I submitted the following to the Bellevue Reporter in response to the article in last week’s paper. I posted it since they are unlikely to use it.
East Link’s Unresolved Issues
The “City, Sound Transit Light Rail Agreement” announcement in the April 10th Bellevue Reporter fails to mention several “unresolved issues”. The most immediate “issue” is the Sound Transit “plan” for accommodating those who use the South Bellevue P&R lot when they close it next March.
The P&R has nominally 519 spaces but commuters use parking around the periphery for an additional 200 spaces, all of which are full by 7:30 AM. During the peak commute an ST550 bus stops to pick up riders every 5 minutes. The P&R also provides access to ST555, ST556 and ST560. It, along with the East Gate P&R provide the major access to transit for I-90 corridor commuters: the ST550 route having more riders than any other ST route.
ST plans for accommodating affected commuters (see 2/09/15 video presentation to council) include suggestions they drive to South Kirkland P&R or use one of “several small satellite” P&R’s. The Kirkland option seems “unattractive” and it’s “difficult” to envision where they would locate all the “small satellite” P&R’s needed and how they would provide them bus service. The council’s apparent willingness to allow ST to proceed even though they have yet to provide “requested details” shows they either don’t recognize the problem or don’t care.
The reality is it’s “unlikely” ST will ever come up with a viable alternative for the South Bellevue P&R. Commuters will either be forced to drive into Seattle (and pay for parking) or arrive at other P&R’s in the area before they are full, forcing others to make that commute. It’s the ultimate example of “the early bird gets the worm” with most eastside residents losing access to P&R's for cross-lake transit for up to 7 years.
What’s worse, this is just the beginning of the problems awaiting eastside residents from East Link’s “unresolved issues”.