I submitted the following as a “Special to the Times” in response to their query “What do you think of Sound Transit 3 draft plan?”. I posted it since they are “likely” to ignore it.
What I Think of ST3
The fundamental problem with ST3, like Prop 1, is it continues Sound Transit’s refusal to recognize that, unlike BART, the limited number of commuters who live within “walking distance” of light rail in this area will never be able to justify the cost of light rail construction or operation. The only way light rail can effectively reduce the area’s congestion is to provide access via thousands of additional parking spaces with bus connections to light rail stations. Yet neither their Prop 1 nor ST3 proposals make any attempt to do so.
The likely reason is Sound Transit “recognizes” those using buses would question why don’t they route the buses directly into Seattle rather than to a light rail station. The commute directly into Seattle avoids the hassle of transferring to and from trains and Sound Transit’s apparent requirement they pay a second toll for light rail. (The decision to boost University Link ridership by “feeding” many Metro commuters to UW station typifies Sound Transit’s approach.)
Vastly more important however, routing the buses directly into Seattle would negate the need to spend billions and years on both Prop 1 and ST3 extensions. Particularly since the added parking and bus routes would be needed to provide access to any light rail extensions. Two-way BRT on I-90 center roadway would dwarf East Link capacity and end the stupidity of Sound Transit closing the roadway for light rail construction.
BRT on SR-520 to a University Link T/C could improve the commute for thousands of commuters from both sides of the lake. (It would be particularly attractive if Sound Transit recognized the operating savings from the shorter bus trips and commuters didn’t have to pay two tolls.)
On I-5 from Everett, one of the two HOV lanes could be limited to +3HOV during peak commute. From Federal Way, the single HOV lane would also be limited to +3HOV during peak commute. Bus egress and access in Seattle could be facilitated by converting 4th Ave into an elongated two-way bus only T/C with dedicated drop off and pick up points for each route.
The bottom line is the only way to ease this area’s congestion is to convince thousands of commuters to leave their cars near where they live rather than where they work. The only limitation will be on Sound Transit’s willingness to add parking and bus routes into Seattle. They could begin doing so next year. ST3 simply perpetuates Prop 1 light rail extensions to the detriment of the entire area’s congestion problem.