Look at This Dreamy Future Light Rail Map of Seattle

Comments

1

No where near the population density here to make this viable. Want density? Fuck off to Mumbai or NYC. Some of us grew up with density but came here for the space of our single family homes.

Most urbanists are frustrated woke suburbanites.

2

Yeah, what @1 said! keep Seattle shitty!

3

"The bottom line is that we can get this if we want it."

Absolutely ridiculous. Sorry, but no city our size has built anything like this in the last fifty years. It is even more ridiculous given the fact that we are spending billions building BART del Norte.

Speaking of BART, it is a good test case to show why this is ridiculous. Voters passed the original proposal back in 1962. Despite the obvious lack of urban stations, nothing else has been built in the urban core. No second (or third) line in San Fransisco. No second line in Oakland/Berkeley. No set of infill stations on either side of the bay, so that it resembles the DC Metro, let alone the New York subway. Nothing; even though it has been 57 years. This, despite the Bay Area thriving like few areas have. More money, more people, more bad traffic and very high transit ridership in San Fransisco (on very slow buses and trams). The area just muddles along with Muni and AC Transit, just like we will muddle along with Metro transit. We are smaller than San Fransisco by population, even though we have more land. In the last thirty years, San Fransisco has grown faster. Their buses and trams are slower, and used by more people. Their central business district employs a lot more people, and the region has a lot more people. People in San Fransisco would love a large urban subway, just like the people in East Bay. But it isn't happening, almost 60 years since they started the mess.

We had our chance. It is possible we could have built something similar to what is on the map. But instead we focused on building a poorly performing suburban centric subway. The relatively weak ridership and miles and miles of track will lead to very high operational costs. This will lead the agency to focus on maintenance, not new projects (as every agency does).

It is all a weird sideshow for important decisions that should be made in the near future. Will they put the one and only Ballard station in Ballard, or well to east? Will they spend billions burying the stations in Ballard and West Seattle, while various parts of the city wait for decent bus service? Will the station at NE 130th -- a station allowing folks from Lake City and Bitter Lake to access Link quickly -- be built in the next couple years, or much later? These are the questions we should be asking. This is what we should be focused on, not pie in the sky fantasy maps.

4

NYC still has single family homes, like in Queens.

5

Boston has a subway system like this and they have almost an identical sized population although significantly less land area. https://www.bestplaces.net/compare-cities/seattle_wa/boston_ma/people

6

I think this would be a good idea... in 20 years. You know, about the same time ST3 will be done. Oh wait that's more like 30.. if only the escalators worked... and the trains didn't break during hot days... and they actually warned riders when there is a shutdown instead of screwing everyone over

7

Love to come here for the centrist take "Better things aren't possible".

8

@7 Perfect.

Gimme that train to White Center baby!

9

@3 Ever heard of Portland, Oregon? The Max Light Rail project broke ground in 1982 and in 30+ years they built 60 miles of system and nearly 100 stations. And with an annual ridership of 40 million in a metropolitan area of 2.5 million people, I'd say it works pretty well.

Whatever limitations BART has are unique to that system and Bay Area cities, and not universal to other projects and cities.

10

As long as standing on the platform requires that you have a ticket, sure. Bus stops are horrible because the crazies and homeless can congregate there.

11

@3 I'm not following this line of thought.

It would certainly be swell to have an extensive subway system, like imagined here, in the urban core, but it seems to me the number one priority should be to get people out of their cars. No doubt that suburbanites commuting into the city is by far the biggest contributor to traffic congestion. There's also the matter of funding. Not going to get King/Snohomish/Pierce Counties to fund a rail system that only benefits Seattle.

12

Let's do this and restore the 1933 6 story Multi Family House zoning citywide where we now have racist SFH zoning.

With the upzones for higher near the transit stops.

13

As a former Parisian, I am constantly dismayed by Americans' tendency to consider public transit to be only designed for daily commute.
A well-designed public transit system should serve all kind of trips. Go out for dinner or lunch on the other side of town? Public transit. Grocery shopping? Public transit. Enjoy the nightlife and go home safely? Public transit. Go to a friend's? Public transit.
This is currently not possible because the system is designed only with daily work commute in mind. Even people who use public transit every day switch back to their car when they have any other kind of trip to do. That is the problem this plan is seemingly trying to solve. Given how wealthy many of the city residents are, it is definitely possible to achieve this.

15

Well,, according to Dori Monson:

We know of course that ST3, the $54 billion light rail plan passed in 2016, is already way behind schedule and over budget. ST2, which includes the rail expansion to the Eastside and to Lynnwood, is also very much behind schedule and over budget.

But the thing that doesn’t get reported is that ST1, originally called Sound Move, is not done yet. That was the plan passed back in 1996. It is now 13 years behind schedule and tens of billions over budget — and that is just the first phase of light rail. They were supposed to be to the U District by now. They have not kept that promise. Husky Stadium is not the U District. But being the criminal liars that they are, when they got to Husky Stadium, they said they were on time and on budget because they did a reset. So they magically changed what they had promised the voters.

Now understand, when we talk about $100 billion in transit projects, there are about 2 million people in the Sound Transit taxing district. That works out to $50,000 for every one of us. If you have a family of four, your family’s contribution will be $200,000 to these criminals. And now they want to expand those costs.

Oh, and Seattle Subway just wants Seattle residents to pick up the tab for ST4, like you’re not taxed enough. You’re already taxed to the hilt, but the most criminally corrupt public agency in the history of the United States just wants more.

16

@15 Someone is real mad about how much it costs to renew the tabs for her Hummer.

The most criminally corrupt in the history of the United States! That's like, really corrupt!

17

Great to see this map. When we were campaigning for ST3, part of the appeal was how it could be extended with an eventual ST4.

This map exploits the natural extension points:
* Northbound from the Ballard terminus.
* Southbound from the West Seattle terminus.
* Most important, a second north-south line to go through the second downtown transit tunnel that was approved with ST3. If you're not running two lines through each of the two downtown tunnels--for a total of four lines--you have an underutilized resource.

From my standpoint, the most pressing thing we can do now to lay the groundwork for ST4 is to make sure we do ST3 right--to make it be as extensible as possible. In my view, the key piece is avoiding the drawbridge over the ship canal to Ballard, whether that be through a tunnel or a taller bridge. One could make a similar case for tunneling to West Seattle (I'm not quite up on that debate).

Any of these extras is going to require additional funding, apparently in the hundreds of millions of dollars. It's only fair that Seattle pick up the extra cost, but that becomes a political choice by the mayor and city council. The longer the city puts off that choice, the more ST3 will get backed up and bogged down. Oh, and the less momentum there is for ST3, the less momentum there is for ST4.

OK, what am I missing here?

18

@15, I can just imagine how violated you must feel having to pay for something that is so objectionable to your 20th century view of the way things should be. Well, welcome to representative democracy. Or welcome to adulthood.

I did like your line: "the most criminally corrupt public agency in the history of the United States." Don't tell that to a few department heads in the Trump administration. They might feel they need to step up their game.

19

Dori Monson? Really?

20

@18, My bad, I should have put quotation marks on his words. Nevertheless, the fact that every man, woman and child in ST taxing district will owe $50,000 for these trains is mind boggling.

21

@3 oh for fuck sake. Have been anywhere in your life outside your god damned basement?! Or are just over medicated?

Fucking Portland, a city SMALLER than us has a more robust light rail metro system than we do.

Christ. I can name a dozen cities in the last fifty years about the size of Seattle that have expanded metro and rail networks. All over the world.

Just shut the fuck up.

22

Dori Monson? Dori. Monson.

Oh. For fuck sake. Monson is a dipshit only fit for other dipshits. His track record for fact checking... is... Well. May as well get your information from Alex Jones.

23

@11- the way to get people out of their cars is probably to provide an alternative. Just sayin'.

24

I echo the concerns of @19 and @22. Dori Monson is the Charles Mudede of talk radio.

25

Maybe if Sound Transit could get just one project done on time and on budget and if maybe this time they didn't lie about the true cost of the project, we might be more willing to vote for it.

26

@25, ah, got it. So otherwise you're a huge fan of mass transit. Good to know.

28

@26,

The truth hurts.

29

There's a bit of tension between the idea of "build light rail, and it will draw development and density to it" vs. "get rail to every last SFH-zoned corner of the city."

And, in classic Seattle form, we can't make up our mind.

There's a "lots of transfers" smell coming from that maybe-map, the N 45/50th St line and the "Well, this is where the Route 8 bus runs, anyway" line look like particularly rich sources of interchange platform crowding.

30

Sound Transit is highly competent, at least from a user's perspective. I realize light rail doesn't go everywhere, but it works exceptionally well for those who can utilize it. I work a few blocks from UWS, and live a few blocks from CHS, and it has completely changed my life for the better...especially when you add in going to the stadiums/airport/downtown. I would never consider driving. In most cases, it's faster and definitely way less stressful, to take the train. For people with my commute/life patterns, ST Link is as good as any metro rail system on the globe (again, I realize it has a tiny footprint).

Anyway, if I could be the benevolent dictator of Seattle, I would convert the attached map to reality so that almost everyone else could enjoy the benefits of "life by light rail." Plus, ST does an outstanding jot of keeping the infrastructure clean and safe, so it's a HUGE upgrade from the bus. Having the Metro frequent bus network with 1st class like ST rail products would be heaven on earth.

31

My god though, I'm going to be super old, like 50, when just the next baby steps get to Ballard. I probably wouldn't live to see a 15th and Thomas or Madison Valley station.

32

@30

That's just the thing, though-- there's nothing stopping the city-loving folk who dig mass transit from moving close to the current light rail, is there?

I'm a bit skeptical of those who claim they're sophisticated pro-transit urbanites, but are staying put in their leafy north-seattle bungalows until the rail comes to them, by gum, and grousing about the plan's priorities the whole time, too.

33

@5 -- Yes, Boston has a subway like this. Most of it was built a very long time ago (it was the first subway in the United States). @9 Portland has built light rail the way most cities build light rail -- on the cheap. Nothing wrong with that; you save money even if your trains are a bit slower. But Seattle is essentially building a light rail system at the cost of a heavy rail system. Again, nothing terribly wrong with that (we really don't need that much capacity) but in terms of cost, our system is much more in line with BART. As Transport Politic put it, our system is massive (their words, not mine). (https://www.thetransportpolitic.com/2016/04/06/youve-got-50-billion-for-transit-now-how-should-you-spend-it/). We have already committed to spending over 50 billion dollars on a region that has less than 4 million people (and that is a very generous definition of the region). Yet that project is cheaper than most of what Seattle Subway dreams of building. In short, we blew our wad on the wrong thing, and no amount of "shoulda, woulda, coulda" is going to fix that.

I don't think people realize what we agreed to build, or how much it will cost to maintain. We will have the largest light rail line in North America. It will beat out DART, and eclipse MAX. There are only three cities that have bigger subways than what we are building (New York City, Mexico City, and Washington DC). Except unlike those cities, it won't serve the heart of the city, and thus won't have ridership commensurate with the cost. It is, as been noted many, many times before, geared towards the suburbs, not the city.

This means that the area will be dealing with massive debt, low ridership, and very high maintenance costs. We will be busy maintaining this mess, not adding the pieces that we should have built first. No @9, BART is not unique. They are simply the first of many who have gone down that road. DART was essentially the same system, and it failed just as miserably. Denver, Sacramento -- same sort of thing.

But it isn't just the cities that build poorly that run into financial problems. It took New York City -- by far the best subway system in the U. S.-- damn near 100 years to build just one tiny segment of the Second Avenue Subway. Despite transit share many times ours, despite ridership well over a million, it took them forever to build it. This shit costs money. Lots of money. Not only to build, but to maintain.

No one has built what Seattle Subway is proposing. Oh, to be clear, Washington D. C. built something like that (and is pretty much the only city in North America to do that in the last fifty years). Other cities (like our neighbor to the north) have built expensive high quality systems that grow piece by piece. Really big cities, like Toronto, live with lines that are half our size, with ridership ten times ours. But no one -- I mean no one -- has built huge, expensive, suburban BART/DART/RTD type shit first, then suddenly decided to do it right. It just won't happen. We are nowhere near as big as the DC area, and unlike them, we are stuck dealing with shit.

Oh, I get it. I understand that everyone thinks we are special. We aren't like San Fransisco. We aren't like Dallas. We aren't like Denver or New York. We will build a system much bigger than what Chicago has, let alone L. A. Even though we have made the same sort of mistakes as other cities, we will somehow correct it, and build something grand -- like no other city on earth. Sorry, it ain't gonna happen.

34

Lester your opening paragraph would seem more realistic if your meeting in Ballard was on 15th and Market N.W. Otherwise your on foot or waiting for a bus that is on your schedule. Ballard is big. A Sand Point dinner sounds easy if the restaurant is at the end of the line. Don't forget the kids soccer practice and the dry cleaning, the trains will be glad to stop and wait.

@30, I'm glad it works for you. And that's great. If all people had to do is go to work in the am and go right home after 8hrs with convenient close train terminals and had no other obligations and chores to do that would be great too. But. Who does?
The personal automobile has been the most liberating consumer product in world history.
Have you never had a day off and woke up early and wanted to see Snoqualmie Pass at sunrise and have breakfast in North Bend or hike up Denny Creek in the Spring on your own time? Or catch a ferry and visit Port Townsend, Hurricane Ridge and Squim in the same day with no time restraints or someone's schedule? Or in a single day drive to the Pacific Beaches just to smell that salt air, grab a sand dollar shell and head home visiting all points in between? Tough to do with fixed rail trains and living in limited circles of neighborhoods If that's all you want. With a car you can.
Maybe you have a car and do these things, still our lives have never been more complicated and weekday obligations change every day. Trains, with their limits, well, are limited. And with the current tax obligation of $50,000 for every man, woman and child in Sound Transit taxing authority, well, what are we getting for that puts us in debt like the College Loans everyone wants to forgive? Limited transportation that won't get you to that meeting in Ballard.
Cars are not going to disappear because of trains.
Yes, you can loan, rent and borrow cars but at others permission or availability. Not yours.

35

@21 -- Oh really. Please tell me the "dozen cities in the last fifty years about the size of Seattle that have expanded metro and rail networks" beyond the size of what we are building with ST3. For that matter, please tell me the cities that have spent more than what we are spending on ST3, and then went on a massive growth spurt, building dozens of miles of tunnels, gigantic bridges, as well as dozens of new underground or elevated stations.

You really don't get it. This is the sort of provincialism that fucks up public discourse in this town. You have people who remember riding a streetcar once, or know that "Portland has miles of track, so therefore it should be good". Or you think that serving the suburbs should be high priority, even though no city has higher transit ridership in the suburbs than the city (for reasons that @13 so eloquently explained). Most of all, you dismiss the role that buses play in every city that either lacks the funds to build a great subway, or fucked up their attempt to build it right the first time.

I don't want to be all doom and gloom, but Jesus, we can't even afford to build this: https://seattletransitblog.com/2015/12/21/rapidride-the-corridors/. Holy shit, this would be great. It is quite likely that those improvements would save more people more time than all of the billions spent on ST3. But we can't afford it! Our old mayor (the one who liked them young) fucked up, and lied to the voters. It will cost hundreds of millions of dollars more, and as a result, won't happen. Yet you think we will somehow spend billions upon billions for a massive system that would exceed the size of the Tokyo Metro!

This doesn't mean that we are fucked forever. We will likely be able to afford to make the sort of improvements to the bus system in those proposals (and then some). We will likely have bus ridership many times what our rail system carries. We may have a subway stop in Ballard (although right now that looks unlikely). We may even have small parts of that system -- like the Ballard to UW line -- or several small extensions. But you are completely ignoring the history of every system ever built in North America if you think we will build a subway system like that described by Seattle Subway. Sorry, too late for that. We spent our money on the wrong thing, just like San Fransisco did (and Dallas, and Denver ...).

36

@3 Embarcadero is an infill station.

There may never be a new BART line within San Francisco, but that doesn't mean no new subways in the city. MUNI's currently building something called the Central Subway connecting South of Market — via Union Square — to Chinatown and, eventually, North Beach.

Complaining that BART doesn't serve much of San Francisco ≈ complaining that the Monorail doesn't serve much of Seattle. In either case, they're not that city's main fixed-rail transit.

37

Oof. It's clear to me that the people who made this map have not riden east coast transit except maybe in NYC. It's also clear that they think business districts deserve lots of stops but residential can go suck an egg. Greenlake does not need a stop (Rosevelt has one) unless you acknowledge that NE Seattle deserves a central stop for the many people who pretty much need a bike or car to get to one of the stations on that map and the NW Seattle needs... anything. No urban density for it? I agree, and by the same argument Greenlake can make it to Rosevelt.

Why, besides expense, does this matter? Because each stop is an extra minute for each commuter each time they ride. Who care? If 1,440 people pass a stop each day, that's a day of time lost at that stop. For a reasonable ridership, that means stops will be losing several days of people's time each day. That's worth it if it makes up for the lost time by offering a significant number of other people reduced commute times but Greenlake doesn't have that kind of density. Nor is there enough population to make two(!) Woodland park stops be efficient. Again, we are putting aside building costs and just talking about riders here. And this isn't theoretical. Ride any transit system through any college campus with more than one stop and see how hard you roll your eyes at all the students who hop the train one stop (packing in and delaying everyone) when they could and should have walked (just ride the green line in Boston). Stops need to be far enough apart to make trips efficient for everyone.

If we really wanted to stop so many trips, City Council could make something Amazon wants contingent on having an office block somewhere besides downtown, like maybe Columbia City or maybe Northgate. Just that would eliminate a ton of trips downtown every day. Eh.

38

@3: I think they actually started planning BART in 1946. It took a long time for it come on line. I think it's good to be proactive about this stuff. Even if this whole map isn't feasible, it couldn't hurt to get the authority to use a CTA to potentially fund Seattle-Centric improvements to the rail network.

39

@5: Seattle density is 8,800 per sq mile. Boston density is over 13,000 per sq mile. That said, cities surrounding Boston are much denser than the cities surrounding Seattle. For example Cambridge is 15,000 sq/mile, Somerville 18,000/sq m, Brookline is 8,600 sq/mile, and Medford is 6,500/sq mi.

By contrast, Bellevue is 4,316.79/sq m, Shoreline 4,829.72/sq mi, Federal Way 4,353/sq mi, and Tacoma 4,292.14/sq mi.

That said, there's no time like the present to plan for the future. Boston's rail network did come on-line all at once.

40

@39,
"That said, there's no time like the present to plan for the future. Boston's rail network did come on-line all at once."
Yeah, I wish we could. Predicting the future is a fuzzy business especially for Politicians who are so influenced by special interests and self interest which is focused only on the present and near future. Still, you can't blame the City in the 1970's through the 2000's for not forecasting Amazon and the other tech companies.

41

Look, if we have to be Paris, can we please erect some inspiring buildings in this town? The soulless cuboid steel and glass edifices have not been content to merely dominate our workplaces; now the frostbite has spread to our residences. It makes me want to kill myself.

I dub this architectural period the Seattle Freeze. Little (and big!) boxes, all the same.

42

I love my car and am wiling to deal with traffic. After living here since 1980, ive seen the evolution of the city.. With all of Texas and most of Florida now living in King county, traffic is undeniably worse than Oct of 1980. However I have learned how to get from point A to point B, from Beacon Hill, to Northgate, Wedgwood To Alki anytime of day with very little traffic problems.. Learn the city!

43

I don't mind a plan for ST4, I just don't care for Ballard Subways. Hell, they've managed to put Ballard Link ahead of higher priority service, and in the mean time have tried to squeeze excess dollars out of tax payers for their beloved tunnel. This group is the last group I would trust with my tax dollars.

If I had my druthers my priorities would be as follows:

(note: included link of route and station map)
https://www.google.com/maps/d/u/0/edit?mid=1rapMc9p6C_ItD-rBqkmYEkat701eZYUZ&ll=47.64371437534243%2C-122.45118153249035&z=11

Priority #1)

A 1 seat ride to downtown Seattle from Bothell, Kenmore, Lake City Way, Wallingford and Fremont.

Populations
Bothell 46,000
Wallingford 23,000
Fremont 13,000
4 Station Lake City Way 33,000
Lake Forest Park 14,000
Kenmore 23,000

Here the addition of only 1 line adds two major destinations (UW and DT Seattle). Makes for a very efficient line
especially when ridership miles is also considered.

Can utilize new 522 BRT stations as Link stations (I don't see this Link line occurring until after 2040 by which time BRT will have served its' usefulness).

Bus Daily Ridership
62 7,500
309 500
312 2,500
372 8,000
522 10,000 ? couldn't find numbers

Priority #2)

A 1 seat ride for Kirkland and Ballard to UW.

By doing Ballard to Kirkland it will lower overhead and rider subsidies.

Also would offer Link stops to major King County destinations:
Woodland Park Zoo
University Village
Children's Hospital
Sandpoint
UW

Populations
Kirkland 90,000 (Northern Bellevue-Redmond area more than doubles this number)
Ballard 50,000
Wallingford 23,000

Bus daily ridership
44 8,800
255 6,800
271 5,700
540 630
541 800
542 2,300
277 200
556 900

Priority #3)

Burien extension from West Seattle

Leverages existing infrastructure from West Seattle Link
Lowers rider subsidies for this line with greater travel miles per trip and more riders per trip.

Populations:
White Center 14,000
Burien 52,000
Additional West Seattle access

Priority #4) Crown Hill extension

44

@34- Yes, your car is good for those random trips you describe. But it is terrible for commuting. a big part of the reason to have mass transit is to avoid zillions of people all trying to drive their cars to the same place (i.e., downtown) at the same times every day. There's nothing stupider than thousands of cars all sitting in traffic idling at rush hour. Pollution, wasted fuel & its added carbon to the atmosphere, lost productivity, general aggravation for the rest of us, etc.

I'm continually shocked at how many people in this town can't seem to figure out another way to get to work rather than driving alone daily. Even in our mostly train-free city, there are buses downtown & to the UW from almost everywhere. If we need to have a train network so that people will feel like it is OK to leave the car at home, so be it.