This evening, I rode 4 trips of the first public revenue runs on Link. I was happy, disappointed, appalled but also understanding, which is why this post is here.
1. From a railroaders point of view, the elevated section is decent. The southbound line is much smoother than the northbound by a long shot but overall, I rate this a C in terms of ride quality. While the benefit of not having to align track is good, the noise, ride quality and such is going to be the bigger deterrent for many riders. Personally, until the segments are fixed and adjusted, I would recommend only doing 45 to 50mph. This has nothing at all to do with breaking in the track because the track will never be “broken in”. It is “anchored” down with a very, very limited amount of tolerance. I could get very technical on how this could be fixed but it would be a post within itself.
2. Waiting for buses in the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel gets old..fast. Having to wait 5 to 7 minutes between Pioneer Square Station and International District Station is absolutely unacceptable by any standards. This happened on 3 of my 4 trips. At least the automatic announcement notifying why we are being held went off. That still did not help the people whom hoped for a quick round trip.
3. Pierce Transit is operating the Sea-Tac Airport shuttle service, ST Route 575 with 1999 Orion 1.508 buses. Very cool to see that pull up to Sea-Tac Airport! However, besides the lone destination sign in front of the bus, there wasn’t any other signage that states that the bus is the Tukwila Link Connector. Also, while some people were able to find out that the bus was indeed the connector from people standing at the bus stop, there was still a lot of confusion on to take the 194 or the shuttle. There were also complaints that there was no ST agent at the Airport Information Booths regarding the light rail.
4. Seattle Transit Blog was mentioned 11 times while I was on-board! Hi to those that I talked with today!
5. I am still slightly annoyed by some of the operators. Some were smooth, others were rough as hell. Kudos to those operators for making the rider experience even better.
6. The more I rode Link, the more I looked at Southcenter Mall. 70% of the people questioned why that route did not go there… as it would only add 2-5 minutes to the schedule (but add several million dollars to the project), depending on the routing, etc. A Southcenter Mall stop would have easily tripled the ridership alone…take a look at the ridership of the Route 150 for that proof.
7. The routing via MLK was probably the smartest decision Sound Transit could have made, regardless if the routing would have been faster via the Duwamish. The ridership today from the on and offs from my observations were pretty amazing.
8. The Seattle Times naturally stated that the ridership was weak and South 154th Street Park and Ride was nearly empty. I have a picture when I arrived at South 154th Street Park and Ride and counted maybe 20 open spaces remaining. The line to get tickets was nearly 40-50 deep at times. Today was a very, busy day. The morning, maybe not so much, but the numbers were most definitely there.
9. Security and Sound Transit police were present off and on throughout the day. Yes, I did get fare checked.. heck, come to think of it, I got fare checked on Sounder for the first time in almost a year.. and no, I am not joking…
10. TVM issues were minimal. If there were any issues, they were reported and fixed within an hour. That is still very, very, impressive. I was able to add money to my e-purse with my debit card in 45 seconds and it instantly added that value… no 24 hour delay that you have with orcacard.com
11. On my way back from Beacon Hill Station, we were delayed for 5-10 minutes due to a disabled train at the International District Station according to the operator. The automatic announcement came on that there was a service delay and would be underway shortly. It was a good way to talk with some people regarding how they felt about the service and such. Even with the glitches, all was well.
All in all, I was happy at some of it, really annoyed at another part of it but most importantly, the vibe was still good, despite the issues throughout the day. People were happy and glad it arrived. Some even stated they are looking at housing near Link stations. This is exactly how things should start. This is only the beginning of course. I am personally looking at some of the newly remodeled apartment a block away from South 154th.
How was your experiences? Agree/disagree? Let me know!