Video by Flickr user Reverend Kommisar
I live two blocks from the Beacon Hill station and I use it as part of my commute each day, and the first week of Link has been an eye-opening experience. Of course, I’ve seen the usual things: confused TVM users, intermittent outages*, etc., but it really hasn’t been at all what I expected, though not necessarily in a bad way. I’ve got a couple of observations to share, and I’m really interested in hearing about other Link Commuters experiences have. If you take Link to work or school, please share your experiences in the comments.
Each morning a couple of dozen people are waiting for the 36 bus at the stop in front of my house as I walk to the Beacon Hill station. I find this really surprising as Beacon Hill station is two blocks away: no more than 150 yards. Thursday morning I even counted more people at the stop in front of my house (23) than I counted boarding Link (13) with me four minutes later.
I don’t know exactly what’s going on here. These bus riders probably aren’t transferring from Link, as there’s a stop right in front of the station, so they aren’t Link riders at all. Some of these bus riders may be going places other than downtown (Amazon or Little Saigon are really the only possibilities). Still, it’s hard to imagine that of the dozens of people waiting at 8:30 am for a bus whose primary destination is downtown, none are going downtown. I think you can assume many of the would-be-Link-riders are either scared of Link or unaware (hard to believe, but they exist), but it seems to me that the Southeast Seattle Metro revisions can’t come soon enough. Clearly many of my neighbours need a little push to change their commutes to the more efficient option, and frankly, isn’t light rail a waste of money without riders?
The reverse of this phenomenon is present as well. In my (very) unscientific survey, I’ve found that 18 of the 34 commuters (53%) I’ve asked on the Beacon Hill platform or in the elevators didn’t previously use the bus as their daily commute option. There’s no way to say whether this will hold up, and obviously my sample set is terrible, but fewer bus riders on Link and more new riders coming from cars in concert show that-at least a week in-Link isn’t just cannibalising former bus riders.
Some random thoughts below the fold.
- The trains seem more empty than I would have guessed at peak commute hours, but I’m not disappointed. My stop is the last residential neighborhood station before the get-off-for-work stations start and could have found a seat each morning at 8:30 am. Still, there’s probably 80~100 people on my morning train and most people are standing comfortably. Try either of those tricks with a bus!
- Stadium station is not the closest station to Qwest field, the ID station is, as I learned Saturday before the Sounders match. I really should have known better, but everyone else got off there as well. I guess that’s why the station is called “stadium”, and not “stadia”.
- I get a little queezy each morning riding the elevator down to the platform at Beacon Hill station. My breakfast doesn’t like the drop. Hopefully that feeling goes away over time…
- There was a guy selling bottled water out of a cooler in front of the Beacon Hill station Saturday afternoon after the Sounders match. That gentleman saw an obvious business opportunity, so why not a permanent espresso stand?
- To people who say Seattle’s now a real city because of real rail transit, I say Seattle won’t be a real city until people stop sparking up conversations with unwilling strangers on the train. But, hey! I was conducting a survey…
- The young guy with golf clubs who asked me Sunday which station was closest to Jefferson Golf Course had a long walk ahead of him.
- Overheard on the train Sunday morning.
Little Boy to Dad: “Why is it ‘light rail’ and not a ‘train’?”
Dad: “Because people in Seattle always need to feel special.”
*not surprising but still annoying!