Seattle Subway released a new vision map a few weeks ago outlining proposed LRT alignments throughout the greater Seattle area. There were a handful of decisions I thought didn’t make sense – alongside additional lines and options I mulled over. This *train* of thought led to designing an alternative Greater Seattle LRT Network.
- This was just as much an alignment/routing project as it was a learning experience in building an effective transit diagram. It’s my first time attempting something like this and I made it from scratch, so design feedback is welcome and appreciated.
- This map is expansive, I have no responsibilities to convince or affect policy – therefore some decisions might not acknowledge political/economic/geographic realities. If it were to be built, the timeline would probably be around the next 70 years.
- I have no legitimacy as a transit planner and I definitely don’t pretend to know more than Seattle Sub/Sound Transit. All research is 100% armchair.
Most of this map should look familiar, here are some notable changes:
A smarter 8 Metro (ORANGE LINE): A connection to the Cap Hill makes this line much more effective and resolves one of the most inexplicable decisions on Seattle Subways map. Additional stations on Union and Fairview will increase access to bus corridors and growing dense neighborhoods. The connection in Tacoma has also been extended, traveling further south from the Tacoma Mall to Lakewood.
Bellevue Loop (BLUE LINE): Seattle Subway claims a floating tunnel from Magnuson Park to Kirkland would be a similar price as outfitting 520 for LRT. This is non-intuitive, but if built continuing from Kirkland across to Redmond (vs down to Bellevue) would help justify this northern alignment. A 520 alternative might look something like this.
Issaquah Line (PINK LINE): Instead of turning towards UW, the Pink line travels north to Bothell. Intersecting the Blue line it builds an Eastside grid – connecting Bellevue, Kirkland, Redmond. (Look how far out of your way you would need to travel to move from Redmond to UW on Seattle Subways map). The Pink line would continue from Bothell to Lake Forest and turn NW, following 104 to Edmonds and intersecting the Purple and Red lines.
A 99 Metro (PURPLE LINE): A line down Aurora seems a no-brainer, it’s straight and flat, has huge density growth potential, and currently is serviced by the busiest bus line in King County. Reaching Fremont, UQA, Belltown, both downtown tunnels, and First Hill this line completes and connects almost all Seattle’s downtown destinations with one line. Especially the two most notable misses from any Seattle Subway plans, Belltown and First Hill. The Urbanist has written a great piece on the idea’s merits (and challenges) here. As a bonus, it also maintains the subversive agenda of each and every Dick’s Drive-In being served by rail.
Kentplete Lake Loop (LIGHT BLUE LINE): This line fulfills the aesthetic and superficial purpose of a complete LRT loop around Lake Washington. It also provides a connection to Kent’s Sounder stop and higher density eastern side. The present demand certainly doesn’t merit its construction, but with Renton and Kent’s growth this might pencil out eventually.
Both the Seattle Streetcar and Tacoma ‘Streetcar’ have been expanded. In Seattle, the Center City connector continues up first to LQA, while in Tacoma an expansion in the vein of this map has been included. Both expansions are obviously optimistic due to the present systems underperforming.
There were two additional lines I considered but not included. The first would be a Delridge spur in West Seattle. The second would be another downtown tunnel, running from the Mt. Baker Station up Rainier to Judkins, then to Little Saigon, Yesler/Harborview, and the First Hill station. It would cross I5 to a Denny Triangle station (maybe a Convention Center station?), connect to SLU, and then proceed up Eastlake to UW. Here is a potential alignment.