A “truly regional mass transit system” proposed

After years of planning, technical work, outreach and heavy political lifting – a draft plan has been presented to deliver a mass transit system for the central Puget Sound region on par with systems serving the Bay Area and Washington, D.C.

entiremap“An ambitious plan for an ambitious region,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine. “We go big because the need is big.”

The plan would connect 17 cities with light rail extending from Everett to Tacoma and to Redmond and Issaquah.  Thirteen cities would be connected by commuter rail – 12 cities with Bus Rapid Transit.

Sound Transit expects more details to be posted on soundtransit3.org on Tuesday.   This presentation contains highlights.  Here’s a link to the ST3 Draft Plan Map.

It is a 25 year plan with a $50 billion price tag.

Executive Constantine, who also serves as Chair of the Sound Transit Board, called the plan “a starting point for many weeks of robust public conversation.”

Sound Transit expects to finalize the plan in June in preparation for a November vote.

Executive Constantine referenced the region’s decade long debate over light rail.

“Debate is over. Light rail is here,” he said. “It is the only way to add the capacity we need.”

Sound Transit Executive Director Peter Rogoff compared the miles of the proposed light rail system as on par with BART in the Bay Area and Washington, D.C.’s Metro.

Rogoff said the system would cover twice the territory of Atlanta’s MARTA system.  When complete in 2041, the system would be expected to carry 500,000 riders per day.

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Celebrating launch of U Link

Music, tours, games and food trucks are all part of the community celebration kicking off the start of U Link light rail service on March 19.

King County Executive Dow Constantine begins U Link celebration today.

King County Executive Dow Constantine begins U Link celebration today.

You can check out the tailgate party at the University of Washington and the street festival at Capitol Hill station between 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Trains will start running at 10 a.m. on a regular Saturday schedule – every 10 minutes.  You can find all the details at ulink2016.org.

 

Some of the activities to choose from:

  • Take a self-guided tour of the stations
  • Listen to live music – instrumental, jazz and hip hop.
  • Play Giant Jenga and get your face painted
  • Learn more about bus service to the station
  • Shop a farmers market at the Capitol Hill Station
  • Take home a free souvenir while supplies last!
Senator Patty Murray at U Link Celebration.

Senator Patty Murray at U Link Celebration.

Sound Transit is expecting a big crowd. There is no parking available at either station, so they recommend taking transit, biking, walking or ridesharing to get there. There are also free shuttles every 15 minutes from Northgate Transit Center to the University Station.


Light Rail to UW debuts March 19

The highly anticipated extension of Sound Transit’s Central Link will begin service on March 19, 2016 at 10 am.

The new station at Husky Stadium is underground and features direct connections to the campus, UW Medical Center, Burke Gilman Trail and the surrounding neighborhood.

The new station at Husky Stadium is underground and features direct connections to the campus, UW Medical Center, Burke Gilman Trail and the surrounding neighborhood.

That is six months ahead of schedule and more than $150 million under budget.

University Link will add two stations to the current line, one on Capitol Hill at Broadway and John Street and the other at Husky Stadium.

Riders will be able to take the same train from the University of Washington through downtown and all the way to Sea-Tac airport in 46 minutes.

King County Metro is planning a major restructure of bus routes in Northeast Seattle to serve the University of Washington Station and improve connections.

Sound Transit will be hosting a launch day party at both of the new stations. A tailgate at Husky Stadium and a street festival on Capitol Hill. Find out more here.

PSRC will be hosting its annual General Assembly  on March 31, at noon, at the Don James Center at Husky Stadium, in anticipation of the new light rail service.


ST3 candidate projects generating excitement

The transportation planning community is abuzz with the release of candidate projects for a potential Sound Transit 3 proposal in 2016. 

It's time to dig in to the details of ST3 candidate projects.

It’s time to dig in to the details of ST3 candidate projects.

Here are a few of the things that are getting people talking:

Splitting the spine:  The Seattle Transit Blog notes that one concept is to split the Tacoma to Everett light rail line into corridors, allowing for greater operational efficiencies.

Downtown transit tunnel:  To meet growing demand for light rail service, one candidate project would build a second downtown transit tunnel.

High capacity service on the Eastside:  Options include light rail from Kirkland to Issaquah via Bellevue, and bus rapid transit along 405.

Light rail between Paine Field and Everett Station:  This 9.3-mile extension would connect Paine Field with Everett Station, adding about six stations.

Increased Sounder service in the south corridor: These projects could include extending south corridor station platforms to accommodate 10-car train sets, and making access improvements like a new parking garage and pedestrian bridge connecting to Kent Station.

A 15-, 20-, or 25-year plan:  Sound Transit is considering financial scenarios based on the length of the ST3 plan and other factors.   A longer plan generates more money and can build more projects.

The Sound Transit Board is expected to release a draft ST3 system plan in March 2016.  You can find out more at soundtransit3.org.

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Peter Rogoff poised to lead Sound Transit

Sound Transit’s Board will consider naming a new CEO tomorrow: Peter M. Rogoff, Under Secretary for Transportation Policy at the USDOT.

Rogoff

Then FTA Administrator Peter Rogoff with Washington Senator Patty Murray in 2011 celebrating the dedication of the tunnel boring machine for the light rail University LINK extension.

“In a competitive field of applicants, Peter Rogoff is the committee’s clear and unanimous recommendation to lead our region in meeting the growing demand for rail and bus service,” said Sound Transit Board Chair and King County Executive Dow Constantine.

There’s more on Sound Transit’s process and Rogoff’s background in a news release from Sound Transit.

His appointment will be considered at the end of the Sound Transit Board meeting tomorrow, which is scheduled from 1:30 until 4 p.m.

As Under Secretary of Transportation for Policy, Rogoff provides leadership in the development of policies for the department, generating proposals and guidance regarding legislative, regulatory and safety initiatives. His work spans all transportation modes, including aviation, highway, rail, transit and maritime transportation.

As the nation’s chief public transit official, Rogoff negotiated and signed a record number of full funding grant agreements with transit agencies across the nation to expand rail and bus rapid transit infrastructure.

Rogoff may be best known to the region’s transportation professionals and elected leadership through his work staffing the U.S. Senate’s Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee.

When Washington Senator Patty Murray chaired the subcommittee, Rogoff was her key staff member on it, giving him much experience with people within the region and the transportation needs of central Puget Sound and the state of Washington.

Sound Transit’s current CEO, the beloved Joni Earl, is stepping down in March, when Sound Transit expects to deliver a key milestone: light rail service connecting downtown Seattle with the University of Washington.

 

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Countdown to start of Link service to UW

It’s the final countdown for new light rail service between Husky Stadium and downtown Seattle.  Once service opens in early 2016, the trip will take just 8 minutes.

Image from Sound Transit video of light rail service from Capitol Hill to UW

This mesmerizing video shows what a ride between Capitol Hill and UW will be like on the train (click the image to open the video).

To get ready for the launch, Sound Transit will start testing more frequent train service – every six minutes most of the day – in the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel on September 28.

Six Metro buses – the 76, 77, 216, 218, 219, and 316  – will be rerouted from the tunnel to bus stops on surface streets.

The reroutes are just some of the other major Metro service changes happening, including expansion of service on many routes.

At the same time Sound Transit is building out the current ST2 plan, the agency is developing the ST3 ballot measure, which would potentially go before voters in November 2016.

Sound Transit gave an update to PSRC’s Transportation Policy Board earlier this month on the status of ST3 planning and the list of candidate projects.

The Puget Sound Regional Council is responsible for determining whether ST3 conforms to the region’s long-range transportation plan, Transportation 2040, and the regional growth strategy, VISION 2040.

Once the Sound Transit Board has adopted the ST3 system plan, and before the ST3 ballot measure is voted on in November 2016, PSRC’s Executive Board will take action on ST3 System Plan conformance.

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Tacoma and Sound Transit awarded $2 million for Link Light Rail

The Federal Transit Administration has announced a $2 million grant to support the development of a mobility and economic development plan for the a 2.4-mile extension of the Tacoma Link light rail line.

Congratulations Sound Transit and Tacoma! The Link Light Rail extension has been awarded $2 million from FTA.

Congratulations Sound Transit and Tacoma! The Link Light Rail extension has been awarded $2 million from FTA.

“The Tacoma Link expansion will improve transportation options for the Hilltop’s residents, commuters, and pedestrians,” said Sound Transit Vice Chair and Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland. “This matched grant can help improve mobility and enhance the neighborhood.”

The grant will help the city foster smart, affordable development along the expanded light rail line. The plan to be developed will include street design for six new stations to improve connectivity for pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and transit riders. It will also focus on expanding access to jobs and job training.

The grant is one of 21  being awarded nation-wide from a $19.5 million fund through FTA’s Transit-Oriented Development Planning Pilot Program for communities that are developing new or improved mass transit systems.