Seattle’s light rail line just got a rating of “high” from the Feds meaning it’s very likely they’ll get the maximum possible financial contribution. Why? From the posting:
King County Executive Ron Sims said a big factor in the rating was the travel time savings. A bus from University Hospital near Husky Stadium to downtown takes 25 minutes during the afternoon rush hour compared with a projected 9 minutes for the light rail line. A bus from University Hospital to Capitol Hill takes 22 minutes compared with 3 minutes for light rail. And a bus from downtown to Capitol Hill takes 14 minutes compared with 6 minutes on light rail.
Compare and contrast to the route a rider of Capital Metro’s commuter rail route would take to get from one of the northwestern park-and-rides to their office at UT or the Capitol. When you add in the shuttle bus trip through traffic (from the commuter rail station to the campus or capitol), it is doubtful that any time will be saved compared to the existing 183-corridor express buses (which also operate in traffic, but at least don’t go out of their way on a dogleg through East Austin, and don’t require a transfer to a second, much slower, vehicle).
Of course, Austin’s 2000 light rail route would have gone from those park-and-rides straight to UT and the Capitol and then down Congress Avenue. But, sure, this will work just as well, and the Feds will be just as happy. Right.
3 thoughts on “What Can Work”
It’s about time! I lived in Seattle and then in Boston and couldn’t believe the billions that are being spent on the Big Dig when Seattle, a modern city and very environmentally conscious one, had no solution on the table to improve the traffic conditions. I hope this will be completed by the time I move back.
Keep in mind that one difference between Seattle and Austin is that half of the population is connected to the other half of the population and the CBD by six bridges, four of which are drawbridges a mere four lanes wide. The backup at the Montlake bridge is atrocious most afternoons, and the ride from the U District isn’t much better. The light rail should funnel a lot of Capitol Hill single-occupant traffic off of Montlake/23rd.
The bad news is that our neighborhood, which was supposed to have the original terminal station, won’t be getting light rail until they can get another bond issue going… sometime after the first rail section opens in 2009.
We have largely the same geographic condition – for us it would be the number of bridges crossing Town Lake and Lake Austin. For us, though, the CBD is on the same side as the majority of the population. However, Austin also has a couple of advantages to make up for that deficit – the University of Texas and the Capitol. UT is even more land-locked and urban than UW is, and the Capitol itself is a huge attractor you don’t have. Both of those, being public employers, don’t provide free or even cheap parking, which means there’s a built-in market for transit beyond the office tower crowd (who generally DO have parking, and thus must be wooed on non-financial terms).
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