Destinations on RapidRide H. (Urbanist)

Hannah Krieg of The Stranger compares the arguments for and against the North of CID Link station. (The list is useful even if the wording is juvenile.)

Mike Lindblom on ongoing repairs in DSTT stations. ($)

The worst transit project in the US is canceled, on an extension in Philadelphia. (Alan Fisher video)

New York chooses bus over AirTrain for La Guardia airport. ($)

The Seattle Times editorial board comes out for real but fair fare enforcement ($).

South Park gets a federal grant to study removing a redundant part of Highway 99 through the neighborhood ($).

This is an open thread.

180 Replies to “Open Thread: RapidRide H Destinations”

    1. The Daily (the UW’s student newspaper) changes tone between serious and juvenile from year to year as new editors come in.

      The Stranger has longer-term editors so it changes less often. But it does fulfill some news responsibilities. It interviews the candidates every year for elections, and it has (or at least had) one or two pages of city hall monitoring, and the extensive events listings and reviews. I stopped reading it when the print edition disappeared, except once a year for the election endorsements (which I weigh against other sources).

      What most angered me about the article was: “Urbanists on Twitter lost their collective shit when both Constantine and Morales endorsed paths that skip the CID.” I’m not on Twitter, and this issue is larger than a Twitter dispute. If the author thinks it was mostly on Twitter then they aren’t paying attention to the rest of society.

      The second was equating attempts to preserve the “ease of transit” with white supremacy.

      However, in spite of the wording, the article succeeds in listing the arguments for and against the North of CID alternative side by side. That’s something I haven’t seen in other reporting, and it’s a credit to Krieder for realizing this was needed.

      1. The Stranger has always struggled with transit issues. I can’t think of a single writer who understood the issues. Folks on here provide a range of views, but overall, there is a much better understanding. Same with the Urbanist.

        I feel like The Stranger editorial board has gone downhill. They were always to the left, but a sensible left. Now they are more prone to supporting demagogues — just left-wing demagogues. I find that Publicola (which has former Stranger staff) is more sensible. I don’t mind the swearing — I don’t like lazy analysis.

      2. Good point Ross: Let’s see Dow’s response to this proposal that puts WS in DSTT2. That will tell us everything. It was one thing to make stations along DSTT2 de facto real estate deals when folks from the south would use DSTT2, but another if WS residents have to use a clearly inferior tunnel so they will all transfer at Sodo.

        It looks like a clever move by Balducci, but why is Millar involved. I wonder if he isn’t the driving force, and someone at the state level sent him in to force some sanity.

      3. Watch a Ballard-West Seattle DSTT2 suddenly have better stations, because West Seattle. It will be interesting to see how Dow reacts to this. He lives in West Seattle and was one of the main drivers of getting West Seattle into Link before Ballard. The first 15-year ST3 proposal had West Seattle Link and a Ballard streetcar. It was expanded to a 25-year plan (per original estimate) largely because transit fans vowed to vote against ST3 if it didn’t include Ballard Link, and Shohomish also needed it for Everett Station and the Paine Field detour. But the West Seattle advocates got the West Seattle stub scheduled first, and Dow may have had a hand in that. Why is there even a West Seattle stub to SODO? That will have exceptionally low ridership, and the buses will continue to downtown. So maybe Dow will finally reconsider his West Seattle positions.

        Also, I don’t know where in West Seattle Dow lives, but 99% of West Seattle houses are not in walking distance of a Link station, so he’d have to take a bus and transfer to Link too.

      4. Mike, I have a hard time thinking this proposal is Balducci. What does she care. She represents east KC. And why is Millar involved.

        Balducci did this with the limited segment for East Link: no notice to the rest of the Board or even ST staff.

        I think Millar is involved because he knows how much tunnels cost. I think Ross is correct: Dow has been blindsided, so how he responds will be telling.

        What a crazy DEIS. Virtually every DSTT2 station in the original plan and levy is gone, and new ones added, with literally days for the Board to decide with back of envelope cost estimates. I have never seen anything like it. Maybe Balducci’s literal 11th hour proposal is to force Dow to postpone the whole thing. Meanwhile the Seattle Times just had a piece about the leading candidates to succeed Inslee. Never a dull moment.

      5. Balducci seems like a free thinker. It seems like she is honestly trying to come up with solutions that are best for everyone. No hidden agenda — just good projects for the money. Unfortunately, I think she is as ignorant of the advantages of sharing the tunnel (and disadvantages of a new tunnel) as everyone on the board. I think she is more open to new ideas though. If anyone is in her district, it would be worthwhile to contact her.

      6. I live in Baldacci’s district and remember voting for her in the last election over some right wing crank. However, I have not contacted any elected officials before and don’t know where to start.

      7. The most effective way to reach politicians beyond in-person meeting is snail mail, because it stands out as unusual and something you really care about. The county website probably has a page listing the councilmembers, with her office address, an online contact form, and maybe an email. It might also have an email address to write to all the councilmembers at once.

      8. asdf2,

        You’ve never contacted an elected official? And yet you’re always posting here? I don’t want to be too harsh with you, but this is crazy! You need to start emailing and writing letters to your elected pols because it makes a (small?) difference. Posting here? Not so much.

        All the levels of government have a website with the addresses and emails you’ll need. I find it best to just be as straight and direct as possible…. but I often use the little smiley emoji at the end to signal I’m not really mad, just being direct.

        Also there’s Matt Driscoll at the Tacoma News Tribune…. best journalist in the Puget Sound. Just remember he’s Pierce County focused and slant your email that way. I believe he might want to here more about this “single tunnel” idea from some “amateur train experts”

      9. You’ve never contacted an elected official? And yet you’re always posting here? I don’t want to be too harsh with you, but this is crazy!


        Also there’s Matt Driscoll at the Tacoma News Tribune…. best journalist in the Puget Sound. Just remember he’s Pierce County focused and slant your email that way. I believe he might want to here more about this “single tunnel” idea from some “amateur train experts”

        Any chance you could reach out to him? I find that the more local the contact, the more likely you are to succeed. (Same with contacting your representative.) If he wants to discuss the issues, then folks at the blog would love to be included. We have been communicating with each other via email for quite some time. But I think it would be great if you initiated the contact, since you are familiar with him (and I’m guessing, a subscriber). Simply referencing the latest article ( would be a good start.

        It is worth noting that every subarea pays into the new tunnel, giving every subarea an incentive to minimize costs. To me the headline should be “Do we really need a new transit tunnel in downtown Seattle?”.

      10. I already sent the link to Mr. Driscoll, but a couple more emails never hurts.

        Also there’s the ad hoc leader of the GOP in Greater Seattle. This guy is on the ST board and is likely a big reason ST is avoiding tearing up the CID. Of all the Pierce County pols, Dammeier is the most open minded and responsive. He sees himself the voice of conservative reason for the area, he’s fun to talk to even if you disagree with him on issues. Plus Marty Campbell (Pierce County Council, not the ST board, but he’s got a lot people’s ear on issues)

      11. Daniel, what proposal that “would put West Seattle in DSTT2”? Who made that proposal? The only mention of “West Seattle” in The Stranger article is in the opening paragraph which makes no proposals or recommendations. It just describes the issue.

        Where are you getting the idea that someone is proposing to force West Seattle trains into the new tunnel? There are four mentions of Claudia Balducci in the article, and all are pretty generic questions about knowing enough to choose “North and South”. She didn’t make it in the quotes from the article. And there is no mention of Roger Millar at all.

        Please share your sources.


      12. Tom, you misunderstood. I stated WS trains in the original proposal would use DSTT1. Riders from the south would have to transfer to DSTT1.
        Balducci and the dir. of WSDOT have proposed having WS and Ballard residents use DSTT2.

      13. He seems to be talking about the Balducci concept that has both West Seattle and Ballard in DSTT2, or the original concepts before the split spine that also had West Seattle and Ballard in DSTT2. There’s no concept that has only West Seattle in DSTT2.

      14. Daniel, OK, I see where you got it in a different thread. Your reply probably just got misplaced. It happens to all of us.

        I don’t think that a “true” Ballard-West Seattle line makes sense because there would be a serious imbalance in ridership between north of Midtown and south of Midtown. I suppose that if you put in a pocket track at wherever the CID station was placed and the line was automated, every other train out of Ballard could turn back at the pocket. That way there could be five minute service through SLU/LQA and ten minute service to West Seattle.

        Heck, a pocket could be put at Expedia Station as well limiting the high frequencies to the middle 1/3 of the line where all the ridership will be.

        But that means there would be no line to Everett, which I doubt that the Board is going to embrace, or Everett trains would reverse at Forest Street.

      15. I don’t think it matters if there is an imbalance between West Seattle and the Ballard Line. The line could be automated, with smaller, more frequent trains (and smaller stations). This could solve a few issues in Ballard and West Seattle. Meanwhile, the Tacoma Dome train would end at Lynnwood, while the Redmond train would end in Everett.

        It still isn’t good, but it is better than most of the plans. The best value, by far, is to reuse the existing tunnel. I am now a big fan of the Ballard stub (although I could definitely live with the Ballard branch). I think it makes sense to send all three trains up to Northgate. This would save a lot of money in the short term, while offering up many advantages in the long run. It would increase capacity where it is needed (UW to downtown). In could eventually be extended to serve stations on First Hill and then connect to Judkins Park and Mount Baker Station. That is essentially your “relief line”. If you are coming from the East Side and headed to First Hill, South Lake Union or Uptown, you get off the train at Judkins Park, thus reducing the number of people headed to the main part of downtown. Same with Mount Baker. Even if we never need the extra capacity, it adds a lot of value.

        I know folks have made these points before, but they are worth repeating. From every possible aspect, it is better. Better for riders; less crowding in the short and long run; less disruptive; better long term coverage; cheaper.

  1. The King of Prussia timeline is curious. They had a their DEIS in 2018 and their final EIS and ROD issued in 2021. Now they determined it was $3B rather than $2B and they suspended the project.

    1. Not quite sure how true it is, but there seemed to be a lot of outcry and analysis after Alan Fisher’s original video in 2022 came out about it.

      > The Worst Transit Project in America and the Flawed Agency that’s Building it
      (about the king of prussia project)

      Or it could just be more banal reason, running out of money too. It doesn’t look like SEPTA really had the cash for it.

  2. Burien was a streetcar suburb; it has a walkable street grid and good restaurants. White Center is an urbanized area where King County provides local governmental services and zoning. Note the Delridge library; it has housing atop; Seattle missed the opportunity to have housing atop the Ballard, Greenwood, and Northgate libraries, even though Nickels favored it.

    1. Just curious. What do you think about the Wallingford Branch now housed in the Solid Ground building? It’s a multipurpose building, scaled to the neighborhood as it was when built I might add, but do you see this branch in the same light as the others you’ve listed with regard to housing?

  3. While poking around about SEPTA looking for the King of Prussia rail project, I see that they are getting Citadis vehicles!

    These are open gangways trains. They are claiming that some trains can run up to 56 mph. They are designed to have end cabs and middle cabs and the length can be adjusted to expected demand.

    The Citadis modular vehicle design is what much of the rest of the world (not ST) is looking to have as a future vehicle type.

    Of course, I’m waiting for someone to claim that a more modern vehicle type can’t be run by ST.

    1. The video calls it a “high-speed line”. But it’s not intercity rail and doesn’t seem to be like Cascades. So what is it? Just higher speed than other Philadelphia-area lines? How compatible is it with what we have in Pugetopolis?

      1. I once rode the Norristown line in 1981!

        From what I remember the “speed” is just that it doesn’t stop frequently like a historical streetcar would.

      2. Al’s right. The line was built by the Philadelphia and Western as a steam interurban in the first decade of the Twentieth Century but it was electrified relatively quickly. When private ownership ended in 1970 the infrastructure was bought by SEPTA to retain the service.

        I think it is the only remaining rural third rail at-grade line in the United States.

        It used to run at seventy, which made it “high speed” in contrast to the Philadelphia LR lines. But it was cut back to fifty-five as a result of three pretty bad crashes in the naughties.

  4. I wonder how many of the RapidRide H riders already know or will be excited to learn that their shiny new bus connection to downtown (replacing their less shiny but still fast bus connection to downtown) is only temporary, and that Sound Transit is making it a high priority to kick them off said bus and force them up a “vertical conveyance” to transfer just to get downtown.

    Getting to the airport will now require a long walk down a cold corridor downtown with your luggage, in addition to one at the airport. You’re going to love it!

    1. On the bright side, those continuing past downtown to the UW will actually save time with West Seattle Link, by moving the transfer point out of downtown. The catch is that West Seattle’s one seat ride to the UW will come at the expense of the Rainier Valley.

      1. those continuing past downtown to the UW will actually save time with West Seattle Link, by moving the transfer point out of downtown.

        Will they though? According to Google, the bus goes from Delridge & Genesee to University Station in 13 minutes. Beacon Hill Station to University on Link is 10 minutes. Beacon Hill is closer, but not a lot closer, so add one minute. That means the train gets you downtown in 11 minutes, instead of 13.

        It also isn’t clear which transfer is faster. Assume they are the same. OK, now imagine that they run both the bus and train, and that you stay on the bus. Also assume that the times are random (we don’t know when the train will arrive, relative to the bus). The West Seattle train runs every 10 minutes. So 2 minutes out of 10, it is worth making that transfer in West Seattle. In other words, 20% of the time, a transfer there saves you time. The rest of the time it doesn’t matter.

        But wait, remember that fairly soon, East Link and South Link will interline. When that happens, the train runs every 5 minutes from downtown to the UW, instead of every 10 minutes. So now there is a 30% possibility that you get downtown and catch the train coming from Rainier Valley, thus saving you time (and a 50% chance that you end up on the same train you would have — the one from West Seattle). Overall, I would call it a wash for trips on Link north of downtown.

        Other than being forced to transfer, the biggest difference are the stops along the way. Link serves SoDo, Stadium, CID and Pioneer Square before University. The C hugs the shore before they merge. I would give the edge to Link, except of course, there is the need to transfer. Not only the time spent waiting, but also the time spent going up or down to the platform. Also consider that the C continues past Westlake, and covers South Lake Union quite well. So in terms of destinations, I would give the edge to the C.

        This is what makes it so much different than other lines. Imagine you are making the same type of case for keeping the 41. Riders are forced to transfer to get downtown. Getting from say, Northgate Way & 5th NE to various downtown locations is at best a wash — it requires an annoying and time consuming transfer. Except now that transfer comes with dramatically improved travel times to extremely popular stations. Getting from that same spot in the Northgate neighborhood to the UW or Capitol Hill is dramatically faster. This is really why West Seattle Link is a bad idea. There is very little “on the way”. Both the train and the bus spend miles without picking anyone up. This will basically improve frequency for trips to SoDo (over the 50) but SoDo is our least popular station. Other than game day, I see this adding minimal value.

        Meanwhile, the vast majority of riders will lose time to their destination. If you are headed downtown it will take longer. If you are headed to First Hill, South Lake Union, the Central Area, Eastlake, Westlake, Fremont or any of the Aurora based destinations — it will take longer. You will have to transfer to get downtown, and then transfer again (like you always have). Overall, it looks worse for riders.

        Put it another way. Imagine they kept the 41. A lot of people would stay on it to go downtown. But a lot of people would get off to catch Link. If they did the same thing with the H, I see very few actually making the transfer to Link. We are talking a few dozen (a bit more than catch the 50 to SoDo, but not a lot more).

        However, Metro will save money by truncating there. Basically West Seattle riders (on buses like the H) are going to “take one for the team”. They will be worse off, but Metro will be able to increase frequency overall.

        Or, as Mike suggested, Metro will ignore Link and just run the H downtown. If that happens, the Delridge Station will likely be our least used station in the city (replacing SoDo). Either way it is a lot of money to spend on something that will benefit very few.

      2. I was thinking that with the C-link transfer downtown, which I have personally done several times, it’s a good 10 minutes between when the bus exits the highway and when you’re actually in the tunnel, waiting for Link. And this is on a good day, with no traffic. It’s a combination of University St. Station being deep, the C line not stopping right in front of it, so you have to walk a couple blocks, and the poorly timed stoplights heading up the hill that make the bus wait over a minute for every single block. Going south, the C line also gets stuck in stadium event traffic, which West Seattle Link, for sure, wouldn’t. All that stuff sounds small individually, but it adds up.

      3. Of course the train will get to University Street Station faster than the bus. That explains why it takes 13 minutes, instead of 11. These are Google’s numbers, not mine. They put the walking distance as a minute. The station is deep as well. So from the bus stop to the platform it takes a while, but the same may very well be true with the station. Not sure how far the walk is to the base, then there is getting up to the platform. Just to be clear, I agree that if you are going farther north, your trip from West Seattle will be faster on the train. But not so much faster that it is worth reducing your frequency in half. Not most of the time, most of the day (when most of the riders are taking Link). As I wrote, the only time it really makes sense to take Link is game day — which is rare.

        Oh, and this also assumes that we don’t make further improvements to surface transit in the mean time. We have been doing that for years. Not as fast as everyone would like, but bit by bit, things are getting better. Given West Seattle won’t be connected to the rest of the line for a very long time, by the time it opens, taking the bus will remain the better option for the vast majority of trips (or they don’t truncate, and only a handful will use that station).

    2. That decision is Metro’s, not ST’s. The Metro Connects map in 2016-2020 had the H continuing to downtown, while the C turned into a West Seattle-Burien route. The current RapidRide candidate map is hard to interpret, but some see the H turning into a 50-H-131 route (Alki, Delridge, 9th Ave SW). Still, that has not been proposed to West Seattle, so we don’t know how much pushback and tradeoffs would occur if it is proposed in the 2030s. And Metro may change its mind by then and propose different routes. Metro’s previous vision had Alki attached to the C, so I don’t know why it would have been moved to the H. Doesn’t Alki make more sense on a California route?

    3. Oh, the last line is not right, that’s the experience getting to the Eastside. To the airport you could transfer at SODO. At the “North CID” and “South CID” stations are only for the Tacoma-Ballard line.

      I have trouble keeping it straight and I’ve been reading this blog and every ST report from the start. Can you imagine newbies and tourists trying to navigate the “DSTT2 + NoCID” system?

      DSTT2 + “NoCID” shifts riders away from our existing business districts in the CID and Pioneer Square. It manages to sever the connection to the regional rail station and the streetcar as well.

      All of this, really, is to get 2 or 3 new Link stations in West Seattle that make the service worse for everyone there who has to transfer, which is most of the riders because of the basic layout of that peninsula. That was self-evident over a century ago when they built not 1 but 3 streetcar lines out there (one to Alki, one climbing up to California Ave. heading south, and one to the Junction in an alignment similar to Link.)

      1. They’d just say, “American cities have bad transit”, and it might make them less enthusiastic to come to Seattle. But there is an alternative. Stride 1 will go from Bellevue to TIB, and from there you can get Link to SeaTac. We were hoping to get more people to take Link 2+1 to the airport instead, but if that transfer is worse than expected, taking BRT may be more worth promoting instead. That would of course contradict the investment in Link: when you spend billions of dollars on rail, you should make it as good as possible so that it’s the first choice for the most people.

        However, Link will still have an advantage for the significant number of riders northeast of Bellevue Downtown. There the fact that Link continues as a one-seat ride partly makes up for a longer transfer downtown.

      2. Mike, I thought Nathan posted that 6% or 8% of passengers today take Link to the airport. And that is from Seattle since that is the only place Link is, which is a one seat fairly direct N/S route to SeaTac.

        I could see driving someone to a Link station to get to the airport if I lived in north Seattle or south SnoCo if traffic was bad (unless it was my wife). I imagine from the eastside Link will have even fewer passengers using it to get to SeaTac than the 6-8% of Seattleites.

        The obvious route from the eastside to SeaTac is 405. But on Monday I took I-90 to I-5 to SeaTac to pick up my 19-year-old daughter (who also would object to taking Link to a station to be picked up) at 5pm and I was amazed at how light the traffic was to and from the airport, even including the cluster where four lanes merge onto I-5 at the intersection with I-90. Waze said 27 minutes via I-5 and 30 via 405 although I did not believe either, but Waze was correct.

        Passengers often have luggage and luggage is heavy. Link is slow. It drops you off a long way from the terminal (Uber drops you off right at the terminal rather than across the road). 90% of trips are already by car, and my guess is safety is a big reason for that. Driving someone to the airport is often seen as a show of affection (or duty). Having to get to East Link to transfer in Pioneer Square at the mega station and take an unsecured underground tunnel from 5th and James to 3rd and James to then take Link through the RV to SeaTac means well less than 5% of eastsiders will take Link to SeaTac.

        I don’t think most travelers or tourists factor in transit when deciding to visit Seattle. Either it is work, or if it is pleasure they want vibrancy and things to do, and most of all safety.

        One of the interesting statistics I recently saw is how deeply Uber is cutting into rental cars. I know a lot of folks who now only use Uber when they fly someplace. One no parking. Two no driving after drinking. Three no hassle with the rental. Four not that much more expensive, especially if you will be taking Uber anyway after drinking. Makes sense to me.

      3. “I thought Nathan posted that 6% or 8% of passengers today take Link to the airport”

        That’s part of the American problem. Transit hasn’t been good so people don’t take it; society is structured so that cars and parking are highly subsidized; and people believe it’s normal to live like kings and aristocrats. The fact they’re even going to the airport and there’s no comprehensive intercity rail network as an alternative is part of it.

        “Passengers often have luggage”

        But they often don’t have luggage too, or just a light carry-on. For instance, business travelers who are going for a few days and staying in hotels, and not taking a fancy night dress ensemble. Transit to the airport is mainly intended for those people, not for people with fifteen heavy suitcases.

        “I don’t think most travelers or tourists factor in transit when deciding to visit Seattle. Either it is work, or if it is pleasure they want vibrancy and things to do, and most of all safety.”

        Transit ideally is part of the vibrancy, and an efficient way to get around (less impacts on the host city)f, and safe.

        “how deeply Uber is cutting into rental cars.”

        When I was looking for a taxi last year to get my relative home from the hospital and if she couldn’t drive anymore, I was told they’d have to dispatch a taxi from Seattle because the Eastside doesn’t have taxis any more; Uber has driven them out of business. I asked on STB if this were true and if there are any alternatives, and somebody mentioned Eastside For Hire. I looked at EFH’s website and I couldn’t really figure out what they do but it doesn’t seem suited for ad-hoc short-distance trips.

        I’ve never used Uber or Metro Flex-type microtransit and never expected to, but I’ve now started thinking about using Metro Flex for trips like to the SeaTac Botanical Garden (nearest half-hourly bus a mile away), and if they reinstate it in Crossroads (as the East Link restructure suggested Metro might do), to the adult family home (a 30-40 minute walk to the B, or a 20 minute walk if I transfer to a 226/245 for the second-last mile). Especially now that I’ve got arthritis in my leg so it’s sometimes difficult to walk that much.

      4. I’ve seen many Europeans with heavy suitcases taking transit. So that’s not much of an inhibitor. Only if you’re taking multiple suitcases like I was when moving back to the US does that mean you use different options instead. Like a taxi and airport coach combo in my case from Florence to Bolonga Airport.

        Funny enough yestarday I saw a group of like 7 people with multiple suitcases trying to use the public bus to go to the airport. I was honestly a bit baffled because a private van would’ve been much cheaper in that instance to get there than trying to schlep it on public transit.

        I’d take Link from SeaTac to Tacoma if it existed right now because my parents hate dealing with the airport and much easier to pick me up at TDS. It’d also be a vast improvement over the current situation with coach buses but no allowing of use for the storage and the bus route taking forever.

      5. My own theory about airports: They are simply a reflection of overall transit use. They aren’t “special” from a transit perspective. For example, for years a lot of people would take transit downtown, but nowhere else. Well before Link got here, the line was “the buses are OK, if you are going downtown”. This gradually got extended to places like the UW. Now Capitol Hill. But it is still largely a driving mindset. People complain about the lack of parking in Ballard for example. Do people in Manhattan complain about the lack of parking in Brooklyn? Of course not. But now Ballard is “special” (like downtown, the UW, Capitol Hill) in that people will consider taking transit, just because parking is a big hassle, even if their default is driving.

        The number of people who are default transit users has increased, but not by a huge amount. These folks tend to be concentrated in the urban parts of Seattle, and a few pockets on the East Side. And, of course, people who can’t afford a car, and those folks are spread out everywhere. (Some are dependent on a car, but can’t afford it of course — USA, USA, USA!)

        Anyway, the airport is a regional destination. People don’t take spontaneous trips there; the amount of time it takes to get there doesn’t effect its use. This makes it different than say, Capitol Hill, or Ballard. I would imagine a lot of people in Roosevelt now travel to Capitol Hill (using the train) just because it is so quick and easy. That is not the case with the airport.

        The airport is well served by the freeways. Trips there occur throughout the day, so they aren’t concentrated during peak (traffic) times. I have no idea the breakdown between occasional and regular travelers. The more irregular the travel, the more likely you are to just call a cab. Likewise, if you have a big family, you are more likely to just park at the airport, or ask to be dropped off. Then you have people who work there. It is a significant, but not huge employment destination. I have no idea what a typical shift is like. It is interesting that with the 574, there is a huge wave very early in the morning — I have no idea if that reflects early flights, or early workers. I have no idea if parking is easy for those that work there.

        In short, airports aren’t special. If lots of people in the region take transit, then they will take transit to the airport. Otherwise, a relatively small portion will.

      6. Ross,

        For what it’s worth, when transit from airports to the downtown core is direct and easy to use, I tend to take it, even if it means transferring again. An example of this is Stockholm’s Arlanda Express, which I found very convenient, even when I did not stay near the terminal station in downtown Stockholm. A counter example is transit in Florence, which (at the time I went, anyway) seemed confusing enough to me that I did not attempt it, and instead took a cab to downtown Florence.

      7. “A counter example is transit in Florence, which (at the time I went, anyway) seemed confusing enough to me that I did not attempt it, and instead took a cab to downtown Florence.”
        Was thus before they built the tram? Because it’s lot better now with a 25 minute tram ride to central Florence.

      8. I see lower wage airport employees all the time when I take Link to SeaTac. There are thousands there — but they work for many different employers while Link may not be viable for Dome shifts, it works for others.

        By the way, pickup traffic at the airport is bad each evening. I think the time it takes to wait for someone in the cell phone lot it’s possible to do the long walk to Link and be on a train.

      9. If you count flights, taxis, and shuttles as transit, SeaTac is the largest transit hub in the northwest by far. Hundreds of people arrive and depart every hour. Handling large bursts of crowds is one of the things high-capacity transit is for and does best. It’s also worthwhile to connect multimodal transit if both services are readonably frequent.

        Having a subway, S-Bahn, and/or regional train station at the airport is one of the things cities with comprehensive transit increasingly do. London Gatwick has an airport express, regional train line, and national train station. I took it directly to Bristol. Duesseldorf airport has an S-Bahn station. Zurich airport I’m told you can get a train to anywhere in the country, both large and small towns.

        Having a lot of flights also means the airport is a large employer. The work schedules seems to skew early. The 574 has an odd span of 2am-10:30pm northbound. This is apparently to fit airport workers’ shifts. Kent and Auburn also have very early service to the airport, both on the previous 181, and now on the 24-hour 161 and 160. Of course, in order for passengers to depart at 6am, the planes and services have to be ready by then.

      10. We are all theorizing about SeaTac. I don’t have much data. I do know about 80,000 people take flights on average, each day. I have no idea how many live here or visit. I was focused on the people who live here. My point being that people who are used to driving simply drive (or get someone to drive them) to the airport, while people who take transit take transit. In that sense it is not special. It is like a trip U-Village. Transit there is actually quite good. My guess is though, the people who drive most places in the city drive there as well.

        My guess is that visitors to SeaTac are similar. Consider the previous comment:

        An example of this is Stockholm’s Arlanda Express, which I found very convenient, even when I did not stay near the terminal station in downtown Stockholm. A counter example is transit in Florence, which (at the time I went, anyway) seemed confusing enough to me that I did not attempt it, and instead took a cab to downtown Florence.

        Right, but you didn’t rent a car. Why not? Because you were in Europe. If, on the other hand, you landed in, say, Phoenix, chances are, you would have rented a car. Well, maybe not you, specifically, but most visitors who are used to driving (which means most Americans). There is an assumption in most American cities that you need a car to get around. People think they need one in Seattle — they don’t feel that way in New York, Chicago or Boston. The very low transit rate at the airport reflects the current opinion of transit for both residents and visitors. That is changing, slowly, but unless we get a massive huge improvement in transit, that will continue to be the case. That won’t happen unless we spend a lot more money on buses. Spending our train money more wisely would definitely help, but we need to run the buses more often (and more wisely as well).

      11. I would never land in Boston, NY or Chicago and take a bus. Well, maybe a shuttle from JFK to the A, but that’s about it.

        Buses have a learning curve, and I have found in Seattle it is a lot of trial and error. They are often confusing and the routes and stops change. Imagine you don’t know Seattle at all, and you are trying to take a bus to Burien. Your buddy you are staying with who lives above Logan say’s “It’s Easy. Just take the bridge to the elevator and hop on the 560.” Next thing you know you are in Renton. That’s the last time you try to get around by bus in a town you don’t know.

        It would take some serious work and research and dedication for a tourist to attempt to get around by bus in any American city. Trains are much easier and understandable.

      12. I’ve taken buses to/from LaGuardia before, and always the subway from JFK. Likewise in DC from Reagan International. SFO is easier to do with BART adn Caltrain but I have taken the 280 (I think?) to go somewhere down the peninsula before. It’s not that bad, with a little advance planning. I’ve actually taken transit to SEA less often than most other airports since I often get a ride on this side of the trip, though I’ve taken the 560 before to meet family there, or to get to or from the airport in the middle of the day when I was working in downtown Bellevue.

      13. It is also possible if you don’t know what you’re doing to get on a train going the wrong direction. Or, in the driving world, make a wrong turn or miss a freeway exit. I recall one time my family was driving through Baltimore and a wrong turn out us on the freeway and we had to drive 10 miles before we could turn around. This is not an issue specific to buses.

        Of course, one problem that is a big issue with the 560 is it’s hourly frequency, which means that if you do get on the bus going the wrong way, you might be stuck waiting a full hour to turn around. But the solution to that problem is not rail, it’s to run the bus more often.

      14. Imagine you don’t know Seattle at all, and you are trying to take a bus to Burien. Your buddy you are staying with who lives above Logan say’s “It’s Easy. Just take the bridge to the elevator and hop on the 560.” Next thing you know you are in Renton.

        You could, of course, ask the bus driver or one of the other passengers “Is this the bus to Burien?”. Seems like a very reasonable thing to do as you leave an airport, or wait for a bus.

      15. Zach B.

        I think I speak for much of Tacoma when I say the most exciting parts of the the light rail system are trips to downtown Seattle and the airport. If you’re going to Mexico for week with a carry-on, the bus is currently the best way to go.

        What I’ve always thought about Sound Transit rail is the system will get clogged with too many stops (remember, TOD is one hell of a drug!) and the train trip to SeaTac will be longer than the bus trip.

      16. @tacomee

        > I think I speak for much of Tacoma when I say the most exciting parts of the the light rail system are trips to downtown Seattle and the airport. If you’re going to Mexico for week with a carry-on, the bus is currently the best way to go.
        > What I’ve always thought about Sound Transit rail is the system will get clogged with too many stops

        I mean it’s a light rail system so it’s trying to combine urban stops with suburban stops. It will always have the problem of both of too little and too many stops since it’s trying to do everything.

        You’re not wrong that an express bus is faster than the light rail, since it can skip many stops. Honestly if that’s all that Tacoma wanted a direct connection to the airport an express bus system using some hov lanes on i5 and adding center lane exits/entrances would be faster (both construction time and travel time) than link.

        > (remember, TOD is one hell of a drug!)

        Not quite sure what this means? Like currently we can barely get them to build housing instead of massive parking garages next to the link stations.

      17. An express bus may be faster, but the limited set of trips it can serve limits ridership and therefore frequency. The stops in the Rainier Valley, by adding ridership help justify the 10 minute service all day long, which an express bus from downtown to SeaTac certainly would not get.

        Also, the train has sneaky ways to make up a lot of time difference that aren’t immediately obvious. For instance, it loads and unloads passengers with luggage much faster than a bus can. Plus, it avoids the traffic congestion at the airport and the stoplights downtown. Continuing past downtown for a one seat ride to UW and Northgate also also a lot for those going there.

      18. I mean it’s a light rail system so it’s trying to combine urban stops with suburban stops. It will always have the problem of both of too little and too many stops since it’s trying to do everything.

        Yes, exactly, like similar systems in the United States. I would write “similar systems in the rest of the world”, but the rest of the world doesn’t build things like this. It just doesn’t. It may leverage existing rail lines, and combine them with new urban lines (S-Bahn). Or, more often, it just runs existing rail lines directly into the heart of the city (all day, or only during commute hours, making it “commuter rail”). It may run buses to the end points of the urban rail system, or directly into the city (or both). But a system like this, with hugely expensive new rail, gigantic stop spacing and pretty much nothing in terms of destinations until you get very close to downtown? That is a uniquely American construct. It has been attempted many times, and failed, repeatedly. It is neither here nor there, but more importantly, ridiculously expensive. A mass transit system is not about getting everyone to a single destination. It is about the combination of trips. Northgate to the UW; Roosevelt to Capitol Hill; Capitol Hill to Beacon Hill. These are the trips that generate so much ridership in our system. That won’t be the case with Tacoma Dome Link. There just aren’t that many people going from Tukwila to Fife.

        You’re not wrong that an express bus is faster than the light rail, since it can skip many stops. Honestly if that’s all that Tacoma wanted a direct connection to the airport, an express bus system using some hov lanes on i5 and adding center lane exits/entrances would be faster (both construction time and travel time) than link.

        Yes, and it is exactly what they should have built. Well that, and much better bus service in Tacoma. For the same amount of money as Tacoma Dome Link, they could have both. We could have express buses running from Tacoma to downtown and SeaTac, along with buses on every major Tacoma corridor running every ten minutes all day long, with a minimal amount of congestion and off-board payment. This would increase ridership a lot more, help existing riders a lot more, and cost a lot less money. But Tacoma — like so many American cities — is continuing down the uniquely American way of building mass transit. When the dust settles, they will still have a poor transit system, despite spending a fortune.

      19. “You could, of course, ask the bus driver or one of the other passengers “Is this the bus to Burien?”.

        This should not be necessary if you want an easy-to-use system.

        I did exactly this BTW. 5 seconds after boarding. He chuckled and said “Nope. But don’t feel bad, it happens multiple times a day. Next stop, Renton!”

    4. My friend in White Center gave the H a big “Eh. It’s slow. I’ll just continue taking the 131.”

      Every 20 minutes on weekdays and 30 mins on weekends? I thought frequency was supposed to be RR’s big advantage. Waste of wrappers.

      1. The H is 15 minutes weekday evenings and weekend daytime, and 20 minutes weekend evenings. The 131 is half-hourly, very unreliable, and I doubt it’s any faster. I can’t believe anyone would take the 131 if there’s another route available. I take the 131/132 to Costco, and experience it often being ten minutes late. I looked at an adult family home on the 131 in north Burien for a relative, and the bus access was so bad I couldn’t accept it. It was off six-lane high-speed 1st Ave S with no nearby crosswalk, and the bus stops had no place to sit so you’d have to stand the whole time, and with a half-hourly route that’s often late that’s a big deal. What I was most worried about was eventually getting hit by a car if I crossed 1st Ave S every few weeks.

      2. Huh. You are right. I must have been looking at evenings. Thanks.

        It looks closer to every 10 minutes weekdays.

      3. “waste of wrappers”

        LOL. I got a chuckle out of that one, Pretty much sums up RR though.

    5. Route 128 reaches the TIBS Link station; with a restructure, more West Seattle routes could meet Link at the SODO Link station via the South Lander Street overcrossing. West Seattle Link may take a long time to construct.

      1. I thought about taking the 128 from TIBS the other day. Then I realized that the Sounder is pretty dang far from TIBS. Why did they do that?

    1. Yes, see the “guest post guidelines” page linked in the “about us” page. The process for setting up accounts has some quirks, so email contact at seattletransitblog com if you have difficulty,


    “From the Other Side of I-5: Little Saigon Weighs In On Sound Transit’s Light Rail Expansion In the CID” By Friends of Little Sài Gòn

    “In our review, the North/South options have similar risks of displacement and disruption as the 4th Ave. alternative, with few of the potential improvements, such as expanded accessibility, ease of use, and residential and commercial reinvestment. ”

    Tomorrow will be very interesting.

    1. Exactly. How will Jackson Street buses like the 7, 14, and 36 get to a Constantinople station? Or the First Hill streetcar? The CID activists think everybody is going to CID businesses/homes, but some are going to Little Saigon businesses/homes or further.

  6. Brent, if you want us to do ranked-choice voting on the ST3 downtown alternatives, what are the choices? Or you can set up an external survey so that it will tally the totals for us.

    1. That is a good question Mike: what are the remaining options for DSTT2?

      CID north/south is an (the) option.

      CID is out unless someone offers the CID enough to change their mind, but it doesn’t look like ST wants to try no matter how badly transit advocates want the CID to take a bullet for transit but no cash, and there isn’t time anymore. Negotiations should have started years ago.

      4th Ave. is too expensive for a tunnel that is still underestimated by around $2 billion.

      It looks like a midtown station is out. My guess is those stakeholders have the same objections the CID have but tend to work behind the scenes with lobbyists and lawyers. Poof, the midtown station disappears, and not because it had very deep platforms or was bad for transit riders.

      So, it looks like the options are exactly the same options Harrell, Constantine and the ST Board realized are left: CID north at a hole in the ground with a tunnel to Pioneer Square for transfers in an area dominated by vacant public buildings, and CID south.

      I am not sure we need ranked choice voting for one option. The solution will be down the road when someone has to admit the money is not there for DSTT2 or WSBLE, so really there are no options.

      1. I don’t know of any transit advocates wanting “CID to take a bullet for transit”
        because transit advocates want better transit.

        Creating a bomb crater in the middle of a vibrant neighborhood is the opposite of what transit advocates want.

        There are ways of significantly reducing construction impacts. The favorite one would be using the existing tunnel, as you well know.

      2. as you well know

        Glenn, Daniel is an attorney, and Rule 1 for an attorney is never, never, EVER stipulate something that your opponent believes may help his or her case. Make them spend a lot of money proving it to the court; this also of course amplifies the attorney’s income as well.

    2. Whatever choices you deem worthy of ranking. I haven’t studied any more than the three choices being debated.

      I don’t have the tech to set up a survey, but I like the idea. If it’s three choices, you just have to list each 1st/2nd combo as an option as if it were a traditional single-choice poll. And then hopefully Dow’s consultants won’t find a way to bot up the support for the skip-CID.

      (But kudos to ST for using ranked choices for priorities in some of their online polls.)

    3. The question is what STB commentators want, so speculation on whether Midtown is dead or 4th is too expensive are irrelevant: we should have those options anyway, and people can consider those factors in their votes.

      So the alternatives I see are: 5th Avenue Shallow (the representative alignment), 4th Avenue Shallower, the various North/South/NoMidtown proposals (as multiple items so we can see which variation has the most/least support), and the various single-tunnel proposals. Among those are Ballard merging into DSTT1 at Westlake, Ballard merging into DSTT1 at University Street, a Ballard-Westlake stub (compatible with a possible future First Hill extension), automated for all of these, or an automated Ballard-West Seattle line. And if you want to throw in the coverage options, a Ballard-First Hill-West Seattle line. That gets complicated and multidimensional, so would the choices be all of those? Some of those? Multiple questions so we can choose both an ST-expedient alignment (the politically-easier ones) and an ideal alignment (e.g., going furter east)?

    4. I’m not inclined to make a survey myself, but if anyone wants to champion this and make a survey or write an article, go ahead.

      1. It’s too late. We might have made a difference had we done such a poll two weeks ago and sent a representative to present the results at today’s meeting. But the race baiters have won the day. It will be “North and South” which, when all is said and done, will cost 80% of Shallower Fourth + Midtown because “consultants” and deliver 40% of the transit service and benefits.

  7. The scarcity of public restrooms. ($) The US has an average of 8 public toilets for every 100,000 people.

    “I took the rapid-transit PATCO Speedline, which doesn’t have bathrooms on trains. The station I left from in Southern New Jersey didn’t have one either, nor did the one where I arrived in Philadelphia. When I arrived at my friend’s hotel, the lobby’s bathrooms were locked. Fortunately, I was able to follow a woman with a passcode into the bathroom. But that was a matter of luck. Relying on whims of fate was my only option because the United States — and much of the world — has a public bathroom problem.”

    The article has pictures of public restrooms in Japan, where the buildings double as public art.

  8. Another article you may want to link to is the ninth circuit striking down Seattle’s ordinance that prohibited landlords from asking prospective tenants about their criminal history.…_3_21_2023&utm_term=Registered%20User

    Based on anecdotal evidence from landlords of SFH’s in Seattle this ordinance led some of them to sell their rentals, along with the eviction moratoria that they thought was abused, and difficulty evicting a non-paying tenant or recouping damages by a tenant. Of course, housing values were at a peak too. There was some speculation multi-family landlords in Seattle were keeping units vacant, in part based on these restrictions, but I haven’t seen any evidence of that except what I hear from individuals.

    What I always wondered is whether our progressive Seattle Council members who adopted this ordinance ever wondered whether the other tenants in the building without criminal histories would like their landlord to inquire about a prospective tenant’s prior criminal history, especially if it had to do with violent or sexual crimes. Only in Seattle does a registered sex offender have to list their current residence but a landlord can’t ask a prospective tenant if they are a felon or registered sex offender when they will be living right next to someone and riding the elevator and walking the halls with other tenants day and night.

    1. Where will those with a criminal history who are tying to put their life back together find housing if all landlords refuse them? This was happening too much before the change.

      1. As a person who’s leased many apartments to different folks, it’s an industry of difficult calls that no one is going to get all right. The more “renter’s rights” there are, the more picky landlords are going to be easing units. The easier it is to evict someone, the easier it is to lease to a less desirable prospect because it’s easier to get rid of them if things go sideways.

        Of course there is a solution….. more home ownership. As long as the percent of renters vs. homeowners keeps going up in Seattle, the City is headed for more political and and economical instability.

      2. Do you think somebody who just got out of jail or has only been out of jail a few years is going to be able to afford a house? They also get the lowest-paying jobs.

      3. Mike, I have a son who rents in the UW and a daughter who rents in CA. I want to know the criminal history of the other tenants. I don’t care if Charles Campbell rents next to you but do care about my kids.

        There was a piece on King 5 tonight. Recently a police officer was shot and killed serving an eviction notice. A young mother with a rental lost $120,000 in rent from a tenant who refused to pay and it took three deputies and tens of thousands of dollars in city resources to evict the tenant who had five guns illegally as a felon.

        Herbold of course moaned about the tenant.

        Whom do you think pays for these deadbeat tenants? Other tenants in their rent increases.

        You are privileged because you can afford a very expensive and exclusive apartment. But what about poor tenants who are the ones living among felons with kids when they have no idea who is a felon or for what. I really think that is unfair and cruel to these folks.

      4. There’s no magic bullet here, but I think the key is to make the release process more gradual, rather than simply dumping people out onto the street the day their sentence is up. For example, maybe at first, they are assigned a place to live, and allowed to leave only for for work and other approved purposes. Then, after remaining clean for a period of time, they earn the right to come and go freely or even live on their own if they can find someone willing to take them. Then, after a longer period, their conviction eventually becomes hidden from landlords, but only after they have been re-integrated into society for several years with no further offenses. The exact timetable of such a transition would need to very from person to person, depending on the individual and the risk level they pose to society based on the crimes they have committed. Obviously, a murderer or sex offender should have a much longer re-integration period than someone simply simply caught drug dealing, and the whole process would need to be supervised by a judge.

        So, eventually, yes, someone who got out of prison should be able to live anywhere they can afford the rent, without their past conviction disqualifying them, but only years after release (maybe decades for violent criminals), and only if their record remains clean. For the interim period, the only solution is some form of public housing, as the government has the unique ability to act as a landlord of last resort and accept tenants that nobody else wants.

      5. “Of course there is a solution….. more home ownership. As long as the percent of renters vs. homeowners keeps going up in Seattle, the City is headed for more political and and economical instability.”

        Europe has generally good tenant rights and some countries like Germany have high rental rates in terms of rental/home ownership.
        People can point to Berlin as the problem child in Germany from its tenant rights they’ve implemented in recent years, but Berlin has always been an outlier to Germany overall in my view.

        For me, I don’t see political and economic instability coming from high rental to ownership rates and strong tebanr rights. The problem I see becoming an issue is the city becoming paralyzed in not building enough housing to sustain affordability within the city. The SFH zoning is going to choke the city like it has in SF and LA. I’d say this is something that places like Minneapolis/St.Paul have got right in terms of the long term zoning and building reform they’ve done over the last decade to make it a better region to live in. They still have a lot of older housing supply and generally new market rentals are only marginally more expensive for starting price.

      6. Zach B.

        I have 20 year old connections in Low Germany, (Hamburg area) and it’s absolutely unfair to compare anything in the USA to how Germany does things.

        It’s not about the police, or laws, or tenant protections, or social housing, or socialized medicine. It’s about Germans being way different than Americans. Germany is a country the size of Montana where the Germans killed off most the non-German people 70 years ago. Socialism thrives in small monocultures where everybody is the same. The USA has a different set of problems and strengths because we’re way bigger and much more diverse.

      7. Daniel, I believe he tenant being evicted was killed (perhaps by himself,) the detective shot is recovering.

      8. Thanks. Very sad.

        Amazing three officers went to serve the eviction in Ballard. It isn’t cheap to evict someone, and according to articles the eviction process is one of the most dangerous for police officers. I imagine landlords and tenants are happy the ninth circuit ruled against Seattle’s ordinance prohibiting landlords from asking a prospective tenant about their criminal history. This is the kind of stupid progressive woke stuff that is so maddening. I am glad Seattle will be getting almost an entirely new council later this year.

      9. Meh, I didn’t know if the tenant had a criminal record. The reports I’ve seen is that he couldn’t/wouldn’t pay rent (some of which may have been due to the pandemic), and was despondent.
        Note, he wasn’t a cop killer as you first stated. As a lawyer, please don’t misrepresent stuff in support of your position. It hurts your position and credibility.

      10. I acknowledged I mistakenly stated the officer had been killed. Instead he was shot in the torso and taken to the ICU in critical condition, which isn’t good. I disagree with your inference that an inability to pay rent validates shooting an officer in the torso when trying to serve an eviction notice, or the fact the officer didn’t die is somehow a mitigating circumstance.

      11. One hundred and twenty thousand dollars on one unit? [You said “a renter” which implies a single unit.]

        Is it the penthouse on Columbia Center? And how did a “young mother” get possession of it to rent?

        Methinks The Counselor has been hornswoggled by some sensationalist “NextDoor” story.

      12. Daniel, you’re a lawyer. I was taught lawyers have certain duties to not misstate facts (not WA, but Rudy Giuliani has been suspended by the DC bar for this). You have a duty (morally if not ethically) to double check your facts, You would do this in a court filing , wouldn’t you? Just because it’s a transit blog no one in power cares about doesn’t excuse your carelessness .

    1. That seems fairer. I wonder how many from Ballard will transfer at Westlake and how many from WS will transfer at Sodo, unless someone from WS is going to SLU. Ridership could be quite low in DSTT2 and volumes in DSTT1 not much different than if they interlined the lines.

      The stations are still CID N/S and no midtown. Why not just stub WS at Sodo and Ballard at Westlake since the majority will transfer to Line 1 at either Sodo or Westlake? I just don’t think N. King Co. wants to give up that $1.1 billion subarea contribution for DSTT2.

      This route is still pretty bad for eastsiders wanting to transfer to Link southbound, but I doubt there will be many, and most will just go to Westlake to avoid Pioneer Square and the 100-yard underground tunnel and then backtrack.

      1. Interesting that Lindblom’s tweet now has the cost of DSTT2 at $3 billion+ without the cost for a shallow 4th Ave. station:

        “This version leaves another question unanswered – why make a 2nd DSTT for $3 billion+ without adding new destinations between Denny and Delridge, unless you call “south of CID” a destination.”

      2. Have…you seen the proposed Westlake transfer?

        I don’t think anyone uses that unless they absolutely have no choice.

      3. I’m not sure what you expected for East Link’s south-of-CID connectivity. It’s been north-of-CID only since ST2 was approved. If an Eastsider wants to head south, they can transfer at CID.

      4. Oops, you are correct Nathan. I was confusing the transfer before this proposal which would have been at CID North. I guess this is the best outcome for eastsiders if there is a DSTT2 which is maybe why Balducci is suggesting it.

      5. Hard to tell what Tacoma and Pierce County is up to…. but a lawsuit isn’t out of the question. There’s a group of lawyers who are friends with pols who meet at Garfield 208 on occasion….. so who knows? Politically, Sound Transit needs to buy Pierce County off if there are changes to original plan… there’s no rubber stamp here. I love 208 Garfield BTW.

      6. Tacomee, I have no idea why Pierce Co. has not withdrawn from ST because Pierce has gotten screwed at every stage, must contribute to DSTT2 that as planned forces every Pierce Co. rider to switch to an inferior tunnel so the few WS residents can access DSTT1, Sounder S. ridership has fallen dramatically, and had $1.2 billion in subarea loans to other subareas with a likely low interest rate in the 2021 subarea report. Plus TDLE just got extended, again, and even when complete has stations in Fife and Tacoma Dome.

        Plus TDLE is estimated to cost $3.2 billion so add 30%, and the subarea after the T-Line has in reserve $1.2 billion after all these years. The only way I see to complete TDLE is to scrap the $1 billion in Sounder S. upgrades and probably eliminate Sounder S. and its 11% to 13% farebox recovery rate, 15 years before TDLE will open.

        My guess is Pierce Co. politicians are hesitant, like all politicians, to end a huge tax increase that raises billions in a poor subarea/county they can play with, or promise to play with, and not be the responsible politician for the unpopular tax.

        I am surprised you don’t mention Keel. He was chair of the ST Board for three years and is now vice chair, and what has he done for Pierce except threaten for years to pull Pierce out of ST, and for what? More delays for TDLE and the T-Line, more loans to other subareas, cuts to Sounder S. and maybe elimination, and a $275 million check to N KC for a SECOND tunnel that is so bad Pierce Co. residents will have to use it so WS residents don’t have to because they are not going to Smith Cove.

      7. Because it’s the second largest city in the region and urban Pierce is an economic driver for the region and doesn’t see itself as a bedroom exurb for Seattle. They have one of the latgest sea ports on the west coast along with one of the most important military base on the west coast as well with JBLM. I’d also point out that urban Pierce actually voted for ST3. The only reason its skewed against it is the way the ST boundaries in Pierce are drawn. They’re drawn very differently from how Snohomish and King did theirs. Which is say they included a lot of rural and exurb areas that don’t have any service out there with the exception of like Bonney Lake. That skews the perception for you as to how Pierce voted.

        And to reiterate please stop advocating for killing intercounty transit in Pierce. It’s really silly and shows how you care about “advocating for better transit” when you want to throw out the baby with the bath water because of one vote. Do I think the ST projects in Pierce are perfect, no absolutely not. But it’s better than nothing and perfer that over becoming an Arlington, TX of car dependency and non existent transit. Because urban Pierce has actual people who live there and only going to bigger as the region grows. You either plan for it or you don’t and regret not doing so earlier. Or worse yet regretting pulling up all the streetcar and interurban infrastructure that existed for more car dependency and freight rail.

      8. Intercounty transit service to Tacoma is an excellent idea. Building a mass transit line (a subway, if you will) to Tacoma is not. It is way too expensive, way too far, and there is way too little in between.

        This is the great irony of Sound Transit. Without a doubt there is a need for this sort of thing. Transit needs don’t stop at county borders. There is a need for express buses, commuter rail, and an agency that can help different counties cooperate on a network near their borders. Personally, I think it should not be region wide, but state wide. WSDOT should have its own budget for transit planners as well as transit funding. But it should be focused on buses and commuter rail, since that is where the greatest cross-county need is.

        King County is huge. It is quite reasonable for a subway to stop before leaving it. Or at most, extend just a bit farther into the suburbs. Running trains from Everett to Tacoma is a really bad idea, and folks in those cities are spending a huge amount of money for very little benefit. To be clear — the express buses and commuter rail are an excellent value. But Tacoma Dome Link and Everett Link is not. Even some of the local spending seems more about image than substance (e. g. the Tacoma Streetcar). What Tacoma needs is more frequent bus service along with better right-of-way for the buses. But compared to the enormous sums for Tacoma Dome Link, even the streetcar is a great value.

        So yeah, pulling out of Sound Transit would mean throwing the baby out with the bathwater. What makes more sense is to just end Link at Federal Way and put the money into better bus service (both across the county line, and within Pierce County).

    2. Wow! Let’s hope that gets some traction. It also shows that at least two ST boardmembers think a Tacoma Dome-Lynnwood and a Lynnwood-Everett line aren’t too long. I hope staff don’t pour cold water on that.

      Line 1 should remain intact, going from Tacoma Dome to at least Lynnwood or Northgate as originally intended. The Rainier/Northeast Seattle axis is the highest-ridership corridor in the region, so it should have a one-seat ride. Passengers have been using it for years now, and it’s foolish to yank it away. Southeast Seattle and Renton (via a 106 transfer) are culturally and economically similar to the CID and Little Saigon, so that generates a lot of trips. All of southeast Seattle, South King County, and Pierce County are equity-emphasis areas, and part of that means having good access to higher-paying jobs and more shopping opportunities in East Seattle and Northeast Seattle. An intact Line 1 does that, while splitting the Spine doesn’t. It also keeps Link competitive with the 48 and 9; without it, some riders would switch back those routes, and the calls for more 9 service would become louder.

      A Ballard-West Seattle line is what everybody expected up to December 2015. This proposal has the bad North of CID and South of CID stations and no Midtown station, but it only affects people who don’t have Link now, so it’s not taking away service they have now. And if we have to choose between Northeast/Southeast vs Northwest/Southwest, if has to be Northeast/Southeast with the best stations, because that’s where the highest ridership and transit demand is.

      The Eastside-airport transfer at CID1 is not wonderful, but it’s no worse than what ST2 will be, or what all the DSTT stations are now. That was the situation where we’re hoping to entice some riders to take Lines 2+1 rather than Stride to the airport, but they still have Stride as a fallback choice.

      This also sets up the possibility of an automated Ballard-West Seattle automated line, with shorter stations, higher frequency, and lower cost than ST’s conventional plan. I don’t expect ST to approve it because it’s been so hesitant on this, but it gives us a position to argue for it. And as for needing its own maintenance base: it looks like this proposal does too. The trains can’t very well switch to the mainline track at the downtown transfer stations, and there doesn’t appear to be anywhere else they could.

      The proposal also has a SODO-SODO transfer for West Seattle to Southeast Seattle. That may increase ST’s attention to the need for a good transfer in SODO.

      1. “It also shows that at least two ST boardmembers think a Tacoma Dome-Lynnwood and a Lynnwood-Everett line aren’t too long.”

        The same ST board members many here consider to have no idea about anything actually relevant to transit?

        “I hope staff don’t pour cold water on that.”

        So you’re hoping that they will lie if the ST board members are wrong?

        I’m nitpicking – but we need to be careful with the arguments, because they are inconsistent, IMHO. I don’t know if the Tacoma – Everett line is too long to be practical; but I think that it is likely the staff know the truth of that better than the board members, given everything that is generally said here about the board, and ST3 in particular.

      2. I’m hoping Claudia and Roger ran it by staff before suggesting it. We’re not experts so we can only guess what the real cutoff is. Tacoma Dome-Lynnwood would be around 2:15 hours. Tacoma Dome-Northgate would be around 1:45. The latter sounds more doable. Some bus routes like the 594 are close to that now.

      3. @Anonymouse/Mike Orr

        Honestly I don’t think the board members are really thinking about the service patterns. Aka similar to how BART just kept extending service further out into the suburbs but didn’t really think about how such long extension would create frequency issues in the core.

        Though more importantly this does call into question if they are still allowed to breach subarea equity then? As that was the original idea behind funneling the trains to Ballard / WS there anyways.

      4. And as for needing its own maintenance base: it looks like this proposal does too. The trains can’t very well switch to the mainline track at the downtown transfer stations, and there doesn’t appear to be anywhere else they could.

        The WSLE includes a connection to OMF-Central, per the DEIS preliminary drawings.

        ST will not consider alternative technology to build WSBLE. However, this does build a testbed for automated versions of the LRVs that are compatible with the existing Link cars.

      5. @WL don’t say subarea equity too loud, you might get some Eastsiders overly excited about not having to send their precious dollars over the Lake.

        An extremely thin argument could be that since DSTT2 has such poor rider experience, that having the other subareas pay into a Seattle-only DSTT2 in order to keep their lines whole is actually some sort of reverse mitigation.

      6. “Though more importantly this does call into question if they are still allowed to breach subarea equity then? As that was the original idea behind funneling the trains to Ballard / WS there anyways.”

        The same principle still applies: subareas shouldn’t be able to shirk equal costs based on which lines are arbitrarily chosen to go on the old or new track. All of the downtown segment on both tracks benefit all subareas. People go from the Eastside to the airport, Ballard, or North Seattle regardless of which lines are on which tracks.

      7. This also simplifies the issue of two tunnels vs one tunnel. ST will still have to grapple with the cost of DSTT2, but at least we won’t have the prospect of significantly worse transit on existing or near-opening lines hanging over our head.

      8. > continuous WSBLE that doesn’t “break the spine” …
        > An extremely thin argument could be that since DSTT2 has such poor rider experience, that having the other subareas pay into a Seattle-only DSTT2 in order to keep their lines whole is actually some sort of reverse mitigation.

        Actually another thing I thought about: I wonder if this completely changes the ridership calculations for federal funding?

        The original ridership of (interlined) DSTT2/West Seattle for federal funding was dependent on the Northgate/Seatac sections. Without those riders I’m not sure the segment would be a good candidate for federal funding anymore. Though on the other hand it could now be downscaled from 4-car trains.

      9. You have it backwards Nathan when it comes to subarea equity. The Eastside can cut a ckeck out of chump change for its contribution to DSTT2. We are just thrilled East Link won’t open until at least 2025.

        We have been subsidizing N KC for over a decade for its gold plated transit.

        $275 million — or 12.5% of the actual cost in 2016 of DSTT2 — that now only serves WS and Ballard and is totally unnecessary for capacity even pre pandemic crushes the poor subareas that can’t finish their own projects due to screw ups like Federal Way or just plain brokenness like SnoCo. But you don’t care.

        So WS and Ballard, two of the most privileged areas, don’t have to exit their light rail stub to transfer to Line 1. They need their own tunnel, paid for by others. At some point the greed and privilege of N Seattle gets to me.

        I am waiting for the a la carte DEIS with LID’s for Ballard and WS, and the realization DSTT2 won’t cost $2.2 billion, or $3 billion, but over $4 billion.

        One “privilege” the poor have is they have no money. N KC which means ALL of Seattle will have to cover the costs of DSTT2 that is so bad few will use it because I don’t think three subareas have even their $275 million contribution, and if N KC demands more and Keel doesn’t pull Pierce out he should be burned in effigy.

        The $20 billion price tag for WSBLE will be another interesting funding issue for N KC with a mayor who doesn’t care about transit.

        Me? I am just a spectator. WSBLE is a total fraud when it comes to project cost estimates, but at $15 billion getting closer. Get out your checkbook.

      10. “The original ridership of (interlined) DSTT2/West Seattle for federal funding was dependent on the Northgate/Seatac sections.”

        We don’t know that; some transit fans have just said it.

      11. @Mike Orr

        > > “The original ridership of (interlined) DSTT2/West Seattle for federal funding was dependent on the Northgate/Seatac sections.”

        > We don’t know that; some transit fans have just said it.

        No, the ridership on the West Seattle and Ballard legs by themselves do not add up high enough to account for the downtown stations portion. Unless if people are just going back and forth only in downtown.

        Here’s a more concrete example: (There’s another document in the lost somewhere giant EIS, though either way if I recall correctly it says something similar.)

        The Ballard leg ridership was only 40~50k. The document’s option 2 (similar to current candidate project’s) ridership has an asterisk on it: 102,000—133,000*

        *Approximately half of ridership shown for C-01b and C-01c travel solely within the ballard-ids segment.

        And I highly doubt the missing 50k riders are coming from West Seattle.

      12. Most WS riders will want to transfer at SODO or Westlake to reach their destination (unless they want to go to SLU/Ballard). SODO transfers will be challenging as you need to traverse 2 escalators and wait for a RV train, so it may take 10min and not pleasant at night. This is not much better than SODO stub.

      13. @ Mike Orr

        How the federal government (New Starts) grants work is based on a myriad of factors but the main one is the capital cost per rider.

        That was the original “ingenious” idea (on the political funding side) of interlining the everett/seatac trains to ballard/seatac. Seattle managed to leverage funding twice, once by using the subareas and secondly from federal grants.

        Currently the old projections were around $42k per rider on the ballard segment (4.5 billion / 102 thousand riders). Now it costs 9 billion* so around $88k per rider. If you then remove half of the riders it’d be $180k per rider (9 billion / ~50 thousand riders).

        We can recalculate/fudge the numbers around a bit, but that’s way too high of a cost per rider for the Federal government to approve.

        * It’s a bit complicated to compare dollar amounts of different years but still it’s a large increase even accounting for inflation.

        For a concrete recent example, that is why the King of Prussia extension was rejected. Too high cost for low ridership.

      1. By Erica C Barnett, a former STB author and a long-time transit and urbanism advocate, and a long-time Seattle journalist.

      2. I’m not against the idea of a West Seattle/Ballard only, but then what even is the point of tunneling on 5th avenue then? The original idea behind it was to provide a switch for Northbound trains from Seatac to reach Ballard.

        Why not just follow the much easier route on 1st/2nd avenue avoiding tunneling under the existing transit tunnel.

      3. @WL too logical.

        But also, the N CID station could connect to First Hill via… gondola?

        Maybe ST will pay for a RapidRide line up James to Cherry through the CD.

      4. I mean to elaborate, you can literally see the giant expense in the drawing itself:

        The 4th shallow alternative shows the 1 line switches back west and east of the transit tunnel. It should just stay west of the transit tunnel on 2nd avenue after ID station.

        For the maintain regional connectivity, the west-seattle/ballard only line tunnels under westlake for no real reason. If both destinations end up west of the transit tunnel, it should just stay west of it.


      5. @Nathan D.

        The North of CID station is literally only one block from Pioneer Square station/ one block closer to First Hill. First Hill is practically a lost cause to reach regardless of station placement. Even the 6th avenue alternative was some mega deep elevator only station.

      6. All the DSTT2 stations from Westlake to CID were trash, until ST cooked up 4th Ave Shallower. But then, of course, the one good station in the entire plan had to cost an extra $700M, and reroute an entire stroad through the CID for a decade.


      7. Why can’t these people see the impending transfer debacle? Why aren’t more North Seattle politicians screaming about the bad Airport transfers?

        If this ridiculous CID station split happens, I see two more moves left on the table.

        1. Force ST to redesign SODO station for cross platform same-direction transfers . ST engineering staff balk at the idea, but if elected officials force the issue I think they would make it happen. It does help Eastside riders but it would UW, North Seattle and Snohomish riders. I think a redesigned SODO station could be done after the FEIS.

        2. Consider the mix-match train option. While that could be decided later, the Board needs to make sure that it’s operationally possible to run both lines now. Again, the SODO track layout is key.

        If the Balducci concept does get traction, it sets up the new line to be fully automated. Then trains can be shorter and station platforms can be shorter — making everything cheaper. It also avoids any operational disruption during construction. So it might have a shot.

        I could see Microsoft doing what they can to keep the campus just an easy transfer to SeaTac. I could see UW wanting direct SeaTac service. However the Gates Foundation may not take to kindly to losing their direct train to SeaTac. God knows what Amazon wants.

      8. “the Gates Foundation may not take to kindly to losing their direct train to SeaTac.”

        I wish the Gates Foundation had made its building more pedestrian-friendly and urban rather than a tower in the park. People who design buildings like that don’t seem to think much about transit riders or walk-ups.

      9. @ Al S.

        > I could see Microsoft doing what they can to keep the campus just an easy transfer to SeaTac. I could see UW wanting direct SeaTac service. However the Gates Foundation may not take to kindly to losing their direct train to SeaTac. God knows what Amazon wants.

        Does the Gates Foundation care that much about direct train to Seatac/have that much political pull? Also I thought they’d care more about easy transfers for their Microsoft campus if they had a choice.

        @ Mike Orr
        > I wish the Gates Foundation had made its building more pedestrian-friendly and urban rather than a tower in the park

        I guess tower in the park was kind of a fad the last few decades, though thankfully recently has been dying out. Semi related like with the redmond campus redesign

      10. “Why can’t these people see the impending transfer debacle? Why aren’t more North Seattle politicians screaming about the bad Airport transfers?”

        The politicians just aren’t knowledgeable enough. I watched Sound Transit present to City of Tacoma Tuesday, barely even apologizing for over a year of delay on T-Link, and now 5 years and counting for TDLE.

        Completely accepting their excuses and letting them off the hook for any sorts of mitigation that might be appropriate during the interim for their incompetence. It was a big lovefest.

        Half the council didn’t even know the right questions to ask. None questioned whether the TDLE was still worth it.

        People who don’t take transit and understand it shouldn’t be making decisions about transit, but that’s the world we live in.

        I was in a talk recently from a supposed expert on transit and equity in Pierce County, and I asked about thoughts on repurposing the dollars for TDLE to build out a BRT network. She asked me what BRT was.

        Even the planner trying to bail her out spoke of wider stop spacing on BRT as an unqualified negative, suggesting we should not support BRT because of it.

        It really is amazing. At this point, I feel like maybe a basic remedial transit education tour through all branches of government might be really helpful.

      11. The politicians just aren’t knowledgeable enough.

        Agreed. The worst part is, they think they are. Transit is remarkable in that way. Take something like policing. My first thought about it is “I don’t know sh**. I better leave that to the experts”. And this is from a guy who probably knows a lot more than the average person. I used to work as a security guard. I worked with people who wanted to be cops. I knew various issues (like the trade-offs between carrying guns or not carrying guns). I knew a lot of cops were racist and abusive. I grew up with black people. My first wife is black. I’ve seen it from many different angles, and thought about policing many times over the years. But the social issues involved with police forces were largely unknown to me, and much of the public. I didn’t read the literature. It is a complex, nuanced, sociological problem.

        In comparison, transit seems easy. We have all ridden transit. We like it when it works well. We think of it in very simplified terms. Until I got on this blog and started reading about it, I didn’t know sh**, but thought I did. As I’ve mentioned before, it is easy to think of transit like driving. It is easy to think of mass transit like a freeway. But there are huge differences.

        That is the problem. People make assumptions, and don’t bother to learn the basics. There are trade-offs. Stop spacing is a good example. For example, someone could say “Well, I do think some so-called BRT systems have excessive stop spacing. They are like express buses. But I think it is important that whenever possible, we follow the more international standard for stop spacing.”

        With a lot of people, you will get a blank stare. They will have no idea what you are talking about. They clearly don’t know the basics, and the worst part is, they don’t delegate, or try to learn them. They muddle along, and think that it is easy.

      12. @Cam S
        “The politicians just aren’t knowledgeable enough. I watched Sound Transit present to City of Tacoma Tuesday, barely even apologizing for over a year of delay on T-Link, and now 5 years and counting for TDLE.”

        If I was one of the constituents who has been paying into the Pierce Co Subarea coffers for all these years and witnessed this reaction from my local leaders, I think my head would’ve exploded. The whole Hilltop extension of T-Link has been a royal mess for such a relatively easy capital project. You’ve mentioned the delays but don’t forget about the fact that this project has busted through its budget as well…..twice.

      13. In Denver, I’ve gotten the deer in headlights expression when I’ve brought up the need for sound barriers at highway stops and warming/cooling shelters on light rail platforms. You can tell they’ve never ridden the train other than for the photo op. Which makes it more sad and depressing in retrospect.

  9. I’m assuming that when all is said and done, the board at their meeting will simply approve Dow’s Pioneer Square station over 4th Ave. shallow in order to minimize construction impacts to the CID, while the single tunnel option simply gets ignored completely, as though it doesn’t even exist.

    I admire your attempts to try, it just feels hopeless. If money is tight, they will make big sacrifices in Ballard and West Seattle as needed while keeping the 2nd tunnel intact. For example, imagine a Ballard line truncated at Interbay or West Seattle having just one station, east of Fauntleroy, not even serving Alaska Junction all that well. All to cut costs to pay for an additional tunnel under downtown.

    1. I would also not be surprised if the underground connection between the two stations at Pioneer Square later gets value engineered away, so now transferring riders have to either exit to the surface and wait for stoplights or continue on to Westlake. And I can only hope and prey that the same thing won’t happen at Westlake.

    2. Who would have thought that when this began the CID would beat down ST, and riders from the RV to Tacoma would stick riders from WS and Ballard in DSTT2 with two stations: CID N/S.

    3. In other big cities with multi-line transit systems, this impending change must read like an article from the Onion.

    4. Who would have thought that transit fans would be half ready to pull the plug on WSBLE? An agency would have to really screw up for that to happen.

    5. > I admire your attempts to try, it just feels hopeless. If money is tight, they will make big sacrifices in Ballard and West Seattle as needed while keeping the 2nd tunnel intact.

      The effort is still needed. I imagine what will really happen is once they run out of money they will cut the ‘South of CID’ station and only build the ‘North of CID’ station.

      I do find it a bit astounding that at this rate ST3 will cut three stations Smith Cove station, Avalon station and Chinatown station … and construction has not even begun yet.

    6. There’s no amount of “value engineering” that will right this fiscal ship. The following are ST’s current estimates in its latest TIP and fall 2023 financial plan:

      Project #T400047 –

      Scope: Plan, design and construct a 4.7 mile extension of light rail from Downtown Seattle to the Alaska Junction West Seattle neighborhood via elevated, at grade and tunnel alignments. Includes stations in SODO, Delridge, Avalon and Alaska Junction.

      Financial Plan Project Estimate (2022 $000’s)

      Voter-Approved Cost Estimate $2,219,438
      Prior Year Cost Estimate
      Current Year Cost Estimate

      Project #T400046 –

      Scope: Extension of light rail approximately 7.1 miles from Downtown Seattle to Ballard via tunnel and elevated guideway. Includes a new rail-only tunnel through downtown and stations in Chinatown-International District, Midtown, Westlake, Denny, South Lake Union, Seattle Center, Smith Cove, Interbay and Ballard.

      Realignment Update: This project has both a target in-service date and affordable in-service date as approved in Resolution No. R2021-05. It also has a funding gap, which is the currently estimated offset in cost savings and/or new financial resources needed to achieve the target schedule. The target dates is 2037, which corresponds to the target in-service cost. The affordable date delivers SODO to Smith Cove in 2037, and Smith Cove to Ballard in 2039. Because this project has two segments, a segmentation premium is applied, which requires the affordable schedule cost (as shown in the Capital Cost Estimates – Affordable Schedule table).

      Financial Plan Project Estimate (2022 $000’s)

      Voter-Approved Cost Estimate
      Prior Year Cost Estimate
      Current Year Cost Estimate

      It’s really tragic that the ST board members cannot see the writing on the wall. It’s as if they are in some sort of delusional state.

      1. Thanks Tisgwm, your posts on financials are excellent.

        The total estimated cost is now $14,623,801. It isn’t clear to me how DSTT2 is being estimated, and whether its cost estimate is still $2.2 billion from ST3 in 2016. (Lindblom in his tweet yesterday used $3.1 billion for DSTT2 without explaining the figure).

        The Stranger article implied the cost of CID N/S is $160 million more than the original CID/Midtown station plan, again without explanation. The tunnel configurations have changed so quickly I don’t see how ST could perform any kind of accurate cost estimate for the various proposals. Ordinarily it would take months to cost estimate just CID north, let alone south.

        I also find it interesting that the estimated costs for both sections have declined slightly year over year. The recent outside consultant noted it costs ST $50 million/month for each month of project delays, and yet these two projects decreased in estimated cost in an increasing inflationary market over the last 12 months. At this rate, by the completion date the estimated cost might be back to the original estimate in 2016.

        “It’s really tragic that the ST board members cannot see the writing on the wall. It’s as if they are in some sort of delusional state.” I agree with you. Although I am not a tunnel or transit expert I have always thought the elephant in the room is the N KC subarea (and thank you by the way for turning me onto the subarea reports) cannot afford WSBLE, even if DSTT2 is cost estimated at $2.2 billion, I and think at least two of the subareas simply don’t have their contributions unless they want to scrap projects in their subarea.

        I also have never understood why a Board and subarea that at best hopes to barely cover the cost of WSBLE would add stations at Graham St. and 130th, and as you have posted before the cost for 130th is exploding, which I think is a harbinger for WSBLE’s actual costs, and why I agree with Al a 30% cost contingency must be used for WSBLE, or any ST project, which still may be low based on history.

        My only guesses are: 1. the Board will rely on “third party funding” to complete WSBLE — or the DEIS — as desired by the stakeholders including from the city or local LID’s to either fund WSBLE or force the stakeholders to kill it; and 2. the goal is to build a stub from WS and claim the representative alignment for WSBLE can and will be built, after the current politicians and Board members have moved on.

        It would be pretty dramatic — and problematic for Dow who hopes to run for governor — for Dow and the Board to suddenly announce WSBLE with or without a second tunnel is not affordable based on subarea revenue because the cost estimates used to sell WSBLE and ST 3 were materially “flawed”. The writing is on the wall, but politics is often ignoring the writing on the wall until the next politician or Board comes along, although I can’t imagine any local politician wanting to sit on the next Board and break the bad news. I have always thought the DEIS will end up an a la carte plan with local “third party funding” so whatever is built, or not, depends on how much the local citizens want to pay. WSBLE is classic transit project (and other public projects) in which the design is driven by other people’s money, and Seattle’s growth has facilitated that over the last decade, but has ended.

      2. Just a minor clarification. I should have said the fall (2022) update for the 2023 financial plan.

        @Daniel T

        Perhaps the discrepancies in the figures stem from the current year $ versus YOE$. The figures I cited above are in 2022$ (in thousands). Another complicating factor is that the DSTT2 project, at least for these purposes, is not being segregated and instead is rolled into the Ballard Link Extension project.

      3. “Another complicating factor is that the DSTT2 project, at least for these purposes, is not being segregated and instead is rolled into the Ballard Link Extension project.”

        Yes, I have complained about this for years (and don’t quite understand why 100% of DSTT2 is allocated to the Ballard extension and none to WS (maybe because WS residents will ride in DSTT1).

        When it comes to the actual cost for DSTT2 one simply has to speculate. In 2016 ETA claimed the actual cost would be $4.2 billion, not $2.2 billion, which seemed like a huge spread back than that ST ridiculed, but it looks more and more like $4.2 billion will be the closer figure. WSBLE.s estimated cost has increased by 200% if you use ST’s estimate, but apparently not DSTT2.

        The 4th Ave. shallow station would have added $700 million (with a very quick cost estimation by ST, and ST cost estimates are influenced by whether staff favor that station or project). According to The Stranger CID N/S add $160 million over CID and a very deep midtown station, but I have no idea why. Lindblom tweeted $3.1 billion yesterday for I think CID N/S, but I think he is speculating like the rest of us.

        One issue I could never resolve is whether subarea contributions are 1/2 of the original cost estimate of $2.2 billion or 1/2 of whatever DSTT2 costs. I think to keep subarea revolts down ST continues to use the $2.2 billion cost estimate for DSTT2 to avoid this question, but I don’t know if ST is folding the increased cost estimates for DSTT2 into the new total cost estimates for the Ballard extension or not.

        I am still sticking with $20 billion all built for WSBLE as currently preferred by the stakeholders as the over/under even as the design for DSTT2 changes daily. That looked a little crazy a few years ago when I first set that over/under, but looking better all the time, especially when I see the cost overruns for the 130th station that does not involve water, bridges, underground stations, tunnels, or very large skyscapers.

  10. A brief fyi for people, today at 1:30 to 5:00pm is the meeting when the Sound Transit board will consider the alternatives.

    > On March 9, Sound Transit’s System Expansion Committee made a recommendation regarding the preferred alternative for the Ballard Link Extension. The Committee’s recommendation will be considered by the full Sound Transit Board when it meets on March 23.

    For better or worse it is not a ‘final action’ though will be pretty close to one.

    1. Thanks for the reminder. Juggling some things now so I can watch the meeting this afternoon.

      Fwiw, I tried the Howard Beale approach the other day from my rooftop*, after a fellow commenter here on this blog suggested shouting from such a perch, but I was quickly drowned out by one of the test flights from Paine Field flying over my house. Seriously though, sometimes I literally feel like doing that when it comes to this issue of the ST3 second tunnel, even as ineffective as it would be just for the irony of it all.

      *I was actually on my rooftop doing some skylight housekeeping, just not shouting like a madman. ;)

  11. Did the bus driver do the right thing by not immediately letting the victim off the bus? One man stabs another man on a Las Vegas bus. Victim asks bus driver to be let off the bus. The bus driver does not stop and open the doors for another four minutes. The victim is stabbed again. The driver said he kept the doors closed for the safety of the victim and the other passengers. The bus company also said the safest thing to do was to not open the doors and let anyone off. The victim died from the stabbing. Was the bus driver right to keep the doors closed?

  12. Draft comments for today’s ST Board meeting (limited to one minute):

    You should take that North CID plan and bury it in the giant hole at 4th/James, and then cover it with affordable housing. Don’t waste billions we don’t have on a second tunnel we don’t need. People outside Seattle – please take your billion dollars back and use it for your own projects.

    Deleting the existing transit hub at CID is not what we voted for. There is a better way. Just put the West Seattle trains in the existing tunnel.

    We don’t need the second tunnel. Don’t build it. Run all 3 lines in the tunnel we have. That means trains to everywhere from all downtown stations. Trains coming every 2 minutes downtown, no long waits. Keep the transit hub in CID, without building a new station.

    A stub line from West Seattle to SODO is a train to nowhere that nobody will take. It should go into the tunnel we have or it shouldn’t be built at all.

    The stub line we should build is from Ballard to Westlake, an automated line, higher frequency, shorter trains, smaller stations, cheaper, faster, better. Thank you.

    1. Trying whatever rhetorical approach I can come up with to bust through the groupthink somehow…

      I’ll call the West Seattle stub to SODO the “Nowhere Line” — a train to nowhere, for nobody.

      1. but muh ST3 scope! Voter Mandate!

        I wonder it would be effective to raise concerns about affordability if a $1B/mile light rail line that’s not really expected to generate a lot of new trips (but would significantly improve a lot of existing trips) may not be competitive for federal funding. But if that’s what it takes to get a cheaper, shallower WSBLE, then let it be.

      2. Nathan D.

        “but muh ST3 scope! Voter Mandate!”

        Yes, voter mandates actually mean something. Many posters on this board actually believe plans that rework the original ST3 mandate and screw over the outlying subareas in favor of Seattle… but no, that just doesn’t work.

      3. He’s a real Nowhere Train
        Sitting in the Seattle rain
        Wouldn’t he wish to be
        With his friends 2 and 3

  13. ST board meeting live blog.

    Meeting page with video link
    Proposed amendments

    Amendment #2 is the Balducci/Millar proposal, to include the Restored Spine alternative and the 4th Avenue Shallow alternative.
    Amendment #3 is the Dow/Harrell proposal, for North of CID and South of CID stations.
    Amendment #4 asks to activate Union Station with activities regardless of the ultimate CID station alternative.
    Amendment #5 seems to be choosing a WSBLE preferred alignment.

    Public testimony will be early in the meeting, limited to 90 minutes. Then two other items, one of which is an executive session (private session) “o discuss ‘litigation or potential litigation:” Hmm, are they facing a particular claim? The WSBLE debate will be after that, I assume around two hours into the meeting, maybe at 3:30.

    Update: There’s now an article to discuss the meeting further in.

    1. A Cantonese speaker opposed North of CID and supported 4th(?). Another asked for the station to be close to the neighborhood.

      1. A third opposed “Jail Station” and supported 4th. A fourth supported 4th, and said the Administration site is too uphill.

      2. The cid residents seem divided half half with some supporting the 4th Ave alternative since it is much closer while others don’t want the road closures and want it on north/south cid

      3. It’s pretty contentious with either option. Its 100% sure either option (4th or north/south) is decided sound transit will be sued

    2. A side issue seems to be the location of the Denny station location of terry versus westlake Ave.

      Most seem to be proposing terry and notably amazon also supported it

      1. Some people confusingly say “Westlake Station” when the seem to be talking about Denny Station. Several people want it moved off Westlake Ave to Terry Ave N.

      2. Yeah it is very confusing with the “save slu” and also stop westlake station when the station location is called denny

      3. It’s ten times better at Terry. Add a grade assist up the cliff for the Mirabella residents and everyone else in that new high rise district. Avoid closing Westlake for half a decade and impacting the traffic, streetcar and commerce there.

        Moving the “Denny” station further north would be fine with me if there’s a problem right next to Denny. Did I hear any talk of Thomas? Harrison is slated to be the new transit corridor anyway. Denny is pretty close to Westlake.

    3. Listening now online. Signed up to comment in person but as #93 that’s not going to happen. I sent two emails to the board beforehand.

      The 4th Ave. CID vs. “North/South” CID issue is deeply split. The 4th Ave. people mostly want it for connectivity. The North/South people mostly just want to spare the CID from a decade of construction. Both goals are accomplished by interlining West Seattle.

      I had an insight. I think this could thread the political needle on this board. Interlining West Seattle allows us to kick the can down the road. Here is the sequence:

      1. West Seattle Link, interlined in current tunnel.

      2. Build Ballard-Westlake (extensible to the south by extracting a TBM there)
      Yes, there is a maintenance base requirement, but it’s not like there’s no land available in Interbay. Also need to decide technology which could be upgraded to driverless while still being compatible with current track geometries.

      3. DSTT2 —OR, alternatively– Frank’s line to First Hill, Yesler Terrace, Mount Baker — This decision could be MADE LATER!

      On the Ballard side, everybody likes Denny station at Terry except for the guy claiming it will cost $500M to move the fiber optic cable. No support for Ballard station at 14th Ave. (which is misnamed, should be called 13th Ave. as it’s exactly halfway to 11th Ave.)

      1. To clarify, the concept is, do DSTT2 (or alternate alignment) last, as deferred/provisional, to be constructed if

        A. We have the $
        B. We perceive the need

        which may or may not ever happen in combination, and it’s OK if it doesn’t, the system is still good.

        Interline West Seattle, and build Ballard-Westlake as an extensible stub.

        This allows the people who like the North/South CID station locations to hold on to the idea that it might get built, without requiring that we do that to get to Ballard.

      2. Here’s a creative idea for that extension:

        Ballard — Westlake — “North CID” (connection to Pioneer Square) — and then from THERE to First Hill and points beyond.

        This does skip the “South CID” station which is a 100% speculative handout to the real estate investors down there. They can still build their stuff.

        Dow and Bruce are really wedded to this “North CID” location, at least right now. This creative concept asks, what if we added that one extra station to Ballard-Westlake stub. It covers the rest of downtown but avoids new construction in CID.

        Although, if you built WSBLE as a totally separate line you could scale down those West Seattle stations and up the frequency. That isn’t the worst outcome. What I think is worst outcome is DSTT2 with these braided lines that disconnects the South line from the CID.

      3. Ive been thinking about combining the stub/wye idea minority: if you had the stub on 2nd and still built a minor wye at westlake/university street you could move trains during off revenue time and possibly avoid the OMF issue.

    4. Tuned into the board meeting now as well. Did Dow say that there were some 40 additional people signed up who had yet to speak before they closed the public comment section of today’s session?

  14. Does the city of Seattle have an EXTRA $700 million for a station on 4th? Or will that be funded by a LID for the local area? Or the four other subareas?

    1. Definitely doesn’t. I wonder if there are some other workaround like perhaps not completely rebuilding fourth avenue to 7 lanes, or possibly buying a track or two from bnsf on the east most side and move it to use once of the existing sounder tracks instead.

      Though admittedly a bit grasping at straws now

    2. All that is still uncertain, including whether it would really cost $700 million more, or what funding might be available in six months or a year when construction projects are selected. The thing to do now is to get it included as an EIS alternative so it can be compared side by side with the others. We shouldn’t exclude good options even if they look borderline affordable now. The EIS results will document that it’s better than some other alternatives. That’s worthwhile even if ST builds a worse alternative or this one ends up being unaffordable.

  15. The Urbanist ran an article about a survey that Metro created for the buses after Rapid Ride G (AKA “Madison BRT”). It is not a full on restructure, unlike other proposals. Maybe that is the problem.

    The big issue I have with the proposal is that it doesn’t go far enough. Metro should use this as an excuse to overhaul an antiquated bus system in that particular area. Instead, they seem to be doing the opposite. They are making minimal changes, which will result in a dramatic drop in frequency, along with a general loss of transit functionality.

    I have lost faith in Metro’s ability to restructure our system as necessary. I think it is time to ask consultants (like those from Jarrett Walker’s team) to come in here, and give us an overhaul. He did that for Houston. To quote from one of those articles:

    How on earth could we grow a [frequent-service] network that much without new money? There are two answers:

    1. That’s how much waste there was in the existing system. Waste in the form of duplicative routes, and due to slow meandering routes created due to a few people’s demands.

    2. Hard choices are proposed about expensive service to very small numbers of people. … About 0.5% of existing riders end up over 1/4 mile of service, and most of them are just over that threshold. Often, their longer walk is to a better service, a tradeoff that most people are willing to make in practice.

    The exciting thing is not just the massive growth in frequent services proposed, evident above, but the shape that they’ll take. The core idea of the new network is the high-frequency grid, designed to enable anywhere to anywhere travel with a single fast connection. Everywhere on the proposed network of red lines, that kind of easy access will be possible.

    That is exactly what we need. We are in the same boat as Houston was.

    I am struck by Davis Lawson’s proposal, which is now almost ten years old. Much of it is out of date, of course. There are also plenty of things both he and I would do differently now. But the fact remains — the concept is solid. It still looks remarkably better than what we have now, or what we will have, even as Link gets better, and we keep making improvements in speed along various corridors (like Madison). I have plenty of my own ideas for how I would run things differently in the area (I shared them previously). But ultimately, I think to actually get an effective network, we need outside help.

    1. There are a lot of questions for me about the Metro proposal. Is 30 minute service on the 10 and 12 really worthwhile? Why is the 4 still with us? Why isn’t finally electrifying the 48, as the CD was promised years and years ago, not even mentioned? I had forgotten the proposal to split the 8 – especially given all the potential transfers with the G Line once it opens, that whole Madison/MLK triangle could actually see some reasonable transfers, and an “8 South” that didn’t have to deal with Denny might actually no longer be known as the “Late”. I also wonder if anyone involved with this effort has thought about the impact of opening the Jimi Hendrix [aka Judkins Park] light rail station. So yes, many questions.

    2. “But ultimately, I think to actually get an effective network, we need outside help.”

      There are some brilliant service restructure specialists out there like Jarrett Walker.

      However, I doubt the local elected officials and staff would trust them. Then there would surely emerge some squeaky wheels to expect favoritism. The local pols don’t trust outsiders nor do they listen to logical transit rider advocates.

      I only gave to point to how the ST Board won’t hire an executive that has run a high demand transit system. A seasoned chief executive would have weighed in on the CID Station controversy; Timm appears silent.

      1. Every restructure comes with local opposition. It took Jarrett Walker’s firm a year to change the bus routes in Houston. Much of that time was spent going to meetings, and addressing people’s concerns. Then they would come up with a proposal that is a little bit different, then do it again.

        The bigger problem is overconfidence and inertia. We do have our own team in charge of such things. But they ignore the concepts Walker is pushing towards. I’m not saying they don’t make good, meaningful changes, but when was the last time we looked at a restructure and said:

        The exciting thing is not just the massive growth in frequent services proposed, evident above, but the shape that they’ll take. The core idea of the new network is the high-frequency grid, designed to enable anywhere to anywhere travel with a single fast connection.

        We don’t say that, because it is never the case. They nibble around the edges. The changes are way too timid. As a result, we get stuck with routes or patterns that are out of date. They assume that every transfer takes place downtown, or that people won’t transfer at all. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy — a vicious circle. The buses run infrequently because of waste. People hate transfers, because the buses run infrequently. Bus routes are wasteful to avoid transfers.

  16. In potential funding news, the capital gains tax was just upheld (Quinn v. State?). It does leave open a path to make an income tax Constitutional as well.

    1. Except the state with the highest income tax is also the state with the highest homeless rate.


        Money can move. CA went from a projected $100 billion surplus to a $20 billion deficit. Folks like Bezos long ago moved their residence to TX.

        WA has the highest estate tax in the country. I have friends whose entire practice is establishing residence in a state like AZ or ID for elderly WA residents, which is easy today because they don’t like this region anyway.

        I agree the current wealth divide is a problem, but a lot of that is bad public education and the cost of college. The idea our amateur legislature will outsmart tax lawyers for the rich is fantasy. The entire reason a very remote part of the US like Seattle attracted so much wealth was the lack of an income tax.

        Seattle’s tax base is crumbling. Some is moving to the Eastside, some is just layoffs in tech, some is out of state. If the poor think a fleeing tax base benefits them that is their right.

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