Sound Transit 2

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Most Prominent Transportation Initiatives in Puget Sound

By William Hillis

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William Hillis

Broker & Research Editor, Realogics Sotheby's International Realty

"Areas served by Sound Transit can expect to see greater demand for transit-oriented development (TOD) in neighborhoods adjacent to Sound Transit stations." 


While all eyes are now on Sound Transit 3, projects planned under Sound Transit 2 are still just getting started.


On September 25, Sound Transit opened two new roundtrip runs of the Sounder between Seattle and Lakewood, bringing the total number of runs both ways to thirteen per weekday. Sound Transit reported that “more than 15,000 riders a day rely on Sounder to let them bypass sitting in traffic getting to and from Seattle.” This compares with the 1,500 to 2,000 vehicles per hour, per lane conveyed by the freeways along the Central Puget Sound corridor.

Last May, Sound Transit received $100 million in federal funds for the Lynnwood Link Extension of the light rail network. Construction will commence next year. Potentially $1.174 billion in grants are agreed for the project to be completed in 2023, extending light rail service from Northgate to Shoreline and points north. In July, the Sound Transit Board adopted the permanent names for the four stations of the Lynnwood Link (from south to north): Shoreline South/145th; Shoreline North/185th; Mountlake Terrace; and Lynnwood City Center. The grant funding will see the Lynnwood Link Extension delivered despite its being already $500 million over budget.

Fares on the Sound Transit system were originally validated by comparison with regional downtown parking fees. In 2006, these averaged $138 per month according to the PSRC, which priced the earliest unlimited-ride PugetPass at $81. As the region has become more congested, Sound Transit rates have been raised as high as $5.75 one-way (on the aforementioned Sounder run from Lakewood to Seattle). For a daily commute, this results in monthly charges of up to $241.

Areas served by Sound Transit can expect to see greater demand for transit-oriented development (TOD) in neighborhoods adjacent to Sound Transit stations. Sound Transit policy is to work “cooperatively with communities to facilitate TOD in areas around Sound Transit facilities, where appropriate.” However, a haltingly progressive transformation of these communities can be expected as delivery of private residential projects, and the planned Sound Transit projects on which they depend, cannot be easily synchronized.

Impact: The Lynnwood Link is expected to be completed, driving new demand for TOD from Ballard to Lynnwood. TOD calls for high-density development near the Sound Transit stations; but based on the escalating fare structure, this does not necessarily indicate low-income housing as has been associated with areas historically served by buses.