Five Ways to Make Sound Transit 3 Better Before Sending it to Voters


Well I'm not voting for ST3 unless Sound Transit uses convertible trains. I wanna feel the wind in my hair.
Light-rail to the suburbs is pointless unless suburbanites us it.

Suburbanites won't use it unless they can park nearby - because the 'burbs aren't walkable (just ask all the people in N Seattle who have been complaining about a lack of sidewalks).

Urbanistas can cry all they want, but reality is that the walkshed around suburban stations simply aren't like those in Seattle - either in population density or geography - and most suburbs won't have adequate intermodal transit connections to light-rail.

Paid parking at light-trail stations (and major transit hubs for Sounder and Sound Transit bus service) makes sense - especially if you can pay using your Orca card. But no parking near transit is cutting off your nose to spite your face.
Attn Dow and Murray and Olympia acolytes all: Once again megamassivemultibillion funding by regressive taxation proposal.
I want to fund light rail. I want to fund expanded low income housing. I want to fund schools as mandated by our state constitution. I want to extend our support for human services and environmental stewardship.

I bleed Blue. And I'm not going to support any proposal that hits my ballot from here on out unless our pols knock it off on the regressive tax proposals. Enough.
@3: there's no other mechanism to fund it - sales or property taxes. that's the only tools in the WA revenue box.
Get the Downtown to Ballard alignment off of at-grade on 15th W with a moveable bridge. Clearly anyone who has ever driven that corridor would know that it will be a non-starter for anyone who votes in the northwestern part of Seattle. A broad coalition of stakeholders, including the Port and maritime industries preferred the sensible alignment that runs to the west of 15th, and tunnels under the Ship Canal. Imagine - light rail that doesn't get hung up in traffic!
Naive question: what about that existing rail line to Everett! How many people/day could Everett move to Seattle if they put $billions into that, or are there reasons that's impossible? Start with a mudslide shed over the whole damn thing.
A great addition to ST3 would be to take it just a touch further south to Oly. It would make connecting with legislators easier for residents and would help the large number of people who commute to the Capitol during session - reducing the ridiculous traffic, especially around JBLM.
Wrong Max. There are other ways to fund it. Our pols just don't want to go there. So we wonks can talk about this or other proposal mechanics all we like but until the funding for them gets fixed watch for these fine-at-core proposals to start failing. Prediction is either housing or ST3 will fail and while the pols scurry around trying to "fix" the content they'll once again miss that it's the funding mechanics that voters are about to start rejecting. You can only push the middle class so far on the property taxes and the sales tax impact on our poor? Basta. My no vote and my precinct captain status will do my part to push the message.
@2: Agree with you about parking. ST3 won't pass without it. Moreover, long-term, this will also be a social justice issue, when all of the poor people have been pushed out of Seattle and into the suburbs. Providing parking near stations will at least allow poor people to drive their $1000 cars to the station and take rail into Seattle to their low-wage service industry job.

This is why running rail to Tacoma and Everett is important too.
I honestly can't tell from their graphic so I could be completely wrong here, but won't there be rail stations at Northgate and 145th? Those are both about a 15-20 minute walk from 130th so I don't understand why it's so critical. Is there any data to suggest that two stations will not be enough for this two mile stretch?
@2: "Suburbanites", but "urbanistas"? Definitely no spin there.
It's a shame that this draft plan is so suburban-centric that it now has to be amended to better serve the most number of people (Seattle proper). The board should have started with a more urban-centric plan (UW-Ballard line, tunnel under Ship Canal to Ballard, etc) and then started watering it down so that suburban mayors could puff their chests to their constituents about how they fought for their interests. This proposal preemptively gave the suburbs the whole she-bang, before the Seatte Times Ed Board contingent had a chance to water it down even more.

The reason that 130th is a good transit station is that Northgate is almost inaccessible and 145th will be drowning of freeway traffic. One thirtieth does have a half interchange to the south, but it gets much less traffic than does 145th.

And, a major benefit is that it's essentially a straight shot into downtown Lake City and west to Bitter Lake. One forty fifth really doesn't serve any urban villages directly. It's a good stop for SR522 BRT from Lake Forest Park, Kenmore and Bothell. But it's a nasty double-back for Lake City.
There are ways for people in the suburbs to get to light rail stations that doesn't involve building massive parking garages. They're called buses. Feeder routes are great for getting people to light rail, and scale better than everyone driving.

Also, there's bikes. And building dense housing around the light rail station.
@2: Some parking is needed, at least at the terminus of each line, but parking doesn't scale: these lines will have hundreds of thousands of daily commuters, so providing a giant 1000-car garage is just a huge expense that doesn't affect ridership. What will contribute much more to ridership is to allow high density around all of the stations, creating urban villages at the rail stations...even in the 'burbs. And no one wants to live at a 1000-car parking structure.
I will be voting yes, because we need this. But this proposal will go down in flames at the ballot box without providing real hope to the voters that the timeline can be halved (or almost halved). Sound Transit needs to provide an alternate "best-case scenario" timeline alongside their existing conservative one. Just print it right there alongside the current conservative one. Remember, the timeline is so long not because of construction time, but because of financing particulars. So this best-case scenario can assume the following occur: 1) the state loosens the currently super-strict bonding rules (that specifically apply to transit but shouldn't), 2) Local municipalities vote on a supplementary levy to speed up their own projects, 3) the area economy continues to boom and revenues exceed budgeted amounts. So...take 8-10 years off the current estimates for the alternative "glass-half-full" estimate, and ST3 cruises through at the ballot box even if the official estimates are still (almost) as long as they currently are. Then the next step would be to pressure the state, support local levies, and pressure local leaders to cooperate with environmental reviews, etc. Then we can get these done much faster.
@15 There's nothing a family of four with a couple of toddlers enjoys more than biking on down to the bus station to catch a train into Seattle. They also really like dense housing so their kids can play in the hallways.

Oh right, people in the suburbs aren't all unmarried 25-35 year olds.
@17 "Sound Transit needs to provide an alternate "best-case scenario" timeline alongside their existing conservative one."

Eh, the cat's out of the bag now. If they'd originally done that and said, "no more than 15 to 22 years to Ballard, tops, depending on the breaks,"that might have been successful at getting people to focus on the optimistic end of the scale, not the number they don't like. But after saying, "this is what we really think it's going to take," and then they come back, "Oh, what, you hate that? Sorry, here's an answer we hope you like better," I'm going to find it hard to believe they aren't just spinning in desperation.
@16, 18 Those aren't truly mutually exclusive. You *could* have parking and an urban village, too, if you just don't put the parking right on top of the damned station: Put the station, say, 3-4 blocks both south and east of the I-5 exit. Put the parking garage east of the exit and due north of the station. Connect parking and station with a narrow pedestrian mall, partially roofed against rain and with half-block long moving sidewalks, like we put in airports when (the horror!) we force people to walk a couple hundred yards. Then the fat-asses come out of the south side of the garage, walk/slide 2 blocks south THROUGH the dense urban village, and arrive at the station with a fresh latte they picked up in, while the condo-dwellers live on the block atop the station, the blocks adjacent to that, AND the blocks adjacent to those. And on Saturday, those condo-dwellers don't have to fight their way through 40 extra minutes of traffic out of Ballard to go hiking. Everybody's a winner!

How this fits with putting the Lynnwood transit center at the fucking hell of the mall, I don't know...
...latte they picked up in THE LOGGIA.
T.A.A.S. is going to make light rail obsolete long before we ever finish ST3, forget about charging anything for parking or riding as no one with any money will be on the train, they will be in robot cars summoned by their phones to their exact location. Geez people buy a clue!
T.A.A.S.= Transportation As A Service
@19 -- (Re: cat's out of the bag and providing a shorter timeline now wouldn't sway voters): I see your point, but there are legitimate reasons for the timeline being so long, and legitimate ways it could be shorter. Voters can understand that we have a long timeline unless we convince the state to allow more sensible financing approaches...and if the state does allow it then we have this new, shorter timeline. It wouldn't smell like B.S. because it wouldn't be B.S., and voters would vote for it.
what @22 says. I'm amazed that they want to spend that much money on something that is effectively 19th century technology. Just taking a portion of that money and using it to develop and improve autonomous vehicles and the infrastructure to run it would be much better. The autonomous vehicle is coming. Investment now, creating public-sector demand via mass transit, it would happen much sooner than ST3 proposes. It would give Seattle the opportunity to have the transportation system of the future - flexible, cheaper, and safer.
@22, @23, @25, excellent ideas. TAAS, like PAAS or SAAS. Very clever. You know a technology is promising when it gets its own marketing acronym.

I look forward to Seattle being the leader in this highly scalable cutting-edge technology as we carve out our own little post-ownership utopia. I look forward to the day when all of us can have our transportation provided to us by our benevolent corporate overlords at Google and Tesla. Or at least all of us who can afford the ongoing fees, although of course all of these autonomous vehicles will be super-affordable, entirely electric (and only powered by renewable sources), and they'll be manufactured by one of our trusty trading partners using the greenest of processes. And hey, for longer-distance travel, we can always use Elon Musk's hyperloop, or maybe they'll have teleportation devices by then.

P.S. Now if only we could get Supreme Ruler of the Universe to contribute to this productive discussion by singing the virtues of hydrogen-powered vehicles. Or make that autonomous hydrogen-powered vehicles.
@26 Very funny response, I really do appreciate your wit, do you have a dog in this fight?
" I look forward to the day when all of us can have our transportation provided to us by our benevolent corporate overlords at Google and Tesla. "
Tell that to the people paying $10 to go 4 miles on I-405 toll lanes everyday right now.
The truth is that the only way other than TAAS to fix Seattle area traffic problems is not with light rail to sparsely populated suburban towns, but for Seattle to give up on the single family neighborhood, come on Seattle, it's not 1950 anymore, can we move forward intelligently.

FYI fully autonomous cars are already on the road, Tesla, Mercedes, Volvo... You make it sound like it's a pipe dream.

A lot of those parking garages will be obsolete by the time they're built. Personal self-driving cars will still take up too much space on the roads and in parking to be a realistic commuter solution. On-demand last-mile self-driving ride-share to the stations (and from the downtown stations) is certainly possible - some of these projects are also currently on the road. However self-driving cars congesting I-5 and 99 even further isn't going to work. Honestly self-driving technology in my mind makes it more important to start dedicating lanes for more bus-rapid-transit now. Self-driving taxis or small local buses get you to the transit center essentially on-demand. Buses get you long distances fast (dedicated lane, high frequency), then self-driving ride-share/taxi gets you to any neighborhood that's not right at the downtown stop if necessary. So there's nothing about self-driving technology that's an argument against transit. If anything it's an argument to put the technology into the most efficient vehicles to use it, which are the transit options.…
I live in Toronto, but I've been following ST3 for a while now. For the life of me I can't figure out why everyone seems to think light rail to Tacoma and Everett is a priority or a worthwhile investment. What's the purpose of Sounder? In Toronto we have a similar service called GO Trains that serves suburbs and major hubs, like Hamilton and Mississauga, but no one is arguing to expand subway service from downtown Toronto to these locations. Why would we? Isn't it kind of redundant to run a train to cities miles and miles away from downtown Seattle, when lots of those miles sparsely populated, and when Sounder and Amtrak already serve these cities? Why isn't this being talked about more? Does everyone agree this is the best way to spend what little resources you have, when projects like Ballard to downtown are put on the back burner?
autonomous cars will talk to each other allowing them to use road space much more efficiently by getting within inches of each other, there won't be traffic jams, the whole of the cars can travel at what ever speed we want. So no we won't be taking a robot ride to and from a train station.