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Old November 4th, 2007, 04:50 PM   #1461
greg_christine
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Assuming that Proposition 1 passes and the Link light rail system reaches Everett and Tacoma, what is the role for Sounder?

I realize that Sounder serves points that are not on the Link light rail line; however, the systems will be largely parallel and the Sounder service is so infrequent and the stations are so far apart that it would probably be more convenient for most passengers to drive to a park-and-ride lot on the Link light rail line.

The commuter rail lines in other cities generally serve points that are well beyond the terminal points of the light rail and/or metro lines. Seattle will have commuter rail and light rail lines largely parallel each other. Under the ST2 plan, the Sounder commuter rail line will continue to serve a line that extends only a modest distance beyond the Link light rail line. The only promise for an extension involves a study to extend Sounder further south. There is no actual funding under ST2 to extend the line. Under ST2, the only funded improvements to Sounder involve the existing tracks and stations.



For more information on the ST2 plan, see the following link:

http://www.soundtransit.org/x3951.xml
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Old November 4th, 2007, 04:59 PM   #1462
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Looking at the Sounder service schedule < http://www.soundtransit.org/x71.xml >, there are just six round-trip trains per day between Seattle and Tacoma and just five round-trip trains per day between Seattle and Everett. Two of the trains between Seattle and Everett are actually Amtrak. I don't see any mention in the ST2 plan < http://www.soundtransit.org/x3951.xml > of funding to increase the service frequency. I vaguely recall reading that it is not practical to increase the service frequency on the line north because it is single track and carries a lot of freight train traffic.
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Old November 4th, 2007, 10:49 PM   #1463
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Quote:
Originally Posted by guinessbeer55 View Post
does anyone know whats going on with the Airport station???

Remember in like June or July when there was that big issue with the contractor wanting like twice as much... what happened?? has the station begun construction yet?
The station has begun construction - foundations and some columns are in already. They've just "value engineered" most of the large glass panels out of it, but they're designing so it can be improved later.

The contractor was also off their rocker - this happened because ST isn't allowed to do their own construction (that's US public policy for you), so when they got only one bid, the contractor knew they could ask for as much as they wanted.
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Old November 5th, 2007, 12:30 AM   #1464
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Originally Posted by greg_christine View Post
Looking at the Sounder service schedule < http://www.soundtransit.org/x71.xml >, there are just six round-trip trains per day between Seattle and Tacoma and just five round-trip trains per day between Seattle and Everett. Two of the trains between Seattle and Everett are actually Amtrak. I don't see any mention in the ST2 plan < http://www.soundtransit.org/x3951.xml > of funding to increase the service frequency. I vaguely recall reading that it is not practical to increase the service frequency on the line north because it is single track and carries a lot of freight train traffic.
First, *when* those trains are is very important. Three of the Everett-Seattle round trips and five of the Tacoma-Seattle round trips are peak hour. Of those, Everett will get one more train this year, and Tacoma will get two more. A second reverse commute trip will also be added to the Tacoma schedule this year.

Seattle-Everett BNSF trackway is complex. Most of the line is double tracked, but there are two single track sections. As part of Sound Move, we've paid to upgrade those two sections to double track (making the entire line double track), and those two projects are under way - you can see the more obvious one in Edmonds. WSDOT has also funded several grade separations in the south corridor and plans to do more, making it likely that more trains can be added in a Sound Transit 3 package.

Mukilteo station will open soon, and the large Edmonds Crossing project to create a combined ferry/bus/train station will likely start in the coming few years. The new combined Sounder/Amtrak maintenance base is slated for a near-term construction start in South Seattle, and a complete overhaul of King Street Station as a major bus/rail transit hub is in the works in the coming years, to be implemented with the replacement of the lid over the BNSF line at Jackson Street. Lakewood and South Tacoma stations are under way, and the D to M street trackway project to extend Sounder south to them is in final design. Dupont has expressed an interest in peak-hour service to Tacoma and Seattle, and the potential for extension will be considered in Sound Transit 2. Link won't get anywhere close to the southern Tacoma suburbs, and these projects have started discussions in Thurston County about connecting Olympia to Seattle with rail again in new right of way.

With just the service we have now, Sounder as a whole sees over 10,000 daily passengers with a rather steep curve of new ridership - they're seeing nearly double the ridership of any of the all-day bus lines, some of which are in higher density corridors. Most of the south line riders are coming from the cities in the Sounder corridor and points east - and note that there are only some 1700 parking stalls available, so it should be clear that the vast majority of riders can't "just drive" to another system. The cities of Kent, Auburn and Tukwila also plan to add huge amounts of high-density residential and mixed use to the walkable zones just around the stations. Tukwila platform is basically in the middle of a small undeveloped area right now, and the city plans to coordinate with Sound Transit to build hundreds of residential units and a retail core right there.

I suggest you check out Google Earth so you get an idea of the topography. Sounder runs through a well populated valley that's seeing massive growth and has completely backed up roadways. Link will run through a completely different urban corridor with only a handful of links to the valley - Interstate 5 and a large hill are in the way, as are a number of miles.
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Old November 5th, 2007, 01:31 AM   #1465
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Is there a plan to actually increase the number of Sounder trains each day?

I am asking this because I see no mention of an increase in Sounder service in the Sound Transit 2 plan. If there is a plan to increase the number of trains, I assume it is already being accomplished under other funding. Sound Transit still has at least one train on lease to Metrolink in southern California. I have not yet heard of any plan to bring that train back to Seattle.
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Old November 5th, 2007, 02:19 AM   #1466
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Quote:
Originally Posted by greg_christine View Post
Is there a plan to actually increase the number of Sounder trains each day?

I am asking this because I see no mention of an increase in Sounder service in the Sound Transit 2 plan. If there is a plan to increase the number of trains, I assume it is already being accomplished under other funding. Sound Transit still has at least one train on lease to Metrolink in southern California. I have not yet heard of any plan to bring that train back to Seattle.
You must not read the service implementation plans...
http://soundtransit.org/x1195.xml

We're adding one more peak hour round trip to Everett, and two more to Tacoma, with one more off-peak to Tacoma, all this year. That's all as part of Sound Move, not ST2. ST2 does include major upgrades to Sounder stations, by the way.
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Old November 5th, 2007, 03:58 AM   #1467
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Quote:
Originally Posted by greg_christine View Post
Is there a plan to actually increase the number of Sounder trains each day?

I am asking this because I see no mention of an increase in Sounder service in the Sound Transit 2 plan. If there is a plan to increase the number of trains, I assume it is already being accomplished under other funding. Sound Transit still has at least one train on lease to Metrolink in southern California. I have not yet heard of any plan to bring that train back to Seattle.
Sound Transit would need to pay BNSF more to run more than the already negotiated and planned 9 south round-trips and 4 north round-trips. I presume the planned expansion (which should be in place in 2008) includes calling back the Metrolink-leased train, but as far as I know, there is no further expansion planned at present.

One of the key issues (UrbanBen alluded to this but didn't call it out explicitly) is that the BNSF rail lines used for Sounder are already pretty congested. So even though the trains are quite popular (nearly 1000/people per train per day) it's hard to imagine that expanding the service would be cheap -- unlike Eastside line discussed elsewhere, BNSF really needs the Sounder tracks for its core business.
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Old November 5th, 2007, 08:12 AM   #1468
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Originally Posted by SteveM View Post
Sound Transit would need to pay BNSF more to run more than the already negotiated and planned 9 south round-trips and 4 north round-trips. I presume the planned expansion (which should be in place in 2008) includes calling back the Metrolink-leased train, but as far as I know, there is no further expansion planned at present.

One of the key issues (UrbanBen alluded to this but didn't call it out explicitly) is that the BNSF rail lines used for Sounder are already pretty congested. So even though the trains are quite popular (nearly 1000/people per train per day) it's hard to imagine that expanding the service would be cheap -- unlike Eastside line discussed elsewhere, BNSF really needs the Sounder tracks for its core business.
Yes - the trackage rights for the trains we have now were in the hundreds of millions of dollars, although part of the cost was because they're *perpetual* agreements. I didn't read whether we'll get the Metrolink train back, but I'm sure we will. We won't need replacements for any of our current equipment for a good twenty-five years, and there's some dumb federal rule about not allowing operation of any equipment more than 30 or 40 years old, so it makes sense not to bother buying more in ST2.

A few of our trains are now operating with over 1000 passengers - more passengers than seats. The discussions right now are about extending platform lengths to accomodate an eighth car, and potentially getting new or doubling up locomotives to accomodate more than that. It doesn't matter to BNSF how long our trains are (to a point), just how many we run.

The eastside line is totally bogus, by the way. The people touting it are all either nutjobs who oppose transit, or nutjobs who don't use their brains. It doesn't run through ANY urban cores - if someone told you where it runs in Bellevue is "downtown", they're lying or dumb. It's well outside 90% of passengers' willing walking distance from ANY of the downtown office core, and there is no way Bellevue is going to accept a CBD split across 405 without huge federal funding for lids that can support multistory development. That ain't happening in the next decade.

Oh, I went and actually checked, and Sounder has about 2500 parking spaces - I didn't realize Kent station had 1000 spaces, I was thinking more like 500. This is still less than a third of ridership for the south line - it'll be a quarter of south line ridership by the end of 2008, and likely less than a fifth by the end of 2009 as the new trips start to mature.
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Old November 6th, 2007, 07:06 AM   #1469
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Quote:
Originally Posted by guinessbeer55 View Post
does anyone know whats going on with the Airport station???

Remember in like June or July when there was that big issue with the contractor wanting like twice as much... what happened?? has the station begun construction yet?
I passed that site last Wednesday. They already started working on it. The foundation part is almost finished and getting ready to get new airport station built. The track is almost arrive at the airport station. Its looking good.
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Old November 6th, 2007, 07:06 AM   #1470
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UrbanBen View Post

The eastside line is totally bogus, by the way. The people touting it are all either nutjobs who oppose transit, or nutjobs who don't use their brains. It doesn't run through ANY urban cores - if someone told you where it runs in Bellevue is "downtown", they're lying or dumb. It's well outside 90% of passengers' willing walking distance from ANY of the downtown office core, and there is no way Bellevue is going to accept a CBD split across 405 without huge federal funding for lids that can support multistory development. That ain't happening in the next decade.
eastside line of the SOUNDER???
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Old November 6th, 2007, 07:17 AM   #1471
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I emailed Sound Transit about a sounder "East line" a few weeks ago and they said it can be studied with ST2. The tracks will somehow either be integrated with Link or Sounder. Since the tracks aren't in downtown Bellevue, then it'd be logical to build underground tracks for Sounder to the Bellevue Transit Center...probably underneath the East Link platforms.

Ben: The next Sounder service increase is *next* September in 2008. Not this year.
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Old November 6th, 2007, 08:02 AM   #1472
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kub86 View Post
I emailed Sound Transit about a sounder "East line" a few weeks ago and they said it can be studied with ST2. The tracks will somehow either be integrated with Link or Sounder. Since the tracks aren't in downtown Bellevue, then it'd be logical to build underground tracks for Sounder to the Bellevue Transit Center...probably underneath the East Link platforms.

Ben: The next Sounder service increase is *next* September in 2008. Not this year.
That's just crazy. They could just build a streetcar line along NE 6th connecting the BNSF tracks west through Downtown to Bellevue Square. Bellevue is going to redevelop that east area anyway, why not add a streetcar line to boost development on both sides of I-405?
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Old November 6th, 2007, 08:28 AM   #1473
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That's just crazy. They could just build a streetcar line along NE 6th connecting the BNSF tracks west through Downtown to Bellevue Square. Bellevue is going to redevelop that east area anyway, why not add a streetcar line to boost development on both sides of I-405?
I really do not see the point of having streetcars in Bellevue. I think it would be more important to integrate some real mass transit in Bellevue. The buses can do the job in Bellevue just fine.

But what's this I hear? There is a Sounder proposal coming to Bellevue? How is that going to work? Bellevue hasn't got much room at grade rail lines in the heavily populated areas. Underground tunnel maybe? Maybe the sounder train is a little...big...I think something along the lines of a DC Metro system would fit nicely in the future.
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Old November 6th, 2007, 08:51 AM   #1474
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Originally Posted by taiwanesedrummer36 View Post
That's just crazy. They could just build a streetcar line along NE 6th connecting the BNSF tracks west through Downtown to Bellevue Square. Bellevue is going to redevelop that east area anyway, why not add a streetcar line to boost development on both sides of I-405?
You're expecting that 1000 commuters from a single Sounder train will patiently wait for a little streetcar to ferry all of them (making about 4-5 trips) across the freeway. That's just crazy.

The BTC is in a perfect location already. Just build underground tracks to the BTC like what East Link will (hopefully) do....I don't see anything crazy about this?

HAWC: the sounder idea is just a study. Sound transit is buying rights for the BNSF tracks in Bellevue and Renton. The problem is that the BNSF tracks don't run through downtown Bellevue. Another kink is how to connect the Renton tracks with the South Line.
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Old November 6th, 2007, 01:38 PM   #1475
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UrbanBen View Post
You must not read the service implementation plans...
http://soundtransit.org/x1195.xml

We're adding one more peak hour round trip to Everett, and two more to Tacoma, with one more off-peak to Tacoma, all this year. That's all as part of Sound Move, not ST2. ST2 does include major upgrades to Sounder stations, by the way.
I was hoping that the Sounder improvements might bring the sort of service schedule that is seen on the Metrolink San Bernardino line < http://www.metrolinktrains.com/sched...tml.php?id=281 > or the Caltrain line < http://www.caltrain.org/timetable.html >. For both lines, trains are at twenty minute intervals during the height of rush hour and run approximately hourly for the rest of the day until fairly late in the evening. I guess this sort of schedule isn't possible for Sounder given the amount of freight train traffic.

Even with a couple of extra trains per day in each direction, the typical Sounder park-and-ride passenger is likely to be tempted to drive an extra 10 or 15 minutes to the nearest Link light rail station where the wait time for a train is no more than 10 minutes during rush hour rather than risk waiting 30 minutes for the next Sounder train. This would also avoid any anxiety that the passenger might have regarding working late and missing the last Sounder train out of Seattle.
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Old November 6th, 2007, 01:47 PM   #1476
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To all those who live in the Seattle area, don't forget to vote today.
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Old November 6th, 2007, 04:48 PM   #1477
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Once (and if) Link reaches Ash Way, could Snohomish County vote on money to extend the line to Everett, sooner than ST3?

Also, Sound Transit may be getting the cars from the VRE back in 2009. The VRE operates between Washington and Fredricksburg.
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Old November 7th, 2007, 12:51 AM   #1478
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Quote:
Originally Posted by greg_christine View Post
I was hoping that the Sounder improvements might bring the sort of service schedule that is seen on the Metrolink San Bernardino line < http://www.metrolinktrains.com/sched...tml.php?id=281 > or the Caltrain line < http://www.caltrain.org/timetable.html >. For both lines, trains are at twenty minute intervals during the height of rush hour and run approximately hourly for the rest of the day until fairly late in the evening. I guess this sort of schedule isn't possible for Sounder given the amount of freight train traffic.

Even with a couple of extra trains per day in each direction, the typical Sounder park-and-ride passenger is likely to be tempted to drive an extra 10 or 15 minutes to the nearest Link light rail station where the wait time for a train is no more than 10 minutes during rush hour rather than risk waiting 30 minutes for the next Sounder train. This would also avoid any anxiety that the passenger might have regarding working late and missing the last Sounder train out of Seattle.
The typical Sounder passenger isn't a park and ride passenger.
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Old November 7th, 2007, 12:51 AM   #1479
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Originally Posted by Tcmetro View Post
Once (and if) Link reaches Ash Way, could Snohomish County vote on money to extend the line to Everett, sooner than ST3?

Also, Sound Transit may be getting the cars from the VRE back in 2009. The VRE operates between Washington and Fredricksburg.
Sure, Snohomish could get their own ballot measure set up to direct Sound Transit to operate an extension.
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Old November 7th, 2007, 12:57 AM   #1480
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kub86 View Post
I emailed Sound Transit about a sounder "East line" a few weeks ago and they said it can be studied with ST2. The tracks will somehow either be integrated with Link or Sounder. Since the tracks aren't in downtown Bellevue, then it'd be logical to build underground tracks for Sounder to the Bellevue Transit Center...probably underneath the East Link platforms.

Ben: The next Sounder service increase is *next* September in 2008. Not this year.
Yeah, I know when it is, I just already consider this the 2008 service implementation year, sorry to be all confusing. :P

Last edited by UrbanBen; November 7th, 2007 at 01:08 AM.
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