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Old February 23rd, 2008, 11:08 PM   #1821
UrbanBen
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveM View Post
Interesting. I'm starting to become convinced. This does remind me a little of the pro-pseudo-BRT crowd who attempt to convince people that faster buses to irrelevant places are as valuable as urban rail (see Houston's HOV-based bus system -- looks decent on a map but has terrible ridership)

Ben, do you think the corridor is worth preserving for rail? Or would it be better to start from scratch on an Eastside North-South line?
I don't think rail is a good reason to preserve the corridor, but I do think that the big hole it would fill in our cycling trail network is plenty of reason on its own - there are few choices today for cyclists doing the lake washington loop. There are parts that could be useful later (for light rail), and putting a trail in won't create any barrier to that.

Any Eastside north-south line will be mostly from scratch anyway. I'll bet 90% of the cost of land acquisitions/easements will be in the downtowns, where this line doesn't go. I'd say worry about it in 20 years, rather than adding complexity to the already difficult fight just to keep the state legislature from cutting Sound Transit off at the knees, and to get extensions to the core line passed at the ballot.
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Old March 1st, 2008, 03:55 PM   #1822
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http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/transp...1_sound29.html

Last updated February 28, 2008 9:34 p.m. PT

Sound Transit saves and pays extra $20 million

$72 million price more than agency expected, but less than first bid
P-I STAFF

Mowat Construction will build a station at Sea-Tac Airport for Sound Transit's light rail system, but for $72 million, $20 million more than the agency initially thought.

Sound Transit board members Thursday approved a contract for Mowat to build the station at a cost that's $23.3 million cheaper than Mowat originally bid.

Despite a year's delay in the contract process, Sound Transit will complete the station in time to open light rail service between downtown Seattle and the airport, said Ron Lewis, the agency's deputy light-rail director.

The station is part of a $2.6 billion, 15.7-mile light rail system linking downtown Seattle to the airport. Sound Transit plans to open the system in December 2009.

Mowat was the lone bidder in March 2007 to build the station, a multilevel structure with a mezzanine that connects to the airport garage and the terminal, and a pedestrian overpass above International Boulevard that will connect to a pedestrian plaza on the east side of that street.

The company bid $95.3 million to build a station Sound Transit engineers estimated would cost $51.8 million.

Officials blamed the high bid on lack of competition and a booming construction environment that kept many contractors busy erecting buildings elsewhere.

Lewis said calling for new bids risked the possibility that no new ones would be submitted, and that the work would be delayed past the startup date.

So the agency went ahead with another contract for Mowat to build the concrete floors of the structure and the supports for the rails leading to it. The agency negotiated with Mowat to trim $23 million from the price of the building, and Sound Transit also set aside $2 million to cover unforeseen contingencies.

The building still will look basically the same as planned, Lewis said, but cost savings were made by reducing the size of the building's internal structural supports, narrowing the roof width, reducing the amount of glass and eliminating an enclosure for an emergency-access stairway.

Lewis said Sound Transit engineers advanced the original design thinking they could build the station for the amount they originally estimated.

He said "having a contractor in a room with the designer helped" when the agency negotiated the lower-cost design with Mowat.

He said some Sound Transit staffers who worked on the original airport station design also are developing the design for a station planned near Husky Stadium on the University of Washington for service to the campus. Lessons learned at the airport will be applied at the UW, he said.
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Old March 3rd, 2008, 09:36 PM   #1823
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Any word on when the second tunnel through beacon hill will finally be complete?
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Old March 5th, 2008, 09:14 AM   #1824
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Any word on when the second tunnel through beacon hill will finally be complete?
Not a clue, there have been so little news on LR and ST these days this thread is dying.

Anyone interested in talking about some road development around the area to pass the time?
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Old March 5th, 2008, 10:55 PM   #1825
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The TBM is breaking through the second Beacon hill tunnel today!
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Old March 7th, 2008, 02:29 AM   #1826
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http://www.thestranger.com/seattle/Content?oid=526434

Sound Move
Sound Transit Heading Toward 2008 Light Rail Measure
by Erica C. Barnett

1.

A majority of the Sound Transit board now appears to be leaning toward a vote on a transit-only ballot measure in 2008.

Sound Transit's 18-member board has until March 29 to decide if it wants to put a transit package on the ballot this year, and which projects to put in front of voters. On March 6, staff will present board members with a proposal to raise sales taxes in the Sound Transit area 0.4 percent—an increase that would raise about $6 billion, in 2007 dollars, over 20 years. For that amount, voters would get light rail from Husky Stadium to Northgate and from Seattle to Bellevue across I-90. The proposal would also pay for a streetcar connecting Capitol Hill to First Hill, where a planned light-rail station was eliminated; and it would include bus or commuter rail expansions in the areas that would no longer be served by light rail, including Lynnwood, Redmond, and Tacoma.

The new proposal, which would complete construction in just 12 years, is cheaper, shorter, and, board members hope, more politically palatable than the "Roads and Transit" ballot measure voters rejected last year, which would have raised $10.8 billion for transit projects, including light-rail expansion in King, Pierce, and Snohomish Counties. The board also contemplated a smaller plan, which would have raised taxes three-tenths of 1 percent; but at that level, Sound Transit spokesman Ric Ilgenfritz says, "we'd just be putting it all into light rail to Northgate and Bellevue. You'd have two good segments, but no connections."

The biggest difference between last year's ballot measure and the new scaled-back transit package is that while previous plans called for continuous light rail from Lynnwood to Tacoma, the new proposal relies heavily on bus rapid transit (BRT) and commuter rail. "What you see here is a different vision [than Roads and Transit]," Ilgenfritz says. "Obviously, it's not what we proposed in the last plan. But with this level of revenue and the time horizon [of 12 years], we can't afford to extend light rail that far south."

Even Sound Transit supporters acknowledge that the BRT in the plan wouldn't be true "rapid transit," because it would run in HOV lanes along with carpools and other buses. Additionally, because the plan includes more buses and less light rail, any new proposal will probably include substantially more parking than Roads and Transit. The total number of new parking spots being contemplated, according to planning documents, is greater than 10,000, although it's unlikely that much parking will be built.

"It's unfortunate that we can't go to a bigger system, but we're digging our way out of a 35-year hole," says King County Council Member Larry Phillips, a supporter of the 2008 proposal. "The public told us, 'give us fewer projects to consider that give us a bigger bang for the buck.' So that's what we did."

2.

Coming out of 2007, board members and legislators were understandably skittish about moving forward with a large new transit proposal this year, with many leaders leaning toward a vote in 2010. Initially, it appeared that neither the governor nor the legislature would get behind 2008. Governor Christine Gregoire, it was generally believed, would not support a tax increase this year, when she's up for reelection. Sound Transit supporters also worried that the state legislature would take steps to dissolve or reorganize the agency.

Luckily for Sound Transit, none of its worst fears were borne out. Legislation by senate transportation chair Mary Margaret Haugen to dissolve Sound Transit failed to make it past the cutoff date for legislation to move out of committee; subsequent efforts to prevent Sound Transit from going forward in 2008 failed as well. Subsequently, Governor Gregoire said she would support a light-rail plan that went "north before south," ["Grading the Governor," Josh Feit, Feb 20], as this plan does. The state secretary of transportation, Paula Hammond, sits on the Sound Transit board and is expected to follow the governor's lead.

3.

Board support for the tentative proposal breaks down, for the most part, along fairly predictable geographic lines. Currently, all members of the King County Sound Transit delegation, including Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels, Seattle City Council President Richard Conlin, and Phillips, support going to the ballot in 2008. "I've been keeping it alive," Phillips says, with characteristic modesty. But "the more we analyze '08, the more we realize we'd be nuts not to put something out there to the presidential year electorate"—Democratic voters who Phillips believes are likely to support transit. Conlin, who just joined the Sound Transit board this year, is less adamant; he says that although right now, "I'm for it," it's "possible that in the end, I may vote with the majority if the majority is against it."

The only outliers among the King County delegation are reportedly King County Council Member Julia Patterson (who did not return a call for comment) and King County Executive Ron Sims, who has not been attending Sound Transit meetings. "He's waiting for the perfect plan," Phillips says derisively. Sims did not return a call for comment.

Opinion on the Eastside is reportedly more divided, with several representatives waiting to make up their minds. Redmond Mayor John Marchione, who took his seat on the Sound Transit board just two weeks ago, says he's been busy "talking to other board members and constituents" about their concerns with the proposal. "I'm very cognizant of the economy and what it might do this year—bad economies don't produce positive votes on tax increases." Marchione says he's "disappointed that light rail doesn't reach all the way to Microsoft," but adds, "it might be a political necessity. People want to build this system in smaller bites and they want to see some success" before moving forward. Fred Butler, the deputy council president of Issaquah, meanwhile, says he's "not really prepared to say one way or another," although if pressured, "I'd probably say I lean just a little bit more toward 2008. But I have certainly not made up my mind and probably will not do so until I have to, in late March."

None of the Pierce County representatives contacted for this story, including County Executive John Ladenburg, returned calls; however, numerous sources report that Pierce County board members are leaning toward a vote in 2008. Meanwhile, Snohomish County board members, including County Executive Aaron Reardon, want to wait until 2010 so that they can come up with a plan that better serves their county. "In Snohomish County, we don't have the taxing capacity [of Seattle], so whatever we do has to be very strategic," Reardon says, adding that the current plan "really would not pass the straight face test with north-end voters." If the board decides to move forward in March, it will have until late June or early July to come up with a final plan to put on the ballot in November.

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Old March 7th, 2008, 04:52 PM   #1827
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Great news! I'd personally like to see a much more extensive network, but I realize it likely wouldn't pass. If we can get this approved, it will add the most important extensions to the system and at a later date we can run another vote extending it further. In another 8-10 years we can vote to approve further expansion. Expanding piece by piece is the only way we will get a system built and the sooner we can get something voted on and approved the better. I can't wait until the system opens next year, but the proposed extensions really improve the usefulness of the system.
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Old March 8th, 2008, 01:30 AM   #1828
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Sound Transit Photo of the Week

March 7 - 13, 2008



Breaking through Beacon Hill

Sound Transit Boardmembers, along with members of the Beacon Hill tunnel construction crew, line up to celebrate right after the tunnel boring machine broke through the east side of Beacon Hill this week. Obayashi Corporation’s 300-foot-long tunnel boring machine emerged within five millimeters of its target.
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Old March 8th, 2008, 01:39 AM   #1829
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Another article on transit today:

Amtrak Cascades ridership sets all-time record in 2007

Date: Friday, March 07, 2008

Contact: Ken Uznanski, WSDOT Rail Passenger Manager, (360) 705-7905 (Olympia)
Vickie Sheehan, WSDOT Communications, (360) 705-7904 (Olympia)

OLYMPIA – Amtrak Cascades ridership in 2007 increased to 676,670–a 7.4 percent increase over 2006 and the highest annual ridership total since the inception of Amtrak Cascades service.

More convenient schedules and better connections, along with rising fuel prices for motorists influenced ridership growth. The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) expects ridership to continue to increase with the extension of the current Portland-Seattle-Bellingham service to Vancouver, B.C in mid-2008.

“We are very pleased with the growth of the Amtrak Cascades service and the significant milestone that we have reached,” said Ken Uznanaski, WSDOT Rail Passenger Manager. “The trend is continuing into 2008 with both January and February ridership up over 13 percent compared to 2007 - the highest ridership totals for these months in the history of the service.”

Additionally, Amtrak and WSDOT have partnered to complete a major interior renovation on all coach and business class cars used on Amtrak Cascades. The $10 million project began summer 2007 and the first completed cars will go into service spring 2008.

Amtrak Cascades consists of four daily round-trips between Portland and Seattle, with service between Bellingham and Portland, via Seattle; between Eugene and Seattle, via Portland; and between Seattle and Vancouver, B.C. Amtrak Cascades is operated by Amtrak under contracts with the Washington and Oregon Departments of Transportation. For Amtrak Cascades fares and schedules, visit http://www.amtrakcascades.com/.
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Old March 8th, 2008, 10:32 AM   #1830
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Quote:
Originally Posted by greg_christine View Post
Sound Transit Photo of the Week

March 7 - 13, 2008



Breaking through Beacon Hill

Sound Transit Boardmembers, along with members of the Beacon Hill tunnel construction crew, line up to celebrate right after the tunnel boring machine broke through the east side of Beacon Hill this week. Obayashi Corporation’s 300-foot-long tunnel boring machine emerged within five millimeters of its target.
Congratulations! It is great to see the Link LRT project going full speed ahead. I cannot wait for it to be done and to take a trip down to Seattle to ride it.

It is rather serendipitous timing that you guys had your TBM breakthrough this week since we had our TBM breakthrough this past Sunday.


(My photo, taken March 3rd, 2008)


(My photo, taken March 3rd, 2008)
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Old March 8th, 2008, 01:54 PM   #1831
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Originally Posted by HAWC1506 View Post
Another article on transit today:

Amtrak Cascades ridership sets all-time record in 2007

Date: Friday, March 07, 2008

Contact: Ken Uznanski, WSDOT Rail Passenger Manager, (360) 705-7905 (Olympia)
Vickie Sheehan, WSDOT Communications, (360) 705-7904 (Olympia)

OLYMPIA – Amtrak Cascades ridership in 2007 increased to 676,670–a 7.4 percent increase over 2006 and the highest annual ridership total since the inception of Amtrak Cascades service.

More convenient schedules and better connections, along with rising fuel prices for motorists influenced ridership growth. The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) expects ridership to continue to increase with the extension of the current Portland-Seattle-Bellingham service to Vancouver, B.C in mid-2008.

“We are very pleased with the growth of the Amtrak Cascades service and the significant milestone that we have reached,” said Ken Uznanaski, WSDOT Rail Passenger Manager. “The trend is continuing into 2008 with both January and February ridership up over 13 percent compared to 2007 - the highest ridership totals for these months in the history of the service.”

Additionally, Amtrak and WSDOT have partnered to complete a major interior renovation on all coach and business class cars used on Amtrak Cascades. The $10 million project began summer 2007 and the first completed cars will go into service spring 2008.

Amtrak Cascades consists of four daily round-trips between Portland and Seattle, with service between Bellingham and Portland, via Seattle; between Eugene and Seattle, via Portland; and between Seattle and Vancouver, B.C. Amtrak Cascades is operated by Amtrak under contracts with the Washington and Oregon Departments of Transportation. For Amtrak Cascades fares and schedules, visit http://www.amtrakcascades.com/.
I've been watching this for years, and it's pretty interesting to look at the ridership comparison between Sounder service (south, Seattle-Tacoma) and Amtrak Cascades. When Sounder had four trains a day, like Cascades from Seattle-Portland, they had about the same ridership. As Sounder increased their service levels, their ridership went up at a higher rate.

WSDOT knows they need more money for more round trips - it seems insane to me that they don't even point that out in their press releases - like "WSDOT Urban Rail division has asked for additional funding to reduce overcrowding by adding more trains".

You hear that? Any WSDOT employees here? You guys need to ASK.
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Old March 21st, 2008, 09:58 AM   #1832
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Light rail cut from the plan for 520 Bridge
Focus is on 6-lane design over lake and bus rapid transit

By DEBERA CARLTON HARRELL AND LARRY LANGE
P-I REPORTERS

When Seattle Deputy Mayor Tim Ceis told a group grappling with the Evergreen Point Bridge design not to count on light rail, jaws dropped.

"Don't get your hopes up on light rail across 520, folks," Ceis told the 34-member mediation group recently. "It's probably not going to happen."

You could hear the transit balloon pop. No light rail? In a hyper-congested yet critical corridor that links growing population and job centers? But Sound Transit told the group that for mostly technical reasons, the bridge section of state Route 520 is not a light rail candidate for the foreseeable future.

The revelation, while busting previous assumptions, has freed the mediation team to focus on neighborhood impacts and feasible six-lane designs, rather than on more controversial eight-lane versions for light rail.

The designs, which are being refined this week, call for pontoons strong enough for future light rail. But designs now focus on separate lanes or tunnels to allow hybrid buses to move more rapidly between Interstate 5 and Interstate 405.

"We won't see 520 light rail in our lifetime, but I don't think that's a bad thing," said Virginia Gunby, a mediation team member and former state transportation commissioner.

"You don't need light rail across 520 if you have dedicated lanes for bus rapid transit, in combination with light rail across I-90," Gunby said. "The ideal is to have both."

Rob Johnson, regional policy director for the nonprofit Transportation Choices and a mediation team member, said that while "the environmental community feels really strongly about high capacity across the 520 Bridge ... it doesn't necessarily have to be light rail. ... 520 works pretty well with a bus configuration."

The decision to focus on bus rapid transit on 520 has led to a new buzz for bus rapid transit in the Interstate 90 corridor, particularly as a short-term substitute for more-expensive light rail.

Sound Transit, the agency that has worked for years developing light rail in a north-south corridor, last week delayed until April 10 a board vote on a revised transportation package to possibly be sent to voters this fall. The board is mulling its response to the November defeat of a comprehensive roads and transit package. The measure included funding for light rail across I-90 and an "Eastlink" at least to growing Bellevue, one of the region's biggest employers.

"The decision has been made on 520: four general-purpose lanes and two high-occupancy vehicle lanes, and it's going to have bus rapid transit, not light rail," said King County Executive Ron Sims.

"So now the decision is, how are you going to relieve congestion and get across the lake in the I-90 corridor?" Sims said. "That is a question that the region will have to decide."

Rep. Fred Jarrett, D-Mercer Island, who like Gunby has been involved with regional transportation planning for more than 30 years, said bus rapid transit is the way to go until transit markets, and voters' willingness to tax themselves, are more clear.

"If you build light rail across I-90, it will be 2012, optimistically, before the first part of the line is open from downtown Seattle to downtown Bellevue," Jarrett said. "In the long run, trains would be better, but how long do you want to wait?"

Some transportation experts say I-90's middle lanes could be converted to "hot lanes" or "zip lanes" for single-occupancy drivers willing to pay tolls, as well as toll-exempt buses. This could provide an interim approach to light rail and provide a better picture of transit demand, plus help pay for transit improvements on both trans-lake corridors, said Bruce Agnew, director of the Discovery Institute's Cascadia Center for Regional Development, a Seattle think tank.

Ultimately, light rail would be built on I-90's outside lanes, planners say.

King County, helped by federal transportation policies and funding, is bullish on buses. While Sims supports light rail as a needed "spine," he considers buses the "rib cage" of a transportation system. With gas and parking costs climbing, bus ridership already exceeds demand, Sims said.

As part of the expansion plan for its hybrid-bus fleet (part diesel, part electric), the county has ordered 45 buses that are expected to be delivered by the end of 2009. The buses, built by General Motors, are funded by a federal Urban Partnership Grant awarded last year.

Long before planners knew 520 needed to be replaced, I-90 was identified as the priority corridor; compatible infrastructure already exists. An eight-lane 520 corridor for light rail is unacceptable to Seattleites on the west side of the bridge -- even for those who would ride it. Connections to the University of Washington, to much of Seattle, and to Bellevue pose hurdles, as do some technical and engineering problems.

Ric Ilgenfritz, Sound Transit's chief communications officer, said light rail across 520 would overload the rail system as it is currently designed south of the Lake Washington Ship Canal.

"It's feasible conceptually, but we would not propose it as the first crossing," Ilgenfritz said.

The university link of the system, for which the agency hopes to break ground this year, was not designed to handle cross-lake traffic to downtown Seattle, but the system could handle the needed number of trains approaching downtown from I-90 from the south, he said. The agency hopes to connect the university to its light rail system by 2016.

The initial segment, between downtown and Sea-Tac Airport, is scheduled to open in late 2009.

A 2006 Sound Transit study estimated the cost of Seattle-Redmond light rail service at up to $3.9 billion, compared with up to $3.4 billion for buses that would run in exclusive lanes with doors on both sides of the vehicles, basing figures on 2005 dollars. The study estimated that the rail system would carry an average of 35,000 passengers each weekday, while the bus system would carry 24,500, with light rail travel times three minutes shorter between the two cities.

With growing population and jobs in Bellevue, Mayor Grant Degginger said the city has long hoped to be served by light rail via I-90. A citizens committee has visited cities already using light rail and will provide input to the Bellevue City Council.

Ilgenfritz said his agency has heeded the recommendations of a trans-lake study concluding that the I-90 bridge was the first place light rail should extend from Seattle to the Eastside.

If light rail is ever put on a new bridge, it would likely come after Sound Transit had built out the rest of its light rail system, said Larry Phillips, a King County councilman and a Sound Transit board member.

"It would be awhile given the limitations we have with our taxing authority," Phillips said.
P-I reporter Debera Carlton Harrell can be reached at 206-448-8326 or [email protected].
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Old March 24th, 2008, 03:50 AM   #1833
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I still think they should allow future light rail on 520 regardless if it's not for the near future. A little disappointing...

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Hate to bring comparisons, but here in Vancouver, the Alex-Fraser bridge is built for future light rail, although you would not see LRT running there for at least another 50 years.
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Old March 24th, 2008, 05:37 AM   #1834
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I think all our new bridges are built for that.
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Old March 24th, 2008, 08:12 AM   #1835
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Yeah we poor seattlites kind of don't...have the money?
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Old March 24th, 2008, 08:38 PM   #1836
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520 should NOT be built for light rail right now, because we aren't going to build rail over that bridge during the pontoons' lifetimes.

We can only afford one transit corridor cross-lake right now. In the next phase of Sound Transit, we'll need to continue on to Redmond from Bellevue/Overlake. In the phase after that (which we likely won't even be voting on for 25 years), we'll likely build to Issaquah and/or start a line running in the 405 corridor. In the phase after that, we'll finish that line, which will largely still be with East King money. In 50 years, we'll be back at 520 being the next best project - and at that point, the pontoons will need overhaul or replacement.

Spending money on bigger pontoons now that we aren't going to use is simply a waste of money - widen them during an overhaul.

As it stands, there will be no good way to build an interchange for rail at 520, nor would we want one. Passengers originating at Northgate are already going to be packing trains by the time they get to Husky Stadium - inbound passengers from 520 would have to transfer to already packed trains, creating unpleasant crush loads. Running that rail over 90 balances inbound load very near equally north/south - Sea-Tac + Bellevue ~= Northgate. This makes train operation much more efficient as well - a train from Bellevue disgorges passengers downtown and picks up passengers to go north. Lower frequencies to Sea-Tac and Bellevue result in necessary higher frequencies to Northgate and beyond.

Most eastside passengers are coming from Bellevue or points south. Building over 520 would force us to turn *south* to go to Bellevue, then likely turn north again to go to Overlake. Both Overlake/Redmond and Bellevue are too large of destinations to split into spur lines.

It makes sense to serve the most passengers with the least cost, right? 90 right-of-way already exists - the R8A project to add HOV to the 90 outer roadway is already under way. Direct access to the downtown tunnel is already in place. Try building an underground, underwater connector in the Arboretum! Fat chance, and there's no way you're asking people to transfer between downtown Bellevue and downtown Seattle. The 90 routing offers about double the passengers for much lower cost - an interline at Montlake would be a $500m-$1b proposition alone.

This isn't even an issue. Two years ago, we were so far past the routing issue that we were already identifying a technology. Nothing's changed. None of the projects armchair planners want are going to get added to the Sound Transit package until they've built what's already been identified as what we need. Nothing about where we need rail has changed in 50 years - the original 1957 planning map looks about the same as it does today, because our urban centers are in the same places! 520 doesn't meet the bar, and won't until well after we've done a lot of other work.

Last edited by UrbanBen; March 24th, 2008 at 08:58 PM.
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Old March 29th, 2008, 07:06 PM   #1837
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The Sound Transit ridership report for the fourth quarter of 2007 is now available:

http://www.soundtransit.org/Document...ip_Q4_2007.pdf

The relative performance of the ST Express bus and Sounder commuter rail services has been an ongoing topic of discussion on this thread. The latest numbers are as follows:

Cost per Boarding (2007 Year-to-Date Actuals)
ST Express Bus: $6.45
Sounder Commuter Rail: $11.47

Average Weekday Boardings (4th Quarter)
ST Express Bus: 37,334
Sounder Commuter Rail: 8,820
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Old March 31st, 2008, 01:22 AM   #1838
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Greg_christine, we were talking about Link light rail. I don't think anyone's suggesting building Sounder over I-90.

As for cost per boarding, the marginal cost of adding trains to existing maintenance facilities will bring down Sounder costs, and the continued increase in ridership has been doing so already. In 2004, cost per boarding on Sounder was $19.40. That trend should be pretty clear.
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Old April 2nd, 2008, 02:55 AM   #1839
SteveM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UrbanBen View Post
Greg_christine, we were talking about Link light rail. I don't think anyone's suggesting building Sounder over I-90.

As for cost per boarding, the marginal cost of adding trains to existing maintenance facilities will bring down Sounder costs, and the continued increase in ridership has been doing so already. In 2004, cost per boarding on Sounder was $19.40. That trend should be pretty clear.
So let me say up front that it's obvious the Sounder costs are dropping and that I'd support adding Sounder service on the basis of the growing ridership and the community support that expanding service has.

That said, I'm confused why the costs are so high. It would seem like operating costs come down to three things:

1) Cost of moving the train (fuel, an engineer, trackage rights, etc.). This is proportional to the number of trains run.
2) Cost of servicing passengers (conductors, janitors, etc.). This is proportional to number of riders and probably pretty small.
3) Depreciation on equipment. This is proportional to equipment owned, obviously.

It's intuitive to me that #2 (and probably #3) should be lower for trains than for buses. And when I think about it, it seems like #1 should be lower, too, or at least comparable. (I'd expect the train to require less fuel on a per-passenger basis, and clearly the labor costs of engineers are lower. So #1 depends all on the cost of the trackage rights.)

And so I'm confused -- I'm glad that Sounder's costs are coming down so fast, but I don't understand why they aren't lower to start with. Can someone who knows the economics better explain it? Does cost per boarding include some other costs I'm not seeing, too? (Do they factor the capital costs of park and rides differently for the trains than for the buses?)
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Old April 2nd, 2008, 03:21 AM   #1840
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For a start in understanding the economics, look at the Sounder schedule:

http://www.soundtransit.org/x71.xml

Most of the trains make one run into Seattle in the morning and then sit there all day before making one run out of Seattle in the evening.
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