I have a little list of things I’d like to see in the coming months. I don’t know if we’ll get any of this stuff, but these are things people have mentioned to me and I’ve thought of, they’re all relatively small, and I think people would really like them:

  • Realtime arrival information. I know this is already on the way, so this is an easy one for Sound Transit to accomplish. In Paris, the platforms let you know when not only the next train is coming, but the one after as well. I’d like to see that.
  • Anti-glare screens on the TVMs. They’re really hard to read in the sunlight.
  • Better directional signage. In Japan, a station sign usually has the name of the station you’re at (big), as well as the name of the next station (small) and a big arrow in the direction you’re going. As it is, it can be hard to be sure of which way you’re going once you’re already on the platform. I want to see big signs with arrows!
  • Wifi. This is a double ask – I’d like to see an agreement made with a cell network to provide service in the tunnel stations, and wifi on their network so it works the whole way. Mark my words, business travelers will never use shuttle express again.
  • Turn off the platform lights at outdoor stations during the day. Mount Baker is wasting electricity. I’m sure just fluctuations in temperature in the transformers for traction power use more power than those lights are wasting, but it would make us feel good.
  • More seating. Some of the stations are pretty good, but there are places where more benches are needed. Under Mount Baker should have several more. That’s going to be a great place for kids from the high school to go eat lunch on a hot day – with the foot traffic, that’s a good, safe place for them to be. The plaza in front of the station appears to have no seating at all – it should definitely have benches.
  • Heat at Airport Station. These stations are going to get cold during the winter. Airport is where people are going to be waiting in the dead of night at Christmas for the train home. Those reflective heat tubes on the northbound platform – maybe just in one spot, ten feet worth would be awesome – will make a big difference to everyone, especially if they’re coming home from visiting parents in Florida.
  • As ridership increases, the mezzanine at Tukwila and the space under Mount Baker really should get newsstands, coffee shops, or hot dogs – street food, gum, drinks, stuff. I’m sure there are other places where these would make sense too. I’m sure it’s not cost effective right now – that’s okay. Just tell us you’re trying.
  • Finally, let’s tighten up the track down near 599. The train hunts quite a bit there – I don’t know if that’s fixable, but I’d like to know either way. I’ve been on similar systems that don’t rock like that.

Are there more things you’d like to see from Link? This isn’t really for “another station” or “build East Link faster” – but small stuff like this. After seeing a lot of bikes, I’m really not worried about the bike racks, although making the bike hang parallel to the train’s direction of motion in the future probably wouldn’t be a bad idea.

179 Replies to “Small Things I Want From Link:”

  1. I’ll second the straightening the track in Tukwila request. I had heard about the shimmies, but it was much worse than I expected for a new system. I felt like I was riding the L. They should have one of the maintenance supervisors sit in the middle of the last car on a northbound train from Tukwila to feel how much it shimmies. Other than that the ride was really smooth, I was very impressed with the system overall. The signal synchronization along MLK seemed to work well, only got caught at one signal on one of the six rides I took today. My only other request, and here I’m nitpicking, would be to stop using the bell in the DSTT, it can be really loud. I’ve heard other people complaining about it too. Maybe they could come up with some other warning tone to use in the tunnels.

    1. YES, the bell is too loud. Just ring it a couple of times, not eight.

      I don’t know if it’s a straightening problem as much as a tolerance problem. I was told by a non-ST engineer that he thought the track might be a little too far apart.

      1. That sounds even worse. Bring the French over to straighten it out, the TGV at 220mph doesn’t shimmy! :-)

      2. This is why it’s not to make mode choices on the quality of the ride (buses shake, rail is smooth) since it can’t always deliver.

      3. Nonsense. I’ve ridden on horrible “shimmying” trains — it was still better for my motion sickness than the best buses on brand-new smooth roads. :-(

      4. The TGV at 220 definitely does shimmy! More than that, too. My ex lived in Strasbourg. :)

      5. Maybe all the wine kept me from noticing. I bet if you expressed the shimmy of the TGV as a ratio of the speed it would be a pretty small fraction! :-)

      6. I can +1 that. I was shocked how much the TGV at 186 mph (i didn’t get to ride in the fastest ones) shimmied.

    1. Good call. We should be advertising where we can. I would avoid blocking views, though – we have a lot of nice glass.

  2. Make the in-car announcements sound less cheerful. … I kid, I kid. They’re far less cheerful than STAND CLEAR OF THE CLOSING DOORS, PLEASE.

    Trash cans and recycling canisters, please.

    1. You’re right, there aren’t quite enough of those trash/recycling cans.

      1. Unfortunately, in this post-9/11 world, trash cans are a safety hazard and a risk. You won’t see any more of them on the system.

  3. the bike racks actually are a bigger deal than that – i’m surprised they screwed that up. honestly, just copying portland would have been fine; or, maybe hanging a bike and watching what happens would be a good test. they should add that to the new car acceptance testing.

    i will definitely second the need for “real” passenger amenities like coffee stands, newsstands, snack vendors, etc. that makes the system seem real and like something people would want to use. i have heard a number of people have asked to get a concession but hit a wall. that’s too bad. i’m not sure “wait and see” / “more time” is really the best answer there.

    announcing bus connections for stops would be nice. the signage is not ugly, but also has very little information.

    i don’t recall seeing panic intercoms in the train. i admit i wasn’t looking very hard for them but most systems i remember seeing those very prominently – those panels where it says “push button to speak to train operator in case of emergency”.

    other minor suggestions – the PA on the train i was on on the first day was broken. i had been so excited on the inaugural ride that the PA was working, and we finally have moved into the next century here – then i rode again, and the entire trip had inaudible (choppy) PA, and in the DSTT, the LED signs in the train told me we were in the I-D station as far as westlake. there were a number of comments made by other riders on that. these things happen, but it seems awful early for the automated stop announcements and PA to be cutting out. i can get the car # if it’s relevant.

    how about some stranger/weekly/seattle times/pi vending boxes in stations?

    more trash cans.

    how about a unified system map on the trains? not just the link routes but connections, etc?

    obviously, though, i’m quite happy to have link. all things considered, it’s beyond awesome. overall, i’d give the initial launch an A-/B+ which is not bad for transit in this region. we just need to keep pushing that this is a transit system used by *people* and people sometimes have better suggestions than transit planners, politicians, bean counters and engineers (e.g. concessions in stations).

    1. I hung a bike and watched – it didn’t move. That whole thing with the Stranger was just because Mike O’Brien rides a really big, heavy bike. If the train hadn’t been packed to the gills, it wouldn’t have been an issue at all.

      1. i was on a train with a regular bike and it was swinging in all directions. it really is quite odd – i actually went over and looked and just didn’t make any sense why they set it up that way. i think the problem is the racks don’t do well with smaller bikes rather than larger bikes – the bike i saw swinging every which way on my train was a smaller mountain bike as opposed to a larger road bike.

      2. I’m guessing the variation isn’t the *size* of the bike but frame geometry and weight distribution. When hung by the hook, does the bike hang with the lower wheel hanging out away from the wall, or does gravity hold the lower wheel against the wall?

        It looks to me like they could eliminate most of the swinging issue by putting a waist-high shim on the wall, so the bottom wheel is pushed out 4-6″ more than the upper wheel. That would give some gravitational preload so the bike isn’t hanging free by the front wheel alone, and should eliminate almost all the swinging.

    2. “how about some stranger/weekly/seattle times/pi vending boxes in stations?”

      Good luck getting those P-I vending boxes. ;)

      But, yeah, I agree.

    1. YES! The lights next to the door flash but it is nice to know when you are walking up that you have a few more seconds.

      1. I agree! I was slowly walking towards a train at Tukwila today, and then the doors started closing. I walked up to it, and pressed the door button. Even thought it didn’t leave for another 40 sec or so, the doors wouldn’t open. If they’d had a little more advance warning, I could’ve run the last 10 steps.

  4. 1) Large detailed maps (painted on steel and coated with urethane) of the neighborhoods for about an 8 block by 8 block square around each station. Two per platform at each station, plus a couple underneath elevated stations and on tunnel mezzanines.
    2) Station agents/managers in attractive, identifiable, friendly attire that are roving ambassadors or concierges for each station and neighborhood (with radios to contact security/911 as appropriate).

    1. 1) I’m pretty sure they have that. Bacon Hill certainly has a little neighborhood map.

    2. 1) Orphan Road called the maps pathetic. I agree, they are not detailed enough and should have more info about the surrounding community. Also, include info on where those surface buses go, not just route numbers.
      2) Sounder has that and I hope they consider it for Link.

    3. I’ll second that. DC does an excellent job of this. Shows all station exits, 1/4, 1/2, and 3/4 mile radii around the station, streets, parks, and other major points of interest. I thought I might’ve seen one, but not ubiquitous as I’d like.

    4. I don’t think we need the maps, all you need to do is look at the pictogram and it’ll tell you where all the interesting things are!

  5. there needs to be something to hold on to in the center of the train right by the doors. in this picture, there needs to be some sort of handle where the vent is directly past the camera. maybe a bar that’s mounted diagonally across that gap and has handles hanging down from it or something. the train i was on yesterday afternoon was packed to the gills and all the people crowd around one of the corners, leaving space in the dead center because there is nowhere to hold on. it’s hard to explain this without being in a train, so if someone needs clarification i’ll try.

  6. Anti-glare on the windows. I rode facing the back of the car, and the glare caused such a bad reflection that I was almost sick to my stomach.

    Youth fares to mirror that of buses, especially since they rely on public transit.

    Hadn’t thought of this until today, but since the train is diverting U.W. traffic off of the 48 and into downtown, there needs to be increased trips (70 series) to and from the U.W. during peak hours. (I wonder what other sorts of transit bi-products there are in addition to this.)

    1. The 70 series has been at capacity during peak hours for a long time now. Unfortunately it’s also unreliable since the non-express-lane direction has to go via surface streets. University Link will be really great when it’s finally done.

    2. I second the idea on the youth fares. It would suck to be a kid who thinks, “Hey, my PugetPass works here,” and then get a fine because the pass’s value is only $0.75.

  7. I’d like the female recorded voice announcing the next stops to also list 2 or 3 major points of interest for each stop. Example: “Next stop, stadium station. Qwest field. Qwest Exhibition center. Safeco field.” Also put the major points of interest on the route maps above the doors.

    1. I think the route maps are going to get more packed with U-Link, they probably don’t want to set a precedent.

      I think the stop announcement idea is good, definitely.

    2. Why did you identify the voice as female? There isn’t a male voice from which to differentiate it.

  8. Also, remove the pull-down shades from the operator’s doors. Operators should not feel like they can talk on cell phones or text without being seen.

    1. Operators should have privacy from knowing people are staring down at them.

      1. That’s your point of view. It’s a public job. There should be nothing to hide. Monorail operators seem to perform their job just fine without being hidden from public view. And if it will prevent just one crash related to operator texting/cell phone use, it’s worth it.

      2. After all, Text/Cell Phone related accidents are endemic. Everyday, thousands of Americans are killed by transit operators who are both texting AND talking on their cell phones. It’s amazing anyone gets on a public conveyance these days.

      3. Wow, you ST cheerleaders and rail fetishists really don’t like when people in the comment section stray from groupthink, do ya?

      4. DC rail operator caught texting. If this morons will do this without a window shade, how much more often will they do it with one?

      5. DC Metrorail is automated. All the operators do is open and close the doors and grab the emergency brake when the computer screws up.

      6. They’re professionals, they don’t need to be lorded over by the public to do their job in a safe and responsible manner.

      7. i’m less worried about the operator not doing his or her job than a bunch of morons in the train car distracting the operator from doing his or her job. the shades are fine and they exist pretty much everywhere i’ve ever been.

      8. “After all, Text/Cell Phone related accidents are endemic. Everyday, thousands of Americans are killed by [AUTOMOBILE] operators who are both texting AND talking on their cell phones. It’s amazing anyone gets [IN AN AUTOMOBILE] these days.”

    2. Yeah, I need to be able to see if the operator gets my text. Maybe we can remove the doors on the bathroom stalls at City Hall, also.

      1. There are very few instances in which doing that would save dozens of people.

    3. It seems to me that everyone’s just hating on this idea because they don’t like Sam. It is actually extremely important that operators don’t text while driving. Sacrificing privacy during work for a public employee in order to prevent deaths seems like an obvious decision. “paranoia will destroy ya” sarcastically says that thousands of people die from transit-related deaths each year. Of course that’s not true, but just because it’s not on the same scale as private vehicles doesn’t mean it’s okay to let people die or be seriously injured. In fact, that comment was quite insensitive, minimizing the deaths of dozens of people in the past year just to make a point. Taking the pull-down shades down will make the drivers much less likely to text, and it will hardly even take away their privacy seeing as they were used to riders seeing what they are doing when they worked for Metro.

      1. The drivers are on camera and being recorded 24/7. You don’t need to be watching them because Big Brother is.

      2. “Big Brother” can’t always be watching, so it’s always good to add another layer of protection.

  9. Overall, I was impressed with our new Link.

    2 Suggestions:

    Space for luggage – For sure the connection to SeaTac is a good idea. It would be more likely to succeed with cars planned to accommodate the luggage of tourists, families, etc.

    More rain cover – It is odd that so little of the out-of-door station roof structures are roofed over.

    1. On the first one, I do agree, but let’s see what loads are like first. Racks up above would be good.

      On rain cover – the covers are where the trains actually stop. I think they’re fine for now. They’ll probably be extended at stations with more passengers when we run four car trains.

    2. The Red Line (airport) MAX in Portland doesn’t have racks, and everyone seems to get by fine. I fly or train it down there every month, and at least from my observations, even people with “big” luggage have enough space. I don’t know if I would want to be separated from my stuff anyway.

      1. If Oran made some more of those, we could just print ’em out and tape them to the info boards at the stations!

  10. How about some communications in other than English. Considering the population of Beacon Hill and Rainier Valley, some non-English signage would be helpful, especially at the TVMs.

    1. The TVMs do have an option for selecting a Spanish or Chinese language interface. Now all they need are options for Vietnamese, Laos, Cambodian, Korean, and all those African languages.

      For consistency, they should put the station pictograms on the TVM station selection screen. The point of the pictograms was to assist non-English speakers in identifying stations.

      1. Yes! Dorsol and I were shocked not to see a single line anywhere inside the trains that was in a language other than English. I mean, come on, the trains aren’t running through Laurelhurst!

        Couldn’t the ID/Chinatown station be marked with some Chinese characters, for example?

        How about a mention somewhere of a phone number to call for an operator who speaks other languages? Or where to procure rider information in other languages?

      2. Really, that’s sort of a black eye for City of Seattle on a route that goes from SEA “International” airport through the ID to downtown. I hope they remedy that before the extension to the airport opens.

      3. Sadly, I think most North American rail systems are like this. In Toronto they have signs boasting that they can talk to you in 70 languages (!), but I don’t recall ever seeing anything else that wasn’t in English. One of the MANY things I love about Paris’ 14 line is that the automated announcements on the trains are trilingual, at least some of the time.

      4. It’s kind of hit or miss in Europe, though. Most systems are fairly uni-language (at least for the announcements), but it’s not too difficult to get the gist of things after a stop or two. I don’t speak Swedish, but after a few stations in the Tunnelbana, I understood that “nasta stopp” translates to “next stop.” Though, different character sets can be difficult.

        However, the TVMs definitely need multiple languages installed. Traveling abroad is made much simpler when the more complicated transactions can be provided in your own language.

      5. For sure. It makes perfect sense that the first question on ATMs anywhere is what language you want.

        And likewise, you’ll never find English on Montreal’s subway, but anyone can tell “prochaine station” means next station.

  11. Better individual Link station information on the SoundTransit website, including:
    1) A map showing the exact location of station entrances. The linked Google maps for each station do not provide this information. The DSTT map does provide this information, but only for the downtown stations.
    2) Better information regarding other transit available at each station. The webpage for the ID/Chinatown Station does not mention neighboring King Street Station, Amtrak trains or even SoundTransit’s own Sounder commuter trains. Similarly, the Pioneer Square Station doesn’t mention the Washington State Ferry terminal at Coleman Dock.
    These are simple improvements that can greatly improve the ease of use of the new system.

  12. I agree that they should put in a large system map. I saw a perfect place for that on the walls protecting each articulation from view. I also think there needs to be a large sign in the bike area that shows how to put the bike up and makes it clear that the hook is for bikes, not for holding on to.
    Finally, they should lower youth fares. Metro costs 75c for me anywhere, so that’s the pass I have. Every time I ride Link, I will have to pay 50c-$1 out of my E-purse. However, an adult with a peak pass will pay nothing extra unless they have a one-zone peak pass but want to go to Tukwila (which they would pay extra for anyways) or they have an off-peak pass. Youth rely on transit a huge amount, as most of us don’t have cars or are 16 but don’t have enough money to drive a car. Youth other than me (cause I’m a nerd) are going to take the bus because it costs to much to take the train. I’m guessing, therefore, that if fares are lowered for youth it will not only be fairer, but it will raise ST’s revenue because more youth will ride the train.

  13. Heres a few things that I would like to see some improvements….of course the time of when the next train comes, which is being worked on.

    Repair the train hunting issue near SR 599 area which can be annoying at times.

    TVM should have some common languages like we have a fairly large amount of Asians, so I’m sure some of them speak Chinese or Japanese.

    Remove uneccessary bus routes that run the same route as the light rail, but keep some/create new routes that spider out and in the station to neighborhoods. We REALLY need a direct bus route from Tukwila station to Southcenter, not go from 174 then transfer to 140 to Southcenter.

    1. They are going to reroute the 140 so that it goes to Southcenter by next February, at least from what I read. The service changes in regard to Link are going to happen in September, and I believe I read on the Metro site that they decided to do it that way because people are used to the service changes being three times a year, and it’s going to be a relatively big one. You can take a look at the changes that there are going to be as far as reducing/eliminating busses that duplicate service with Link.

      As far as other things I want:

      More detailed maps of the neighbourhood that show popular attractions, parks, and maybe some good restaurants. That’s a little nitpicky thing for me, though, because Link is getting me to areas of Seattle that I have never been to before (I’m up in Shoreline, so I typically stay north of Lake Union/Elliott Bay or stick to downtown), but I don’t know a whole lot about them and it will show people like myself, as well as tourists who may want to get a look at the land outside the stations, the places that are the best to go.

      Vendors, vendors, vendors. I can kind of understand why there are no washrooms at the stations (except the port-o-loos) but there should be SOMETHING. Also concessions. Make the stations feel like, well, stations, and not stops. I’ve seen the space for them, and while it isn’t as necessary now it should be something that goes in when time/money allows.

      Space, especially for luggage. I took Link to and from Tukwila today, and the amount of traffic from SeaTac was crazy, and they all had their luggage. When Airport Station opens, it will only get crazier.

      A question: is Beacon Hill station currently using AC, or is it just the cold from the depth? If it is the latter, they may want to look into some form of heating, if possible, because I was down there today and freezing.

      When the service changes happen, and this is more for the convenience of others, I’d like them to have more detailed station maps. I know in the CT BusPlus books, they do a good job of showing the major transit centers and what busses are on what bays, and where exactly they go. It will help clear up a lot of confusion for people, in my eyes.

      1. I meant to add that the service changes are going to take place in two installments: September, and February. The busses that are going to be going through Tukwila Station are going to be changed to that in February, for the most part, because a lot of them serve SeaTac, and in the case of the 140, it’s not going to serve SeaTac, or at least in the same capacity. They want to have Airport Station up and running before making most of those service changes.

      2. You’re in Shoreline? I’m in Shoreline, too. I wish the light rail goes here, but that’s way in the future…by 2023, if they promised.

  14. I’d really like either daily price-capping on ORCA cards (similar to what TfL does for Oyster cards) or the sale of weekday day passes.

    1. I agree. It seems like every city I’ve visited had some sort of transit pass for tourists. It seems like a no-brainer with Link servicing the airport.

      1. I’ve been asking Metro for weekly passes for years. I can’t fathom why we don’t have 1, 3, or 7 day passes like most cities. Chicago, Toronto, Montreal… Not to mention the innumerable rules on the bus here no tourist could be expected to remember. (When the bus tunnel is open, where tunnel buses go when it’s closed, when peak hours are, when to pay, what the zones are, where to get on and off…you couldn’t make it much harder if you tried. Seriously, I wrote a little comedy bit on it.)

      2. I agree. As a newcomer I find the regional multi-region fare structure baffling. Since I’m a transit fan, I’m fine just buying an ORCA card and paying whatever it says, but for most newcomers I imagine the whole thing seems impossibly opaque. Ease of use is paramount, and here there seems to be much room for improvement. That’s a shame, because your service levels here seem to be pretty comprehensive…so much so that I can’t imagine your farebox recovery is anywhere near decent! =)

        Jon, these two pages about inter-agency transfers read like a black comedy straight out of 1984…did you write those too? =P


      3. LOL no, but I did used to get a kick out of the fine print on the back of the old paper transfers in DC.

        “A transfer is not transferable”

        This is one reason why I think Metro and ST will eventually have to merge. The zones and fare structures are too complicated.

      4. Maybe in 2030. We need rail to be the primary focus before we do any merging, or the buses will suck up all our cash.

      5. But how are we even going to fund the bus network when Metro’s fare recovery ratio falls from losing routes to ST which gets a (predicted) 55%? The only solution anyone seems able to come up with is perpetually raising bus fares, which will just put the bus network in a death spiral. ST already builds things Metro, CT, PT, and Amtrak operate. Agencies all over the place run bus systems while building rail. I realize it’s many years off, but I don’t see why we should wait until 2030.

      6. I volunteer at the downtown public library information desk — I spend much time listening to confused tourists who think that the University of Washington must be near the University Street station. I then explain to them the reason for the street is named thus. Many are also asking about single or multiple-day visitor bus passes. As far as I know, single day passes are only sold on weekends and holidays now, not during the week.

      7. this is a big issue to me. If daily fares were capped at say $6 automatically I bet more people would use the bus for evening trips, and then tourists could just buy a regular ORCA card and no need for anything special.

      8. This would be helpful. It would also allow for a bus commuter to use the bus for a short trip without paying another $3.50, say for a short round-trip lunch. It would be nice to see an “occasional use” pass where I could pay half the fee for a pass, and get 12 days maximum unlimited bus rides. This would work for bike commuters when for whatever reason they can not use their bike (rain, late night, bringing doughnuts to the meeting). But it would mean unlimited rides for the whole day when the pass is triggered. Then, extra days could be at $6 or something. It would be easy to implement with the ORCA system.

  15. Here is my teeny tiny little request. Put small signs along the escalators that say, “Walk Left / Stand Right.”

    It’s common courtesy, and it needs to be taught. Some metro systems have this already, but when people don’t follow the locals roll their eyes and often push past. I saw it often in DC when I was there last month.

    Teaching that lesson helps keep things moving when someone needs to rush and catch a connecting bus or a train that’s about to leave.

    WALK LEFT / STAND RIGHT. It isn’t so hard.

      1. That is the single biggest sore spot in DC. For years WMATA refused to enforce such a rule and gave contradictory answers as to whether one existed (and laughable ones for why it didn’t or shouldn’t). In 2002 I ran a joking write-in campaign for shadow senator on the single issue that I’d enforce the Stand right/walk left rule.

    1. They already do this on the freeways, everybody still lollygags in the left lane instead of keeping right when they aren’t passing.

  16. How about signage at Tukwila telling you which track the next train leaves from? It seems like they’re alternating, and if you choose wrong, you could be waiting an extra 15 minutes.

    1. That would be nice while Tukwila is the temporary terminal. When Airport Link opens it won’t be necessary, the SeaTac/Airport station has a center platform.

  17. – put a few hanging straps on the bars that have purposely have no straps.
    – better signage/wayfaring at some of the stations (it should be very clear from aways away which platform I’ll need to climb up to go a certain direction, etc.)
    – on the LED signs inside the train, displaying a non-scrolling “Next: _______ station” message instead of the current slow scrolling message.
    – lights on the route maps above the doors showing which stop we’re at (solid when arriving or stopped there, blinking when between stations indicating the next one).
    – ok, this isn’t a small thing, but at the corner of 5th and pine I’d like a big painted dot on the sidewalk. There would then be painted lines on the sidewalk extending to a) the first street car stop, b) the monorail (a short line) and c) a bus tunnel entrance. I could then tell a tourist something like “The street car? Just follow that blue line.”

    1. I wonder why they went with the fabric straps instead of the rubber ones found on the latest Metro buses.

      Scrolling is useful for long messages but they should try to use more concise language and reduce scrolling as much as possible. If it’s enough to fit on one screen, flash like the bus destination signs instead of scroll.

      Eliminate redundant ‘station’ after everything. We know that a train has to stop at a station. “The next stop is Pioneer Square Station” should be “The next station is Pioneer Square”. MAX does this, SkyTrain does this, who in the world came up with ours? Also, ‘next stop’ sounds too bus like.

      The brand new SkyTrain cars have the lighted maps. Why didn’t we get those? However, they’ll need to be replaced when extensions open.

      Great idea about the painted lines! The concept of the Westlake Transit Hub needs to be more clear. Same goes for IDS to Sounder. And Pioneer Square to the Ferries. Wayfinding is more than just signs. It’ll be fun for the kids, too.

      1. Denver’s announcements are also annoying in that way. The termini of the C/E lines is announced “Next stop is ‘The Union Station.” And it’s voiced like ‘The UNION Station’, instead of the simple intuitive ‘Union STATION’. For some reason it bugs the hell out of me.

      2. How about “Next: Pioneer Square.” We also know that next implies a stop, rather than some kind of view or attraction along the way.

      3. And why does the current linear map on the cars above the doors show the ferry transfer point to be University Street instead of Pioneer Square?

    2. 4) is being done on Toronto’s new cars. I love that idea, though it seems like a bit of a luxury. http://www3.ttc.ca/About_the_TTC/Projects_and_initiatives/New_Subway_Train/Overview_and_key_features.jsp

      5) There’s a significant wayfinding mess there. The streetcar is a block away instead of stopping at Pine. It’s called Pacific Place on the SLUT which is 2 blocks away, and Westlake for the tunnel. The monorail you can at least see from 5th, but the station could point you to the monorail and streetcar, and say Seattle Center and South Lake Union. The 5th Ave. exit from the station really puts you closer to 6th, unless you go through Coldwater Creek, which isn’t marked at all.

      1. There needs to be, at minimum, better signage from Westlake Station up to the monorail; and, ideally, a better connection straight upstairs through Westlake Center.

        Couldn’t we have an elevator go from the Tunnel all the way up through the mall or the hotel to access the monorail platform?

        Then if we can just pressure the Monorail to get into ORCA, we’d have a seamless transfer to access Seattle Center from Link.

      2. No disagreements with you for priority, Jon… but couldn’t we do BOTH at the same time? Separate negotiations. And we’re only talking an additional 2-4 ORCA units needed.

      3. I don’t know where the SLUT gets around not being on the regional transit system. It’s completely useless without transfers.

      4. you can still transfer onto it. If you have an ORCA just show it, and if you just have e-purse you’ll get on for free.

      5. WOW, that really sucks, I just assumed the monorail would be on ORCA. Very sad.

      6. Well Washington State Ferries and Kitsap Transit aren’t part of the Puget Pass/Transit Network either but they take ORCA cards. You have to have an e-purse or an agency pass to ride those systems. No transfers or Puget Pass accepted.

        The Monorail could be added with e-purse only payment.

        I’d love to see Intercity Transit get on ORCA too. They already accept Pierce and Sound Transit transfers as well as Puget Pass (though I don’t think they are actually part of Puget Pass).

  18. Make it more clear at the station how and when you’re expected to pay. I am literate in English and have been following Link progress, but it’s really unclear when to scan my Orca card and all too easy to not pay at all. In Barcelona, even though I couldn’t read the instructions, it was obvious to put my money *here* and insert my ticket *there*. Link isn’t clear. Why are there no turnstiles?

    Completely agree about the need for larger-scale maps.

    Also agree about amenities–coffee, hot dogs, etc. What is the long-term plan?

    And WALK LEFT/STAND RIGHT should be on every escalator everywhere.

    Are there luggage rack plans in the works? As is, there isn’t room for even large backpacks.

    All this said–I love our new system. I just can’t believe it’s here–and it’s expanding. It’s not a gimmick! Yay!

    1. Turnstiles aren’t cost effective – they cost more to operate than they prevent in fare evasion. Many modern systems aren’t using them.

      I think luggage racks are a bad idea at this point. Remember that when University Link opens, these will be the same trains end to end. We don’t want luggage racks blocking commuter space.

  19. Did the train shimmy anymore than other systems? I have ridden a fairly broad spectrum of rail transit, and the ride to/from Tukwila didn’t seem any different from anywhere else I’ve been.

    My only complaint from yesterday was that when the train was stalled between the Stadium and ID station for several minutes, there wasn’t an announcement. It probably wasn’t more than 3 or 4 minutes, but my frustration level drops to nearly zero when somebody explains what’s going on.

    Oh, and super kudos to the basically no stop ride through MLK (except for the stations). I hope that the train priority keeps working in such a way that it almost seems grade separated.

    1. hear hear on the signal priority. that seemed to go well. except for the one time in SODO on the inaugural ride back south when the train skidded to a stop for two very cracked out individuals to wander across the tracks. sadly, i suspect we will see the first real ped vs light rail incident in that area – i hate to say it but there were an awful lot of very unaware zombies roaming around not very aware of the train activity there for whom no number of signs/bells/etc would really make much of a difference for.

      1. Isn’t road/pedestrian bridge work supposed to eliminate most of the grade crossings in SODO eventually (i.e. before East Link opens)?

  20. In DC they show you the next 3 trains coming. That shouldn’t be a big deal.

    The seats seemed a little small, and not generously padded. I’d like to see that improved in the next round of trainsets.

    i’ve already emailed ST asking for cell access underground. DC does it, and I’m sure other cities too.

    1. Jon, the ‘next train’ stuff is coming.

      I’m going to testify at the next board meeting in favor of wifi.

  21. I actually don’t think they should add wifi to the trains. Wireless tech is moving so fast these days, I feel like it would be an out-dated system by the time they got it installed, especially in light of a lot of new mobile data networks.

    1. I don’t see anything replacing WiFi, not for the foreseeable future anyway. Not all of us can or want to pay $40 a month to a phone company, and there really isn’t anything coming anytime soon that can be as widely installed as WiFi (pretty much EVERY laptop sold today has it). And it’s proven to be a fairly enduring technology, having lasted almost 10 years already with only backward-compatible upgrades.

    2. Tunnels! If they don’t figure this out then you won’t magically get a signal from westlake to the udistrict just because your cell phone operator makes you buy a new phone. the amount of earth in the way will always mean the transit operator needs to do something special.

    3. Nah, nothing’s going to change for a while. If we install N, we’ll be good.

      1. Install and MAINTAIN.

        Maintenance seems to be an issue for Sound Transit WiFi. On my Sounder run in the evening, 1511, only one coach usually has working WiFi, the others have been off-line for months.

        (If they’re having a system issue that’s going to keep particular cars off-line for more than a few days, could they at least have someone take a red grease pencil and put a slash through the WiFi symbols on the outside of the car, so passengers can tell which cars don’t really have WiFi?)

  22. Coffee stands. This is, after all, Seattle, and we do love our coffee. (Newsstands and food carts would be icing on the cake.)

    1. And beer machines. Not generic cans, though, good microbrews from taps. (Alas, I hear even the Asahi machines are gone in Japan.)

      MAX has vendors at some stations, but hours are limited. I also noticed pay priority parking at the Sunset Transit Park and Ride, too.

      1. In Switzerland they have these robotic vending machines that are about the size of a van that you can buy just about anything from (including cat litter!) they are amazing.

        There used to be a coffee/snack cart at the Convention Place Station before they closed the tunnel for renovation, it was always good for a last minute snack. It didn’t come back when the tunnel re-opened, I wonder what happened to it.

      2. It’d be a little hypocritical, selling beer at stations then banning it on the train.

    2. In Munich I loved that you could buy baked goods in some of the stations. Those big Oktoberfest heart-shaped cookies, too.

      Anyway, yes, coffee, ice cream, hot dogs, sandwiches, etc. would be good.

      1. And has real revenue potential if ST is renting out the space! They should definitely build retail space into the stations and lease it out. Not too much but some.

    3. They could probably install some vending machines in the stations that won’t get a lot of traffic for awhile.

  23. have you ever driven rainier past mlk and rainier? you don’t want to give franklin sutdents any more reason to cross the street. jaywalking by packs of youths is the norm here – especially during morning rush hour. i’m not sure it will get any better with the crosswalk reconfigurations planned.

    they don’t want to get to a quiet bench (that already could be added along the east side of rainier for whatever that cute boulevard that joins rainier is) they want to get to the mini-mart for those crazy reason that teens want to get off-campus.

    if you add street food (which i’m in favor of) the illegal crossings by youths will probably get worse. the most obvious problem at the mount baker stop, is why doesn’t the pedestrian bridge over rainier and mlk not connect with the link station? this is a bigger concern for me than providing amenities for the high school students.

    1. i think the mt baker stop has some of the most potential out of any of the link stops to become a really classic transit station. somehow, i think everything will work out just fine there – it reminds me of a few stops off of the orange line in boston where the pedestrian / car/ transit uses of the area don’t exactly match what is “supposed” to be the case, but it all somehow ends up working in the end. so long as there is some good street food, condensed transit connections, etc. that space actually really has a shot at being pretty awesome imho.

      1. On inaugural day, there was an accordion player in the bottom part of MBS, and the way the sound reveberated, I thought, This sounds like a train station!

    2. The pedestrian bridge does connect – to the mezzanine, where you can buy tickets, etc. Which platform would you connect it to topside?

      There is a new crosswalk going in between Starbucks and the Link station. And crazy reasons to get off campus? Like lunch? Seattle Public Schools’ elimination of lunch cooked on-site at middle and high schools will do more than anything else to increase student demand for off-campus food.

      1. Mt Baker Station doesn’t have a mezzanine, just the Plaza level and Platform level. TVM are on the plaza underneath the platforms.

  24. In agreement with Brian’s latest post, they must make the Link Connector buses more conspicuous. How hard is it to do a bus wrap? They did it for the Waterfront Streetcar Line bus. Make it look like a Link train and put on an ad that says direct train service from Sea-Tac begins in December 2009.

    1. I overheard the operator on my Link connector bus today saying something about putting on a bus wrap. It seemed like the connector service was put together pretty quickly.

      1. Yeah, and better signage perhap?

        I had a colleague fly in from Alaska yesterday morning and she couldn’t figure out where to get the Connector Bus. (I haven’t been down there myself. Does anyone know?)

        She just took the 194 in because she knew it was still running until September, but she’d like to know where it drops off on the way back…

      2. I’m pretty sure it picks up at the same bus bays as the Metro service, at the south end of the terminal.

  25. Speaking of the Waterfront Streetcar bus… did you know it has a trolley bell on it now… at least I heard it for the first time today

    1. Oh man, that just hurts. Maybe they do intend to bustitute the line until the W2 cars rot to pieces.

  26. I’ve started to look inside our pretty light rail cars, and I think that advertisements could go where they are usually placed on Metro buses (at the top curvy part). I think that this would add some type of extra revenue to light rail. Or that space could be used as part of the STart program, for local artists (kids, amateurs, and professionals alike) to show what they have and to make light rail seem more connected to the community.

    As for the fare system, I really think that there should be officers waiting outside the stations to check for tickets. Anyone could just walk right on and the ST police won’t even check to see if they have tickets. It might be just me, but I don’t like when things get taken advantage of. The officers are super nice though, they talk to people and everything!

    I want some way to communicate with the operators as well. I want to be able to say “thank you” or “good job” to them to show our wonderful operators how much we appreciate them!

    I, like everyone else here, agree that there should be news stands, local coffee stands, etc. The rent money could be used to finance ST somewhat and provide people with stuff to do while they wait, even if cars come frequently!

    When I got off at the Stadium Station today, the red lights flashed and the bar came down. The car didn’t move yet, so I was somewhat confused. Maybe a horn or something to warn pedestrians at intersections?

    1. Winson,
      As one of the operators (drivers) of Link, thank you for you kind comments, and you’re welcome. There ar many of us read the Seattle Transit Blog daily and and understand your comments and agree with many of them. I try to personnly limit bell ringing as much as I can in the DSTT according to our rules and training, but if someone gets to close to the yellow stripe, the bells will be rung, and I have even honked the horn when people have gotten too close.

      1. As a passenger, the whole point of having a wide safety stripe is that you’re safe outside that stripe — if I’m “too close to the stripe,” that really means the stripe is “too narrow.”

        Rather than training operators to ring bells and honk horns at people who are obeying the existing striping, maybe they should widen the stripe?

      2. Sorry, let me try again. If someone in ON the stripe I will ring the bell and honk the horn.

      3. Many people don’t realize that they need to keep EVERYTHING away from the yellow stripe. They will stand with their feet against the stripe, not realizing that their purse or backpack or beer gut are several inches ahead or behind them, putting them too close to the train. The yellow stripes are wide enough, if you are paying attention.

  27. I’d like to see station list signs that inform you of your relative location and direction of travel for helping choose which platform to go to. A picture says a thousand words so I found this, hopefully someone can find a better example. http://bit.ly/13bGed

    I think this would be incredibly useful at places like where you come out of the Beacon Hill elevators and before you walk up the stairs at Mt. Baker.

    1. Agreed — also, bigger, clearer signs on the underground platforms that make it very, very clear which direction your train is going. There are some signs in Beacon Hill but they are small and hard to see from a distance. A big sign on the wall across the track, with a nice big arrow (This train goes to Westlake/Downtown) would be good.

      Last night I followed the signs in Westlake station to get back to Beacon Hill, and when I got down to the platform I was not sure I had gone down the right steps, and I looked around for a sign confirming that I was in the right place, and didn’t see one. I verified I was on the right platform by looking at the signs on the front of the buses that were coming through, and the numbers on the bus stop signs. But that won’t work very well for non-locals.

  28. “Realtime arrival information.” Ben, you say this is on the way already. What’s your source on this? Everyone I’ve talked to at Sound Transit (mostly random ST folks on opening weekend) has said it’s either not possible or that the readerboards are owned by Metro or gave some other excuse, but everyone said this was not coming. Some of them had the audacity to add that because the frequency of the headways, it doesn’t matter. (Obviously it makes a big difference if I’m waiting 13 minutes or 2 minutes for the next train!)

    To me this is the biggest single oversight in the new system. I’m glad you think it’s coming, but do you know when?

  29. This is more from the City of Seattle than ST, but many cities use their street name signs to point folks to the nearest station. This would help not only tourists, but those new to Seattle or transit. The cost should be nominal; mainly the labor of making and installing them. I’d love to amble around downtown and come across, “ST Pioneer Square 3 blocks –>”

    1. Agreed, although I have seen a few of these types of signs popping up around downtown that point to other destinations also (Denny Triangle, etc.). They have red poles.

      I do also wish there were clearer/bigger/obvious/blatantly conspicuous signs outside the tunnel station entrances. Those weird color “T” signs tell me nothing if I don’t already know what I’m looking for. For example, the only way I was able to find most of the University Street station entrances was by exiting each one and noting where I popped out.

      1. Amen to that. Also, the transfer experience from SLUT (or any of the 5th Ave buses) to the Westlake station is terrible. There is a very slow elevator to the tunnel on 5th Avenue, but the stairs next to it (labeled MONORAIL ENTRANCE) lead to locked doors, as apparently that is only intended as an exit. Getting to the tunnel requires a long walk through the mall or to the street entrances on Pine.

      2. Totally agree. Station entrances need to be much more conspicuous. Pylons, flashing neon lights, whatever…

        What we DON’T need downtown are those OBNOXIOUS buzzers outside parking garages that warn pedestrians, “Caution! Vehicle approaching”. I don’t think I’ve seen those anywhere else. And it should be the reverse anywhere; signs to cars saying, “CAUTION! Yield to pedestrians”. But I’m venting off topic now.

  30. Eating on the train and bus is against the rules, so I hope food is never sold at the stations, as people might think it was okay to consume it on the train. And it’s not.


    Or, if food must be sold, the stands should also sell cigarettes, cigars, pipes and tobacco, fortified wine and malt liquor, and explosive and corrosive materials.

    Only once in my 28 years of riding Metro have I seen a bus driver yell at a passenger for eating on the bus, and make the passenger stop, and that driver is my hero. Forget about the arrays of greasy crumbs and smears of condiments one sees on the seats on a regular basis, and the wrappers and food detritus on the floors and wedged in between the seats and the sidewalls — if I am sprayed once more with random fruit juice, vinaigrette, mayonnaise, or potato chip shrapnel there is going to be an incident.

    1. Yeah, one of the best parts about the DC system is how it’s usually pretty clean. Banning food on the train prevents people from leaving their wrappers on your seat, and also keeps garbage off the rails. In New York, which does allow food on the trains, litter on the rails attracts rats and sometimes catches on fire – it’s all smoke, but it’s enough to shut down service while staff investigates.

    2. I noticed going down into Pioneer Square last night that signs ask you to cover any drinks. I think at a minimum water should be allowed.

      1. People are going to drink water whether or not it’s allowed, and the ADA means that water *has* to be allowed for some people (it’s often medically necessary).

        So, yeah, allow water.

  31. They should definitely speed up the trains along the elevated track, beacon hill tunnel, and sodo area. It is sad that I can drive to Downtown faster than the train. Increasing the top speed in the trains would be simple. They can switch out the motors with faster ones or change to the gear ratio to accellerate slower but have a higher top speed.

    1. Not possible due to safety reasons. It can go up to 65 mph which its design speed but has a operating speed of 57 mph on the elevated tracks on way to Tukwila station.

  32. Not really a Link request, but Metro and ST drivers should announce Link stations. This would be especially helpful at locations like Mt. Baker where the best spot to get off the bus to get to the station isn’t obvious.

    Also there needs to be better wayfinding from the Mt. Baker stations to the surrounding bus stops. I know there is a map, but you have to go find it.

    Longer term I hope there are plans to move the stops to the plaza in front of the station and put in a crosswalk. Also I hope they put in fancy bus shelters like they have near the MLK stations here and at Beacon Hill. Perhaps they are there, but I simply didn’t notice them.

    1. Metro drivers have consistently struck me as totally oblivious to Link. Which is consistent with my overall impressions of Metro’s approach toward it and ST.

  33. I hope they change their minds and either build a moving side walk or an outdoor elevated people mover that will connect directly to the link airport station. I test walk it the other day(70% of it) with lugage and trust me its very stressful. First you gotta go down stairs to baggage claim then back upstairs and walk all the way to the north end of the airport(depending on the airliner). However, after that you have to go through the parking garage and then walk over the new pedestrian bridge and finally after 10-15mins of walking you arrived. I guarantee you this will not go over very well with the public when this line opens if nothing changes.

  34. Why does the train stop running at 12:30am? This is a big disappointment for those of us in the service industry downtown who work late hours. It would also greatly reduce the amount of drunk drivers on the road if there was some kindof “last call” train at say 2:30am. I think it should run 24 hours personally just like almost every other train system in the world. Seattle, you’re a big city now, start acting like one!

    1. I agree with much of your point, but …it should run 24 hours personally just like almost every other train system in the world isn’t really true. That is in fact very rare.

      1. 24-hour systems require four-track right-of-ways with current inspection practices.

        The track has to be closed down nightly for inspection and maintenance, for 1-2 hours — this is standard practice in urban rail systems for some reason. (Perhaps it’s overkill; mainline tracks are inspected less often.) If you have four tracks, you can close down *half* of it for 1-2 hours.

        12:30 is awfully early; most systems shut between 2 and 4 AM or so. But I suppose the demand is really low by 12:30 (in NYC, the demand is still going strong, of course) and running empty trains is expensive.

      2. Thanks. I didn’t know about the maintenance and my statement on 24 hour trains was I’m based on my experience from living in Dusseldorf, Germany for three years and enjoying the late night transit. Here’s an option, have a train that leaves hourly: one at 1:30am and one that leaves at 2:30am. I know a lot of bartenders, servers, dishwashers, cooks, and folks that like to go out downtown would really appreciate that. I live in Boulevard Park and I know the 1:30am bus is always packed on the weekends. Maybe just do it on the weekends? I work as a server downtown and talking to my fellow co-workers, this is a pretty big concern with everyone in the night-time service industry.

      3. Another problem I experienced yesterday was huge lines at the ticket machines in the Tukwila Park and Ride. I think they need at least 4 machines in that terminal with all the commuter and airport traffic going through there. I mean, if there are huge lines already in the first week, how’s it going to be when ridership really picks up?

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