Kitty eats an orange, by beatnikside
"Kitty eats an orange", by beatnikside

14 Replies to “News Roundup: Link Reactions Everywhere”

  1. Thanks for rounding up the links. Still can’t believe some of the shit I’m reading. Nicole Brodeur: Brass knuckles for the valley? Really?

    1. Yeah… are those even legal? Be very careful if you ride Link – Nicole Brodeur might jump you!

  2. I posted this as a note on Facebook:

    After work tonight I went to City Hall for the Council’s comment taking on the Pedestrian Master Plan. It ended before I got there, so I decided to take a joy ride on Link instead.

    I got to the Pioneer Square platform at 5:58. A southbound train came at 5:59. It was hot outside, and I was sweating moderately. But the train was nice and cool. :) There also seemed to be a good dozen or more riders within view of my seat, some clearly trying light rail for the first time. This is no streetcar opponents will see go by empty. I heard them say things like, “Wow, this is way better than the bus!” The guy across from me got a phone call and told his friend the train was totally stress free, that now you don’t have to worry about driving or parking downtown. He seemed to be with a woman sitting ahead of me, and her kids who were behind him. He said the only bad thing about the train was that it doesn’t go very far. The woman said it will soon enough. I openly grinned at this conversation. The man asked how much this train had cost, and she said $1 billion. He wanted to know where else the train would go and when, and the woman said Bellevue and maybe something about Northgate. At this point, I’d restrained myself as long as I could, and dug into my bag for one of the handful of TCC system map magnets I saved from Saturday. I gave it to the man and explained that it shows where the current line goes and where the funded extensions will go. “Thanks, this is really helpful…So when do these open?” I told him Bellevue and Northgate in 2020. “So this eventually goes to Redmond?” “Yeah.” I want people to not only explore Central Link, but envision the whole network we’re building toward (even 2023 is hardly the end). And of course, I’m happy to help promote TCC.

    I went back to my seat, and–it had folded up! What the heck? I’d never seen a bench of 3 seats fold up on a train; only single ones near the doors in Paris. It felt like being at the front of a Metro bus again. I tried to pull them back down, but they wouldn’t move. The tween girl across from me showed me you have to pull the latch to get the seats back down. I thanked her, more than a little embarrassed at having been thwarted as a hard core transit geek.

    As DC’s Metro matured, seating debates intensified–should we continue row seating like a commuter train, or make more room for inner ring commuters on crowded trains with all bench seating like NYC? I was an exception–an inner city rider who did not want to give up too much seating (I have bad feet). Being able to sit is sacrosanct to many people, but Arlingtonians were sick of being passed by 3-6 full trains before they could board. I’d suggested the Paris model as an elegant solution; when the train’s not crowded, more people can sit, but when it is, that person is expected to stand and make room for more people to get on. So on one hand, I was very impressed that Sound Transit had gone even further than that right from the start. But I don’t like the latch. It shouldn’t be like the bus, and I think it should be a one-handed motion. I’d like the folding benches to just stay up or down, wherever you put them.

    The woman got excited as we approached the Beacon Hill tunnel. She checked with her daughter to ask where she would see…something she seemed interested in. I’d only ridden once before on Sunday, and the train was too crowded to see out the other side. Apparently I looked out the wrong side again, but I heard the man tell his friend once we got out of the tunnel that he saw some kind of animated electronic image from Willy Wonka. He seemed really impressed. I looked up in the BH station, and as a glass art afficionado, was really impressed with the art overhead. It’s not Lino Tagliapetra, but it was incredibly nice for a light rail station. One of my biggest complaints about DC is its lack of creativity, whimsy, and public art. Metrorail’s tunnels and stations are wonderfully engineered but horribly adorned. I collectively deemed the system’s aesthetics “Ode to Existential Angst”.

    To many people, it might seem odd to go up, yet underground, then further up, and be above ground. Ah, Seattle. :) Growing up, we Midwesterners would never have understood such topography. At 6:13, I got off the train at Columbia City. The ride had taken 14 minutes. Last week, I couldn’t have done this. It would’ve taken me at least twice as long to get there on frustrating buses–slow, frequently stopping, probably not air conditioned, and definitely not so smooth I can stand without holding onto anything and not slip (I’m a klutz). Not to mention the uncertainty of bus headways coming back and a potential transfer. I simply wouldn’t have made the trip. But this was a breeze. I surveyed the station info a bit, impressed that the neighborhood map showed bus routes. We fought for this for years in DC.

    I walked over S. Alaska St. and down Rainier. The walk was longer than I’d like in tonight’s heat. I wanted to use one of those transit discounts! But a Mexican place that looked promising clearly lacked a/c, so I skipped it. I ended up at Tutta Bella, remembering Andrew had mentioned it. It was good, and the waiter didn’t know about the discount, but was so impressed with the train. “It’s like riding the monorail–except you actually get somewhere!” He said they had the best tira misu in town and seemed to know what he was talking about. I’ll have to go back. I’ve also never seen a place put Nutella in espresso before, but I like that kind of thinking! ;) I took S. Hudson St. back toward MLK. The light at Rainier & Hudson was ridiculously long. A woman next to me made sure I’d pushed the walk button. Three times! These new walk buttons are there that are supposed to tell you they registered your push, but there was no sound, just a small red light. I’m thinking that’s not good enough. I tried to time this light and couldn’t, but it felt like over a minute. Which made even less sense as the two lights to the north seemed to be synchronized. And with Link open, I’m not even sure this should be an actuated signal. Seattle has a safety project going on in the Rainier corridor, and this signal just seems to be daring pedestrians to jaywalk.

    I thought of how dramatically this area will change in the coming years as taller buildings spring up and density comes in. In a way, that’s really what’s most suited to photograph of the system now. It may be barely recognizable in 10 years. I was waiting for the walk signal to cross MLK when I saw a northbound train coming, and seeing no cars, jaywalked and made it onto the train. This time I looked on the right side, and was tickled to see animated electronic playing cards on the BH tunnel walls. Boston started doing ads that way, and DC followed, but merely for art? To amuse riders as they ride between stations? Totally awesome. And a sign of Seattle. After a little thought, I had to give us a superlative: I’m thinking we may have the best aesthetics of any transit system I’ve ridden. The BH station and tunnel deserve some kind of award. And all this was done with that 1%?? How many of those detractors (cough-Eyman) would remain so after seeing this?

    I have to agree with the Transit Blog folks that “station” on the train displays and announcements is redundant, and that the destination signs shouldn’t scroll.

    I was quickly in SODO again, told we were holding for traffic in the bus tunnel. The wait was seconds. As we entered, it was an interesting juxtaposition that brand new trains are running on just-laid rails in a nearly 20 year old tunnel. But it was also kind of comforting; orienting. These are the same stations we’ve been used to for years. We already know their order, locations, benches, artwork…if someone’s apprehensive about taking Link, starting in the tunnel might help. Twenty minutes after I got on (2 minutes late), I was at Westlake, the last stop. Just imagining and wishing that I stayed on the train, and instead of saying “This is the last stop”, it said, “Next stop: Capitol Hill”. Seven years is going to be a hell of a long wait.

    In the meantime, I’m thinking of starting a blog where people can submit things (funny, poignant, uniquely Seattle, scary, specific to the time, anything providing a glimpse into Seattle life through the window of Link) they hear people say in the rail system. Overheard on Link. I’ll sleep on it.

    1. I tried to pull them back down, but they wouldn’t move. The tween girl across from me showed me you have to pull the latch to get the seats back down. I thanked her, more than a little embarrassed at having been thwarted as a hard core transit geek.

      On my first trip on Saturday a man in a Metro operator’s uniform got on the train and had this same problem. Someone shouted, “You’re supposed to know how this works!” and everybody laughed.

      1. I also noticed people having user interface problems with these seats, and accidentally pressing the “talk to driver” button, because its placement does kind of make it look like it might be relevant to getting the seat down. I wonder if we’ll see additional signage go up over the next few weeks.

    2. Re: seating and the monorail. I love the seating configuration on the Seattle Center Monorail… it’s like Austin Powers’s apartment.

  3. On SeattlePi.com’s Local Transit Forum, there is a poster who thinks the media failed to cover the alleged “failure” of LINK that began on Monday. This poster thinks the Monorail Authority is still running, so I don’t put too much stock in what he says. It is the long term ridership that is more important, not the first full day ridership.

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