rail to West Seattle. To continue to spend a fortune on dubious projects because someone came up with a worse idea is just a waste of money.
The basic problem with the 4th Avenue Shallow station is that it is expensive, and still not that good. This is not like a station in First Hill, or moving the Ballard station to 20th (both of which I would be willing to pay for). Yes, it sucks that folks from the south end will either have to walk a long ways, or transfer at SoDo to access the stations they do now. But that was largely a given. I would much rather spend the money on better bus service than making one of those stations a bit better. Way more riders would benefit.
It is funny that Reece portrays the CID station like it doesn’t exist. It has existed for years. It is my favorite downtown station, because access is so quick. It is a fine location, serving as the “hub” that Reece wants. And yet Westlake had way more ridership before the pandemic. Almost double the ridership. I’m not saying the station isn’t important, but put things in perspective. The 7 had higher ridership. Spending hundreds of millions of dollars on buses like the 7 would be a much better value.
To “save” this means going back to the original promise, which was “world class transfers”. There is only one way to achieve that, and that is by sending all the trains into the existing tunnel. That’s it. Every other option — including Fourth Avenue Shallow — won’t be as good.
“We shouldn’t even be building a second tunnel in the first place.”
It’s the Sound Transit board who makes the decision, and we can only get what we convince them of. I think the board is more willing to move the DSTT2 stations that to consolidate into DSTT1 or build an automated line or a Ballard-Westlake line. If we put all our eggs into DSTT1 and ST says no, then we have nothing. If ST insists on DSTT2 with conventional trains, then we need a least-bad alternative for that. If we can convince the board on any of these (4th Avenue Shallower, DSTT1 only, automated Ballard-WS, automated Ballard-Westlake, or conventional Ballard-Westlake), it’s better than a DSTT2 with long transfer distances or a CID station several blocks away from the CID.
We don’t have a definitive board opinion on DSTT1-only, but the consultants’ report ahead of February’s System Expansion Committee Meeting mentioned it as inconsistent with voters’ intent. (In article “ST reviews WSBLE study results“.) I expect the board will accept the consultant’s recommendations in bulk, and if it’s forced to decide on DSTT1-only, it will likely side with the consultant. So we need a fallback recommendation in that case. Because the decision may come suddenly just before an EIS deadline, leaving us no time to advocate for anything.
It would be great to share ideas for funding CID2; it feels like funding is a huge gap in advocating for the plan. What about some sort of charge to the stadiums since at least Lumen is close to the CID station? Or maybe some sort of LID on the entire line or just its terminus?
A LID on the International District to pay the extra $400 million seems appropriate since they are the sole beneficiaries of the move to Fourth Avenue. Everyone is worse off.
Everyone else …
“But the CID has waged an excellent equity campaign to stop a second CID station on 5th.”
Is it really a good campaign when we’re now having to waste more money on deeper stations and spend money on projects that are more of WSDOT realm with rebuilding Union and King Street Station to become multimodal. It was throwing the project more headaches because of concerns of construction when construction is a fact of life when building any new infrastructure and was in my opinion unlikely to be that big of an issue in the grander scheme of things. But I guess we shouldn’t build anymore good infrastructure and just waste more money on car dependency as we did with the Federal Way extension when we buckled to used car lots, strip malls, and a McDonalds franchise owner.
Welcome to SEPA Zach. The local community decides what is best for it, including Ballard and WS wanting tunnels and underground stations, and a station on 15th or 20th. Those who don’t live there can’t speak for them.
The CID was able to avoid costly litigation under the EIS by waging an effective public relations campaign noting the racist history in that area, how long term construction would bankrupt many businesses who can’t afford 10 year timelines, and who have monthly lease and mortgage obligations. The reality is the CID would prefer more parking than DSTT2.
ST could proceed under the essential public facilities statute and try to circumvent SEPA — and that is a recommendation of the consultant — but hasn’t.
IMO if WSBLE is going to be affordable for the subarea — as originally envisioned and designed — most of it will need to be surface rail, certainly south of Sodo and north of SLU and maybe even downtown, but that would be the mother of all political fights.
The CID is only one stakeholder of many demanding expensive changes to WSBLE. I am certain many stakeholders are objecting to construction near them, including on 4th Ave. due to traffic congestion, hence the recent decision to use the KC Admin building for the station.
The CID is not the only stakeholder arguing WSBLE does not benefit them. They just used racism effectively — and legitimately — which I suggest S. Seattle take a page from the notebook about having to transfer to DSTT2.
N KC has zero chance of affording WSBLE so all the argument and shifting proposals are sound and fury signifying nothing.
The recent proposal to create one mega station in Pioneer Square between Sodo and Westlake financed by developing city and county buildings (when the DSA today called for the city and county to demand employees return to office 3 days/week) was just the ST Board jumping the shark.
WSBLE and DSTT2 are each terrible transit even if affordable. Why some transit advocates get so worked up over it I don’t understand.
“Welcome to SEPA Zach. The local community decides what is best for it, including Ballard and WS wanting tunnels and underground stations, and a station on 15th or 20th. Those who don’t live there can’t speak for them.”
There’s no need to talk condesending towards me. If you don’t like people pointing out the problems with cheering on NIMBYISM in regards to transit planning, I dunno what to tell you.
Straw man after straw man after straw man.
The consensus opinion among the “transit activists” here is “Don’t build West Seattle. Don’t go north of Lynnwood or south of Federal Way. Don’t build DSTT2 south of Pine. Put the main Ballard station west of 15th underground and cut and cover what you can through SLU and LQA. Don’t build Issaquah-South Kirkland.”
You lie about us with these straw men every stinking day.
> Is it really a good campaign when we’re now having to waste more money on deeper stations and spend money on projects that are more of WSDOT realm with rebuilding Union and King Street Station to become multimodal. It was throwing the project more headaches because of concerns of construction when construction is a fact of life when building any new infrastructure and was in my opinion unlikely to be that big of an issue in the grander scheme of things
Even going along with the original alignment with the ‘shallow’ ID 5th ave it had lots of problems:
* The Westlake station is deep and really isn’t that convenient for transfers (unlike say DC’s metro center station)
* The midtown station is incredibly 145 feet deep even with the ‘shallow’ 5th avenue one
* The ID ‘shallow’ 5th avenue station isn’t even that shallow and still is relatively inconvenient for transfers.
I agree, WL. That is really the fundamental problem with these proposals. Every single one is worse. Put it this way. Assume you are in SoDo, headed downtown. You can tell that each train will arrive at the same time. It is just as easy to take either one. Which one do you take?
The vast majority — I would say well over 90% of the riders — would take the train going to the existing tunnel. The stations are just better.
But wait, there is also the issue of transferring. SoDo is one option. It is fundamentally dangerous, and not exactly pleasant. Nor does it work if you are approaching from the east, or trying to get from the north to Uptown. What about the transfers downtown, between this new downtown tunnel and the old one?
They are all bad! All of them. Not a single one is of the type that Reece alludes to. Keep in mind, there are all sorts of ways of making that transfer. Maybe the train is directly above — a short escalator ride away. Maybe the tracks are all parallel — you just go across the platform. Of maybe they would be like the reverse direction transfer in our system — they would require going up and over. Less than ideal, but still not that bad.
No! Every single proposal has a transfer that is worse. The stations are worse, the transfers are worse. Everything is worse.
But hey, sometimes these things happen. It is for the greater good. After all, with this new tunnel, we will add additional coverage … Nowhere! That is the crazy part. I could tolerate all of these bad transfers if we at least ran the trains somewhere new. But between SoDo and Westlake — where “downtown” stretches quite a ways east now and is growing every day — there is nothing. The new tunnel is simply worse, in every respect. Not different, just worse.
The impacts of a station on 5th have been addressed by the preferred station location now being on 4th, which does not tear up any streets in the neighborhood. I would even go as far as to call it a King Street/Union Station instead of a Chinatown station.
Furthermore, the traffic impacts of building along 4th Avenue — which are actually *greater* than building on 5th, rarely mentioned! — will be felt regardless of *where* on 4th the station is built. The “North of CID” station will cause the SAME traffic impacts as King and 4th. Which will need to be mitigated, but at the end of the day, you don’t avoid the traffic impacts by building it two blocks away on the same major road.
Finally, the 4th Ave. viaduct WILL need to be replaced at some point due to seismic issues. Why would you tear up 4th Ave. and go through the construction process twice? Wouldn’t it be better to build King Street/Union Station *and* rebuild the viaduct at the same time?
“King Street Station” if we rename it. There are “Union Station” train stations all over the US, but only one “King Street Station”.
And there are no plans to put trains in Union Station, so the only reason people would go to it is the activities in the hall. That’s not enough to name a Link station after. Especially with such a generic name as “Union Station”.
Jonathan, could you clarify this comment? It is a point that I haven’t heard before: “There aren’t enough trains to West Seattle to matter. Which is one of the problems with Link to West Seattle, actually.”
There should not be a Link line to West Seattle. However, I am curious of the facts behind the comment.
Troy, Jonathan apparently isn’t still reading this article’s comments, so I’ll take a stab at replying.
The West Seattle stub has a very high cost per additional rider. If it were a traditional at-grade, two-and-a-half mile spur over flat land through a relatively dense neighborhood, it might make sense to build it as a convenient reversal terminal, but it isn’t.
The good news is that the neighborhoods at the Alaska Junction and at The Triangle are reasonably dense and will provide some walk-up ridership, but the third station by the steel mill isn’t. But on balance, the ridership potential is not too bad.
But the cost of construction is entirely out of scale for that ridership. The bridge over the Duwamish Waterway has to reach one hundred and forty feet of clearance, then drop down to about thirty feet above MSL at the steel mill and then either climb back up to roughly the same height on an elevated structure or regain half the height and enter a half mile long tunnel with a relatively deep station at the end. This is a CBD level of required engineering for a spur.
The icing on Miss Havisham’s cake is that most of the riders will arrive by bus and have to descend into that relatively deep station or climb to the elevated station. At grade is off the table apparently.
A certain percentage of the ridership to and from West Seattle already transfers to the C Line today, so they will only suffer the level change to the train and those headed to the U District will avoid any further transfer. Good things. But the riders on today’s C Line itself, the largest cohort of West Seattle riders, will be forced to transfer to Link and what will happen to the folks on the new H Line? Will it continue to go downtown, in which case almost nobody will use Steel Mill Station, or will it be diverted to Admiral or Alki?
The truth is that most riders to and from West Seattle will experience no net improvement in their journey or will see an actual lengthening of travel time. It’s just not “worth” the three or four billion dollars it will cost.
I agree Tom. It isn’t that West Seattle Link doesn’t add value. But for the money, it is terrible. You are spending a fortune on three stations. All three will get the bulk of their ridership from same-direction transfers. One of them will get almost of its ridership from that. Just the line from SoDo to the last stop in West Seattle (the Junction) is a terrible value.
But it also created the “need” for a second tunnel. If not for West Seattle Link, Ballard Link would either be an independent line, or branch from the main line. Assuming we continue down the stupid road we are on, and build a second tunnel, it means the actual cost for West Seattle Link is even higher. It is quite possible that more riders will be hurt (by the new tunnel) than will benefit from West Seattle Link.
From what I can tell, the CID community basically wants to retain access, without being displaced or torn up for 8 years. All of these reasonable goals are accomplished by switching West Seattle Link to BRT, cancelling DSTT2 and constructing Ballard as a stub.
DSTT2 is a way to siphon tax revenues from the outer subareas into a hole in the ground in Seattle, where they will disappear into a vortex somewhere around 4th and James. Mighty unloved relics of 20th century civic modernism will fall, and from the mighty pit, a phoenix will rise, using speculative valuations and borrowed money. A beautiful passageway with splendid escalators and elevators on either side beckons you as you make your way from the airport with your kids and your luggage.
I’m sorry it’s come to this, but that’s about the most positive spin I can give this project the way it seems to be going. Our regional transit needs and funds are being hijacked for some political and economic reasons that are not about transit. Dow’s Civic Campus vision is swell, but not at the expense of screwing up the transit system that serves the entire region. And removing access to the CID does not “spare” them – it hurts them, and everyone else. The neighborhood is full of businesses that will be harder to access and people who will have less access with WSBLE and DSTT2 and the “North of CID” station.
I don’t personally care so much whether we “complete the spine” to Tacoma and Everett or not. I’m fine with this. It’s in the long range plan and those areas have been paying into the system for a long time with this expectation. It may not be the best use of the funds, but it won’t be useless.
But West Seattle Link and DSTT2 are both fundamentally flawed. They make transit worse, for West Seattle and for everyone else. They make a few trips better, and many trips a lot worse.
The fix is easy-ish. Let the outer subareas have their DSTT2 money back to complete their own projects. Turn WS Link into BRT, cancel DSTT2, and plan Ballard as an automated system with Westlake intercept (+First Hill). You could target Dow’s new neighborhood instead of First Hill. How’s that for a compromise? Not that we should aim for that outcome.
I voted for it, but at this point, I am off the “ST3 train”. The project has run amok. It can be saved, but only with a change in leadership. That could theoretically come from the current leaders, but I don’t see that happening. And the decisions are being made now. So we are sleepwalking into a civic catastrophe.
Consensus among transit folks has been moving against WSBLE for some time, with the proposed loss of CID likely to completely kill support for WSBLE as proposed among the transit rider community. It certainly is for me, after seeing the “4th Ave Shallower” concept it seemed like a slam dunk to move forward with that option and it’s shocking (but perhaps not surprising) that the political winds have not moved that way.
The problem with radical scope changes to WSBLE is that the added time and opportunity cost. The $2 billion West Seattle extension is already fully funded and can have shovels in the ground about 3 years from now. The ship has sailed on that one even if the rest of WSBLE ends up getting scrapped. Given that likelihood, maybe they will end up scrapping DSTT2 but funding the 4th Ave CID station and terminating the West Seattle extension there. That would make it far more useful than terminating at SODO.
With Ballard, time is on their side a little more, nobody is going to want to take the political fallout of canceling it, so it will probably persist with additional delays/funding requests. Given how terrible the SLU stations are, I wish that Ballard to UW had gotten more of a look.
I’m sure you’re right that the ship has sailed on West Seattle Link, which I would cancel in a heartbeat. But you don’t need DSTT2 for West Seattle Link. You could tie it into the existing system at SODO and run 3 lines through the tunnel as we’ve described here on this blog. If we’re willing to spend the $50 or $50K or $50M or whatever it really is (it’s peanuts) to allow us to run the same number of trains through our tunnel as everyone else around the world already does, this should be fine. There aren’t enough trains to West Seattle to matter. Which is one of the problems with Link to West Seattle, actually.
Even if we insisted on building West Seattle Link and DSTT2 and Dow’s new neighborhood where the jail and King County Administration building now stand, you could build the whole Ballard – West Seattle as an automated system with double the frequency, half the station size, much lower cost, much lower construction impacts, much lower environmental impacts, and a better rider experience than what is being planned now. Turn the Tacoma and Everett trains around somewhere else, anywhere else would be better.
Ballard – UW is still possible. I currently think it should be an automated half-size double-frequency line, maybe an extension of the automated line I want to see to Ballard, with a major transfer at U District and maybe a terminal station at 25th Ave. / U Village.
Of course… the real problem with the concept I describe above, Ballard – West Seattle and DSTT2 as a separate automated, half-size, double frequency line – is not an engineering or planning problem. It’s a political problem.
Anything that upsets the apple cart with respect to DSTT2 resets the conversation and reopens prior regional ST Board negotiations around the massive funding redirection from the outer districts into Seattle that would pay for DSTT2 when Seattle can’t afford it alone. But I see this as a good thing. We should encourage them to keep their money if spending in this way it harms all of us.
West Seattle Link is 3 years from shovel ready? We should take that shovel, dig a giant hole and throw the current WSBLE plans in it. Or we could just use 4th/James.
Why anyone other than a tunnel contractor would be so excited to blow all those billions of dollars in this particular way, I can’t say.
I agree with the points Jonathan Dubman makes, in large part because I don’t think the N KC subarea can afford WSBLE or DSTT2 as currently designed. I also agree with him that a driving force behind some of the gymnastics to continue with a very weird DSTT2 is because Seattle (and Constantine represents Seattle) does not want to lose the $1.1 billion match from the other subareas.
But assuming there is the funding for WSBLE and DSTT2, the other subareas have their contribution, and it will be necessary some day for capacity although as Martin points out that is unlikely, I also agree with those who argue that a DSTT2 station at CID is critical (as well as a midtown station) if DSTT2 is going to be built.
The outside consultant suggested ST could use the “essential public facilities” law to force a station at CID (or surface stations in Ballard on 14th and WS). The EPF statute allows an agency to overrule local zoning or objections to an EPF, such as a station, station location, bus intercept, surface station, homeless shelter, or jail, etc.
ST hasn’t used the EPF process, and instead has usually paid out huge sums to stakeholders like the UW as mitigation. But the key to the EPF is the agency must fund “mitigation” to offset the negative effects of the EPF.
Ordinarily those mitigation measures are inadequate because the agency controls the mitigation and lowballs it (which is why the main DSTT1 station was placed at DSTT1 in the first place). But ST can’t do that with the CID because otherwise ST and the Board will be painted as racist, classist, and the other “ists”, a terrible crime in Seattle, and generally presumed true by accusation alone (it doesn’t help that the ST Board is mostly white).
So maybe it is time to look at what the CID’s objections are to a second station for DSTT2 on 5th, and then what it would take as mitigation. After all, the UW got $75 million for “seismic retrofitting” for a line deep underground. God knows what the S. Bellevue Park and Ride cost.
1. Construction time frames. ST takes FOREVER to build anything, and tends to be a very messy and arrogant contractor. This is probably because it is a government agency and really doesn’t build anything. This slow construction history is probably the number one reason stakeholders object to stations near them, (and the CID remembers construction of DSTT1), and along with cost a major reason a shallow(er) station on 4th is out of the question due to traffic congestion over years, or shallow stations at midtown and Westlake because it was a disaster with DSTT1. To win over the CID it will have to begin with a promise of a short — three years max — construction build time, and financial penalties if that deadline is extended. Like private development, build fast.
2. Something transit advocates don’t quite understand is local businesses in the CID don’t see a great or any benefit from DSTT2. They don’t see a great benefit from DSTT1 (although they would like eastsiders to have a one seat ride to the CID but know they will drive). So what is it the CID wants in return? I think four things:
A. More public parking, like a public parking garage. I know that is anathema to many on this blog but that is what the CID wants because 90% of trips are by car, and drivers have more money. (Or transit advocates can transfer in Pioneer Square). A parking garage is a hell of lot cheaper than $700 million for a station on 4th. Telling the CID DSTT2 will bring tons of customers from the south, after a transfer, on transit, 10years from now, is not a winning argument.
B. The CID wants to stop being the dumping ground for the homeless, homeless shelters, drug users, and basically treated like a second-class citizen in the city, including some recent zoning changes to make it more like Bellevue. More than racism it is classicism that has disadvantaged the CID, although no doubt they see the white Board and differential in Link in north and south Seattle and see racism. Give the CID more control over its own zoning.
C. The business community and property owners will want cash payments as mitigation while the tunnel is under construction, which might spur ST to complete it sooner.
D. The CID will want SDOT to come up with a very easy and dedicated ingress and egress plan for CARS, not bikes, maybe along 7th to Dearborn with immediate help with more parking.
What surprises me are: 1. ST never saw the CID objections coming, probably because like many transit advocates they think the other 90% think like they do, and God forbid any ST staff have actually run their own business; and 2. ST hasn’t sat down with the CID and said you have us over a barrel now, there are no other good options, every other option is much more expensive than what you will likely accept, so let’s talk turkey because we have a lot of cash.
The most recent decision by Harrell and Constantine to build a mega station in Pioneer Sq. with an underground tunnel from the jail to Pioneer Square (a real winner with eastsiders) is so bad I think there is something else going on that might force Seattle and KC to continue with this terrible plan. Although originally I thought it was ST grabbing County money, now I think it is the other way around.
KC and Seattle have some large properties in this area that are permanently closed, staff won’t return to, or are hard to convert like the courthouse. The area as Dow noted is one of the most disfavored in downtown. The recent implosion of SIVB has revealed a real problem with banks in a rising interest rate market that is ten times worse for banks holding or considering any kind of commercial property loan, housing or office, and that will kill future loans for development.
Banks borrow short (deposits) and buy/invest long (loans, treasuries, mortgage-backed securities). When current interest rates rise above the interest rates on the long-term loans or fixed investments the bank has bought or made they are reduced in value. For SIVB they kept the maturity value of the loan or treasury on their books despite maturity being decades in some cases rather than marking them down due to the low interest rates to reflect current valuations if sold today. When a run occurred and SIVB had to sell its loans or treasuries its accounting error was exposed, and it did not have the capital to cover the withdrawals.
That problem is ten times worse with regional banks, that do most of the commercial property/development loans. Right now, regulators are all over these distressed banks forcing them to mark down their low interest property and development loans to their current sell price, not maturity value. This will basically end commercial lending for property development for a long time, and the regional banks are rushing out to tell depositors how few of these loans they have.
I think Dow is hoping to use ST funds to somehow salvage some kind of value out of the KC buildings that are shut or empty, and have a very small value today, IF a private developer or buyer could get the financing.
Basically King Co. and Seattle are sitting on vacant or unused or unique properties that have almost no sale value when the demolition costs are factored in, and no bank would finance their sale to a private developer. So I think the very unusual (from a transit point of view) decision to build a mega Pioneer Square station with no midtown station with a tunnel between stations might be Dow’s and Harrell’s way of hoping to use ST funding to somehow create some value in vacant and low value city and county buildings, so they might not be keen on a CID station that would eliminate their hopes. The $400 million they claim is not profit, it is the spread in value of these buildings from near zero today to $400 million.
Which is exactly why I think it is a risk to have Constantine chair of the ST Board and Harrell a member. The Pioneer Square mega station looks to me like a real estate deal rather than any kind of transit plan, using ST funds. Not one person on this blog of pretty astute transit advocates can justify this crazy plan, and no one believes the $400 million claim from the mega station.
It isn’t my subarea, but when I see a plan like the Pioneer Square mega station that makes absolutely no transit or any other sense to me, without a midtown station, I usually begin to look for ulterior motives, which of course always means money. Dow and Harrell have workers who refuse to return downtown, and vacant and closed buildings that have very little value.
The worst part of the Pioneer Square mega station is that even a 100-story and 56-story residential building with a few ground-floor boutiques and open space would be irrelevant to the vast majority of passengers. The central station needs to have more than that. CID station serves everyone who goes to the CID for dozens of reasons (shoppers, tourists, workers, residents), and people transferring to the 7/14/36/streetcar to ongoing destinations. That’s a lot of people and a wide cross-section of the public. Two ordinary residential buildings won’t do that.
I agree. I think the ship has sailed with West Seattle. Put it another way: Cancelling West Seattle Link would mean cancelling ST3. I really don’t know how to do that (from a legal or political standpoint).
On the other hand, sending all the trains into the existing tunnel should not be that difficult. It would likely save a bunch of money. You either run the Ballard line as a stub (also saving money) or you branch. Branching might be difficult, and could create many of the same issues (major disruption downtown, or to the existing lines). Both proposals should be studied, but I’m leaning towards creating Ballard Link as a completely different line. It has several advantages:
1) Ideal for existing riders who don’t want to see things change. Rainier Valley not only retains all of the downtown bus service, but also the connection to Capitol Hill, the UW, etc.
2) Definitely cheaper. It might cost a little to improve the stations or the tracks, but that is likely way cheaper than building these stations.
3) The Ballard line can be extended to First Hill, Yesler Terrace and beyond. This is huge.
4) Could be automated, with smaller trains and smaller stations. This would likely save a considerable amount of money from a maintenance standpoint as well as capital costs. It opens up new possibilities for station placement.
There are drawbacks:
1) Riders from Ballard will have to transfer to go south. In the short term, this is clearly a negative. But in the long run, as the line extends, it is just a trade-off. Look around the world and just about every mass transit system works this way. Other than the really simple systems, you are very lucky if you don’t have to transfer. For example, Toronto has one of the simplest systems for a big city. And yet everyone on Line 2, 3 or 4 has to transfer to line 1 to get to the heart of downtown (there are only four lines). I’m sure many of the riders wish that the train went south at Bloor–Yonge, but it doesn’t. Even the new Ontario Line — meant in part to relieve crowding on the main line — will require people to transfer for most trips downtown. More importantly, people will transfer from the main line to the Ontario line to get to *other* places downtown. That is just the nature of mass transit systems. They either share the same track downtown, or they cover other parts, providing more options for people to get to, after they transfer.
I agree with Seattle Subway in its critique of CID North:
“Seattle Subway expressed concerns that the County was putting expediency and its own real estate machinations ahead of the region and the city’s transit needs.
“While we understand King County’s desire to upgrade out-of-date public buildings in Pioneer Square, that desire isn’t a reason to make transit riders suffer in perpetuity,” Broesamle said. “There is no world in which the equitable thing to do is to disinvest in the CID, a historically disinvested community of color, so the county can solve its old-building problem and spend the money downtown instead.”
I can also understand Harrell’s position:
“Mayor Bruce Harrell has focused his recent comments at Sound Transit board meetings on avoiding construction impacts and costs imposed on the City of Seattle rather than grappling with what it would take to build the best option for transit riders.”
[Same link]. To be honest I have never thought Harrell is much of a transit fan, and his existential problem is revitalizing downtown because of the tax revenue. I also think he doesn’t think WSBLE or DSTT2 are affordable, and has no intent of placing a levy on a ballot (or LID) for the balance.
I would also point out that the proposal for a 100-story residential tower and 58 story tower near this site is from 2019 (the hole in the ground must be at least 10 years old).
As I have pointed out before, zoning and construction are two entirely different things, not just post-pandemic but post SIVB. I can understand Constantine’s and Harrell’s dream of returning to past development and the construction sales tax, especially if it occurred on old, closed, county and city buildings in the zone, but that day is gone, which is why I think the Seattle Times’ prediction of a $250 million deficit in Seattle’s operating budget is around $50 million short.
nice second paragraph. note parallels with Dow’s selling CPS to the WSCC and ending joint operations prematurely, resulting in a jammed downtown Seattle in 2019 and a significant decline in transit ridership. Transit was sacrificed for the hotel business; could the expansion have not been on another block? Dow led the ST board to seek ST3 authorization with the statewide package of 2015; freeway expansion got funded; Metro local option was postponed. Metro local option was the legislative ask between 2009 and 2014, inclusive.
“1) Riders from Ballard will have to transfer to go south.”
They already must transfer in the current preferred alternative unless they are headed to the RV, SeaTac or Tacoma — including Third Ave, West Seattle and the Eastside.
More tragically, the transfers at this new Pioneer Square mega station would involve even longer walks and more elevator changes than putting three lines in the DSTT.
“Cancelling West Seattle Link would mean cancelling ST3. I really don’t know how to do that (from a legal or political standpoint).”
Cancelling West Seattle Link would complicate ST3, but canceling it or WSBLE is within ST’s authority. What it can’t do is spend money on non-voter-approved projects while these are unfinished, without another vote.
Cancelling West Seattle Link or WSBLE would break the plan to split the Spine, leading to an unworkable 2+ hour Everett-Tacoma Dome line. ST would have to reorganize the lines differently, such as Everett-Stadium and Tacoma Dome-Northgate.
ST would have to reorganize the lines differently, such as Everett-Stadium and Tacoma Dome-Northgate.
As eddie put it, that is exactly what they would do (send the Tacoma Dome trains to Northgate). I would say that is a trivial aspect of all of this.
It is worth noting that the pairing took place very late in the game. Everyone assumed that Ballard would be linked to West Seattle. It is why the projects have names that are linked (WSBLE). The idea of a spine (train lines from Tacoma to Everett) long predates the idea of West Seattle or Ballard Link. If there was no Ballard Link then the trains from Tacoma would turn back at Northgate or Lynnwood. If the Ballard Line is independent, then taking the same approach makes sense.
It takes a little more work to interline the West Seattle and South Link trains into the main tunnel, but still not that hard. It is much easier than building a new tunnel.
“that is exactly what they would do (send the Tacoma Dome trains to Northgate). I would say that is a trivial aspect of all of this.”
It depends on how much the Northgate and Stadium turnbacks could handle trains every 10 minutes all day every day, rather than just during occasional ballgame surges. Some say they can’t handle that much. I don’t know. If they can’t, ST could presumably make capital improvements to ensure they can, at a fraction of the cost of DSTT2 or Ballard or WSBLE. But all that would have to be studied by an expert to confirm it.
Metro systems around the world use turn backs. 10 minutes is plenty of time for a turnback. If it was a 3/5 minute turnback sure it might start running into scheduling issues but I don’t see why it is an issue here.
The hard part for many metro systems is building a turnback like how BART wanted to build one that they lack while in this case it already exists.
It’s a physical issue of whether the pocket tracks are full-sized and have the sufficient space around them for full-time operations.
> It’s a physical issue of whether the pocket tracks are full-sized and have the sufficient space around them for full-time operations.
The pocket track is full-sized — the google 3d maps image even shows a full 4 car-train on it. https://goo.gl/maps/kihAr1KiSQBwBQ596
The south of stadium station pocket track is even longer.
Mike, your concern about the time needed to turn back in the pocket track at Northgate is a valid one. I don’t know if they can do it in ten minutes. Even lower headways, particularly six minutes, are into the “can’t be done” zone.
Remember that operation of the train has to be switched between the two cabs, and if one operator has to take the train into the siding, shut down the north cab, “walk the train”, boot up the south cab and then take the train back into the station within that ten minute interval, that’s asking a lot. It’s just not going to happen in less time than that. It would almost certainly require double seating to make the reversal in time by eliminating the walk and boot up time. The relief driver can enter and activate the south cab while riding backwards into the pocket, and the driver ready for a break can power down that cab after transferring control to the relief and be ready to deboard.
Double cabbing is not much of an increase in operator cost. Each operator would have the full ten minutes added to their run time at that end so it’s certainly not nothing.
Fortunately the trackway is elevated, not tunneled, there and there is room over First North to move the southbound “main” one track width west in order to add another track so that two trains can be in reversal moves at once if headways drop below ten minutes. Remember that only one train can be in the pocket including the interlockings at the station end at a time. So if the train in the pocket is having trouble getting out because it was late coming in or the driver has trouble transferring control, the next train destined to turn back is stuck in the station blocking traffic.
You really need that second pocket track for all day scheduled turnback there.
In any case, it is essential that the walkway be covered and wind-screened so that operators do not get cold and wet while “walking the train”. That is the barest minimum of “humanity” that should pertain here.
Full interlining is obviously the right choice for The Spine: cancel West Seattle, run Tacoma to Northgate all the time, run Redmond to Lynnwood or Mariner all the time, and run Everett — if it is ever built — to SoDo and reverse at Forest. That puts three lines through North Seattle and Downtown where traffic is likely to be heaviest forever, two lines to Mariner and one line to the distant metropolis of Everett.
Ballard should be an independent stub with some sort of single track underground connection to the Third and Pine curve. That connection would be for movement of LRV’s to Forest Street for “Heavy Maintenance” (re-motoring, wheel grinding, etc), but there would be a smallish “parking lot and cleaning” MF in or over the truck parking lot west of the BNSF main and north of the Magnolia Bridge.
Build the stub such that it can be extended south into First Hill for at least two stations. Make the transfers at Westlake a LOT better than ST has them designed now. If the thing doesn’t need to connect to a super-deep Midtown station, but rather would benefit from being shallower because it’s going uphill in the extension, make a “split-mezzanine” for “New Westlake” at the same level as the existing platforms. Half would be north of the existing tracks and half south of them. A knowledgeable rider would get in the half of the “Line 4” train that was on the side closer to the platform to which they want to transfer. The TBM’s can dive north of the station box to make the curve to the east and get under I-5, but not too much because you have to rise on the other side of I-5 to make useful stations. Is running under Ninth or Broadway a better place for the stations? I don’t know. Ninth would allow big buildings to fill in between the freeway and Boren, but Broadway would serve Seattle University. It’s a conundrum.
It is worthwhile also to study the various versions of a “wye” at Third and Pine to see if any is feasible. That improves access to lower Downtown for Ballard and LQA riders, but it also puts a fourth line in the existing tunnel for a minimum of three stations and probably five. That level of traffic may indeed overwhelm it. Include study of the “split Line 1” so that Ballard and LQA riders get direct access to the airport. It also precludes extending Ballard Link to First Hill.
Interlining and canceling West Seattle saves many billions which can be used to build an underground station in “downtown” Ballard, add that second bus-only lane in the ramp from the West Seattle Freeway eastbound to SR 99 northbound and bus-only ramps between the busway intersection under the West Seattle Freeway and the roadway so that a quick connection to Link is also available to West Seattle riders.
This would be inexpensive enough that perhaps the first station on First Hill could be opened with the rest of the line.
Yes, I know that West Seattleites would squawk, but they’d have much better service for the 90% of them who don’t live in The Triangle or near the terminal station.
Now that comment, Jonathan, is a whole article in two sentences. VERY well said.
Ross, the pros and cons are also well organized and clear. Even the Board members, who really don’t understand Transit 101, should “get” them.
Daniel, why would any “person on this blog of pretty astute transit advocates” even consider attempting to “justify this crazy plan?” [The County Building Mega Station]. We HATE IT. That’s why we’re astute. Do you think that because we actually care for Seattle that we will follow Dow “Pied Piper” Constantine off the cliff?
Yet another straw man.
The Martin rationales also seem to apply to the no DSTT2 option. The IDS-KSS hub would be even stronger with shorter transfer walks.
Every city needs a transit hub, but the folks in the CID did a great job campaigning against the option that was in budget. The CID South and North options look just fine to me. It’s either a connection at Pioneer square (or Westlake) or a short walk.
Honestly, the short walk is probably a net positive for the CID community. Riders who transfer underground don’t spend money at businesses. Pedestrians absolutely do.
I simply won’t use it.
I will eagerly come to Seattle if transit is efficient and easy. If it isn’t, my alternative is not to come much at all. I have plenty of places outside of Seattle to spend my money if they cripple my ability to access Seattle. And this would do exactly that.
Do you really think people are going to walk 1.1 miles to see the Mariners?
Do you think folks will walk all the way across downtown to go to SAM or Benaroya?
Do you think they will suffer a 15 or 20 minute transfer, after already being on a slowboat through at-grade Rainier for an hour, to do…. anything?
This is just stupid.
“Do you think they will suffer a 15 or 20 minute transfer, after already being on a slowboat through at-grade Rainier for an hour”
Link is 18 minutes from Rainier Beach to Stadium — the entire surface segment. To get an hour’s travel time you’d have to start from Fife or Everett.
“Do you really think people are going to walk 1.1 miles to see the Mariners?”
People walk pretty long distances to ballgames now, either to Link or to their car.
“Do you think folks will walk all the way across downtown to go to SAM or Benaroya?”
Benaroya is three blocks from Westlake Station. SAM is two blocks further.
CID South and North do not connect well to Amtrak and Sounder at King Street station. They do not connect well to East Link at ID.
Transit is all about connectivity. It would be a huge waste not to have a station near King Street/ID with good connectivity.
Under DSTT2 with a KC Administration building station, East-South and South-East transfers may be nine or 10 minutes: three minutes in each direction on Link and a walk between the stations. That is a very large seam. If the east, south, and weak west lines were in the existing DSTT at IDS, the same direction transfers would have no walk; the transfers between platforms would be just a few minutes. The Urbanist piece laid this out. A very frequent DSTT1 next to King Street Station and the bus network makes for the Martin hub. The Link trips to/from Sounder would have shorter waits.
Well, if they don’t want to ride to CID North, they will be able to walk through the CID to CID South from IDS, or vice versa.
This feels to me like when highway people talk about how much better life will be for the community when the overpass is done. Transfer times from SR555 to I420 will be so much faster for drivers than going near that struggling town! Why, they’ll save 5 minutes by not visiting it at all!
As a pass through transit rider and ignoring cost, minimizing transfer times is best. For the community? Pedestrians spend money. Ride-through passengers do not. Forcing people to get out and walk through the CID is a feature of the station placement, not a flaw, as far as supporting local businesses.
I’m confused. 4th and James isn’t in the CD.
Currently, the two link stations I use to access downtown the most are Capital Hill and Stadium.
With the Dow-disaster plan, I would lose access to both of those stations. One would cause be to walk more than a mile to access the stadia, the other would add a really unpleasant transfer.
But I’m confused how either would make me walk through the CID. Wouldn’t I be more likely to go the the CID if, you know, there were a station there?
Cam, I think they call it CID North because the 2016 ballot measure refers to the CID. Otherwise the station could be legally challenged as “inconsistent with ST3.”
They call it CID North for convenience, so that people engaging in the debate can keep track of where it is and which station it relates to. “North” in this sense means a few blocks north of the original station. All the new station names are just planning placeholders until the final names are chosen during construction design.
Eh, the CID North station could be decent. Plenty of room to build an excellent transfer experience in “the pit”
Seems to me what they need to add is a revenue track connection in SODO between the two lines.
Then you can split the Tacoma trains between the two tunnels – 12 minute headways for each branch.
Since that reduces service on the Ballard line, you can bring back the dream of the monorail with Ballard-West Seattle service to fill the lost trips.
This seems like a technically feasible improvement to some of the transfer issues removing CID would cause.
This is a mix-and-match pattern that might work, because the headways to West Seattle don’t matter.
I agree that a mix-match option would be good to have as an operations alternative. I suggested something almost identical.
It gives a rider (going to a station not served by the next train) a choice: take the next train and transfer or wait for the second train. It’s intuitive and simple.
Copenhagen S-Tag and Denver do this.
The current ST3 layout doesn’t make such an option available. Every rider not going directly to a station must transfer.
Of course, this assumes that all the lines use the same technology. The biggest fundamental flaw with ST3 is using partly low-floor streetcars to do the work of both a high volume downtown subway system as well as a suburban regional rail system. This is why the costs are so astronomical — with long platforms, 55 mph max seed trains, limited grades, taller and wider tunnels, double tracking everywhere and so on.
What does the height of the floor have to do with it?
“55 mph max speed trains”
That’s not due to the train technology; there are similar train models that go 65 mph or maybe even 85 mph. But ST set the minimum requirements at 55 mph, so it got trains with presumably less-expensive and lighter-duty parts. The track curves and grades are also based on 55 mph: higher speeds would require wider turns and shallower grades.
Low floor trams have less capacity.
The difference here is that there are useless “overlay” trains on the West Seattle end in order to achieve necessary frequencies to Ballard. In reality, only one line, 1, is being split, and the resulting irregularity on the north Spine is limited to extra trains to Northgate, which is a plus. Redmond and West Seattle would run just as they would in ST’s published plan, and the every-other Line 1 trains to Northgate would slip in between them as they could.
The every-other Line 1 trains to Ballard would run opposite the only-frequent-enough to match them Ballard-West Seattle trains. On the south end, the Ballard-West Seattle trains would slip in between the Everett-West Seattle trains on the south end as, essentially, unnecessary service. Or, they could turn at Forest Street and be essentially Ballard-Downtown-only “stubs”. That would be a little cheaper.
The extra service to West Seattle is an extra cost, and surely wasted, but at least the north Spine north of Northgate could run in an orderly manner.
But of course, not doing West Seattle at all and Ballard as an independent stub makes the most sense, both for the larger system and the riders in the neighborhoods the two extensions would serve.
“The difference here is that there are useless “overlay” trains on the West Seattle end in order to achieve necessary frequencies to Ballard.”
High frequency to a hub urban village and a penninsula that’s 1/5 of Seattle is not useless. It’s not essential, but it means less waiting for more than just one tiny neighborhood. That’s worthwhile in itself.
The real issue isn’t really the china town station but why do we insist on entangling the new transit tunnel to dive below the original transit tunnel.
The reason why the deep station on 5th avenue costs so much is not only the station itself is deep but it then forces midtown and the westlake stations to be even deeper.
Then the 4th avenue alternative have the new tunnel go underneath the original tunnel 3 times: once before the id station, then after the id station then again at westlake.
If the new tunnel is moved to second avenue then there isn’t any of these concerns. Build the midtown station and westlake or symphony station to the west of the existing ones and connect it a block away. Regarding transfers while the criss cross westlake station was supposed to be good, it’s now shown to be a deep station elevator mess. And having a mezzanine level walk (or just add airport moving walkways) will probably be around the same time.
All the stations could now be cut and cover out much shallower mined ones
For the crossover, Just have a single cross over either with the old line tunneling to 4th or at sodo preemptively elevate over.
* Even if we have to rebuild a sewer pipe on second avenue it’s vastly cheaper than digging 3~4 deep mined stations approaching billions each
One thing I find revealing in this discussions is that it proves that if CID can be avoided for a second platform than any other station can be too — including Westlake.
I’m not well versed enough to know what’s under all these streets but between the 99 tunnel and the BNSF tunnel in addition to other underground things that it could be very costly.
I’ve felt that ST should have also studied the northern transfer point at Capitol Hill. For Capitol Hill, I’ve wondered if the subway crossing could be above the current tunnel under Broadway (Capitol Hill current station platforms are east of Broadway) and the SLU segment could be fully elevated above Mercer and dive into a tunnel near I-5. Then there could be a Madison/ Broadway Station and a Harborview Station with an entrance + walkway at the end of Terrace Street. The tracks could pop out of the ground at Washington and 4th and run above the railroad tracks to a station just west of 4th straddling Jackson St. When Westlake was chosen, Macys was a six level giant department store anchoring a much more active retail district. .
I would even be opening to build Westlake2 under Olive St and curving the tracks (north around 9th and south at 2nd) to orient the station parallel to Westlake platforms.
They are however my reveries. I’m sure each one of us can come up with alternative ideas to configure the tracks and stations. Unfortunately opening the alignment for other options would delay Ballard Link by another five years — and the resulting “sausage” could easily be just as bad as the “sausage” that ST has made in the current effort.
One solution to me has to look at automated technology instead. Shorter automated trains is the best to resolve not only the disruption in the CID but many other brewing messy station fights brewing all the way to Queen Anne (and the last ST board meeting had a parade of other new station issues throughout Downtown and SLU). I even think that a shorter automated train platform in the CID could be more acceptable if Ballard and West Seattle were a paired line.
Of course, forgoing DSTT2 is the easiest and quickest by far.
The CID battle will not be solved even if Dow gets this lousy alternative. It requires opening the DEIS because it’s a major change. There are also other problems for all the subway stations on the line that the Board will have to face too.
I’m surprised that the “not consistent with ST3” card hasn’t been played yet with this latest option. I remember how the Board was told that moving Midtown three blocks was potentially risky legally — yet moving the CID2 platforms three or four blocks is a more severe inconsistency. ST3 literally and repeatedly requires a transfer point at CID.
Al, this seriously exacerbates potential Westlake-Capitol Hill crowding. It may never return, but this proposal dumps Ballard and LQA to Downtown riders into the main tunnel at the peak ridereship point.
It does take the Ballard and LQA to UW folks out of it though so that’s some offset.
It’s certainly worth studying though.
> They are however my reveries. I’m sure each one of us can come up with alternative ideas to configure the tracks and stations. Unfortunately opening the alignment for other options would delay Ballard Link by another five years — and the resulting “sausage” could easily be just as bad as the “sausage” that ST has made in the current effort.
I think it’s fine to debate it. Unlike the Everett/Tacoma Dome sections, Sound Transit doesn’t have the money even if they wanted to build Ballard Link and will not start construction for quite sometime not until 2035 which is a decade away. The only real thing starting construction is just the West Seattle portion
“opening the alignment for other options would delay Ballard Link by another five years”
The currently-favored alignment is so bad that that doesn’t matter. The representative alignment in the 2016 ballot measure (elevated Ballard, 15th Station, CID Station, presumed shallow transfers) was mediocre but we accepted it and voted for it. Every change since then has made it worse, and now it’s really bad. The PURPOSE of Ballard Link was to have a short walk from Ballard’s center to an 11-minute Link line (travel time, not frequency), with Westlake2 and CID2 stations like the existing ones, to fix the 30-45 minute overhead of getting to Seattle’s fourth-largest urban village (Ballard). All these changes make it take longer, thus watering down the benefit we would have gotten from Ballard Link. If it’s not substantially better than the existing D and 44, what’s the point?, and why does it matter if it takes 10-20 years longer? So at this point, if WSBLE is substantially delayed or canceled, would we really lose that much?
I do not recall hearing that ST3 considered a 2nd Avenue pathway. Proximate connections could be at all the DSTT stations.
> I do not recall hearing that ST3 considered a 2nd Avenue pathway.
ST3 didn’t, mainly for the idea of a Westlake interchange system and for the Midtown station on 6th which is ‘kinda’ near first hill.
But the current Westlake interchange deep station doesn’t really make transfers easier, and if we’re considering removing the Midtown station and adding another Pioneer Square station on 4th then why not just consider moving it over onto 2nd then.
I don’t think you understand that there IS no “tunnel” south of the existing CID station. Though it might seem like it when you’re riding the train through there, it’s because there’s a building straddling the tracks just south of the station. The tracks themselves are laid on the surface exactly where the old UP and Milwaukee passenger trains ran to Union Station. So a “new tunnel” headed to a Fourth Avenue CID platform wouldn’t cross “under the old one” south of IDS. There is no “old one”.
Since the portal is proposed to be between the existing tracks and Sixth Avenue South about Massachusetts Street, a tunnel toward a Fourth Avenue platform would go underneath the existing tracks, so you’re right that the lines would cross, but the existing tracks are not in any kind of actual tunnel until the portals at Main just west of Fifth. The building across Jackson from the Station was built over the trench hosting former “tail tracks” for Union Station occupying the eastern half of the block between Fourth and Fifth, Jackson and Main. There is no actual “tunnel” until Main Street, even though, yes, it’s dark and enclosed north of the CID platform. The train is passing through the “basement” of that building. The trackway is boxed in of course to reduce the sound and vibration in the building, but the tracks themselves are simple ballasted structure laid on the old ground that used to have the tail tracks. Before the apartment building was constructed one could look north from the IDS platforms into that trench which was open to the sky.
Nor do any of the proposed Fifth Avenue or “Diagonal” alignments “cross under the old tunnel” north of existing CID. They would remain east of the existing tracks all the way to Westlake. Yes, moving the new tracks west to Fourth Avenue does mean that they would have to underpass or overpass the existing tunnel right about Fourth and Washington. Passing above with LRV’s would probably mean raising the street a couple of feet. Were Skytrain-style trains used [i.e. small footprint high-floor third rail powered “subway” style cars] the tunnel could be small enough in diameter that the street probably wouldn’t need to be raised. But Skytrain-style trains could not share trackage with Link trains because of the third rail.
> I don’t think you understand that there IS no “tunnel” south of the existing CID station.
I do understand that, the point is once crossed over onto 4th the new transit tunnel/alignment should just stay to the west of the old tunnel rather than being on the east of it and forced to tunnel under Westlake. The idea is why with the 4th avenue alternative do we have the new line cross over the old one 3 times when really only one cross over is needed.
> Since the portal is proposed to be between the existing tracks and Sixth Avenue South about Massachusetts Street, a tunnel toward a Fourth Avenue platform would go underneath the existing tracks, so you’re right that the lines would cross, but the existing tracks are not in any kind of actual tunnel until the portals at Main just west of Fifth.
Yes that’s the point. In chinatown area, we should have the DSTT2 just alignment/tunnel past both the existing line and even the BNSF line *before* they enter their tunnels and then continue onto 2nd avenue. Sure the DSTT2 will have to pass the Great Norther tunnel at 2nd avenue but that has been done before with the DSTT1.
The details are a bit more complicated as the 4th station would probably need to be moved further back south a bit so it can veer left tunneled onto 2nd avenue, but it can greatly save on removing the deep mined stations that are currently suggested.
Re: Skytrain. I love Skytrain, but acknowledge that it is quite different from what ST builds and operates today. Nothing stops us from using LRT type vehicles in two-car trains with half-size stations and double the frequency. Driverless capability can be added to those vehicles as well. It’s mostly making the trains half the length and double the frequency that makes the stations cheaper and the system more effective, and that can be done with any type of rail vehicle. The overhead rail does make tunnels more expensive, but when you have a lot of subway stations, making them half the length would be dramatically cheaper than what is planned now.
When people say “Skytrain-like”, they usually don’t mean the specific model, just automated trains in general with 5-minute frequency and short trains. That can be one of several technologies, including Link-shaped trains with overhead wires. If they share DSTT1 (as in some proposals), they’d have to use overhead wires.
Orr, I just checked line; five-minutes would be a long headway for TransLink. The current peak/midday headways: Expo, 2-3/3; Millenium, 3-4/6; and, Canada, 3/3-4.
Greyhound is located at Royal Brougham, right next to the existing Stadium station. Greyhound will not be well-served by any of the proposed stations.
The new line really ought to have a station close to the existing Stadium station both to serve Greyhound but also to serve events at T-Mobile Park. Ballgames and concerts have a huge crush of fans exiting at the same time. The Link expansion should generate higher transit use at ballgames. Forcing many of the riders onto one line to then make transfers onto other lines isn’t efficient or convenient. It means the single line serving Stadium has to have enough capacity to take riders who will want to transfer to Rainier Valley/Tukwila/Federal Way/Tacoma, and riders wanting to go to Ballard & Bellevue. It means worse Greyhound connectivity. And quite frankly a lot of the surrounding area near Stadium station ought to be redeveloped into transit-oriented housing – the land is too valuable to be used for parking buses in the longer term – this ought to become a new neighborhood like Bellevue’s Spring District, so more transit access here is better. It’s more important than at SoDo. Frankly it would be better if the West Seattle line had a station at Royal Brougham and then a station nearer to First Ave, maybe First & Lander to provide access to a whole different part of SoDo.
Given that we haven’t started building anything while keep contemplating our navels about CID, why isn’t anyone thinking about improving the route around Stadium and western SoDo?
Interesting points, Carl.
Most of that “too valuable” land is irregular fill — this all used to be the Duwamish River’s tidal delta — and it’s soaked with a hundred years of industrial pollutants. Then there’s the towering structure of the I-90 stub and the various Upper Royal Brougham Way ramps into which the windows of the first three floors of any adjacent housing would look directly.
Shades of Manhattan, for sure.
I think one other improvement needs to accompany this proposal: an underground incline elevator or subway funicular. Further it could go under I-5 and reach Harborview.
We shouldn’t force those with mobility challenges to not only transfer but to have to ride multiple elevators and go several blocks just to transfer. Plus, it’s an opportunity to provide connectivity to First Hill that goes back to a promise from 1996 Sound Moves.
Further, this needs to be presented now or it won’t happen.
Curiously, this was added on the FTA web site last eeek (Thursday, March 9, 2023):
It looks like the goal here is to build West Seattle imminently. Notably, there is no financial plan or discussion about project value.
Consolidating all 3 lines in the current DSTT is the clear winner. If Sound Transit is willing to entertain these late half baked CID-north plans, then we should strongly advocate for further study of the No Build option with DSTT capacity upgrades and how to intertwine the Ballard leg near Westlake. Options to study intertwining could be:
1) create a level wye between University Street and Westlake for North bound trains. For south bound trains extend the University Street station box by demolishing the downtown Post Office/adjacent garage to create adequate space for a wye to dive under the DSTT to continue north on 3rd Ave for a new stacked Westlake Station for Ballard only leg.
2) Similar to option 1 but if issues with post office acquisition then widen the twin bored tunnels under 3rd to accommodate 3 sets of tracks with south bound Ballard leg diving down below other tracks for new stacked Westlake station.
3) Between USS and Westlake, study a level wye junction for all lines. Not preferred from a reliability stand point but examples exist in Chicago and New York and present simpler construction of tunnels and station, for continuing Ballard leg up 3rd Ave
4) Ballard stub line with only single track level wye for non-service connections for trains to route to SODO O&M yard
5) Fun far fetched idea but same plan for North bound track for level wye, for south bound demolish post office, but if grade can’t be met for the dive under existing bored tunnels then install train elevator/hoist up to USS platform elevation at post office station box.
All of these options set up the Ballard line to route down 3rd and then turn toward the Denny Station, and if we’re going to route down 3rd then we should pick up Belltown with a station at 3rd and Bell, setting up a turn northeast on bell towards Denny station on 9th and continuing on current plan to Ballard.
“If Sound Transit is willing to entertain these late half baked CID-north plans, then we should strongly advocate for further study of the No Build option with DSTT capacity upgrades and how to intertwine the Ballard leg near Westlake.”
We’d have to see how “No Build” is defined. I understand it as just incremental bus improvements. ST3 includes money for RapidRide C and D upgrades (although it hasn’t specified what those would be), and Seattle has identified the 40 as a RapidRide candidate corridor (which is currently withdrawn due to lack of funding, but canceling WSBLE would force a reevaluation).
DSTT1 capacity improvements would require a capital upgrade, and that’s not in ST3 and Seattle hasn’t thought about funding it. Diverting DSTT2 money to DSTT1 is not “No Build” as I understand it. It would require a new project and a new EIS, and ST’s lawyers might say it contradicts voters’ intent since it doesn’t provide as much capacity as a second tunnel would.
> Between USS and Westlake, study a level wye junction for all lines. Not preferred from a reliability stand point but examples exist in Chicago and New York and present simpler construction of tunnels and station, for continuing Ballard leg up 3rd Ave
I and some other posters discussed this idea in previous threads. Specifically a Ballard to Seatac and Northgate to Seatac wye (no Ballard to Northgate).
The general thought was that (southbound) Ballard to Seatac trains don’t really have much of an issues as the trains can just wait for the southbound Northgate to Seatac trains.
The real issue is northbound trains specifically Seatac to Ballard as it would block southbound Northgate to Seatac trains. One idea was to add a waiting track if there is space in the tunnel so northbound trains to Ballard could wait and let southbound Northgate to Seatac trains pass (as well as allow northbound Seatac to Northgate trains to pass behind it).
It would probably not require a new DEIS. It would probably require a supplement to the existing DEIS as a new alternative.
Note that the Dow scheme also would also require a supplement to the DEIS. By eliminating stations, it means that all of the demand analyses have to be revised. All of them from transit demand to traffic analysis to air quality and so on.
I can’t see a valid way to say one should be a supplement and the other would need to be a completely new DEIS.
I’ll also note that the funding is so dubious that DSTT2 construction can’t likely begin until 2030 for a 2040 opening at best.
So when the Board acts to add a supplement to the DEIS for a new option, the Board could add a Ballard stub option too.
And either alternative is inconsistent with ST3 anyway so I don’t see that as a legal problem although it may be a political one.
This is a good synopsis of the possible options for avoiding DSTT2, at least, south of Pine.
I had not thought of the much-easier-to-construct solution of demolishing the Post Office to host a new third track entirely east of the existing tubes, at least far enough to branch and dive the northbound underpass track.
This might be brilliant, because the shutdown time would be much less than that required to disassemble the existing northbound tunnel all the way to Pine. The street segment to be closed would be a full block shorter, too
But that would be a very steep downward ramp. Downtown Seattle blocks are 240 feet center of street to center of street. Since the north edge of the USSS box is a few yards south of Union, the turnout to the new northbound track could be placed just north of the box, giving perhaps 300 feet (maybe 290) before the middle of Pike.
The center dive track MUST be deep enough there, because there is a tall new building in the northeast quadrant of the Third and Pike intersection that is NOT going to be torn down. I don’t know how many basements that building has, but I bet it would be in the way of a new third track. So there has to be enough room to “wiggle” the northbound track back to the existing tube.
Giving that a turnout has to be flat between the points and the frog, you’d have the frog somewhere under Union, giving you maybe 210 feet to descend the twenty feet needed for the northbound Spine track to S-curve [“wiggle”] back to its existing tube. That’s a 1 in 20 gradient or about five and three-quarters degrees; that’s steep. Indeed, it’s considerably steeper than what I understand is ST’s current maximum allowed, but it would be “one-way”, downward, in a tunnel and straight, so tractive effect would be less important than a grade on the surface or an elevated structure. Trains would be moving relatively slowly at the top of the grade, because they would have just left USSS.
So I think it is doable, and thank you!
Option 3 is out of the question because as you note, it would play Hell with reliability in the tunnel. If you hold northbound Ballard trains at USSS (or in the tunnel north of the platform) you further degrade northbound reliability, and it’s already sketchy from the street running in the RV and to a lesser degree that on the East Side to come.
You can fix that by giving Ballard trains “right of way” when there’s a conflict with a southbound by holding the southbound train at the Westlake platform. But that just messes up the otherwise greater reliability of southbound operations, which have no upstream at-grade conflicts. Putting a full level junction at Third and Pine without an upstream holding track is overall not a good idea, regardless of the fact that “other systems around the world do it”.
Also, “fun” option five is really not likely though it’s an excellent example of why there are boxes out of which to think ….. Jes’ sayin’.
with Google maps, the north-south blocks seem to be 400 feet and the east-west blocks 320 feet. Does that provide a bit more space?
How I would fix WSBLE:
The Pioneer Square mega-station really ought to be the current Pioneer Square station, with dramatically upgraded entrances, integrated with the new development we’ll eventually see in that area with or without DSTT2. BRT from West Seattle can use the existing transit pathway and deliver people from all the neighborhoods in West Seattle directly to the surface in downtown…. where they might actually patronize whatever businesses show up in this new neighborhood.
The existing CID station is sufficient. Upgrade all the vertical conveyances. Trains from Tacoma do not need to go to Ballard. They can turn around at Northgate instead, whatever makes the system work. Trains from Everett do not need to go to West Seattle. They can turn around at Stadium or SODO or wherever.
Go ahead and build the line to Ballard, but build it as a half-size driverless line. Half size is cheaper. Spec it to be able to run every 2 minutes or less. Capacity would be higher than what is currently planned. Maybe 3-4 minute headways are fine for some years. Make it extensible to UW.
This line must serve New Westlake which can be similar to what is planned. It needs to terminate somewhere else for constructibility. First Hill is the best choice, preferably adjacent to RapidRide on Madison. It’s not out of the question for this tunnel to serve a Pioneer Square mega station and then climb up to First Hill and terminate up there. Maybe that makes sense in some way that includes the political calculus.
BTW I keep hearing how it is too long to drive from Tacoma to Everett without a break, and we’re configuring the physical infrastructure to route trains to different places (different from where they go now, and different from where a lot of people want to go) in order to solve that problem.
I’m sorry, but what’s wrong with the trivial solution? Why can’t we just swap drivers at some station along the way? Tired driver gets out. Fresh driver gets in. A different person… freshly caffeinated. Not too hard to understand. Have a backup person at the ready if something goes wrong. Done and done…. right? Choose whatever station or combo of stations you want to make it most convenient for the drivers.
Don’t we have fare enforcement people getting on and off all over the place? We have riders getting on and off. Why not drivers? I can sign into my phone in half a second. How many seconds does it take to log in to Link? Wasn’t all this done like 150 years ago all over the place? Am I missing something or are we all supposed to act like this obvious option doesn’t exist for some crazy reason?
> BTW I keep hearing how it is too long to drive from Tacoma to Everett without a break, and we’re configuring the physical infrastructure to route trains to different places (different from where they go now, and different from where a lot of people want to go) in order to solve that problem.
It is a problem but also not that big of a problem as you noted. Honestly the larger problem with too long routes is it just costs too much so ST will add turnbacks or risk too little frequency in the core (aka DC metro or Bay area BART).
> I’m sorry, but what’s wrong with the trivial solution? Why can’t we just swap drivers at some station along the way? Tired driver gets out. Fresh driver gets in.
You can, if it is low frequency times, Sound Transit already does switch drivers at https://goo.gl/maps/zWixTqTsTi6RLTRY7 sometimes (At OMF Central in between SODO and Beacon hill) They just stop the train and switch out drivers. Though, I’m not sure how frequent they do it or how long it’s supposed to take.
> Choose whatever station or combo of stations you want to make it most convenient for the drivers.
Even if it does take longer to switch drivers, they could just stop at a extra/tail track as in Northgate. (Pick up the new driver northbound, drop off old driver at Northgate station once heading southbound, or drop off next station if going northbound).
I’ve stopped many times next to the OMF while they do the driver swap, many times in a packed, standing-room-only train, and every single time have wondered why this time consuming swap of one single human being with another single human being didn’t happen at a station. It seems like just another indication that ST does not prioritize rider experience and does not value people’s time.
It’s one thing to switch drivers occasionally, and another to do it every 10 minutes every day. Can ST guarantee that the second driver will always be there and ready? Can it shrink the handover time to be less noticeable? I have doubts about both. Some bus runs switch drivers mid-run, and sometimes the second driver is there on time, and sometimes they aren’t. When they aren’t, the bus stops and waits for them.
Fare ambassadors get on at one station and get off at the next, so they’re only on the train a couple minutes. And the train doesn’t have to wait for them to get situated in the control room and switch the controls.
could be termed operator fall back; the seat adjustment could increase dwell tine.
It seems like ST has supported this notion that we need to build this line to West Seattle in order to have a place to swap out the drivers from Everett, and this seems to have remained unchallenged. Not only do I think West Seattle Link isn’t needed, I don’t even think you need to turn the train around in order to swap the driver.
How about doing the driver swap at a station with naturally long dwell time e.g. major transfer stop near the center of the system e.g. Westlake. For system reliability, retain an extra reserve relief driver for either the northbound or southbound train to swap. That person could have some secondary role while waiting. Always assume the retiring driver will stay on for at least one more station so there is no need to rush to exit a crowded train.
Maybe this approach could be tweaked, but the point is this: it’s easy to imagine lots of solutions for the tired driver problem that could be reliably implemented in-line, without terminating the line and turning it back. I think it would makes a good grade school thought experiment.
@ Jonathan Dubman
> It seems like ST has supported this notion that we need to build this line to West Seattle in order to have a place to swap out the drivers from Everett, and this seems to have remained unchallenged. Not only do I think West Seattle Link isn’t needed, I don’t even think you need to turn the train around in order to swap the driver.
ST touts this illegitimate reason in order to breach subarea funding for the Downtown-Ballard tunnel. This is also why the West Seattle and Ballard studies are together rather than separated as well because the ridership wouldn’t be high enough for a West Seattle only line. (I mean if you really think about it worse case just add some tail tracks past Sodo, that is practically what West Seattle is acting as a 3 billion dollar tail/holding track)
This is also why ST can’t entertain a West Seattle to Ballard-only line rather than the current intertwining is then they can’t breach subarea equity as there is no rationale if no outside trains go down the Ballard tunnels. Unfortunately, the intertwining of the trains just makes everything much more expensive as now you need to funnel 4-car trains down the tunnels.
“It seems like ST has supported this notion that we need to build this line to West Seattle in order to have a place to swap out the drivers from Everett”
“ST touts this illegitimate reason in order to breach subarea funding for the Downtown-Ballard tunnel. This is also why the West Seattle and Ballard studies are together rather than separated as well because the ridership wouldn’t be high enough for a West Seattle only line.”
These are all just speculations. We don’t know what’s going on in ST’s minds or the reasons for their decisions.
What I’ve seen is that West Seattle was always first. When ST3 was a 15-year plan it had West Seattle Link and a Ballard streetcar. This appeared to be in order to get Link into West Seattle because they’re suburbanish “people like us” that politicians identify with, and several politicians live there.
yes, north of the Northgate Link station, there is a crossover and tail track.
Here’s the WSBLE draft EIS so far. (It doesn’t include the new CID or other alternatives yet.) The “No Build” alternative is in section ES 3.2, Chapter 2 PDF pages 72-73. It assumes that by 2042, all ST3 projects except WSBLE and the Issaquah line are completed, and…
“The No Build Alternative includes regional highway improvements listed in the State Transportation Improvement Plan and Puget Sound Regional Council Regional Capacity Projects List, local improvements in the City of Seattle Capital Improvement Program (City of Seattle 2018), and bus service enhancements based on the METRO CONNECTS long-range plan (Metro 2016) and Sound Transit’s Long-Range Plan (Sound Transit 2014a), with frequency upgrades and restructures along and near the project corridor. The No Build Alternative also includes redevelopment projects at Terminals 5, 18, 46, and 91 by the Port of Seattle. Appendix N.1, Transportation Technical Report, describes the major projects assumed in the No
Build Alternative by jurisdiction.”
The relevant parts are Metro Connects and and Seattle’s capital projects. ST’s long-range plan has nothing else in this corridor, and I assume the highway and Port improvements are irrelevant to transit passengers here.
Metro Connects’s route-specific vision is offline now, so we have to go by what people remember. I remember RapidRide 40. ST3 includes money for RapidRide C & D improvements, whatever that means. SDOT later withdrew RapidRide 40 and is pursuing lesser improvement instead, meaning a few blocks of transit-priority lanes and queue jumps. But canceling WSBLE might force reviving RapidRide 40 or other bus changes. I don’t remember offhand what Seattle’s other capital improvements in Ballard-WS are.
Regarding Metro Connects in West Seattle, the 2040 plan depended on West Seattle Link, so it’s unclear what Metro would do without it. The 2040 plan kept RapidRide H, converted the C to an Alki-California-Burien line. and truncated the 21 and maybe the 125, and added an Express route on Fauntleroy-WSJ-SLU in the 99 tunnel. The C, 21, and 125 changes can’t happen without West Seattle Link and a one-seat ride to downtown (DSTT2 or DSTT1), so I don’t know what Metro would do instead.
It doesn’t have the other routes, but the website still lists the rapidrides .
> But canceling WSBLE might force reviving RapidRide 40 or other bus changes.
I’m not quite sure if ST money can be rerouted to bus/rapidrides.
> I don’t remember offhand what Seattle’s other capital improvements in Ballard-WS are.
In the interim network proposal:
For Ballard the plan is to upgrade 40 and 44 to a Rapidride. Extend the D to Northgate. For West Seattle beyond Rapidride H, there really aren’t any improvements
In the 2050 plan:
For ballard upgrade the 45 (NW 85th street) to a rapidride. For West Seattle it’s not as you described anymore (from the 2040 plan) and actually has a relatively different routing.
RapidRide H (still following 120) no longer heads for downtown and after
Delridge station will head west along SW Admiral Way (joining up along the route 50 path)
RapidRide C will not go to Alki nor downtown and start from Alaskan Junction station, following the existing route to Westwood Village. Then after Westwood Village follow kinda the 131 to Burien Transit Center
(2040: https://www.theurbanist.org/2021/02/22/metro-previews-policy-updates-for-system-growth-and-equity-focus/, 2050: http://www.kcmetrovision.org/view-plan/)
>> But canceling WSBLE might force reviving RapidRide 40 or other bus changes.
> I’m not quite sure if ST money can be rerouted to bus/rapidrides.
It can’t. I’m talking about what Seattle or Metro might do in that situation.
“Metro Connects’s route-specific vision is offline now,…”
Have you tried to use the “wayback machine” to retrieve it?
It was an interactive map, not a static page. The routes didn’t even appear until they were calculated from the default checkbox options.
Without DSTT2, West Seattle would still need SODO upgrades to connect to DSTT1 (i.e., to eliminate the SODO transfer). Those are part of the Ballard/DSTT2 phase, so without DSTT2 they would have to be done separately. Without eliminating the SODO transfer, I don’t think hardly anybody would ride the West Seattle stub, or that Metro would remove the C, 21, or 125 from downtown.
Of course they wouldn’t. Only people going West Seattle to UW or north would take the stub. However, because West Seattle trains will only ever have “policy” headways, this is the place to put a level junction. At the top of the ramp right at the curve into Forest Street, putting a level junction to the elevated structure needed to clear the West Seattle Freeway would be perfect. Trains from West Seattle would be considered “inferior” to anything headed down the Rainier Valley, so they’d just stop for a few moments before entering the junction.
Southbounds would just “go straight” instead of making the curve.
Why anyone ever thought that it makes sense to build a parallel elevated trackway for the lightly used West Seattle spur is beyond me. IT. IS. CRAZY.
“put a level junction…” Bad editing.
The comment section used to tell me to stop whining about the few minutes it takes to transfer between the route 255 and Link at UW Station. Is the comment section now complaining that downtown line-to-line transfers will take a few minutes?
Bellevue blocks are long, so Bellevue residents are used to walking long distances and consider it a note of pride that a few minutes of transfer time are nothing! Nothing! Compared to what those wimps over in Seattle complain about all the time. Nothing!
… sarcasm aside, I would look at it as a matter of degree. The volume of transfers at BTC will be low enough and the cost of improving the transfer high enough that the tradeoff is not worth making.
Bellevue transfers could be reasonably good if ST could be moved to continue the platforms west a few dozen feet and drop an elevator shaft and escalators from the transit center directly to the platform.
Sam, this blog used to discount (and relish) complaints I had about eastsiders having to a add a second transfer to their trip when East Link opens (park and ride, feeder bus, East Link) and argued transfer delays are part of transit. Then a pandemic and WFH happened, and one seat buses like the 630 and 554, and of course eastsiders will just drive to a station that serves East Link or to their ultimate destination. Oh, and the opening of East Link was delayed another three years.
Recently in response to Al’s post I stated that if 50% of Link riders will have to transfer from Link to Link — plus first/last mile access — choice riders will find other modes (cars). Some posted Link to Link transfers are part of transit and will have no impact on transit or Link ridership, although they may have assumed short and quick transfers and prefer interlining.
So far we’ve had no Link to Link transfers so who knows. I thought it interesting ST is estimating walking over 100 yards to transfer in an underground tunnel from the jail to 3rd and Yesler as part of the mega station will take 90 seconds although Fesler has his doubts, no doubt to get to their new 100 story residential tower. My guess is eastsiders will never find out how long the walk in the tunnel takes.
The big difference is that you get something out of sending the 255 to the U-District. It is a trade-off. Yes, if you are headed downtown, your old bus was faster. Same with riders of the 41. The old bus was faster.
But riders of the 255 now get a much faster, one-seat ride to the UW. They get a very good connection to the north end in general. Meanwhile, Metro saves a bunch of money by not sending the bus downtown. So much so, that it can run the bus twice as often. It is a trade-off, but overall, people are better off.
The problem with this is that no one is better off. No one. Everyone forced to ride in the new tunnel will wish they were in the old tunnel. Every who makes a transfer will spend too much time doing it. If, in exchange, there was some added value — like a better connection to First Hill — then it could be worth it. But we won’t have that. There is simply nothing being added when it comes to this new tunnel.
Not quite, it depends on the level of congestion on the freeways. Route 41 was faster in the peak direction with the flow of the reversible lanes, but slower in the reverse peak direction, when the bus used the often jammed general purpose lanes. Our networks have multiple directions. Route 255 may have faster at off peak times, but using Link is faster in the peak periods; the same is so for Route 545; in both peaks, Route 545 riders oriented to downtown would be better using a more frequent Route 542 and Link since March 2016. Same for routes 252, 257, 268, and 311. The agencies have been slow to use the power of Link. When bus routes sit in congestion and Link moves freely, the case becomes clear. Short headway and waits make the network much more effective. Route 630 runs on I-90; even it has slow downs and will have more in the future. Waiting, walking, and in-vehicle time are all minutes, the least common denominator.
To sum up a few of the comments here justifying a long transfer between the 255 triangle garage stop, and the UW Station platform: Hey, look at the bright side, in some cases, like during heavy freeway congestion, you’ll still get to your ultimate destination (downtown) sooner than you were able to in the past.
So why don’t we use that logic with future long line-to-line transfers? Hey, look at the bright side, even though it takes a few minutes to transfer from one line to another, you’ll still get to your ultimate destination sooner than you were able to in the past.
Sam, you always try to find oranges to compare to apples.
The 255 should be as close to the UW Link platforms as possible, and should run every 10 minutes full-time to make the wait short even in worst-case scenarios.
Having the 255 go to UW Station puts the entire Link network at riders’ doorstep. Having the 255 go downtown like it used to, forces riders to backtrack if they’re going to anywhere in North Seattle or Capitol Hill. It would also get caught in I-5 and Stewart Street congestion like it used to.
Minimum frequency, maximum transfer distance, and whether a route should parallel another to avoid a transfer, are all relative to the size of the neighborhood, its density, the variety of destinations (serving a wide or narrow cross-section of the public), and the length of each segment. Downtowns should have closer stop spacing than other areas, higher frequency, and closer transfer pairs. The center of the network should be the best, because it affects everybody who goes from one sector to another.
A transfer is more justified if both segments are longer. Going three miles from downtown to UW to transfer is reasonable. Going one mile and transfering for another mile or half-mile is less so. Transferring twice within a space of two miles is even worse. Long-to-short transfers like from Beacon Hill to 3rd & Madison to 9th & Madison are inevitable in a downtown. Larger city centers can have more transfers, because each segment has a larger number of destinations. There are tradeoffs in all of this, and it’s often a value judgment whether a transfer is justified in a particular situation, and how narrow the transfer distance must be, and how frequent the routes. Routes in downtown Seattle should have the shortest waits and walks, routes in Seattle neighborhoods like Roosevelt or Wallingford the second-shortest, routes in large suburban centers like downtown Bellevue the third-shortest, and routes in other suburban areas the fourth-shortest.
Ok, that makes sense. Thanks for explaining it. I was trying to figure out why a 3 minute transfer isn’t long in one location, but is too long in another.
I and many others whined about the clumsiness of that UW transfer for the 15 years before it was built. That created the conditions for the big ped/bike bridge and the Rainier Vista extension over Pacific Place at UW to open along with the station. Those were nice upgrades, but the transfer was still too long.
Since then they added a lane on NB Montlake with a stop for the 255 and a special turn cycle for the bus, and now that transfer is about as good as it gets. The alternative to sending the 255 to UW was to continue to struggle with congestion and construction on 520 and I-5 and three dozen signals on the downtown surface streets. Even with the occasional Montlake Bridge opening you save a ton of service hours this way and people have access to the rest of the Link system.
When I was in 8th grade I took the subway to a math class at U of Illinois at Chicago by myself, both ways, often carrying a very special violin hidden in a crappy case in addition to all my books, projects for school, etc. I had to transfer downtown and walk down a block-long underground passageway and wait for the next train, in each direction. I remember it all fondly now, but my antipathy to transfers with long walks stems from this time.
People forget, but the old 255 ran only every 30 minutes weekday evenings and weekends during the day. Weekend evenings (which began as early as 6 PM on Sundays), the old 255 ran once an hour.
You can say “just look at schedule and time it”, but when you’re coming from an event, you can’t just time it. Unless your expectation is that bus riders just walk out with 2 outs, bases loaded, game tied, in the 9th inning, simply because the bus is coming, things end when they end, and you can’t control it.
People don’t remember, but when the 255 went to hourly, even the one seat ride was nearly unusable, and transferring to it from the half hourly 542 – a trip that is, today, a one seat ride – was even worse. It is far, far better to transferring between two frequent routes than to be stuck waiting downtown for 45 minutes for a one seat bus.
The new 255 is also good for avoiding the safety issues downtown, particularly at night. With the old 255, you have to wait for it out on the street, worst case for up to an hour. With the new 255, the only place downtown you have to wait is the Link tunnel, which has far for “eyes on the ground” to deter bad behavior than a bus stop. You do have to wait again in the U-district, but there’s a lot fewer mentally unstable people than there are downtown.
And then, of course, not everybody is going downtown. There’s a lot of destinations where the old 255 would have to transferring at 3rd Ave., while the new 255 allows you to transfer to a different route in the U district, bypassing downtown completely.
Finally, if you want to talk about crappy transfers, people forget this, but transfers between the old 255 and the 3rd Ave. bus spine were anything but ideal. The option that minimized backtracking required walking between 3rd Ave. and either 7th/Stewart or 8th/Olive, depending on direction. The walk was at least as long as Link to Stevens Way, but the stop lights every block downtown made it seem longer. Yes, you could theoretically avoid the walk by backtracking all the way to 5th and Jackson, but the amount of time you’d have to waste on the bus to do that would be ridiculous.
So, yes, I do consider the new 255 to be a major improvement. It’s not perfect. The new 255 is susceptible to construction related ramp closures that the old 255 would have bypassed, and peak hours, the Montlake exit ramp is worse than the Stewart ramp the old 255 would have used. But, these issues are temporary, and will go away once the 520 construction is finally finished. On top of this, the 1 and 2 lines converging will make the Link transfer quicker.
Asdf, my comment about the route 255 wasn’t me relitigating the merits of its truncation. I was only pointing out that the people who once told me a 3 minute transfer isn’t a long period of time, are now saying a 3 minute transfer is a very long time. I was trying to get to the bottom of whether or not 3 minutes is a short or long period of time to transfer. I am cursed with seeing inconsistencies. Like the time the comment section said we need a Northgate Pedestrian Bridge so people can walk over I-5, then, as soon as it was built, the comment section said a gondola should be built right along side it so people don’t have to walk.
“the comment section said a gondola should be built right along side it so people don’t have to walk.”
It did? I didn’t see that. And one commentator is not “the comment section’s” opinion. Unless that commentator is named Sam of course.
Train-to-train subway transfers are a different ballgame. Subways are supposed to be very convenient and fast, for both one-seat and multi-seat trips. The 255 is not a subway line so it doesn’t have such high expectations. A 255 transfer affects only people in Kirkland, one group out of many. A train-to-train transfer at the center of a subway network affects over half the total trip pairs in the network, all neighborhoods the subway serves, which is far more than the 255 serves. A comparison would be if Link didn’t exist and the bus routes downtown had such long walks between them. The bus network is designed so that most routes are on 2nd, 3rd, or 4th Avenues, and east-west transfers require only turning a corner and a half-block walk. If you had to walk several blocks for most transfers, and up and down multiple escalators and elevators, that would be a major problem.
We should have higher expectations for our trunk lines, even if they have rubber tires; headways and waits should be short on RR and routes 522, 255, 542, 271, and 550.
The recent SDOT changes to the J Line alignment in the U District will impose longer transfer walks than if they had kept the Route 70 pathway. Northbound trips will end on NE 43rd Street nearside 12th Avenue NE. Riders will walk/roll uphill one block to Link, two blocks to the Ave, three blocks to 15th Avenue NE, and four to the UW. All these walks would have been shorter but for the SDOT alignment.
From the on-line drawings, it appears that the eastbound G Line will have a long walking transfer with Route 48 on 23rd Avenue. Route 12 serves the Marion Street causeway; the G Line station will shift one block north.
Sam: I have definitely complained here about the transfers at UW. They could have made the whole thing far less time consuming, but chose not to.
That this has been done should be a warning against such awful transfer designs in the future, not an excuse to build stations that will be even worse.
9 floors of mezzanines and escalators, Sam. That’s what is being proposed for Westlake.
ST should’ve just ignored UW unfounded “sensitive equipment” excuse and honestly told them to pound sand about it because the excuse was really NIMBY and full of nonsense. We had a similar issues with CU here in Denver when they did the same thing for the R line. Was supposed to go to Anschultz Campus but gave the same “sensitive equipment” excuse and we then shunted the line to Fitzsimons with basically a useless station that nobody can use and wasted money on a shuttle system that is more polluting than light rail ever was.
Zach, do you happen to have a citation handy for the “full of nonsense” part? I’ve often wondered how true it is, also. Since you sound so certain of it, I am sure that you have read a study that proves it.
Thanks in advance.
9 floors deep for CID north too according to The Urbanist.
I can’t say anything about the sensitive equipment.
However, if you have a deep station, you have the opportunity to connect to a wide variety of places. ST chose not to.
MARTA has a really deep station at Prachtree, because of a hill. They use the long escalators to connect to several different places.
The UW station could have had multiple entrances quite some distance from the platform, allowing better bus connections.
Glenn, +100! HSS is maddeningly separated from anywhere that riders using it want to go.
My best guess is that West Seattle Link will move ahead and ST will try to get it open by 2032. It may get pushed back a year if two due to Youngstown property takes.
When West Seattle Link opens it may be a stub. However the West Seattle people will quickly ask to have direct service through Downtown. By 2035 when Tacoma Dome opens ST will have three lines in the tunnel — Tacoma-Northgate , Redmond – Lynnwood and West Seattle – Lynnwood.
While demand will dictate anything more frequent than 19 minute service in each line (6 trains an hour per line or 18 total), 1 line will likely get 8 trains an hour. That means 20 trains peak — the same number as ST3 promised.
Everett will open next — sag between 2037-2040. That will lead to capacity discussions but those will be minor.
DSTT2 and Ballard Link will keep falling behind. I don’t expect it until 2050 unless a Ballard stub line is built.
Technology will advance to create long segments with no drivers on Link trains. We won’t think it to be unusual to just have drivers between TIBS and Northgate with automation everywhere else.
Ridership on Everett is estimated to be so low that it wouldn’t be such a big deal to have it go to Ballard, providing double frequency there and keeping it out of the busiest part of DSTT1.
If WSBLE doesn’t serve the Chinatown station / king station / union station area then my last remaining sliver of support for this expensive deep light rail tunnel is gone.
If this alignment doesn’t serve the CID allowing for good transfers then this alignment should not be built at all. The deep downtown stations were bad enough but this would simply be a nail in the coffin turning a flawed transit benefit to a transit detriment.
I do not support billions of dollars being spent to make transit service worse to appease politics activist hacks. Do it right and build it on 4th shallow with a station in the CID or don’t build it at all. Save the money from the new downtown tunnel and contemplate serving Ballard by a stub if you refuse a 4th ave CID station. Just whatever you do don’t build this
“Transit detriment …”
ST’s own numbers apparently show West Seattle Link adding 0 transit riders with a perfect alignment, so pretty much anything will make it detrimental.
West Seattle’s problem is it being a weird stubby line that wants to go to Fauntleroy and Burien but stopped short of doing such a thing. I keep seeing people yell the West Seattle line is useless and yet won’t advocate for studying an extension to Burien and TIBS to make the line actually more useful and actually would improve the ridership people harp on about for the West Seattle branch so much.
ST already studied an extension to Burien, TIB, and Renton. It said it would be high-cost and low-ridership. South King and Tukwila went quiet about the extension after that.
But it did have a surprisingly fast travel time: 40 minutes Westlake-Renton, comparable to the 101, in spite of the West Seattle detour. This is the advantage of grade separation.
You can read about it here:
http://soundtransit3.org/candidate-projects it’s candidate project C-13
C-13: West Seattle/Junction to Burien Transit Center. Predominantly aerial alignment for 9.1 miles and 6 stations costing 2.7 billion (2014) dollars for 10k to 15k daily boardings.
The low number of boardings kinda made it suffer in it’s analysis, especially considering it’s moderately high cost.
There’s more about it in the South King County HCT Corridor Study https://s3.documentcloud.org/documents/1157426/south-king-county-hct-level-2-executive.pdf
Sending 4 car Link trains to Fauntleroy would be awesome for jaunts to Vashon Island but it isn’t going to pencil past Alaska Junction. We can study it, but the density isn’t there and the ridership will be low. The prospect of a Link station is not enough to turn Morgan Junction into the next Metrotown BC. There is no PSRC urban center anywhere out there. You can put the existing bus riders on a train. Some will flock to it because it’s a sleek new comfy train and others will drop off because of the transfer hassle. Net effect is about zero, after blowing $3.2 billion.
The Delridge corridor is slightly higher density but it’s not highly concentrated; The station locations and spacing of RapidRide H seem a good match for it.
Zach, how many people want to travel between Alaska (or Morgan) Junction and Burien or TIBS? They’ve tried bus after bus and canceled them over and over. These days STEX goes as far north as Westwood Village, but ST just can’t seem to get that bus to go another fifteen minutes to the Alaska Junction.
So you want to build a train? A train that would have to be tunneled at least to somewhere just east of High Point. And then it would be elevated all the way to Burien. Maybe it might have some at-grade around the north end of the airport, but don’t count on it.
It’s a long way. You’re talking another $10 billion, minimum. (Those 2014 “estimates” are laughable).
And why would you go to TIBS and force the only people who will take the thing to transfer when the airport is just a mile and a half south? Actually reversing at TIBS would be pretty hard because of the steep hill to the east. There’s already a pocket south of SeaTac Airport Station. There are just cross-overs east of TIBS. You can’t reverse in cross-overs when traffic continues beyond them.
That seems like where we’re headed if ST doesn’t accept any of our alternatives. (4th Avenue Shallower, DSTT1-only, a Ballard-Weslake line, or an automated line with closer transfers.) But WSBLE would only be cancelled if the board and politicians agree, and right now they’re far from that.
I just had a thought. We think an initiative can’t modify ST3, because a city’s initiative wouldn’t cover the entire ST district, and even a statewide initiative might not be able to override a local tax district’s vote. But what about an initiative that told Seattle not to approve any ST3 construction permits in Seattle without another ST vote? That would block DSTT2 and WSBLE. (It would also block 130th Station and Graham Station, which many of us support.)
That’s a clever idea. I think 130th is actually close to starting construction. But all the infill stations could be written out of any initiative. A city initiative seems like the best way to spur some needed civic conversations and hit the brakes on an increasingly bad plan.
The language of an initiative does not have to be prescriptive about the eventual solution, but it may make sense to be somewhat so. It may be necessary to propose a concrete solution to garner support.
I suspect interlining West Seattle might be more popular than BRT to West Seattle even if the BRT is better and cheaper. It might depend on how it’s described. That question is moot, to the extent that ship has sailed. But interlining solves the CID problem. And Ballard stub solves the DSTT2 problem. Not building DSTT2 has to free up a lot of money. I think we’re likely to come up short even with a potential $400M of magic funding somehow emerging from the Civic Center land dance. I suspect the Mayor is banking on some kind of city initiative as-yet unannounced to complete the vision that is being cooked up with the county. We shall see. Not sure what funding sources remain untapped.
Rather than raise more money, I’d look at spending less, by cancelling DSTT2, and replacing it with the Ballard stub.
I agree, a new downtown line that skips CID should not be built at all. I am of the mind that West Seattle Link and DSTT2 should not be built at all regardless. West Seattle Link adds about 0 riders… because it doesn’t really make any trips faster. Folks heading downtown who today just stay on board would now have to exit the bus at a place like Delridge. They would forego their seamless, scenic, zippy trip over the West Seattle Bridge and SR 99 for a transfer to a not-so-frequent Link train that requires grade changes on either end to access the platform. If they are headed, say, to the Eastside via Link, they would be stuck using this Pioneer Square megastation if Dow Constantine has his way, passing through CID not just twice but **four times** on a daily commute to Bellevue.
I’m a transit and bike enthusiast, and I never want to commute by car again, but if that were my option from West Seattle, I would drive.
MAX has been operating since 1986. Since that time, TriMet has never seen fit to modify any of the lines to the point where major destination pairs were removed from MAX by a reorganization to accommodate new lines.
The Blue Line has gone from Gresham to Hillsboro since 1998. If you moved next to the line, you can still get the same one seat ride you always had.
For a few brief years, yellow, blue and red all served the Old Town to Galleria segment and the yellow line got removed to the transit mall when that got MAX in 2009. The lost several stations weren’t that big a deal. It’s all within the downtown core, 5 blocks away on the level, and there’s east-west routes you can use if you have to.
Taking the Capitol Hill to Northgate segment away from Rainier Valley, and taking southeast Seattle away from north Seattle, disrupts a huge number of existing transit trips on the core system. Then, to make it worse, the proposed transfers will be awful.
I just don’t see anyone having ever done anything like this.
ST seems to be trying to emulate MARTA in Atlanta. They are even using the same two minute train arrival warning message.
MARTA transfers are very easy: one floor difference where their huge + sign crosses. East -West platforms serve as a mezzanine directly above north-south tracks. If you know the system, getting between platforms takes 30 seconds.
That this level of connectivity isn’t a higher priority at ST is severely disappointing.
Do you think Constantine, Harrell and the ST Board realize how bad the optics of moving the station so far hurts their electability? To a lay person moving the transfer seems stupid at best and suspicion of being in cahoots with developers at worst.
Even Seahawks fans will be irritated as this severs the 1 Line to stadium connectivity.
Neither Harrell nor Constantine plan to be in their current offices when WSBLE and DSTT2 are completed Al. . A recent poll by the DSA and Chamber showed high approval for Harrell and abysmal approval ratings for the council, and transit wasn’t an issue. Trump would probably score higher than the current council among voters, so of course Harrell looks good against that exiting bunch.
I don’t think Harrell even mentioned transit in his election campaign, and I don’t think he cares deeply about transit. Transit riders and advocates mostly voted for his opponent. My guess is less than half of regular transit riders in Seattle are paying attention to WSBLE, which means maybe 2.5% of citizens if not necessarily voters.
Lynnwood, Federal Way and even East Link will open over the next few years, and the G line. That is pretty good. WSBLE is not affordable but no one wants to admit it. If I were Harrell or Dow I wouldn’t fall on my sword over ST’s lies in ST 3 either.
Both would take redevelopment of the blighted area of the city near CID north over DSTT2 and WSBLE in a second, especially if that development included their white elephant buildings.
Wait until budget cuts next year. Those might get Seattleites riled up, including cuts to existing transit. I will be interested to see the details in the 2024 Move Seattle renewal. I doubt a penny will go toward WSBLE.
The CID activists will vote for Constantine and Harrell if they move it away. The media will describe this as a victory for equity. The politicians and most of the public don’t understand the impact of these decisions on transit rideability. So they may reward Constantine and Harrell for it, and not realize what it means until the line opens and they do their first transfer. Then they’ll say, “Transit in the US is bad,” and drive.
The irony is the CID activists claim to be saving an Asian neighborhood and businesses by moving the station away and avoiding a few years of construction. But a lot of Asians in Rainier Valley, Beacon Hill, and Renton take transit to Jackson Street to shop and work, and this would mean a long walk for them. A length inappropriate for a dense downtown neighborhood and the biggest multimodal hub, and not what those Asian countries would have. It would also hurt transfers to Jackson Street buses to Little Saigon and further.
Mike, the issue isn’t Asians in south Seattle will have a long walk to CID from “CID North”. It is they will be forced onto the crummy line and DSTT2. Let them stay on DSTT1 and they won’t have any transfer or walk to CID.
That has been Al’s point from day one, but the CID knew damn well Asians from South Seattle would get the screw job.
The construction of a second CID station is scheduled to take 6-10 years, without any real benefit to the CID when finished. Same teason the uptown stakeholders won’t agree to cut and cover stations.
Figure out what it will take for the CID to allow construction of a second station on 5th and for once have ST treat the CID like a real stakeholder like UW, Amazon, WS or Ballard.
It will take a short construction timeline, better zoning control by the CID so it isn’t the dumping ground for white Seattle, probably a big parking garage built before construction starts on the station, really good car access during construction, and LOTS of cash, but not even close to $700 million for a shallow station on 4th.
Or transfer at CID north. Most of us drive to CID anyway, including Asians from south Seattle.
“Mike, the issue isn’t Asians in south Seattle will have a long walk to CID from “CID North”. It is they will be forced onto the crummy line and DSTT2. Let them stay on DSTT1 and they won’t have any transfer or walk to CID.”
Tell the CID activists that. They haven’t said one word in support of DSTT1-only. Maybe if they did, Dow and the board would listen to them.
“Figure out what it will take for the CID to allow construction of a second station on 5th and for once have ST treat the CID like a real stakeholder like UW, Amazon, WS or Ballard.”
It’s treating the CID like a real stakeholder right now.
“The construction of a second CID station is scheduled to take 6-10 years, without any real benefit to the CID when finished. Same teason the uptown stakeholders won’t agree to cut and cover stations.”
Cut-and-cover stations throughout the network would have more benefits than bored stations: they’d make the walk to the surface shorter, and they’d cost less. When you say “no real benefit”, you’re ignoring the thousands of riders who will use the stations for decades, and the purchases they will make at businesses, and the easier walk home if they live in the neighborhood, and easier transfers to buses. All those add up to a lot, much more than a few years of construction.
A second station at 5th & Jackson is exactly what was in the ballot measure, and my first choice. The CID activists have not tried to say what would make that acceptable to them; they’ve just tried to drive the station away. It suggests there’s nothing that would make it acceptable to them. If there is, they can say so now, and obviate all this bad location and cost increases and losing transit fans’ support.
While I don’t believe CID activists are playing hardball with ST in order to extract financial concessions, why not figure out if, for the right price, would the neighborhood drop their opposition to a second CID station? An amount that would compensate them for their loss during construction, and an amount so large it would be hard to say no to. However, doing so would set an expensive precedent. Where would the money come from? How about a Seattle levy?
LOL! With the deep problems King County and Seattle are having… these two pols have to do something. The whole new “mega station” has the stink of desperation to it. What transit nerds don’t realize is politicians like Harrell see ST serving their political needs, not the other way around. Seattle Subway and The Urbanist can bash on Harrell’s plans all they like… those outfits are the not the adults in the room… the shot callers. As far as Harrell is concerned, The Stranger readers can go fuck themselves.
And having a mega station at CID/King Street like RMTransit suggests could also serve their political needs. What’s missing in all of the Sound Transit era is a politician who could champion transit best-practices and the advantages of having a proper transit network like most other industrialized countries have. It would make other problems easier to solve.
“Jj” made a number of interesting comments. I’ll address some of them.
1. “As for speed link is actually faster than many heavy rail systems.” I find this hard to believe. It’s not faster than BART, Skytrain, Marta, Metrorail, or even the local trains in Japan. Further, I rode the Tampa Airport automated railway recently, and it hit 45 mph for a bit. Conversely, Link only topped 40 mph for a few seconds before reaching the turn ~ highway 99 in South Seattle. Also, there were two lengthy, unscheduled (i.e., in-between stations) stops on the way back. If you subscribe to ST alerts, you will receive an average of one message about a delay per day, with there often being more than one. Link is a cheap, slow, unreliable system where ST’s “spin machine” that, per a 2015 comparison, spends more on that aspect than any other transit agency in the region, got the public to approve via some questionable tactics. KC Metro never should have caved in and eliminated the #194 express bus from CBD to Sea-Tac!
2. IMO, it’s not “South Snohomish County officials,” but Dave Somers, County Executive, who apparently has some kind of clout that makes the other pols cower and capitulate. I attended one early meeting on routing where an obviously-naive public official asked why couldn’t there just be a spur from the Everett Mall to Boeing? Somers’ cohort, former Everett Councilmember and ST Vice Chair Paul Roberts, double-timed it over to shush him and to tell him what the talking points were. BTW, a similar “full court press” was applied to the ST Board by the City of Shoreline in order to get 145th Street improved at millions of dollars of taxpayer expense despite its limited 60 foot ROW and incomplete sidewalks.
3. Mr. Somers apparently only cares about appeasing Boeing, who’s probably a large campaign contributor, for there are no plans for a station at Paine Field despite it being the frontrunner to be named the region’s secondary airport this June 15, that due to a process where reviewing officials got a document that stated that there was “no opposition!” However, lobbying ST for express bus service for commuters to and from Boeing isn’t on his radar, unlike in Tacoma where they are immediately lobbying for compensatory service due to their line’s delays that were just announced. Southwest Everett has but one street stop total for ST Express, that at E. Casino Road going from Boeing to downtown Seattle in the a.m., the reverse in the p.m., despite passing thousands of low-income residences (and several ET bus stops) whose presence was the pols’ latest argument to keep the dogleg when the “straight shot” option resurfaced. This dogleg was estimated to add $1 billion and 5 more years of construction time. That, of course, doesn’t matter, for it’s other people’s money.
4. Yes, Everett Mall is a defacto transit center for Everett Transit, despite their disinterest in either timing or interlining their lengthy route 29 with the route 12 so as to provide transit service from the popular South Everett Park & Ride to and from Boeing. ST isn’t interested in that P&R, either, they prefer to serve the abandoned Eastmont P&R (their peak-only #513 is the only route that goes there). ST and Everett folks insist that South Everett P&R can’t facilitate light rail and that the mall is not worth it. Recently, though, it was discovered that the mall is partway through a major renovation that sounds like “Alderwood light,” with outdoor walkways that are perfect for our oft-rainy, sometimes cold, weather…not! These decision-makers must be the same as those for Swift BRT stations and Mr. Somers: they never ride transit.
In short, I do not believe the public officials, for I’ve seen and heard them up-close, and their M-O is consistent. There are ulterior motives and clever tactics that they employ to get their way. It’s no wonder that keeping the public from knowing more of what they’re doing is presently under fire in Olympia.
Skytrain’s rated maximum speed is in the 50 mph range. Average speed may be faster than Link because Link still has stuff like the 15 mph speed limit in the DSTT, and it seems like it also has pretty short station stops.
It gets away with this speed because of the quality of the integration into the rest of the transit network, having stations that aren’t difficult to get to, and being close to major destinations.
Despite the low maximum speed, there are an awful lot of trips where SkyTrain is still faster than driving.
> As for speed link is actually faster than many heavy rail systems.
Transit speed (assuming around same right of way) is much of it is determined by station spacing not really by the speed in between. After all the trains will spend around ~1 minutes dwelling and speeding down/up for each station.
BART and Marta are both regional like subway systems with their wide stop spacing. In comparison say Paris metro (not RER) or say nyc metro both have relatively lots of stops per mile.
After all if you have an express bus going down the freeway even if stuck in moderate traffic — by skipping so many stops many times is faster than link. The east bay has similar express busses.
Re: The Ship having sailed on West Seattle Link. Here’s that FTA filing:
West Seattle Link is cited as a $3.2 billion project. That’s just from SODO. It adds 3 stations. Each station is, thus, over a billion dollars. If we cut Avalon, it does not cut a billion dollars from the budget, and we have well over $1 billion per station.
First Hill, which is an Urban Center planned to be served by Link from day one, got cut from the Link system because it came to be perceived as a risk to the budget of the project by this order of magnitude.
The budget for RapidRide H (Delridge), in contrast, was $87 million.
Come on, folks. West Seattle Link is a boondoggle. $3.2 billion is about 2/3 the cost of a new 6 lane SR 520 corridor from I-405 to I-5, which includes the world’s longest floating bridge, another bridge across Portage Bay not yet started, 3 BRT stations with direct ramps and 5 highway lid parks., built over an existing highway that has to remain open the whole time. That project, including an unbelievable amount of engineering and permitting and public process over a period of three decades, is about $5 billion.
I don’t know how we can feel like responsible citizens having that $3.2 billion in local tax revenue go to something that actually makes transit worse than it is now. I never thought I’d say this, but that SR 520 highway project is actually a better transit project than West Seattle Link.
Or for another comparison the entire East Link cost 3.7~4.0 billion dollars with 14 miles and 10 stations https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/ipd/project_profiles/wa_east_link_extension.aspx
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