Angle Lake Station Is Another Huge Link Success


Soaring rents in King County pushed most of the temp and service industry workers to Tacoma years ago. Now, gentrification is shoving them further south, to Lakewood. The Stadium District, where I once rented an apartment for $200 a month circa 1993, now features rents starting in the quadruple digits. For the moment, however, it is still possible to find a studio for twice what I paid in 1993 in Hilltop, a brief walk from existing light rail stops and an area marked by Sound Transit for light rail expansion.

This is where most of the proletarians working in Seattle now live. Years ago, ST suggested they had the funds to connect the Seattle and Tacoma Links, although they lacked the funds to build any stations between the airport and the Tacoma Dome. The mayor of Federal Way threw an epic fit, refusing to allow even one inch of rail to pass through his city without a station there.

You could be forgiven for thinking Federal Way is a street somewhere north of Tacoma, as I did when first moving to WA. However, it has surprising political pull owing to the headquarters of WorldVision located there. In case you don't know, WorldVision is a right wing conservative "faith-based" NGO that does relief work in places like South Sudan and Somalia. They get into a bit of controversy now and again, for refusing to hire gay people, and for their practice of demanding recipients of their aid in Moslem areas attend christian bible school. They receive almost zero federal funds, and somehow have built an empire of their own entirely from donations from the wealthier members of the christian right. This allows them license to behave in ways no federally funded contractor could under a LGBT friendly administration such as Obama's. Much of Federal Way is employed by them, and they exert considerable pull on people such as Hizzoner.

The result is that Tacoma's working poor are stuck in traffic on busses for four to six hours of the day as they commute back and forth from Seattle. If you still think $15 an hour is a bit much, consider the time these folks spend just trying to get to and from work, for which they re not paid. They could have at least had the Light rail to hive several hours off of that commute back in 2011, but they're still trapped on busses that slump their way North every morning and South again at night.

South King County denizens will no doubt derive benefit. However, it is the working poor who dwell in the next county down from there that really need it.
Please show us where ST had any plans to link Tacoma and Seattle with light rail with zero stops in between.
"But with the good news comes the bad. The "transit-friendly growth" now threatens to displace 60 families at the nearby Firs mobile home park. Developers want to place a hotel in this location."

What you don't report is that the long-time owner of this property Fife Motel, Inc. is the one who is redeveloping the land into a hotel. Who would have guessed that a property owner of a mobile home park, who's very name is "motel" would have plans to redevelop their own land?

On top of that, the land owners have given the tenants the option to buy the land. The current owners bought the property in 2007 for $5 million. The current appraised value is a hair above $4 million. Considering the tenants each pay $1,500 a month in dues (about $1.1 million a year), it isn't that difficult these days to form a co-op for mobile home parks, because they're a cash cow. NPR's Planet Money did a podcast on that very subject just last week.
Eh, I have a hard time calling a station a "success" when the vast majority of users drive their cars to the station. We'd probably get a similar result simply adding more P&R capacity to the Tukwila stop. To call this model for transit a success because people are willing to take advantage of taxpayer-subsidized free car storage is objectively pro-sprawl.
@4 RIght because all of King county should pay for Seattle's light rail without any of the benefits? WIthout a parking lot, there wouldn't be anyone to ride the train. Dumbass
@5 That claim that no one would use mass-transit unless we have huge parking garages doesn't exactly hold water. If that were the case, we'd see huge parking garages in all of the world's subway or light rail stations. In your world, Times Square would be one big parking garage, as would most of downtown London, Tokyo and Paris.

Interestingly, when New York opened their first subway station, Long Island had 3.4 million people. The Greater Puget Sound today has about 3.7 million people - so the argument that we don't have enough density for parking-less mass transit doesn't make much sense either.
@6 And you might guess that New York is more dense than the areas covered by sound transit. Or lets look at this a slightly different way; If i live in just on the other side of the valley near angle lake from that station, how long does it take to get there without driving?

But, when New York opened its first subway in 1904, it only went as far east as central Brooklyn, so it's unlikely a significant number of those 3.7 mm Long Islanders had any easier access to it than the people today accessing the Angle Lake terminal; less, in fact, as most of that population didn't own cars.
@4 - That's the point, numbskull. They leave their cars at the station instead of driving them into Seattle. *sheeesh*.
More to the point, 20 years from now, one expects that there will be a lot more housing near the Angle Lake station than there is now. If you haven't ridden the train out to that station and walked around, it's worth doing that, and using a little bit of imagination. You don't judge infrastructure like this based on what it is now. You judge it on what it is likely to become.

Angle Lake Park, which is not far from the station, is a wonderful park. You can already see that there's some new construction going in around the station. Yes, there's a car focused, strip mall and corporate office park vibe there right now, but I wouldn't assume that's how it will always be. I found it surprisingly green when walked from the station to the park, even with all the traffic on International Blvd.

The definition of the center and periphery of Seattle is going to change a lot in the next few decades if we keep growing. As a result, places like Northgate, Shoreline, and Angle Lake are going to be considered much more in the center than they are now. That's my prediction.

Especially if the arena eventually goes in SODO along with more entertainment related businesses, Angle Lake starts looking like a pretty good location, even for going out at night. It's under 30 mins to SODO from there on the train, and even closer to Columbia City, Beacon Hill, Mt Baker, etc.

Moreover, when Link dos eventually get to Tacoma, Angle Lake will be kind of halfway between Seattle and Tacoma, which could also be an appealing location when you have a couple and one person works in Seattle and the other person works in Tacoma (I expect that Tacoma will also grow and there will eventually be more jobs worth commuting to down there).
I have no problem with parking lots next to transit--if the car-storers are willing to pay enough to store their cars to make it a more lucrative land use choice than apartments, offices, etc that's fine with me. What I don't like it taking this valuable land off the market for people who might want to live there, put offices there, etc. There's already a crap-ton of public money going to subsidize cars; they shouldn't get to take a bite out of the transit budget. I'd much rather see ST sell/lease to the highest bidder, and use the $$ to improve feeder buses to the station. Just stop expecting everyone else to pay for your car storage habit.
Park and Rides are a regressive use of scarce transit revenue and create more sprawl…

They may be politically necessary in some cases, but let's not pretend they're good policy.

@9 it's not a given that P&R is a "successful" strategy, eos. They're certainly preferable to driving alone, but those lots take up space that could be used for TOD.
The Angle Lake Park & Ride has just over 1100 parking spaces.. That's only enough people to fill ALMOST 2 rush-hour Link trains (out of 128 daily trips). Even assuming every one of those people is carpooling, it still only makes up a trivial percentage of the 65,000/day who ride the train.

Park & rides just don't scale up well. You simply can't build a big enough park-and-ride to get everyone to the train that is going to ride it.

Park-and-rides make perfect sense in remote, underserved locations, Their sweet spot is parking enough people to fill a handful of peak-only express buses. The Link/RR-A spine is not this sort of situation.
@1 shows exactly why comments are so important. at their best, comments are the general intellect in action.

As much as I criticize you and Dan, I'd like you to know there's a reason why I've been reading everything you write for decades. The fact is, I hero worship both of you in my own, bizarre way.

I have been fortunate enough to enjoy a life of traveling. I wrote this post to you now from Baltimore, Maryland. In the past five years alone, I have lived and worked on four continents and four coasts of the United States, if you count the Great Lakes as a coast. However, my home is, and always will be, Seattle. I love Washington State the way most people love only their mothers.

And my tether during my ramblings has always been the Stranger (okay, Publicola too). It is through your lens I have kept an eye on things back home.

Thank you for giving me so many reasons to love my home state over the years. I love it, because its full of people like you.
@4: "Eh, I have a hard time calling a station a "success" when the vast majority of users drive their cars to the station"

We don't have to eradicate all car use permanently in order to vastly improve traffic on highways.
Rather than argue Angle Lake and other ST projects on their merits, it's probably easier for everybody to recognize the real objection of these complaints: outside Seattle = bad, inside Seattle = good.
The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. Who are the many and who are the few?
@6: NY opened its first subway station in 1904. In 1910, the population of Brooklyn was 1,634,351, of Queens was 284,041, of Nassau County was 83,930, and of Suffolk County was 96,138, for a total of 2,098,460, six years later. Where did you come up with 3.4 million?