A bold subway plan is being revealed gradually by the organization Seattle Subway. Its designers want to start a conversation about serving the ever-increasing population in West Seattle, Ballard, and other areas and getting downtown in half the time it takes by bus, running 24/7. Their proposal includes the red line that extends from White Center to downtown, Ballard, Northgate, and beyond. The gray line is the Sound Transit Light Link Rail route, which currently stops, northbound, at South Lake Union but will soon extend to Husky Stadium.
UPDATE: Citywide subway proposed; West Seattle to downtown in half the time
Ben Schiendelman, a cofounder of the nearly five year old Seattle Transit Blog, discussed with the West Seattle Herald the vision he and his colleagues share about Seattle's future underground transit system.
Friday update: Both he and Martin Duke, Editor-in-Chief of the Seattle Transit Blog, have clarified that the Seattle Subway is a new and separate organization from the blog. Please refer to the comments below. We apologize for the error.
While Sound Transit's Link Light Rail will soon connect Husky Stadium with the existing West Lake Union stop and points south, the transit blog's Seattle Subway Plan routes commuters downtown to and from Northgate, Ballard, and White Center north through West Seattle, at half the time of a bus ride.
"This is first blush," Schiendelman acknowledges of the plan. "This is what we need to build. We need to serve the strongest population centers. We tried to put it in the same place as the monorail had it. We know there is a lot more development coming and we need to help people to get from Vashon, White Center, and West Seattle to the city quickly. When we get to the ballot we will say, 'We are going to connect these communities' and then will talk to these communities about the best routes. We also want to say, 'What kind of a system are we going to build that will last 150 years?' We've needed a far-reaching subway system for 50 years, and we shouldn't have to wait another 20 to get it done.
"Seattle voters have traditionally been absolutely excited for mass transit. Our job is to start rebuilding that excitement. The elephant in the room is of course 'How are we going to pay for it?' We're going to plan something out and talk to the legislature and city council to get the money.
"I'm not interested in raising the sales tax any more. I am interested in finding a progressive tax solution. I don't want to hurt low income communities any more than we already have."
He believes that the deep bore tunnel will lengthen traveling times for West Seattle commuters headed downtown, and that this subway plan's need and appeal will therefore increase.
"The city and federal government would pay for the subway, whereas the whole state pays for the (deep bore) tunnel. We're not in (financial) competition with the community colleges, basic health, social services. Those things come out of the state's general fund. I think that when we come up with a package, say in two years, the question of funding isn't going to be as loud because I think the economy is really going to improve by then."
Included are two links to find out more, and Schiendelman encourages those interested to join the Seattle Subway Facebook page:
He promises more details of the plan will surface over the next 10 days. For now, many details are underground. We will follow this story.