The 12/08/13 post detailed the impact of the Seattle Tunnel limits on light rail operation and the high train operating costs on Sound Transits planned $20 billion Prop. 1 expansion. Any rational review would conclude the following.
The only way to justify light rail in Seattle is to maximize the tunnel capacity with 4-car trains at least during the peak commute hours. However, the high operating cost for each light rail car results in prohibitively high operating costs for the Central Link extensions to Lynnwood and Federal Way. Thus, financial viability limits Central Link operation to a University-to-SeaTac trunk line.
Maximizing the Central Link ridership also requires Sound Transit add a T/C at the University Station. It would attract thousands of riders by providing an interface between 520 BRT service and Central Link light rail.
I-90 cross-lake commuters could obviously use the capacity available from 4-car trains. However, East Link is not the answer. Sound Transit still hasn’t confirmed the I-90 Bridge can support four 74-ton cars. The 4440 riders per hour per direction (pphpd) with 4 cars is a fraction of the 12,000 pphpd Sound Transit promised. Whatever capacity East Link has is marginalized by the limited capacity and access of the South Bellevue P&R for the vast majority of I-90 commuters.
East Link’s biggest problem is it closes off the center roadway with the capacity for 1000 buses per hour from all the east side P&Rs and replaces it with a light rail system that, at best, provides 4-car trains every 8 minutes from one I-90 P&R. It forces all vehicles onto the bridge outer roadways where they will surely face increased congestion, even with the promised 4th lanes. The fact that it costs $2.8 billion and devastates the area along the route into Bellevue only adds to the insanity.
The tragedy is Sound Transit has already spent hundreds of millions on Prop 1 extensions since they were approved in 2008. I-90 commuters have had to endure years of increased congestion because ST delayed adding the 4th lanes to the outer roadways. (Most likely from fear it would lead to BRT.)
However, the millions spent and the congested endured pale in comparison with the $20 billion Sound Transit will spend and the congestion that’ll result if they are allowed to proceed with their Prop 1 light rail expansions. This post continues my attempt to stop them.