Link Inaugural Ride (by Ben)
Link Inaugural Ride (by Ben)

Every once in a while, someone asks me how long it will be before the buses are kicked out of the tunnel downtown. I bet we’ve talked about this before in the comments, but we could do with a discussion of frequency and routes.

At launch, peak train frequency will be 7.5 minutes. It’ll be listed as 7-8 minutes on the schedule – Metro’s scheduling system doesn’t handle 30 second increments. I was hoping for 6 minute peak headways, but we’ll get them eventually. As the first year of operation is only projected to average out with 20-25,000 on weekdays, I think we can wait a bit for 6 minute peaks.

I’ve been told that somewhere around 5 minute headways, there’s no longer safe time for buses to get through and load between trains, and at that point they’ll go back out to third avenue and elsewhere. That may happen when University Link opens, as ridership demand skyrockets. As we saw during the tunnel closure, surface congestion isn’t that bad with the extra buses, and a number of the tunnel routes will be replaced by rail soon after anyway. Perhaps at that point, we’ll consider further separating the bus corridor from cars.

When ST2 lines are built out, the expectation is that we’ll drop to 3 minute headways. The ST2 planning documents I’ve seen show three ‘lines’ – Lynnwood to Sea-Tac, Northgate to Federal Way, and Northgate to Redmond, each running on nine minute headways to combine to three between Northgate and ID Station. But we’d end up with headways of 3/6/3/6 minutes in the Rainier Valley, and I’m not sure 3 minute headways there would be feasible.

A little bird told me that a better option might be two six minute headway lines – one all the way from Lynnwood to Federal Way, and one from Lynnwood to Redmond. I like this better, it would cause far fewer passenger headaches. Oh, and wouldn’t it be awesome for the two lines to be Purple and Gold? It’s not my idea, but I like it.

Okay, how about the longer run? We should be able to get headways down to 2 minutes north of ID Station. At that point, in fifty years, we’re probably going to want to increase speed to Sea-Tac anyway. This is pure speculation, but I’ve mentioned in the past that it’s interesting that we leave and return to the Duwamish valley with Link. An elevated bypass along Marginal Way could save a couple of minutes for trains to the airport, serve SoDo better (with a stop near Georgetown), and allow us to add stations at Graham St. and S. 133rd without affecting longer distance users.

Consider this an open thread.

211 Replies to “Train Frequency and the Downtown Tunnel”

  1. ST is going to kick the buses out in 2016, when ULink opens. That’s part of the plan. I’ve heard Link brass, in a few meetings, talk doing it earlier if Link is more popular and/or if they get the ULink vehicles sooner than expected. It also forces people onto the Link and makes ridership numbers look better.

      1. That’s what I originally wrote, but I think more and more that’s really unlikely.

    1. In no way does it force people onto Link; they can still get on those buses on 3rd Avenue. It won’t make ridership numbers look better, it will make them better! And that’s the whole point of Link: it’s there for people to ride it!

      1. This is like the point I made in a thread about route changes to make ridership “look better.” Short of falsifying data, the only way for ridership to look better is for it to be better. An increase in ridership correlates with an increase in the quality of the public service.

    2. They’ll kick them out before that. This is dumb idea, and I think it will prove to be a disaster.

      1. Why will they kick them out before that, and what alternatives do they have to kicking them out for U-Link?

      2. Um, disaster? It wasn’t a disaster when the tunnel was closed before, and we didn’t even have Link!

      3. I’m just making a prediction, that’s all. I guess we’ll see, but I think buses will be moved out in a couple of years. ST will tired of buses blocking their trains. From breakdowns, to medical emergencies, to altercations on buses. The buses will be sitting there, waiting for help to arrive. Sure, help will come within minutes, but over time, these frequent delays will become unacceptable.

      4. How often does this happen now? Not very…

        And it can happen on trains too. So I guess after a while Metro will kick the trains out of the tunnel and they’ll have to go to 3rd Ave.

      5. Typical kneejerk reaction every Seattle resident has when it comes to change, especially when it involves Metro buses.

        “It’ll be *deep breath* A DISASTER!!!! END OF WORLD!!!!!!!!”

      6. Well, maybe not a disaster… But pretty lame. I spent my first couple of shakeups driving the 550 on the surface and have many memories of being stuck in traffic on 9th trying to make that left turn onto 2nd Ave. Figgy Pudding festival, Mariners games, Critical Mass, etc… Ugh… If you’re interested, I even have my overtime records from that era :)

        I don’t suppose there is any chance that they’ll simply replace the buses with Link service as it gets up and running? That would be ideal, assuming you can manage it.-

    1. How about a super-cheap, money-saving single track bypass that shares track with other rail? Just keep it secret from the FRA.

  2. Any good Sounder news these days? Seems pertty lite.

    We’re designing a Sounder day layover yard for the old BNSF mains at Holgate St. It’ll save ST $2 million a year from leasing storage tracks from Amtrak! Also, 3rd main track for Sea to Tac, and 8 car platform extension design is in the works. And we’re proposing a new crossover at MP14.2, Richmond Beach. Had to do some prelim field work on that a week ago!

    1. We never know about that stuff! Well, Brian does – you should see more soon.

    2. Mike!

      I thought the new Richmond Beach crossover was already part of the package? RB and Mosier (Picnic Point) both were going to get new 50mph xovers there.

  3. also, it seems like a marginal way bypass would be the logical way to connect to west seattle…

    1. Not really. You’d be limited to a minimum headway of some 6 minutes or more. We need a new corridor through downtown for West Seattle.

      1. The Waterfront streetcar goes to the ferry terminal. Could this be a way to bring that back?

      2. I was referring to the W. Seattle ferry terminal. I was also assuming the waterfront streetcar would be in operation since it is slated for reopening…at some point. Maybe just some hill climb assists near the downtown ferry terminal would do the trick.

  4. Is the system designed to allow for “express” trains that would skip intermediate stations?

    1. Nope, there is no intention of express service. Trains would start to bunch together. There would need to be a dedicated or passing track somewhere.

      1. Exactly, this would be the only place where trains would skip. Interlining them again at Boeing Access Road would have to be timed perfectly, too.

      2. Not with any kind of speed. You’d have to set up trains *perfectly* to pass each other, and it’d add time.

      3. Pardon my ignorance, but has Sound Transit at least included the possibility for reverse direction signaling or is everything done with unidirectional signalling? Out here in NJ the Hudson Bergen LRT operates a peak direction express service called the Bayonne Flyer. The service really just bypasses a few less used stops, doesn’t pass any local trains, and only saves a total of 2 minutes from Jersey City to Bayonne, so its really just an express in name only. However, the HBLRT line was designed for higher ridership than it currently sees, so the provision exists in the signalling system to operate the Bayonne Flyers as true expresses bypassing local stations and trains on the opposing track.

        Its debatable if the service would be worthwhile with just a minute or two saved, and if the NYCT subway system is any indication express/local and the disparity of crowding that results on local and express trains from merely mentioning the term ‘express’ is probably best to be avoided.

  5. One thing that stood out to me while I watched link operating in the tunnel was how quickly it accelerates out of the station – much faster than buses.

    1. I nearly fell on my ass because of that! I was rescued from complete embarrassment by two firefighters who I fell into.

    2. It’s sexy. Especially the electric hum. Compared to the buses, man those trains are like ROCKETS.

      LOL @ Ben!

    3. Much faster than diesel or hybrid buses. But an ETB in the right hands can give you the same experience. Welcome to the electric motor and one of its many advantages over internal cumbstion!

      1. Unfortunately most of the ETB drivers take it really slow and easy even though the ETB coaches are capable of matching traffic speed and accelerating from stops quickly. On most ETB routes you make better time when they substitute diesel coaches even with similar traffic conditions.

      2. It seems that the link trains are able to go more quickly through the tunnel due to the nature of fixed rails (don’t have to worry about hitting the curb, etc.)- are they beholden to the same speed limits as buses within the tunnel?

      3. In my experience so far driving through the tunnel with the trains are the same speed the buses going through. Like buses it seems to depend on the operator some seem to be much fast than others. They are supposed to follow the same speed limits as a bus but some of them seem afraid to go fast.

    4. The train operator doesn’t have to worry about running into the platform edge like the buses do. It happened once on the 101 as the driver pulled out the station. And level, seamless boarding every time, too.

  6. Ben,

    I don’t understand the 3/6/3/6 assertion. If you have only one 9-min headway line to Federal Way, wouldn’t that be 9 min headways?

    It would certainly be a bummer if headways got worse as the system grew.

    1. If you have 9 minute headways on each North, East, and South Link, it turns into 3 minute headways as they combine in the DSTT, and potentially 3 minute headways down MLK if they all turn south. So forced transfer is an option for SLink and SeaTac.

      1. If they all turn south, that’s a scheduling error. I’m not sure how Ben is getting 3/6/3/6 either, except maybe on the SoDo portion. How far south does the Lynnwood/Sodo line go?

        Also, that would seem to be an issue with creating new south lines. The SoDo portion has at-grade crossings. Holgate and Lander are important east-west streets which can’t be blocked by a wall of constant trains, also Royal Brougham. Of course I suppose eventually we could build some new overpasses.

      2. Although what I *typed* actually offers a solution.

        So, let’s say you have a train every three minutes from Northgate south. Red, Green, Blue.

        Red goes to Redmond every nine minutes. Green comes three minutes later, and goes to Federal Way. Blue comes three minutes after that, and only goes to Sea-Tac. Anywhere south of ID, six minutes later, there’s another Green. So you get 3/6/3/6.

    1. I’ve been inspected twice. Once on Sunday when myself and Steve De Vight were the only people on the train.

      The shirts are really nice! They used to be cheaper.

      1. No. The SLUT is the ONLY regional entity that isn’t doing it.

        Does anyone know who offically owns it? I’ve heard its City-o-Seattle, but also Port of Seattle. Either way, its not a big surprise either entity isn’t playing the ORCA game.

      2. Monorail isn’t but why not? They don’t have to accept transfers or PugetPasses. WSF doesn’t either, they only accept e-purse and their own passes on ORCA. The monorail uses turnstiles just like WSF at Colman Dock.

        As for the SLUT, why not put the readers on the trains? The TVMs are already on there and it’s a flat fare.

      3. Monorail: I wish (they don’t even take my Microsoft ID); I’d use it any day to get in/out of Seattle Center

        SLUT: I have yet to be inspected (granted, I’ve only been on it a few times)

        Oh, and no need to apologize for calling it SLUT. Much easier to say than “South Lake Union Streetcar” or “Seattle Streetcar, South Lake Union Line”

        (yes: I proudly wear my SLUT shirt when I can)

      4. The monorail is completely separate from Metro. The Seattle Center owes the monorail and it is run by a private contractor. It’s more like the roller coaster in the Fun Forest. Likewise WSF has nothing to do with Metro. It’s a State agency. Most of it’s routes aren’t in the Metro service area or even ST. Transponder cards, if they settle on passive technology could in theory be used to pay WSF.

      5. The monorail is more like a roller coaster because they treat it like one. Allow transfers (not to mention ORCA), and it becomes a more valuable transit asset. Also, have it start runs before the current time of 9am.

        The Bite of Seattle is during Link’s opening weekend. Seems like that would be a great time for the Seattle Center to advertise the Link to Monorail connection.

      6. I was fare-checked on the SLUT, and all I had was an ORCA card. It had pass on it so I was fine being on there, but if I had only had e-purse, I would’ve gotten a free ride. And I think Metro should buy the monorail and make it like the Water Taxi: With any pass, regardless of value, you get on for free, but if you don’t have a pass, you pay $3.

      7. the monorail is actually owned by the City of Seattle but operated by a private contractor. I don’t see how there would be a problem with allowing orca e-purse function to work with the monorail as long as the money got back to the city, but the orca monthly pass might be more problematic. It really is stupid that Orca doesn’t work on all forms of public transit like the streetcar and the monorail but that’s the Balkanized public transit in the Seattle metro area for you.

      8. I asked about that, and they plan to add the SLUT to ORCA. I’m frustrated that it’s not included now, but my guess is that they had enough delays already and just needed to get it operational for light rail.

      1. 1. Doesn’t go anywhere
        2. Slow and infrequent
        3. $2 for a 10-block trip
        4. Doesn’t accept ORCA so I can’t use my puget pass or bus transfers now?!?!

        They just killed the SLUT.

      2. SLUT is DOA anyway. Never mind the fact it was designed specifically around Paul Allen’s SLU vision which is not likely to come to fruition now.

      3. Uh, you mean the vision including Amazon and Gates Foundation, both under construction?

        Seriously, guys, SLUT is getting higher than projected ridership. I don’t understand this ‘death’ nonsense.

      4. My girlfriend rode the SLUT just last week and was floored at the level of ridership. The incoming streetcar to Westlake was completely full, and the southbound riders occupied all the seats in the car, and kept adding passengers along the line taking on passengers. For a streetcar that doesn’t go very far and doesn’t really mesh well with Metro, it’s surprisingly popular. I guess ORCA transferrers will have to ask for a paper transfer until the streetcar people get with the program. But, bus transfers from Metro & ST should be accepted.

        I’m excited about the Ballard/Fremont extension to the SLUT. As for those who complain it doesn’t go anywhere, it was mostly built as a feasability demonstrator for the streetcar concept. Now that it’s proven, there are significant expansion options, including the above mentioned Fre-Lard line, a 2nd Ave line and a Eastlake/U-district line.

      5. SLUT has a very smooth ride, stops tell you when the next one is coming, you ride in a nice new air-conditioned vehicle, and it’s powered by electricity instead of diesel. More please!

      6. You forgot about the First Hill Streetcar line that is under design currenlty. This is the completely funded line from ST2 last year. It will extend from the terminus of the Waterfront Streetcar and proceed 2+ miles to Capitol Hill, possibly all the way to Aloha Street. Maybe they can build the Streetcar barn in the ID on one of those vacant parking lots and allow the vintage trolley’s and new Skoda cars to share a barn so that the Waterfront line can get going again!

      7. all i can say is the first hill streetcar needs as many dedicated lanes as possible so that its more like a small scale LRT line.

      8. What about if you transferred from a bus? Can’t you carry your ORCA card around as a valid transfer? And since the answer is obviously no in this case, what’s the fine the streetcar fare inspectors assess for thinking that the A in ORCA stands for “all”?

      9. From the Seattle Streetcar “how to ride” doc:

        “Streetcar riders pay a cash fare or use their METRO transit pass, Pugetpass or a bus transfer to ride the Seattle Streetcar.”

        I’d like to see them try to ticket me with my transit pass on my ORCA.

      10. @Ben: it’s very tempting

        Me: “But this is King County Metro Route 98 and Metro accepts ORCA. Verify my pass with your scanner if you’d like.”

      11. Jessica, Tim – yeah, I’m going to show my ORCA and say “I have a PugetPass, and you accept PugetPass.”

      12. All the fare inspector guy had (a Metro supervisor) was a palm-sized paper notepad and a pen. No scanners.

        The Kitsap Transit foot ferry folks have a larger one that looks like a gun.

      13. Why is there no ORCA on the streetcar? When are they going to fix this? Metro runs it, I don’t see the problem.

      14. @Mickymse

        From the SLUT website FAQs:

        “Yes, PugetPass, Metro passes and all Metro transfers will be accepted. Please note that Sound Transit and Community Transit transfers are not accepted at this time.”

        Saturday, I’m tempted to pay cash on the METRO Operated 550 and get a Transfer

        Hey, it’s issued by a METRO operator, why can’t I use it?

    2. I don’t think we have the money for this but the thought of it would be cool for STB to sponsor a streetcar station:

      “Westlake & 7th is next. Sponsored by Seattle Transit”

      1. I think there’ll be another way to donate money for such events soon. Just give it until after Link opens, and you’ll start hearing more.

    3. I called Metro today (the contact number listed on the streetcar’s website) and asked when ORCA would be implemented on the S.L.U.T. I was told most likely by the end of the year, when old-style passes are no longer being sold and the transition to ORCA is complete, and that there isn’t a set time line for this as Metro is still in the process (‽) of installing ORCA equipment.

      Additionally (and I’m paraphrasing), when I asked if the stops would have validators, or if the streetcars would have processors, I was told it appears that the tentative plan is for the conductor to have a hand-held reader (a PFTP, I presume), with riders producing their cards on demand. I was assured no final decision had been made and that this tentative plan could readily change.

      Metro is operating the streetcar for the City of Seattle, and it’s not as if either the streetcar or ORCA unexpectedly dropped onto the Puget Sound region from the Crab Nebula, so it’s puzzling to me that ORCA wasn’t integrated into the S.L.U.T. from the beginning. I realize this is a minor annoyance in the grand scheme of local transit, but bizarre decisions that make using public transit more complicated rather than less — like the lack of ORCA card sales/recharging at the Colman Dock — really need to be explained by whomever is setting these policies.

  7. In the past, Sound Transit officials have mentioned that the trains could arrive downtown from Northgate and the U-District every 3 minutes at peak; then half the trains go east and half go south, causing a 6-minute headway in each of those two corridors. I’ve seen these sorts of splits before in Hong Kong and Vancouver; you have to pay attention to the destination sign as the train approaches.

    1. That’s very likely what’s going to happen, that’s what service planners seem to prefer, but the ST2 documents show three ‘lines’, with nine minute eastside service.

  8. With three minute headways along MLK, trains going both north and south, and ~30 seconds or so of track crossing guards before and after each passing, that leaves only seconds between each train crossing for traffic to get across the at-grade tracks. How will that ever be feasible?

    1. Well, except if there’s a school nearby, and then only at the times of the schools opening and closing.

      30 seconds for the track crossing guards? Huh?

    2. I don’t see headways of less than 6 minutes or so being terribly feasible in Rainier Valley for exactly that reason. Even in SoDo less than 6 minute headways will cause problems due to the grade crossings.

  9. Downtown streets weren’t bad during the tunnel closure, but the approaches like Stewart always have been.

    I’m guessing 9th and Stewart won’t be a major transfer point anymore because Convention Place won’t have a Link station, so maybe they could get some of the remaining buses avoid those streets too.

    1. That does raise the question, what happens to the convention station when there’s no buses in the tunnels?

      1. In my dream world, it would be come the portal to a spur line to Ballard. But as far as I’ve heard, it’s going to become a layover and storage point for buses.

      2. Ideally I’d like to see something like the Port Authority bus terminal or Transbay terminal built there. Use it for layovers and have express buses from the North and 520 drop off and turn around there rather than having them enter the already too congested downtown core. Something similar could be done on the South end of downtown next to King Street station (there have already been proposals to build a terminal for Greyhound and Trailways there) for express buses from the South and I-90.

      3. Yes, the Convention Place busway does have direct access to the I-5 express lanes. Maybe there could be a 4-block pedestrian tunnel to Westlake Station. :)

      4. Chris–what if I’m coming from Redmond and want to catch the Sounder? I then have to get off at CPS and walk a block or more to catch a different bus to get down to KSS. A three seat ride is less appealing to a two seat ride, which decreases its attractiveness.

        Should be interesting to see what goes on with the tunnel too, since the area between Westlake and CPS was cut and cover. There’s a ton of room since they’re not bores, you have a good 3 lanes of traffic north of the PSST. But I won’t be sad to see it go–CPS is annoying with its bays. It caused me to miss a transfer once.

      5. I’ve always felt that a spur line to Ballard is really important because it would have high ridership and also it would help Link become a true, intra-city system rather than just a commuter system.

        Rather than taking-off from convention place, I’ve been thinking about the Ballard spur as an extension of the downtown transit tunnel continuing straight up third avenue from where it bends eastward toward westlake station. As it runs along third, there could be a station at Bell St. and another at Denny/Seattle Center. It could then run under the science center, turning Westward with another station under Roy Street in Lower Queen Anne. It could then daylight through Kinnear Park and parallel Elliot as an elevated line along the bluff to interbay with a station near Amgen/Cruise terminal and on to Ballard. This would connect several neighborhoods to the Link trunk line and also create a seamless route between the airport, cruise terminal, downtown and seattle center attractions.

        Any thoughts?

      6. Am I missing something? There are no plans for a Ballard extension in ST2, so we are talking in terms of decades into the future. A better option, IMO, would be an extention of the streetcar network off the current SLU line. This line would go along Westlake Avenue, over the Fremont Bridge, then along Leary Way into Ballard. Could happen in no time at all, once a decision is made. A rapid bus line is also in the works for Ballard in the next couple of years, replacing either route 15 or 18, so with this new bus and a streetcar line, Ballard would be well served.

      7. A thought for the Ballard line… maybe not a good one. Make it the old “green line” route or thereabouts, so it runs from West Seattle and some indeterminate point south (Burien, Tukwila, curving around from Renton) and then… and then it interlines with Central Link in SoDo. Before the ID station (heading north) it splits and goes at grade on the route of the old waterfront streetcar or the former viaduct, maybe along the waterfront the whole way, maybe via Seattle Center, but then on to Interbay and Ballard.

        Advantages of this alignment could be that it’s less expensive, leaves room for tight Central/East Link headways in the DSTT, maintains a same-platform transfer point to Central Link in SoDo, maintains a good transfer point to East Link near the ID station, provides good connectivity to WSF, restores in some new way surface rail transit to the waterfront streetcar route, and covers a new area of downtown. Since the viaduct is going away, that portion of the alignment has the potential to be designed well.

        Disadvantages are of course everything that have to do with having Link on the surface, particularly the traffic and pedestrian issues. It would, for some distance, operate more like Portland’s MAX downtown and less like Link on MLK; i.e., a monstrous streetcar. Are Seattle’s blocks in Pioneer Square big enough for a 4-car Link train to stop and not block cross streets?

        I love the idea of having Link daylighted along the bluff of Queen Anne Hill, mostly because it would be a really nice viaduct replacement in terms of transportation infrastructure with an unbelieveable view.

      8. Guys… The DSTT can’t handle another line. You can’t do it. Please, please stop thinking it’s possible.

      9. Let’s say hypothetically that ST just can’t possibly do a Ballard-W Seattle route (I think they have some thin, future-looking lines on ST maps there). What are the political, economic, and whatever things that would need to fall into place for people in Seattle to get on this in a grassroots way and pay for Ballard-W Seattle to be built as part of the Link system. Pipe dream?

      10. I just asked an ST employee what happens to CPS when the buses leave. Sounds like there’s strong need for bus layover space in that area, plus the direct access to I-5 express lanes. Apparently King County has been trading rural development rights for that space, so eventually it may be a big bus transfer point (underground) topped by a big development. Personally, I wonder if the Queen Anne-Capitol Hill streetcar could stop there. It was scrapped b/c the climb up Denny was too steep, but I emailed Ethan Malone asking if it would be flat enough for it to go east on Denny from Queen Anne, into downtown on 9th Ave, then up to CH on Olive Way. Olive at least seems much flatter to me, and living on CH I think there’s decent demand for the route.

      11. One problem with that – a tunnel under 3rd Avenue would run smack into the Battery Street Tunnel.

      12. Matt: Yeah, I meant the comments above you, you’re fine. :)

        As for a grassroots effort? First, lobby city council to do the ridership/alignment study sooner. Sound Transit has that money budgeted out for 2015. We should do it in 2010.

        Matt L: The DSTT is under 3rd Avenue. You’d want to go under 2nd. Regardless, Battery Street doesn’t really offer an obstacle. It’s very shallow. The DSTT goes under the BNSF tunnel without any problem.

      13. Yeah the Ballard-West Seattle Line (planning for which is being funded by ST2) would probably have to go under 2nd or under 3rd under the DSTT. I think it should be 6 minute headways, and should share that tunnel with another 6-minute-headway line that would go Edmonds-Greenwood-Phinney-Fremont-Queen Anne-Downtown-Georgetown-Renton (with the Greenwood-Downtown all being in a tunnel). Of course that’s a long way in the future, but since there’s a RapidRide line going in there I figure at some point we’ll be looking at putting in real rapid transit there.
        As for Convention Place, I like the bus station idea. Currently they’re talking about an expansion of the Convention Center in the airspace above it.

      14. The DSTT goes under the BNSF tunnel without any problem.

        I didn’t know that. Also didn’t realize part of it is below sea level. Of course part of U-link will be as well.

        Working under the railroad

        The S-shaped part of the tunnel between Pioneer Square and International District/Chinatown stations runs through the deepest point in the system, near South Main Street and Fifth Avenue South. It’s the only point where the tunnel passes below sea level.

        Interestingly, the tunnel also passes a mere four feet below the Burlington Northern Railroad tunnel-an active train thoroughfare passing under the city. The tunnel contractor stabilized the vintage tunnel, built in 1905, by injecting a chemical grout. This process created a solid concrete-like column between the transit and railroad tunnels.

    2. Convention Place might become a bus station where northbound buses might either originate, or enter via its other boundary streets to then access the express lanes.

      Also we might see CT terminate some commuter lines at Northgate in place of running all the way to downtown Seattle.

    3. Tunnel buses that use Stewart are 41, 70, 71, 72, 73 ,74, 255, 256, 301. When U-Link opens a huge chunk of those (70-74) might be shortened to UW Station. That removes one of the most frequent service from the tunnel and Stewart St. If we can accelerate Link to Northgate, then 41’s gone sooner. The 255 runs every 30 minutes most of the time so it shouldn’t be a problem. Peak hour traffic would benefit. With those routes gone, bus routes can be consolidated to a 3rd Ave transit mall.

      1. Since Roosevelt wouldn’t open until 2018 at the very soonest, I bet it would be Husky Stadium Station first (I really like that name :D).

        I wonder what they’d do to the routing south of 41st. I suppose they could move the southbound stop on Campus Parkway to just east of Brooklyn, pick up passengers there, head south on Brooklyn to 40th, head East and rejoin 15th or possibly continue down Brooklyn. Then you have to fight through the mess that is Pacific to get to Husky Stadium. Southbound Pacific is only two lanes until just before the intersection with Pacific. Sounds like a mess.

        And yes, the 71/72/73/74 should terminate at Husky Stadium, because that station is a looooong ways from campus and The Ave, especially in the rain.

      2. I don’t know what the plans are. It seems like a good idea, but where do they go, then? Pacific and Montlake are packed.

      3. They could turn onto Pacific Place and do a stop right by the 44’s layover, which is right by the pedestrian bridge.

        Or make me happier and have them actually stop on the east side of Montlake. Or possibly strike an agreement with the UW and lease a small area of the parking lot for a mini-station.

      4. We’re going to need *some* kind of bus connection between Husky Stadium and the actual U. District. If I’m taking a 66 from Northgate to get home to CapHill for example, I shouldn’t have to walk from 45th & Roosevelt to the stadium to catch a train. A shuttle or rerouting buses to the LRT terminus is in order.

      5. 43, 44, and 48 all handle U District to Husky Stadium, and they combine for like 5 minute headways. And I hope they truncate 71/72/73 in the U District and not at Roosevelt. The U District is a major destination and it would be annoying for everyone to have to transfer for the 2 minute ride from Roosevelt-Brooklyn. Which reminds me, all the planning documents say Brooklyn Station, but has anyone ever heard anyone call that neighborhood Brooklyn?

      6. Assuming no re-routes as a result of UW Station opening, there is still fairly frequent service between the U. District proper and the Husky Stadium area via the 43, 44, 48, and 271.

      7. According to HistoryLink back at the time of the Alaska-Yukn-Pacific Exposition the U-District was known as Brooklyn. Don’t know that there’d be anyone aroud that would remember that though. I’m sure the station name is in reference to Brooklyn Avenue that one of the station entrances will face onto.

      8. More likely the 71-74 will turn around at the Campus parkway transit center (assuming it isn’t moved). There is still a need for frequent service up and down the Ave, also a fair number of the riders who ride the 71-74 north of 45th are UW students or work in the U-District.

      9. By that time we’ll probably have the U-Line Streetcar so we’ll have plenty of service up and down the Ave.

      10. Right, there’s plenty of high-density student housing on 15th Ave and U Way between 45th and 65th St. Letting the 48 handle that stretch alone will be a mistake.

        The U-Line is planned to end at 50th St by University Heights. Is there any chance it could be extended to Roosevelt Station with a loop through the Roosevelt business district via Ravenna Blvd, 12th Ave NE, NE 66th St, Roosevelt Way NE, and Ravenna Blvd back to University Way. The one-way track length for the extension is just under 2 miles.

      11. That would be awesome. I think it should be extended past there, though, to Green Lake, as that area is rapidly densifying.

  10. This really isn’t transit related, but anyone else besides me looking outside at the gray and not feling like working? Some rain would be nice for the region, but where is the sun?!

  11. What they could do is replace the track that already goes into the Convention Place station like they did in the rest of the tunnel (should be easier since the track isn’t in a tunnel tube) … then they can terminate some LINK runs (especially East Link which won’t run to the University and when the Southern Extensions are built) there … passengers could also transfer from buses to LINK there and then the time effort and money that went into it won’t be all for nothing

    1. East Link will run to the University, actually. I think the point is to have *all* trains start in Lynnwood or at least Northgate, we really need the capacity up there.

    2. CPS has a higher elevation than the rest of the stations. It’s too hard to get the trains to climb the hill, which is one of the reasons why Central Link doesn’t go there.

  12. I think “two six minute headway lines – one all the way from Lynnwood to Federal Way, and one from Lynnwood to Redmond” makes a lot more sense.. With 6 min headway switching from one line to the next somewhere downtown is quite easy and you only loose 3min. Eventually I would love to see another line where the monorail was supposed to go: branch off at SODO to West Seattle and branch off at 45th (or Lk Union) to Ballard.

    1. There is no way to add another line to the tunnel once we’re running at 3 minute headways. We need a second downtown tunnel for another line.

      1. That doesn’t go where we want transit. It’d be a new tunnel, under 2nd.

      2. As well as the fact that it doesn’t point the right way. We don’t want to go in the 99 corridor, we want to serve Belltown and LQA, and the tunnel doesn’t do that at all.

        Not to mention the state simply would say ‘no way’.

  13. OK—I am still confused about U-Link/North Link—will trains originating from the U District/Northgate terminate at the International District or continue to the airport? IMO, it would be better if trains did not terminate downtown, and be through routed from the South to the North.

    1. The closest crossover to IDS is at Stadium. Trains could deadhead and turn at Stadium, but it might consfuse people at Stadium. We’ll have to see when the Link gets rolling. It really depends on ridership and other demands on the system. I bet ST will get a much better idea of exactly how to route things when ULink has been open for a while.

      1. I would figure that every other train will go Northgate – Overlake, Northgate – Airport. Northgate – Stadium. It’s hard to say though until everything is said and done.

        Portland would be a good model of squeezing a lot of lines through a small pipe line. The Steel Bridge, starting in September will have 1.5 to 3.5 minute headways. This will be the point where the yellow, red, blue, and green lines all meet. The green line will split up at Gateway Transit Center.

    2. I think that only a few commute-time trains would terminate before the airport.

  14. I don’t know which is more awesome- the idea you could gather those two and three-minute segments of saved time and add immeasurably to your already rich lives, or the memories of a vanished past you will never see even if you live 25 years longer than me.

    At least there will be no excuse for running in the station if another train is coming in six- or even seven- minutes.

    On a different but related topic, I hope the transit authorities are planning for heavier and later traffic around Lake Union on the evening of July Fourth, when the only fireworks show in town will be on the lake. Would be nice if some of those people could take streetcar or bus to get home.

    1. Only if the SLU Tram is running – I am told that last year it closed up shop at 9:00 PM. Silly!! Hello? Mayor McCheese????

    2. We went to the Lake Union fireworks on 4th July. We took the streetcar and it was packed, not as much as opening day though. When it was over, the streetcars were running but we decided to huff it back to Capitol Hill up Denny Way.

    1. The Seattle LRT should either be operating 24/7, or operate until the bars close, or be replaced by an overnight bus after hours.

      1. You can’t run trains 24 hours a day without at least a 3rd track. You have to do maintenance sometimes. 24 hour trains are quite rare. I think the red and blue lines in Chicago may do it, and a few lines in NYC. Toronto and DC are the 2nd and 3rd busiest transit systems in North America, and neither has any 24 hour trains.

      2. The first thing everyone told me (proudly) when I moved to Montreal was that the bars are open til 3am. Their Metro closes at 1am. No surprise that they have a big drunk driving problem and a high rate of car fatalities (there are other contributors though). DC’s Metro runs til midnight Sun-Thurs and 3am Sat-Sun. That seems like a huge difference to me, and they started charging peak hour fares for the 2am-3am hour, but there’s demand for the service then. That system is well ingrained into the life of the city though; I don’t know that Seattle is there yet. I don’t think they resumed service as early the next mornings as ST will though. You just have to have down time for maintenance or a 3rd track. If it’s only Friday and Saturday nights, I’d imagine we could see trains run to 2am or maybe even 3am eventually.

      3. considering its late night and therefore the service is infrequent couldnt they just run mostly on single track (in the stretches where they are performing the work). i believe they did this the last time i was in chicago and had to stay out by ohare at a hotel for my hour long trek via the blue line into the city… delays as the train slowly inched through the work zone along the expressway portion as one of the tracks was out of service for active track repair work. and this was maybe 9 or 10pm on weekday.

        my point is i think the maintenance claims against 24 hours is somewhat exaggerated so long as passengers and management can put up with occassional night time delays.

        (one other point, while much of the nyc subway has routes with more than 2 tracks, there are a handful of lines with only 2 tracks, and all the lines run 24 hours regardless. again i’ve faced many a delays in nyc on their subway for track work)

  15. Since this is an open thread, can I just say…

    WOOHOO! 30 DAYS!

    Anyway… Is it strange for me to say that I plan to actually reshape my commute around the Link even though it won’t necessarily help at all? I just want to support it by riding it. I spent 7 years in Boston literally living on the T (and getting along just fine in other towns with metro rail systems like NYC and DC), and then 7 years in Seattle with no metro rail at all.

    Hopefully once Link starts the locals will see that metro rail systems are not simply commuter shuttles, but lead to retail and lifestyle growth all along their lines as people use them to get to and from interesting places and events other than the routine of the daily grind.

    1. I can’t reshape my commute, but I’ll definitely take it back and forth a bit if I want time to read. :)

    1. They are coming out with (or maybe they already have) a “Central Link rider’s guide”. I don’t know if they’ll have a timetable in it. Tacoma Link doesn’t.

    2. Both. Early and late trains will have a timetable, with ‘every 7-8 minutes’ listed in between the lower frequency timetables.

  16. Any thought of creating a coordinated timeline on transit improvements to the Puget SOund area, kind of showing Sound transit, streetcar, Amtrak, etc?

    1. Yes, I’d love to do something like that, but I don’t really have the time.

  17. On a side note, on the most recent MEHVA historic bus excursion—I leared we can forget about the former Waterfront Streetcars ever returning—the platforms for the new lines are too low for the WFSC’s, and the voltage is another issue—600 volts for the WFSC’s and 750 volts for the Skodas. Most likely they’ll be donated to other cities—there are hundreds of W2’s running all over the country.

    1. Yeah, the Waterfront Streetcars won’t work on the new lines. But that doesn’t mean they couldn’t run on their own original line (which is still in place) with their own stations (all but one still in place).

      1. Yes, I understand—but what you may not realise is that there are plans to abandon the Waterfront line in favour of a new First Avenue line. Then the W2’s will be doomed!

      2. Yeah, I realize that. I don’t think it needs to be abandoned, though. It is not the same corridor. Both can run concurrently. Even the WSDOT/SDOT study on the surface/transit option of the Viaduct replacement concluded this.

      3. dont get me started on the waterfront line and that damn sculpture park. that sheet metal car barn would have fit in perfectly with those 2 or 3 metal sculptures that make up the entire art collection in the park. creative thinking (something art museums are supposed to be big on) would have found a way to get both the park and the car barn to coexist.

      4. Personally I think any civic leader who thinks the Waterfront line should be abandoned should be publicly burned at the stake.

        There is no need to kill the George Benson Memorial Streetcar in order to build a modern tram on First Avenue or to make a First Avenue line successful.

        If the idiots in change do decide to give up on the Waterfront Streetcar I hope they have the sense to sell the W2 cars to someone who will take care of them and put them to good use on a heritage streetcar line somewhere.

  18. To clear up the confusion about the different lines when ST2 is built out:
    Line 1a – Lynnwood Transit Center to S 272nd Street: 4-car trains running every 7 minutes peak
    Line 1b – Northgate Transit Center to S 272nd Street: 4-car trains running every 10 minutes off-peak
    Line 2 – Lynnwood Transit Center to Overlake Transit Center: 3-car trains running every 7 minutes peak, 10 minutes off-peak
    (according to

    1. Right, but that’s just conceptual. That’s not what service planners want to actually do.

      1. Because we could just run a single line 1. There’s likely to be enough demand for it.

  19. This is a question posed by the Stranger article (“Seven Things We Love About Light Rail”):

    What will people / Joe Seattleite call Central Link? BART = San Francisco, MARTA = Atlanta, etc. Will people call it Link?

    The folks in phoenix just call it “the light rail”, which really iritates me (I.e. “hold on, I’m getting on the light rail”)

  20. Ha.. don’t get me started on all the different voltages…

    Metro Trolley bus – 600 volts
    Seattle Streetcar – 750 volts (Why?!)
    Waterfront Streetcar – 600 volts
    Central Link – 1500 volts
    Tacoma Link – 600 volts
    Seattle Center Monorail – 600 volts

    This is where I have to say that Portland has done it right and left everything at 600 volts so the Streetcar can run on the line or vise versa.

    1. yeah thats weird to have the SLUS at 750 volts when everything else is 600 volts. i recognize central link as a different animal so i can understand its different voltage. its even weirder that both portland and tacoma have their streetcars at 600 volts when there is little difference between those cars and seattle’s cars and operation.

      how difficult is it to change voltage down the road? one would assume tacoma link will have to go 1500 volts when its links to central link.

    2. Stepping down voltage is no big deal. Trolley companies almost always transmitted to substations at a higher voltage and then stepped down. In Europe, some trams and trains are built to run on three different voltages.

      All of this stuff about platform height and voltage is just a lot of baloney intended to make it look too difficult to bring back the George Benson Streetcar. There is no intention to duplicate the route of the Waterfront Streetcar with the First Avenue Line. The old streetcars can meet the First Avenue Line in Pioneer Square and provide the service along the waterfront that will be wanted and needed.

  21. does seattle have any off-street trolley bus loops (terminus’)? vancouver, san francisco and edmonton have (or had) quite a few.

    i know the 2-madrona park sort of is, though not to the degree of vancouver/sf/edmonton.

    1. I don’t think so. Most of the trolleys go around a block to turn around. And I’ve never thought of the 2’s Madrona circle as off-street.

      Back when the 2 was a cable car, I think the turnaround on the other end must have been Queen Anne & Galer, and that’s why the intersection has a funny shape. QAers call that part of the line “the Counterbalance”.

      1. yeah i was thinking that circle on the 2 was maybe the closest thing in seattle to a loop that i could think of, but i havent seen all the etb terminals in seattle.

        anyhow i’ve always liked off-street trolley loops, i know some cities have or had them for almost every route while other cities have none.

  22. Route 14 will have an off-street terminal across from Mount Baker Station, starting in September.

    1. I’m still trying to figure out what the 14 will do. Apparently it will seem to have two termini. One at the MB transit station but it will still go to the current terminus at hunter blvd and Hanford st.

      1. Going south, the 14 will stop at Mt. Baker station, then double back to terminate at Hunter & Hanford. Going north, it starts at H & H, stops at the station, then goes back to 31st ave to continue north.

  23. They seriously need color coded light rail lines rather than “East link, North link, etc” I don’t like it at all. They could call the orginal line as a blue line, period. from Federal way to Mountlake terrace is blue line, Redmond to Seattle would be probably green line, Issaquah to Seattle would be orange line….something like that.

    1. i bet they will, when portland first started light rail there were no colored lines, but once more lines were introduced, more colors were introduced

      1. I didn’t know Portland started out like that back then. It would be cool when we see color coded lines here. :)

      1. I prefer colors. The problem with names is they tend to be too long and easy to forget. Who says “South Lake Union Streetcar?” Nobody. Everybody says SLUT, because “South Lake Union Streetcar” is too much to say. Do you want to tell a friend from out of town “Get on the Lynnwood-Overlake train” or “Get on the Red train?”

      2. Colors don’t sound very personable or creative to me. Extra long names are the fault of the person who named them. They could’ve come up with better names.

        The South Lake Union Streetcar should’ve been called the Cascade Streetcar after the original neighborhood name. I don’t know who decided to rename the neighborhood, Paul Allen?

        And RapidRide already took the letters for naming lines.

      3. We could go with naming them after dead people. We already have (had?) the George Benson line, but we don’t have to stick with politicians. How about the Bruce Lee Line (First Hill Streetcar), the Jimi Hendrix Monorail, the Kurt Cobain Line (First Ave Streetcar), the Fred Hutchinson Line (South Lake Union Streetcar), Bing Crosby Line (Tacoma Link).

      4. How long until people shorten them to Benson line (already?), Lee line, Hendrix line, Cobain line, FredHutch line, and Crosby line or how bout Bing line? Burke-Gilman Line for Ballard-UW. R.H. Thomson (city engineer) line?

        For people still alive, East link could be named the Allen-Gates Line and Jim Ellis Line for Central Link.

      5. Some of those pronunciations break really really hard coming from people of whom English is not their first language.

      6. While “ride the SLUT” may have been funny the first 1000 times I heard it, I think I could go with “ride the Hutch” now. The Bruce Lee Line could be shortened to the Dragon, and that would be pretty cool.

  24. sorry for a really dumb question…

    do i assume correctly that the link trains are doing a lot of testing in the tunnel at regular service levels and therefore will be quite common to see? if not when is the best chance of seeing testing? mid day weekdays, weekends, nights?

    oh and did i hear that the DSTT is now open at night and on weekends?

    (i’m a portlander who’ll be up in seattle this weekend. i always keep an eye open on seattle transport but obviously dont follow it as regularly as a seattle local would.)

    1. Yes, the tunnel is now open until 1 AM Mon-Sat and midnight on Sunday.

      The trains have been testing pretty regularly recently. If you go down there midday on a weekday you have a very good chance of seeing them.

    2. Link train testing is now in progress at all times, everyday. The tunnel hours match Link’s service hours. I’ve been in the tunnel at 10 pm and saw trains testing.

      1. I don’t understand why they don’t keep the tunnel long enough for all the routes to make there final run. They would only have to keep open for 15 to 20 minutes (30 minutes max)

  25. Does anyone else find the digitized bell sound from the Link cars really loud and annoying when in the tunnel? It sounds okay on the surface, but it would be nice if they had a different warning tone to use while in the tunnel. And why do they have to sound it at all? I don’t recall any other metro systems using a bell when approaching the platform.

      1. Real bells get stolen. Seriously.

        That’s why the industry (freight locos included) have gone to digital bells.

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