The Saturday Times front page article “Station on a fast track” about the light rail extension to the UW continues their lavish praise of Sound Transit. Their comment that light rail “carries 32,000 riders a day—a figure that trails initial estimates” trivializes the fact Sound Transit “initial estimates” were for 110,000 riders by 2010. They then make the prediction that the “3-mile tunnel to the university should eventually add 70,000 riders” and quote claims of a “pretty darn incredible 6 minute trip”.
What the Times doesn’t understand is the failure of Sound Transit to locate a T/C at the University station makes a mockery of any 70,000 rider estimate. Sound Transit claims for 15,000 riders from the “Northgate” extension requires they “persuade” Metro to end Route 51 from Northgate T/C; a faster and far less expensive alternative. Even with those riders, it’s hard to expect anywhere near 55,000 riders each day between the UW and downtown.
The UW T/C would provide an excellent interface between 520 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 UW and a “pretty darn incredible 6 minute trip” 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.
Terminating the 520 bus routes at UW will alleviate the problems with merging the three 520 lanes with I-5 and reduce downtown congestion. The large numbers of riders in both directions is the only way for the UW extension to approach 70,000 additional riders to Central Link. If the Seattle Times is really interested in making Central Link viable they ought to advocate for a T/C at the University station.