Q: Would anybody actually ride a transit service if it were begun on the Eastside railroad?
A: Every time a new rail transit system is proposed in the U.S., detractors claim that nobody will ride it and that it is a waste of money. But experience throughout the U.S. as well as abroad shows that well planned systems typically experience large ridership and that ridership grows over time as people adjust their travel patterns and density increases near stations.
There would likely be a particularly strong demand for transit service on the Eastside railroad because it parallels I-405, which is the most congested freeway in the Northwest, and because it passes through or near numerous major destinations, and the large population growth in the region.
Q: Does the rail line really go where people want to go?
A: Yes, very much so. It passes through or near most of the major population centers and destinations on the Eastside, including urban centers and major park-and-ride lots. It passes just to the east of downtown Bellevue and right through the expected eastward expansion path of downtown. Bellevue already has the second largest urban core in the state and which is experiencing an unprecedented boom in the construction of high rise office and residential buildings. It also passes near the two largest hospital complexes on the Eastside and is a short shuttle bus ride away from Microsoft's headquarters, which is the biggest single employer on the Eastside.
Q: Who would use the line?
A: The biggest users would be commuters going to and from work. but people would also use it for going to school, shopping, medical appointments, recreation and other purposes. It could also be a convenient means of transportation for school excursions, as is common with rail systems in Europe and Japan. In addition, it would likely be popular with tourists and other visitors to the region, as has been the case with other new rail transit systems.
Q: Are there ridership projections?
A: It is extremely difficult to predict ridership for new rail services with much accuracy. Also, the amount of ridership depends on a number of factors including the frequency of service, speed, fares, the routing of trains and how long the service has been operational. For example, ridership would be particularly strong if trains continued beyond the Eastside over existing tracks to Tacoma in the the south and to Everett in the north. This, together with a fairly frequent service of trains running at least once per hour could result in a passenger count of thousands, or even tens of thousands, of passengers per day.
Q: How does this compare with the number of people who would use the bicycle trail that Ron Sims would build if he succeeds in scrapping the railroad?
A: The bicycle trail would likely be used by only a few hundred people a day on pleasant days. Use would be much less when it is raining or snowing.
Q: Would the rail transit service affect land use?
A: Yes, it will undoubtedly have a major effect on land use, as has generally been the case with other rail systems around the world. The main effect will be to stimulate the development of higher density, pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods near the stations. It will also make it easier to contain sprawl. These effects on land use will be a major factor in boosting ridership over time.
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This page created March 5, 2007. Updated July 20, 2007.
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