Route 8 at Mount Baker TC
Route 8 at Mount Baker TC

The Mount Baker Transit Center opened Saturday along with the Southwest Seattle service revisions. The transit center is very plain with standard shelters. New-style bus stop signs that list routes, their destinations, and the bus stop number (handy for One Bus Away users) have been installed. The new style signs can also be found near Othello and Rainier Beach Stations.

At the transit center, Metro service planner Jack Latteman was part of the street team out helping riders figure out the service change. A few people were confused but most seemed to know which route to transfer to. One old lady asked for the 42 which no longer runs weekends.

Many people are still taking the 7 instead of Link. Latteman explained that many people were afraid to try Link or didn’t know how. Frequently asked Link questions were fare related. Many weren’t sure how reduced fares worked or whether their bus pass was accepted on Link. While there are signs that direct riders to the Link station, there’s no information at the transit center about Link itself. A suggestion would be to install a Link information kiosk similar to those at stations at the transit center.

Latteman answered a question that was raised on this blog as to why the transit center isn’t a timepoint for Route 8. It actually is, at least internally for drivers. He said that was a mistake on part of the timetable production group and it’ll definitely be fixed by the next service change in February. A few other mistakes are the map for the 8 doesn’t show the route directly serving the transit center, the timetable doesn’t indicate which bay the 8 serves, and a timetable symbol reference to a 5-minute layover at the transit center that appears nowhere on the timetable itself. All of these mistakes have been noted for correction.

Route 8 and 48 are scheduled for easy connections at the transit center. The timed connections can be viewed in this Metro document (PDF).

37 Replies to “Mount Baker Transit Center’s First Day”

  1. It’s not just the 7th that people take over link. In the Beacon Hill there were still scores of people boarding the 36 in front of my house instead of link, even though the BH station was just two blocks away.

      1. These guys are probably going to Little Saigon, but I bet the majority of them are completely unaware there is a light rail station two blocks away.

  2. This was the worst mistake that Metro has made to public tansit. I forgetting about the people just to make a buck. The light rail is a joke. It doesnt serve anybody unless your going to airport or downtown Seattle. Some people don’t live close enought to ride the train. So you left them with no choice. Like the people that live on the Renton Avenue South Seattle Side. Their is no bus that run down that street. Also if you want to get off the train between othello and alaska their is not stop. So why. I hope more people start complain so the can fix the problem. People are afraid to ride the train. It just don’t service were the have to go it has to limited stop so it easier to ride the bus. I am sticking with the bus.

    1. Light rail isn’t bus service, nor does it claim to be. If it had stops every couple blocks, it wouldn’t be considered as an option for those riding longer distances. Note that Seatac Airport and Downtown Seattle are probably the two most important destinations in the area.

      Those living in Ranier Valley would probably be happier with a streetcar that follows bus fare structures, rather than the light rail line, to reduce confusion. It would be quite a bit slower.

      On the contrary, they’re lucky to even have service at all; there are gaps on the order of square miles in CT’s service area where I live (for good reason).

    2. If you’re going between Othello and Alaska, the 8 is still there to serve you, and more frequently than the 42 did.

      It’s true that there’s no more service on Renton Ave north of Henderson, but MLK and Rainier aren’t all that far away.

  3. There is a lot of confusion about the changes. I asked several Metro drivers as I’ve been going down MLK, and they’ve said that their riders have no idea about the changes. My high school daughter and middle school son (at Garfield and Washington respectively) noted that they were having to tell all of their friends about the changes.

    My daughter rode the “new” 8 this morning, and she noted that it took over ten minutes to get from MLK & Alaska to McClellan. Not sure why that was.

    1. I rode Alaska to Massachusetts on the 8 this morning, and it took about 10 minutes. That’s actually a bit faster than the 48 took to cover a similar distance.

      1. I think it depends on the time of day. It sounds like they chose the small buses for the 8, but I’m sure they’ll change that for the early morning students. And to think that UW students haven’t started. Should be interesting.

  4. Thanks for the coverage, Oran. I went past the Mount Baker facility on Friday but didn’t get over there on Saturday. Did they have any grand opening festivities?

  5. I had a bit of schedule confusion Sunday when I rode the 8 Sunday from Capitol Hill to Queen Anne (on my way to the Ballard farmers’ market). The online schedule said “South Henderson Street”. I thought, “What, did I type 7 instead of 8?” Then I realized this is how the new schedule looks with the 8 extension. My next thought was, “I hope the longer route doesn’t make the bus come late.”

  6. “The light rail is a joke. It doesnt serve anybody unless your going to airport or downtown Seattle.”

    That’s odd, because it seems to be serving me just fine, getting to Mount Baker for Thai food at Thai Recipe, or going to Columbia City to see a movie or have pizza at Tutta Bella or ice cream at Full Tilt, or going to Rainier Beach to eat pizza at Vince’s, or going to Sodo to go to Home Depot (yes, seriously, I’ve walked there from Sodo station) or the post office or Pacific Fabrics Outlet Store. None of these places are at the airport or downtown. I am using Link regularly to go to places like this.

    It sounds as if the only way the light rail would not be a “joke” to you is if it served everybody in Seattle already. And this is not possible or feasible. It takes time to build a city-wide rail system.

    ” Also if you want to get off the train between othello and alaska their is not stop.”

    Well, I agree with that one — there should have been a stop at Graham.

    1. Is there any way to get a stop at Graham? A transit official (can’t remember who) said that there were initially plans to have one at Graham. Not only is it a major commercial area, but DSHS offices are on Graham as well.

      1. The original Sound Move plan had a little gray dot that indicated a station at Graham would be built if additional funding could be secured. It was the same with Boeing Access Road and Stadium.

  7. I’m sure there’s a fair amount of programming required, but onebusaway is showing a mish mash of old scheduled route info and new schedules. It shows both 124 and 174 going downtown, as well as only showing scheduled info rather than realtime on the new/changed routes that I’ve looked up. I know it’s a nonprofit venture but I hope this can be fixed soon. I’d offer to help but my programming skills are atrocious!

    1. This is less about the programming and more about the raw schedule data coming from Metro. Now that the new service revision kicked in over the weekend, I’m working to identify all the bugs so Metro can fix it in their database.

  8. “Many people are still taking the 7 instead of Link.”

    Oran seems surprised by this, but it’s clearly because the 7 goes many places Link does not, like most of the stops along Rainier Avenue South, Little Saigon, etc. I live near Rainier and it takes me 4-5 minutes to walk to a stop to catch the 7, but it takes a little more than 15 minutes to get to Link. It ends up being a wash for me to go downtown, or the bus is actually a little faster if I catch one of the few remaining express buses.

  9. “Many people are still taking the 7 instead of Link. Latteman explained that many people were afraid to try Link or didn’t know how.”

    Then ST did a poor job in educating the public before Link opened. Especially minorities. Whites seemed to have figured everything out just fine. I think it’s disgusting that Link now seems designed for those who have gentrified the Rainier Valley.

    1. The lack of multilingual menu options on the TVMs are bothersome. I have seen a beta version of the TVMs with Spanish and Chinese menus but it hasn’t been deployed to revenue service.

      The multilingual info available on Sound Transit’s website is LAME! Who cares what Sound Transit is? How do I ride the thing is more important. King County Metro does a better job and actually has a multilingual brochure available in print and online.

      1. I know supporting each additional language adds a fairly large cost, but still I think they need to go a bit further than just Spanish and Chinese. Any language supported by a major bank ATM within 1/4 mile of a station should be a candidate for inclusion on the TVMs.

        As for the web site there really is no excuse. Sound Transit needs to provide at least basic rider information multiple languages.

    2. These things take time, and I don’t think it’s a race or language issue. If a new transit system opened in the whitest part of Seattle there would be a lot of people who didn’t know how to use it.

      ST definitely could have done more public education; other than opening weekend it’s seemed like a soft launch. I’m most surprised by the lack of ads or information on buses, but maybe it will ramp up. There’s a “How to connect with Link light rail” on Metro’s website now:

  10. This morning, I boarded Link at Mt. Baker to get to King Street Station to swtich to SOUNDER to get to a temp job in Kent. The SOUNDER train sure was empty, but it was Train 1503, the 2nd of the 2 morning reverse trains heading back to Tacoma to return as another peak-flow train. When I got off in Kent, I was watching the line of people crossing the bridge from the parking garage to get to the platform where trains bound for Seattle left, the line never stopped. When I got back to King Street Station this afternoon, the first LINK Train at International District station I boarded, was Standing Room Only. Got lucky with the 48 when I got to Mt. Baker Transit Center to get to McDonalds, that a 48 was leaving.(Too tired to walk a few blocks at that point, as I said, the LINK train I cuaght was SRO.(At least the car I caught, I wanted the front car of the two car train to get closer to the stairs.) I try to use all modes.

    My main complaint, is that it was hard to find a rider alert brochure, and LINK did not have the current ST Riders Guide on board.

  11. It will be interesting to see how many Mt. Baker riders of Rt. 14 transfer to Link at Mt. Baker Station. Seems like a Rt. 4 extension would make a lot of sense.

    1. Living at the other end of the 14 and the 8, I find it a little ironic that I now have two more buses to get to Rainier Valley Link stations, even though both are slower than going downtown and taking Link itself. But I understand that those routes are not mainly intended for us Capitol Hill residents but for the people who live in the middle of the line and want to go to either Capitol Hill or the Valley.

  12. Wow guys, you should have seen the huge group of people who got off the 8 today and head towards the Rainier Beach Station. In fact, it appears that traffic is picking up at the stations along MLK Way in the morning now with the new bus re-routing.

    1. Got a second look at the packed peak hour trains today myself. About 5:30 in the afternoon to be exact, it was full leaving International District Station. Intermodal connections are getting better.

  13. I think the biggest problem is still fare confusion – people don’t understand the cost of transferring from bus to rail or vice versa.

    Frankly this shouldn’t even be an issue, but we still seem to have multiple agencies competing with each other and without coordination (example: lack of signage from the new transit center to the rail station).

  14. Thanks for the additional information about the #8. That will come in handy for me. I just wish the online timetable were updated to reflect it!

    People on the #8 I was on Saturday afternoon were VERY confused. I tried to help them understand that the #42 was gone and they should start riding LINK (especially the elderly gentleman going to the I.D.) or taking the #7 “into” downtown.

  15. pds: I asked my ST boardmembers to include an infill station at South Graham Street in the ST2 measure. they did not. Perhaps we should ask that Mayor McGinn’s transport measure include infill stations at South Graham Street and the UW HUB.

  16. One thing the transit center *desperately* needs: Traffic detector loops for buses trying to exit. I go through here 4 times a shift and sit at that light for 2-3 minutes each time.

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