The 4/10/13 post recommended a Transit Center (T/C) at the U/W rather than the Northgate extension as part of the Sound Transit/UW “Master Implementation Agreement with Sound Transit”. This post explains that whatever ST agrees to regarding the Northgate extension they need to insist on a T/C near the University light rail station.
Sound Transit estimates it will cost $1.9 billion for the 3.15-mile University extension or about $350,000 per yard. ST justifies the extension construction costs with predictions it will add 71,000 weekday riders by 2030, nearly tripling Central Link ridership to 114,000. (Raises the question why it wasn’t part of the original Central Link construction.)
Unfortunately, Sound Transit promise for 71,000 University Extension riders is the ultimate example of their “field-of-dreams-if-we-build-it-they-will-come” mentality. ST will get the 15,000 riders they promise from the $2.1 billion Northgate Extension only if they “persuade” Metro to end their far less expensive bus Route 41 from Northgate T/C.
The only other significant potential source for riders is a bus T/C near the Central Link University Station. The 7/29/12 post “A better choice for 520 commuters” describes how a University T/C would provide an excellent interface between cross-lake BRT bus service and Central Link light rail. Eastside residents could have express bus service from every P&R in the area to fast reliable light rail connections into Seattle. Seattleites could use the return routes to provide light rail/BRT connections to Microsoft and all the major work destinations on the eastside. The large numbers in both directions could add many thousands of riders to Central Link.
Its possible Sound Transit didn’t insist on the University T/C because they eventually hoped to extend light rail across 520. A more immediate concern was that the 520 BRT/Light Rail combination could eliminate one of East Link’s major selling points; providing Seattleites with light rail access to Microsoft. Again the 7/29/12 post explains the 520 BRT route advantages.
In conclusion, Sound Transit’s acquiescing to the University demand not to include a University Station T/C will limit the University light rail extension ridership to a small fraction of the promised 71,000 riders so critical for making Central Link financially viable. Doing so to maintain East Link as the “Microsoft” connection goes way beyond mere incompetence.