120 Replies to “First Revenue Day”

  1. I rode the 7:05 train from Columbia City. About 12 people boarded. I chatted with two ladies from Tukwilla who got up early to “beat the rush” — turns out there was plenty of parking at the station. Lots of people boarded at Beacon Hill. When I exited at the ID station, the train was about half full. Not too shabby for opening day, inconvenient airport connection, etc.

    There is very friendly staff in the stations to answer ticketing questions. A great commute!

  2. I was on the very first revenue train! 4:56 at SODO today. There were around 4-6 people on the train total.

    I also rode out to Tukwila International Boulevard to try out the airport shuttle. The buses weren’t very nice, and were not labeled at all as ST or Link-related buses. When I got back to Intl Blvd, the driver was just figuring out how to display LINK LIGHT RAIL on the destination sign. Also I think she turned away a rider at the airport because she didn’t know whether Link accepts Flex passes.

      1. The shuttle buses are old Pierce Transit buses. The drivers looked like they were wearing Pierce Transit uniforms and there were Pierce Transit supervisor vehicles parked at the station.

  3. I think it would be interesting for someone to go down to MLK and ask people who is waiting at a bus stop to go downtown, why they aren’t taking Link, instead.

    And this isn’t me being a troll, I would honestly like to hear some of the various reasons. Maybe I’ll do that.

    1. That would be an interesting thing to find out. I wonder how many people are going to be taking the 42 now.

    2. That would indeed be interesting. I wonder if the fact that it costs $.25 more during off-peak (excl. Bacon Hill) makes anyone continue to use the bus

    3. Believe it or not, there are bitter Southeast Seattle NIMBYs who have declared that they will never ride the light rail. Not ever! They refuse to Sound Transit the satisfaction.

  4. I would imagine the common reason, stated or otherwise, would be they are still taking the bus out of habit. It’s what they know. They are used to it and it’s familiar. And Link is new, and to some, new things are scary. Maybe some people think it’s too expensive to ride. Hmmm. Now I’m curious.

    1. I don’t know if you have the time or inclination, but if you (or someone else) could go out and interview people waiting at bus stops along MLK during morning peak it would indeed be interesting to hear what the answers are.

  5. When I got off the 41 bus at University Street station at about 6:30, I noticed that the ALL of the ORCA readers on the mezzanine had hoods over them saying “out of order”. What’s up with that? How are Link riders supposed to tap out?

    1. It was the same at Westlake Station, going up the mid-platform exit towards Nordstrom. I am still using my flexpass, so it didn’t affect me, but I was wondering about the people who got on at Beacon Hill (a $1.75 ride), and if they’d be charged $2.50 for not being able to tap out.

  6. OT – But what are the plans (if any) to get cellphone coverage in the downtown tunnel and beacon hill?

    1. I don’t think there are plans right now, but it’s going to be something we talk about here.

      1. I generally like that people can’t talk on their phones in the downtown tunnel, the same way that I like that people can’t talk on their phones on airplanes. The entire bus/train does not need to hear your conversation!

        If there was a way to add cell service only at the stations, that would be useful and not annoying. You’re not quite trapped on a platform with someone the way you’re trapped on a bus/train with them.

      2. Yes, please – spare us from cell phones in the tunnel!
        It is already overwhelming on the buses above ground.
        The levels of discourtesy and downright rudeness on the part of irresponsible cell phone users rival those of the minority of bicyclists who think the streets and footpaths are only for them.

      3. I explained why there will be no cell coverage here. In order to provide WiFi, there needs to be some sort of link to the internet. Metro used, and Sounder uses a Sprint AirCard to serve the internet over cellular service. No cell service in the tunnel = no WiFi.

    2. Please! No cell phone coverage in the tunnels. Is no place in the world safe from loud and annoying cell phone users? This is the one area of life about which I am a total Luddite. The tunnels serve to shorten cell conversations for riders, and I’m totally in favor of having that automatic off switch.

      1. Who mentioned talking? 95% of the time I am “using” my cellphone (a smartphone) I am actually using the internet or checking email – that’s what I meant.

      2. WiFi in the Link cars would be nice. I know Metro demo’ed it for a while on select busses, and the Sounder Trains have it. That would allow folks to check email, etc, without the annoyance of phone calls.

        I could have used it this morning to check on nextbus.com to see if there was a S.L.U.T. close by or if I should walk instead.

      3. The problem with Wi-Fi is that most mobile setups use the cell phone network for the back haul communications. The bus (and likely Sounder) Wi-Fi setups use a device called a Junxion Box that takes a 3G connection and rebroadcasts it as a Wi-Fi network.

      4. RapidRide is going to use the Public Safety WiFi–4.8 GHz. There will be boxes at each intersection that will be connected to a fiber backhaul to update next bus information, and apparently WiFi for passengers is planned. It isn’t going to cost them much to provide this service since they’re installing the 4.8 for bus technology anyways. They just need to make sure it’s subnetted properly so they don’t get hacked :). I just think it’s ironic that they’re offering WiFi on a bus they want you to spend very little time on.

      5. I second this. Its quite annoying to be checking email or updating facebook and suddenly be cut off, as i found out riding the trains all weekend.

      6. I think people should be able to talk on their cell phones if they want. It’s their business, and if other people are annoyed by someone else talking – even if it’s something sensitive, embarrassing, etc. – bummer.

      7. I completely agree with you. I frequently use my cell phone on the bus and I’m always very respectful of those around me (except once when I was doing a radio show via cell phone on the bus but if the bus before me hadn’t been 5 minutes early I wouldn’t have been late for work so tough s***) My opinion is if we’re going to get so upset over cell phone use maybe we should ban conversation altogether. People on their phones aren’t (usually) any louder than those talking in person. If they’re being disrespectful call them out. Otherwise shut up and do your own thing.

  7. I got off my regular bus that drops me off in front my building at Westlake for short ride on Link. I didn’t count passengers but there was another person with me on my car. I tapped in with my ORCA and it works correctly. There are people at the TVMs to assist you.

    I love it when they accelerate through the Westlake bend.

  8. I got on at Westlake and rode to Stadium Station where I transferred to the 174. I was the only one on the car at 7:05. The driver, no, conductor had a hard time getting the right “next stop”. We were leaving University Street and it said “Next stop: International District”. Then it was changed to “Next stop: University Street”. By the time we left the International District station he/she’d figured it out.

      1. Unfortunately this is not quite so funny to those who remember the LA-area MetroLink crash….

  9. Does anyone know when we will get the first set of Ridershio numbers under “Revenue” conditions? (ie not tainted with free rides ;)

    Who “ownes” the data collected by ORCA?
    Is there enough information retained to spot trends and be used for planning new routes?, ie 20% of riders on route A who board before stop 16 transfer to Route B, 70% of thoes transfers later transfer to route C (for a total of X transfering from route A through to route C)

    1. I’m hoping Sound Transit will send mail to media after the first week. We’ll post about it when we get it.

      Normally, we see monthly ridership breakdowns, delayed about a month.

      Remember that revenue service is going to be slow. The first week or two might be pretty high because people are excited about it, but it’s not going to really increase for a few months as people get used to it.

      I will be *surprised* if we sustain 25,000 by the end of the year. Things will probably pick up next spring, when the weather improves and the airport is open.

    2. I would imagine that the ORCA data is “owned” by Sound Transit, but is freely available to all the agencies that use it.

      I would also guess that they will use the data for ridership trends, but not yet. The ORCA rollout needs to go into high gear, and once there is significant usage, then they should start analyzing the data.

      1. The ORCA rollout is essentially there. I don’t think PugetPass is being sold separately for long (if at all), as it can be bought at all TVMs.

    3. ORCA user data is “owned” by all of the agencies participating in the Central Puget Sound Regional Fare Coordination Project (CPSRFCP), and those agencies have ensured they can be pretty free about sharing your personal information and your usage data if they choose.

      Read the ORCA privacy and terms of use policies (both are PDFs). These are linked at the bottom of most pages on the orcacard.com site, and are card policies, not website policies as implied by the phrasing and location.

      The ACLU asked the CPSRFCP for privacy protections across the system, but succeeded only in getting some minor concessions related to business accounts.

  10. It seems like the train accelerates faster than buses from a dead stop so people who are standing have to “recalibrate” their acceleration stance accordingly.

    1. Yeah, and it’s dependent on the driver as well. Some really step on it, some try to make it very smooth. I think that’ll smooth out over the next few months.

      1. The operator needs full manual controls to adapt to different situations. There’s even a separate mode they put the train in while they’re running at street level.

    2. Ha yeah I decided to stand for a bit on one of my Saturday trips. It is definitely different than standing on the bus, but most of the time it’s easier.

  11. Did my first commute from Columbia City at 7:17 this morning, got into Westlake at 7:38. Wait time at Columbia City: 0 minutes.

    Impressions and observations:
    > Boarding was easy – appreciated the presence of a ticket assistant. A friendly welcome.
    > I like the Orca terminals at the station much better than the ones on the buses – it clearly shows I started in Columbia City and when I tagged out it showed that I went from Columbia City to Westlake, the fare charged, and my balance. Also, the pads are raised a little higher, so they’re just easier to use.
    > The ride was smooth, comfortable, and very quiet. Merging with the buses at ID seemed to slow the train down more than over the weekend when they were by themselves. We stopped twice, entering the bus tunnel.
    > Perhaps 14 people on the car I was in.
    > Saw Diamond Parking available at Mt Baker Station. Overheard someone say it is $4 for the day. Columbia City has $3 parking two blocks East of the station.
    > More folks boarded at Columbia City than at the other stations. Beacon Hill came second.
    > Clocks aren’t synched at stations(?). Arrived Sodo: 7:29. Arrived Stadium: 7:28.

    1. > Clocks aren’t synched at stations(?). Arrived Sodo: 7:29. Arrived Stadium: 7:28.

      Well, how fast were you going?

      1. You thought you were on a ST Link Light rail train. In fact you were on board a TARDIS with a working camo circuit.

      2. What? Out of sync clocks??? That’s not the way a railroad should be run. Clocks are a prominent feature in railway stations around the world. We need more of them (that are accurate).

  12. My partner took the LRail to a conference to dwtn this am. We ordered an Orca card and it arrived with no problem. I’m looking forward to taking it tomorrow downtown for meetings.

  13. I would suggest this blog define “full” for light rail cars.

    It seems some people think a car is “full” if every seat is taken, but nobody is standing. Sound Transit seems to define “full” as 200 riders per car, which would be 74 seated and 126 people standing.

    Others might think a car is “full” when every seat is taken, and maybe 30-40 people are standing.

    Anyone want to make some “official” definition of a “full” ST light rail car for this blog? So everyone can mean the same thing, and everyone can have an accurate impression of how many people are actually using light rail.

    1. “Full” is a relative term. Everyone will always have a different definition. Back in the days when I worked in food service people would ask for a “regular” sized soft drink. To some people, that meant a small. To others, it was a medium. To others, it was a large.

    2. I don’t think we’re going to have a hard and fast definition for ‘full’. Different bloggers use it for different things. I try to be clear about what I mean – I’ll say “standing room only” or “ghost town”.

    3. The Operations Plan that Oran posted a link to a few days ago says:
      “Each vehicle will seat 74 passengers and have room for 74 standees the vehicle is
      designed to meet all current ADA standards, supporting a capacity of 148 passengers. (This is the figure
      used for scheduling purposes). During special events loading will be much higher.”

  14. I don’t live on the light rail line, but rode the light rail in the bus tunnel this morning for fun… great experience but they seemed to be running a little less frequently than advertised.

    1. That’s interesting – did you clock the time between trains at all? I’m curious about how infrequently.

      1. Well when I waited I waited closer to 15 minutes instead of 10 (it was at 8:30am). But that’s a sample of 1 so it’ll be interesting to see if they can keep their frequency up

      2. If I remember correctly, they were having some minor problems with the signaling in the RV. That might have caused a train to be a few minutes late.

        I don’t have all the details. (I was listening on the scanner and not paying real close attention) but I think they got everything worked out quickly.

    2. I waited 6 minutes for my SB train in Pioneer Square. In lieu of next train info displays, I guess I could ask security when did the last train pass by.

  15. Rode to work from Mt Baker to Westlake this morning. The driver had a bit of a problem getting the doors to close at Beacon Hill (they re-opened twice after closing), and we had a minute delay at Stadium station after the doors closed before we accelerated. I am guessing that this was due to coordinating our merge with busses at ID, because once we go into the bus staging area south of ID station we never slowed down until we were stopped at the station platform.

    I did notice that the turn from the elevated section down onto the busway caused the wheels to screech a bit, but otherwise it was a very quiet ride.

    I also witnessed a problem at one of the TVM’s where a woman asked an attendant if she could purchase a 10 day ticket. He said here let me show you, and ended up causing 10 tickets to emerge from the machine, all time stamped for that trip. He appologized, but didn’t seem to know how to help her beyond that. I hope she can get a refund.

    1. Stadium does have a delay due to the merge. It’ll be there forever, probably – it’ll make interlining with East Link work better as well.

  16. The placement (and use) of the hanging hold straps is interesting.

    They seemed to be placed so that those who stand in an aisle and need to use them will stand in front of people facing the aisle. There are no hanging straps on the bar above the seats that are facing the front/back of the car. (I may have this wrong though as I’m not quite sure about all the seat placements.)

    In practice though I noticed people weren’t grabbing the bar with the straps but were grabbing the bar that had no straps. (See the photo at the top of this post for an example). I suppose this is good because some people don’t need straps and thus they’re giving strap space to those that might need it. But why not put a few straps at each bar. At least once I witnessed someone look up for a strap to grab but then they realized there were none at the bar above them.

    It also seemed that people preferred to stand next to a “regular” front/back facing seat instead of standing in front of someone facing the aisle.

  17. Are the reader boards in the stations ever going to display the time until the next train arrival?

    Even with frequent service, it’s nice to know if you will be waiting 2 minutes or 8 minutes. Metro Rail in DC does this, and I found it really helpful when I was there for the July 4th holiday. Seems like this feature is a big part of making Link rider friendly.

    1. I’ve heard the real-time arrival updates will be rolled out within the next few months – I agree, they’re definitely a great feature.

    2. Somebody in other forum mentioned that they will add the real time arrival information in about 2 months from now.

  18. Have anyone noticed that many comments in news about the light rail were mostly negative? They are still continuing to bash on our light rail system. Someone mentioned that San Jose went through the same issue in 1980-1990’s (They use the same rolling stock brand) as we do but older model.

    I wonder if that has happened in other cities with starter light rail systems like in Salt Lake City, Denver, etc back then when ridership was light in starting revenue service…

    1. If you read the comments on all of our local news sites you’ll find that they are HEAVILY conservative, anti-transit based… I’d pay no attention to it, only republicans troll news forums apparently :)

      1. And it’s always the same people commenting over and over and over. In one article I read one person commented 7 times within 15 minutes. You start to recognize the same old trolls commenting on every story in the Times or PI, and they always seem to be very angry and spiteful regardless of what they’re commenting on. It gets very frustrating, but I’ve finally learned to realize that most of them hold a minority view.

  19. People may be interested in listening to KUOW at noon today since part of that hour’s Conversation will be about Link:

    http://www.kuow.org/program.php?id=17997

    “Seattle light rail era begins today with the first paying customers getting on board the line between Westlake and Tukwila. We’ll check in with Sound Transit and early riders.”

      1. Here’s what went on:
        – A brief intro, recording of Patty Murray talking at the Preview Friday and then we heard from her aide at the time.
        – Joni Earl is on right now, said ridership is expected to be 21,000 by the end of the year for basically all the reasons Ben mentioned here), why Airport Station doesn’t open until December (because of September 11th), the alignment issues with U-Link, and now she’s explaining the bike policy. Dude thought there would only be 2 bikes per train. She explained it’s 4 per car, but didn’t make the distinction between car and train. Joni won’t be commuting via Link because she lives in Tacoma and uses Sounder. She isn’t considering moving but says she will definitely use Link to get to meetings around the region.
        – Now they’ve got a mic at Westlake. Fitsam is joing us. He rode from Othello to Westlake. Something about flat tires but he likes the train. He lives by Othello. He thinks the train will bring out a vibrant community and has seen some of his neighbors for the first time. Host wants to check out Othello and asks Fitsam what there is to do in Othello. He kind of stumbles here.
        – I’m tired of typing this out, just listen to the webcast later.

      2. NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!! Dude that lives in Rainier Beach is going to the UW in the Fall and thinks PugetPasses won’t work on the train and only knows about the E-Purse thinks that is the only way to use the train. He’s still investigating but thinks it will be cheaper driving and then parking in the U-District. These are the kind of people I hate: commuters using my parking spots.

      3. Someone needs to tell him about the U-PASS, good for unlimited rides anywhere in the Puget Sound Area for $99 [it went up from 65 :( ] but its still a good deal.

      4. Yes, Amtk501, the host did mention the U-Pass, but he did not go into details about it. And it used to be only $50, but still, $396 a year is a really awesome deal for a $4.75 pass.

      5. Uh. What? There is no Starbucks on Beacon Hill, at all. Whatsoever. There is one very close to Mt. Baker station, though… not that it’s anything special, just another Starbucks.

      6. Lady’s bitching about congestion. Apparently people “lost their businesses” because of construction. She’s “holding [on to] her opinion for now” so she can wait and see (even though she already stated her opinion). She thinks free bus service up and down I-5 would reduce congestion. The host very awesomely explained that that would just add to congestion and this grade separated method is reliable since it can never get stuck in traffic.

        Listen to the whole thing here.

  20. I’m curious if anyone was approached by a fare inspector on todat’s commute. I had my FlexPass ready to show somebody if they asked, but other than the folks that were helping people figure out the TVMs didn’t see anyone official walking through the trains.

    1. Nope. I rode 6 trains today and did not see a single fare inspector. Maybe they’re waiting till the newness wears off and people get used to the system.

      1. NOOOO! There must be presence of strict enforcement NOW or people will get used to NOT paying. They don’t need to hand out fines, just a friendly warning for next time.

      2. I agree with you Oran. Habits and expectations are formed from the very first ride, and we want to make sure that the culture of riding Link is what we want from day one. Consistancy (whether through enforcement, or just presence) is what shapes people’s attitudes and actions.

      3. Riding the U-Bahn all over Munich for a few days a couple of years ago, we never saw a fare inspector once. We did, though, see the posters warning of the fines for riding without a valid ticket. I don’t think you need to see an inspector all the time, as long as you know that if you do get caught it’s going to be expensive, and that people ARE getting caught.

      4. when i lived in freiburg, ticket controllers would board random trams at different times of day.

        we saw lots of people get busted (the controllers would board in groups, walking from back and front to center) and you paid (40 euros) on the spot, or at least at the nearest geldautomat (atm)

        for foreigners, getting busted 3x got you kicked out. we had lots of friends that had 1 or 2, the students could purchase a (6 month) semester pass that covered not just the city but the region, for a song. ($70 bucks)

        sure made ths huskypass look like a piece of sh*t.

      5. Please, ST! We need a mega-presence of officialdom on the trains chatting, asking about payment, taking suggestions – customer service of the best kind. This is crucial to the long term success of Link – ask real riders what they think, do not rely on the trolls and the meida and the polls.

  21. Time to update the countdown on the sidebar to “Countdown to Airport Link”. (Has the actual date been released yet?)

    1. No, there’s no date yet. Could be the 31st, could be the 22nd, it’s up to how the pedestrian bridge contract goes, probably.

      1. Okay. Dropped a friend off at the airport yesterday evening, and the airport station itself is definitely coming along, but yes, there’s no pedestrian bridge (or any sign of one, which was a little odd) yet.

  22. I had a “light” lunch and rode Link for fun from Westlake to Beacon Hill and Back this afternoon. On both trips there were about 30ish people on the car(fluctuated at each stop as people exited and boarded). This was a lunch time crowd so it didn’t appear that many of them were commuting, mostly riding for fun. There were a lot of ST officials at the stations helping people figure how to ride. A young man wearing an ST security uniform was on the train heading from Westlake answering questions and distributing brochures. He wasn’t checking fares, but I had my Puget Pass at the ready just in case. The automated announcements were messed up on the trip back to Westlake – it announced Ranier Beach as we were approaching ID, and Othello as we approached Westlake, most of the passengers just chuckled. A group of about 10 office-types got on at SoDo, maybe heading downtown for lunch? I LOVE the system and I wish I had a regular reason to use it. I won’t be able to use Link as part of my commute until the Capitol Hill station opens in 7 years….OMG I’ll be 50!!

  23. I just rode (12:30)from Westlake to Beacon Hill roundtrip and there were about 50 people per car both ways. It seemed to be a good mix of locals just checking things out with tourists and people going to lunch. On the return trip from Beacon Hill I noticed at least 3 different parties with suitcases coming from the airport and commenting on how nice the new light rail is. I think the airport link will be very popular.

  24. Why for God’s sake are there only 2 TVM’s at International Blvd? I had a great first end-to-end ride today, but that was only after queueing for 20 minutes to get my first ORCA card. It was backed up from the TVMs back to the escalators. I really hope SeaTac station will have 5 or more machines to reduce queue times.

    Other than that, I’m quite impressed. ST seems to have done a great job integrating the different ROW designs used. I’m especially impressed with how the at-grade sections are so well-optimized, smooth, and fast. After two years of living on Boston’s Green Line, I can’t say how great it felt to be cruising through those traffic lights! =D

  25. I rode got on at ID station at about 1:10. Waited about 8 minutes with a couple of dozen people on the platform.

    Every single train I saw during the ride to Columbia City had basically every seat full — or about 150 people per train.

  26. I just rode Link for the first time, from about 11:15 AM to 1 PM. I also talked to one person waiting at a bus stop, and I talked to one business owner. Some impressions: First of all, where are the minorities? The cars I were on were whiter than Vermont. The passengers in the cars I was on look NOTHING like the route 42 bus. I’d say well over 90% of the passengers weren’t actually taking it to go somewhere, they were just riding it to experience it for the first time. So it seems like Rainier Valley residents aren’t taking it to get around.

    That said, it was a very smooth, nice ride. No complaints about the ride itself. I still don’t care for the routing, but this is a pretty nice system, from top to bottom.

    I took it from Westlake to the end of the line, stayed on, then got off at Othello. Had lunch at Vietnamese cafe. I think it was called Huong Viet. The owner said business was down, and thought the line was bad for business. At about noon, I was the only customer in the place. I had a very good bahn mi (sp?) sandwich.

    I also talked to black woman in her 30’s who was waiting for the 42 at the northbound Othello stop. She said she was nervous about taking Link. She didn’t know where it went, and didn’t know where the stops were. (I’m not making this up). When I asked her how she gets downtown, she said she waits for the 106 next to Safeway. She said she’s familiar with where that goes, but isn’t quite sure where the train goes. (I found this odd). When I was talking to her, she said she was taking the 42 because she was going to the Boys and Girls club on Oregon street, and wasn’t sure if Link went there. (It does). So I’m not sure if Sound Transit did a good enough job educating Rainier Valley residents where Link goes, and where the stops are, or if this women has some mental issues.

    But right now, nothing can be gained from doing car counts. At this early stage, most of the people taking it are looky-loos, like myself. But I am concerned by one thing … not to turn this into a racial issue … but so for the Link cars I’ve seen look nothing like the bus routes servicing the same areas. These trains should also be filled with the residents of the neighborhoods it serves.

    1. I’d call it a fluke. There were about 25 people on my train, and I was the only white person from International Blvd. to Columbia City. From there to ID it diversified greatly with all races represented, and by Westlake it was mostly white.

      That sounds fairly geographically representative to me, but I’m new to Seattle. Thoughts?

    2. Glad you got to ride, Sam. The education issue reminds me of Elfreda Chatman’s work on how certain low-income people get information: much more likely to talk to someone than read a brochure or sign.

      By taking the time to talk with her, you may have begun the process of getting the word out in the neighborhood. I know that sounds odd since the route is posted at each station, but it’s the way it works and in the coming weeks we will see more locals and fewer gawkers on the train.

    3. where are the minorities?

      On Sunday afternoon there were many minorities on the trains I rode. I talked to a woman who I think lived in RV and she was very familiar with the 36, 42, 48, etc., but was new to the downtown tunnel, etc. At each stop she and her mom were discussing what was nearby and how they could make use of the stops to get to certain places. They were becoming experts and I’m sure they’ll be passing on the info to others.

      1. Also true on Saturday late morning. Northward from Tukwila there were lots of football fans, outnumbered from Columbia City north by locals from the valley.

    4. Based on some of the comments I’ve seen on the neighborhood mailing list today — and that’s not necessarily the same demographic as the rest of the neighborhood — there is a ton of misinformation and confusion floating around out there. People earnestly saying things like “you can’t use a bus pass on the train” and “you can’t transfer from the bus to the train”, etc. And people have some fear of ORCA, I think.

  27. Drove to Tuckwilla this morning about 10:30 with a friend. Long wait at one of 2 TVM’s, the guy there didn’t know she could buy an ORCA card, but a supervisor and I figured it out. Train was SRO but not overly crowded into the city. She is checking out a commute to South Lake Union and kept saying over and over “I can do this..” Views of the city, the mountain, and the sky were tremendous — a cheap way to see great vistas.
    ORCA readers on the mezzanine were covered at Westlake except one that worked like its was advertised. Appears that someone didn’t get the memo to remove the other hoods.
    Comments about the next train are appropriate — the station signage should reflect that. Otherwise it looks and feels good, bravo to Joni Earl and all the Sound Transit Staff.

  28. I just got back from my excursion from Tukwila to Westlake. I waited in line for a while at Tukwila to get an ORCA (which is great!!!), and rode to Westlake. I walked to the Pike Place Market and enjoyed the atmosphere with all the tourists. I grabbed a beer at the Brewery and headed back to the Westlake Station. Jumped on the train and headed back to Tukwila.

    My impressions are very positive. For one, it is quiet, clean and easy. Also, Since my stay downtown was short, I was able to go down and back for $2.50. Not that it is different from the busses, but it sure felt like a great value. The staff was very friendly, and generally all the people I heard commenting were very positive as well.

  29. I took a train from Mount Baker to ID Station this morning around 7:45 (to transfer to UW). The train wasn’t very full (about 20 people per car), but that was probably because it was only 3-4 minutes after the previous train. I also finally got to see a bike hanger in action, and it looked like it was working all right.

  30. Did a round trip commute from Beacon Hill to University St. No problems at all. 7:30-ish am departure from Beacon Hill had about 10 people boarding, maybe 30 total on the car I was on.

    Evening boarding around 5:35 pm car was pretty full already when it pulled into University St. (most seats taken, with some standing). Saw a bike hung and it really did not move much the whole way to BH. The handlebars did stick into the aisle quite a bit though.

    Now we just need a coffee cart on the plaza at the Beacon Hill station…

  31. My wife and I took the day off to enjoy the sun and ride the Link for our first time today. We left home in Columbia City and were downtown 35min from our front door to Westlake. Orca worked great, and at around 1pm most seats were taken with 60 or so passengers on the train we were on. After picking up some goodies at Pike Place, we headed south, stopped at Beacon hill (very cool) and took a break in Tukwilla, enjoying the great views along the way. Made me think about how great the Link will be say on snow days when all the buses are jack-knifed around town and the Link will be humming along smoothly. All the trains we saw were near sitting capacity, some standing this was between 1pm and 4pm.

  32. ORCA has been mentioned a lot on this page. I got mine when it first came out and I use the E-purse feature for my trips. I have to say it looks like problems with ORCA readers are diminishing. And, what I really love about it is I can pass the TVM’s and avoid lines. That said, I also accidentally dropped it when I got off a bus today, realized it about 100 feet away, turned back and it was already in someone else’s hands. Thankfully, she had no idea what it was and it was simple for me to say, “That’s mine. Thanks” and take it back.

    Lesson learned: I’m already addicted to ORCA because it helps me avoid lines even though I’m not a pass holder.

  33. I rode it today for the first time-leaving Westlake Station about 11:15, going to Tukwila, and then coming back with a short stop at Beacon Hill. The trains were relatively full, I would say about 2/3 of the seats were taken. The lines at Tukwila Station were long for the TVM, and there were a lot of tourists. I definitely think that ridership will drop off a little bit, however when Airport Station opens there will be a lot more people taking it. It seemed like a lot of people preferred to take Link/shuttle over the 174 or 194, in my opinion.

    I did see a few security folks, but they were mainly passing out the info brochures. I think, in all honesty, that they need to be more aggressive in checking fares, because there were a lot of people who got on in the Tunnel and were “so glad we can check it out cause we’re in the RFZ!”. For me, since I’m up in the north country area, Link won’t be an everyday thing for me. But if I lived down in the south end I’d be taking it, no questions asked.

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