Waiting, by Mike Bjork
Waiting, by Mike Bjork

[UPDATE: In the comments, ST Guy gets the official explanation, which is basically what I said below.  As I said then, I don’t think the bus service point holds water, and the “consistency with late night” point is pretty weak sauce.]

When I recently rode a northbound train that was to go out of service, I was surprised to learn that everyone is forced to offload at Mt. Baker Station.  As the maintenance facility is between Beacon Hill and Sodo, that seems bizarre for two reasons:

  • It’s intensely annoying to anyone whose destination happens to be  Beacon Hill.
  • Beacon Hill Station, besides being awesome, is entirely protected from the elements.

I’ve heard speculation that it’s a consistency thing: for the last train of the night, they drop people off at Mt. Baker because the late night bus connections are better, and Beacon Hill Station takes longer to shut down.  Having one dropoff point for the end of operations and one for shift changes might unnecessarily complicate things.  I couldn’t get anyone at Sound Transit to state for the record what the problem is.

The bus thing doesn’t really make sense, given that late night service is just as good on the 36 as it is on the 7.  At any rate, the operational convenience argument is pretty thin when it isn’t something that would cost any money to fix.

99 Replies to “Returning to Base”

    1. Thank you!

      I’d also like to see trains only go out of service in the off-peak direction, but I’ve voiced that before, and I think it’s known to be something to fix in a future service change.

    2. This is a serious issue for me. I catch the train at Mount Baker. About once a week on my morning commute towards downtown, the train I’m waiting for goes out of service right when it arrives. It’s awlays unpredicatable when this will happen (I have seen it as early as 8:35 and as late as 9:20). The passengers are alway pissed, and the next train is very crowded because it contains two trainloads of commuters anxious to get to work. This adds a horrible element of unpredicatbility to my daily commute (and seems to irritate a fair number of other people too), and usually when an out of service train shows up, I miss my downtown connection bus due to the additional 10+ minute delay waiting for another bus.

      Why not run the trains all the way downtown first in the mornings, and run them out of service out of downtown at SoDo? Don’t take trains offline in the peak commute direction during peak times. I realize the trains have to step down service at some point, but it should be scheduled do incovenience the fewest number of peoples, not entire trainfuls of morning commuters.

  1. I’d much prefer to see trains terminate in downtown and/or tukwila and then return to base empty. It might be a bit more expensive to operate but from a rider’s perspective it would be much less confusing and avoid stranding riders in an unfamiliar neighborhood.

    1. I disagree. If I’m sitting at Tukwila and am going to the Rainier Valley, why not give me a chance to get home a few minutes earlier?

      However, the two things necessary to make this non-frustrating is to mark the trains with the appropriate terminus (Beacon Hill, Sodo) and to make sure that the follow-on, regularly scheduled train is no more than a few minutes behind.

      1. Exactly. They should run in service for a long as possible but the big thing is ensuring that riders that are forced off don’t have to wait too long for the next one.

      2. Regardless of reasoning… they should definitely not be running truncated trains without listing the appropriate terminus!

        I assume you didn’t mean to suggest that. I assume the trains are properly signed outside and on the scrolling signs inside, but passengers aren’t paying attention in our current one line environment.

  2. i’ve also experienced a number of operator changes mid-day at mt. baker. this seems like a strange thing to do given the line has a simple layout and termini that have excellent infrastructure of their own. having to wait 5 minutes on a light rail line in the middle of the line without any advance warning is highly unacceptable.

    i’ve also heard some strange reasoning for why mt baker is the magical link in the system (pardon the pun) – something about cost savings on getting operators back to base or something. i’d love to know what the real story is.

    1. The worst is when a southbound train makes crew changes around 5:30pm at the O&M Facility. Nothing quite like sitting in a full train for 5 minutes while the operators chat with each other. I’ve been caught in this pickle twice.

      1. this is truly inexcusable. i can’t think of another city in which i’ve ridden light rail where service delays are built into the middle of the trip but not called out on any schedule anywhere.

        the same thing happened to me on the way down to the south end from downtown where i was running incredibly late. i thought i could rely on light rail to get me there quickly but, yup, we just sat there by that little shed at O&M running down the clock.

        i still love light rail and am thrilled to have it, but, wow, just… wow.

      2. Would it make sense for the relief operator to instead board one stop early, so they can “chat” on the way from, for example, Beacon Hill to O&M? Perhaps that overlap of operators can ease the transition. I know they can’t “ease” over control, but letting the relief operator get settled before taking control may save time.

      3. Probably not, as the relief operator probably brings the base car for the operator being relieved to return to base in. Driver “A” (the relief operator) checks a car out from base to get to the station. Driver “A” relieves driver “B” who hops in the same car to return to base. I suppose that driver “B” could hop the train back to Beacon Hill station to pick up the base car, but that would take extra time, and people get paid for their time.

        Either way – seriously folks, what’s 5 minutes?

      4. Five minutes is a long time to stop, especially if you have a transfer to make. I have to make a transfer at the International District station, and I get infuriated when the bus drivers stop to give directions to people in the tunnel. One person ends up delaying a whole bus full of people. I’d be equally pissed if there was a random stop on a light rail journey. Mass transit needs to be predictable.

      5. I also frequently transfer at ID when riding from Bellevue to Columbia City. A small complaint…For those traveling from I-90 to South Seattle (and vice-versa), the up-and-around walk has caused me to miss several Link trains.

        Are there any plans to build center platforms? I know that this will only possible once buses are moved above ground and East Link is built, but at which DSTT stations could center platforms be built?

      6. btw, it’s great that the operators can chat with each other – communication is important – but i’d think the end of the line is where you’d want to do this. this is a light rail line, not a coupled bus line…

      7. “chat”?

        And gee – 5 whole minutes for an oncoming operator to make sure that the train and line are in good order? Oh, the horror! That must be terrible. 5 minutes. Wow. You poor thing.

      8. 5 minutes would be heaven. When I relieve someone downtown on a bus – I get ZERO minutes. I’m actually supposed to do a full pre-trip inspection on the bus to check for safety equipment, damage, etc. and in reality I’m lucky if there’s time to adjust my seat.

        And sorry pal – but unless you’re having a seizure or have stopped breathing – 5 minutes is NOT a lot of time, particularly to turn over a multimillion dollar piece of equipment carrying thousands of passengers through neighborhoods and roads and responsible not only for getting you to your destination, but getting you there safely. 5 minutes should be the MINIMUM amount of time to make a relief, particularly when changing Link operators. This time should be used to discuss train and rail conditions so that the oncoming driver knows what to expect.

        The idea is to get you to your destination both quickly AND safely.

        As someone who rarely gets a full 10 minute break during my own bus run – I’m lucky if I get to use the bathroom in a 4 hour period, I damn well DO believe that 5 minutes is a lot of time, but it’s a hell of a lot less time for the driver than it is for you.

      9. I’m sorry about that, and Metro should build some time into your schedule for bathroom breaks, etc. However, that doesn’t excuse neglecting to do your job. If you’re going from Mount Baker to Westlake, 5 minutes is a 33% delay; if you’re going to IDS, it’s about a 50-60% delay, which really is a lot.

      10. It’s Metro’s and Sound Transit’s responsibility to insure that you have the proper amount of time to check your vehicle and take safety breaks, but it needs to be done in a manner that is transparent to the user and doesn’t impact their travel time. Delaying a train full of people for 5 minutes is not acceptable, especially when they’ve been sold on the idea that trains are prompt and reliable. The best transportation companies in the world know that the passenger comes first and delivering them on time to their destination is paramount. When a rush hour train stops within sight of downtown for the sole purpose of changing operators Metro is basically telling all the people on board that the convenience of the operators is more important than getting passengers to their destination on time. Not a great way to build a reputation.

      11. Yes, I totally agree with Zed, couldn’t have said it better. Passenger experience is really important. Five minutes is really important. It can mean the difference between choosing to take transit or driving a car for some people. You can have your 5-10 minute break and check, just don’t take it from 100 passengers. This kind of stuff should happen at the end of the line.

      12. Jeff,

        Perhaps the driver of the bus I’m transferring to will wait an extra 5 minutes at Jackson St. After all, it’s not such a long time.

      13. Martin,

        If that driver is being relieved by another driver, then 5 minutes for the oncoming driver to set mirrors, adjust the seat, get updates from the driver being relieved etc. would be great.

        Buses (and theoretically trains) do run on a schedule. That schedule *should* account for at least a few minutes delay when changing over from one operator to another. All of this pouting that drivers can’t do a “jump-in, jump-out” really overlooks the realities of operating this expensive – and potentially dangerous – equipment. The responsibility that operators have is significant, and a few minutes is worth what it gains in safety.

        Don’t agree? I highly recommend you become a bus or rail operator. Then come back and explain to us all about how that 5 minutes is such a huge waste of your valuable time.

      14. Jeff, Martin is talking about missed connections with a bus. 5 minutes could cost me up to an hour of waiting for the next bus, especially late at night when buses run less frequently. Or worse it could be the last bus of the day. What do I do? Catch a cab? Perhaps Susan Hutchison was right.

      15. Oran,

        Actually buses can and do wait for those with a large number of passengers making connections. Frequently calls come over the radio from the coordinator asking bus “B” to hold for bus “A”.

        Still not sure how a comparison between drivers making reliefs and passengers not making connections holds up as relevant here.

      16. Jeff, because if the train decides to stop in the middle of the route for 5 minutes (which riders were not expecting) that could mean a missed connection.

        Yes, I know buses can call to hold but more often I don’t see that happening. Most of the time I see this: passenger tells driver he/she wants that bus in front of them, driver honks horn few times, and connecting bus in front speeds off half the time. Buses don’t even hold for each other when they’re supposed to (e.g. 8 <-> 48). You may think it’s a minor inconvenience but it means a lot to passengers who are trying to get somewhere.

      17. Oran,

        Anyone timing their connections to within 5 minutes should catch an earlier train. Anyone who rides public transportation knows that train and bus schedules aren’t a precision science, and that a 5 minute (or more) delay will not be unusual regardless of whether bus or train.

        I’m all for good customer service, turnarounds that make sense, keeping folks informed etc. – but honestly I hear a lot of folks – especially where drivers’ responsibilities and their expectations of schedules are concerned – expressing unrealistic utopian expectations that guarantee disappointment.

        Not sure what you mean by referencing the 8 > 48 and buses “holding when they’re supposed to”. While a run card may say “transfer passengers from the 8” etc., it does not say “wait until the 48 arrives to leave your next time point”. We don’t currently have the ability to even know if the 8 may have already arrived, discharged its passengers and left already. How would the driver of the 48 know?

      18. Train schedules can be precise.

        It’s not “utopian” to ask that operator changes happen at the terminus instead of in mid-route.

        The 48 is sitting there at the transit center waiting to go. Assuming it gets there before the 8 is scheduled to arrive, and 8 driver is following policy, he should very well be able to wait till the 8 arrives.

      19. Train schedules can be precise.

        Nonsense. No schedule – train, bus, cab, postal van, pizza delivery or otherwise, can be “precise”. So long as there is traffic, varying rider patterns, weather, mechanical issues, sunspots, you name it – there will be delays.

        It’s not “utopian” to ask that operator changes happen at the terminus instead of in mid-route.

        Not only utopian, but completely unrealistic. Ever seen a work schedule? Do you have any idea how operators are scheduled from when to when? How they get to and from their work location?

        On the other hand, hey – all it takes is money. If you’re not worried about efficiency, cost, or other inconvenient realities – then by all means, I stand corrected.

        The 48 leaves when the 48 is SCHEDULED to leave. Otherwise, people expecting the 48 to be on time (or not as late as one might hope) down the line will miss THEIR connections, and so on, and so on, and so on.

        You folks seem to have two contradictory complains: 1) Some trains/buses sometimes run late. The other: sometimes they leave on time. Must tie you in absolute knots.

      20. So long as there is traffic, varying rider patterns, weather, mechanical issues, sunspots, you name it – there will be delays.

        You’re talking about stuff that is unpredictable. Most of them can be accounted for in the design of the system. Operator changes are the way it is by design. Frequent delays indicate a problem that must be fixed systematically.

        Not only utopian, but completely unrealistic.

        How so? Explain how operators are scheduled. What are the constraints?

        all it takes is money

        and brains. Money alone can’t solve the problem. Look at how much money Metro is wasting with inefficiencies in scheduling, route planning, and outdated procedures.

        You folks seem to have two contradictory complains

        I’ll admit it’s kind of selfish of me to expect that service should be running on time. If it were on-time in the first place then the connecting service wouldn’t have to wait at all.

      21. Oran,

        I’ll admit it’s kind of selfish of me to expect that service should be running on time.

        Not so much selfish as ignorant of reality.

        If trains and buses could fly – there’d STILL be delays from time to time. Been to an airport lately?

        To quote Barney Frank – what planet do you spend most of your time on?

        Most routes and runs DO run on time, or within a few minutes of being on time. As I mentioned before – all manner of things cause delays, which you yourself admit is stuff that is “unpredictable”. First you acknowledge that there are unpredictable factors that impact buses and trains running on time – then go on to demand that all buses and trains run on time. That makes as much sense as getting angry that your connecting bus didn’t make itself late because your incoming ride was late – regardless of whether that makes people on the connecting bus late to THEIR connections.

        I’ll say it again – there is NO SERVICE, none whatsoever, from taxis, to buses, to trains, to pizza delivery etc. that runs a precision schedule that’s always on time to the minute and never experiences delays. None. Not one. Nada. Nil. It ain’t possible, and it’s frankly downright bizarre to expect that it would be.

        Stop and smell the roses for heaven’s sake. Give yourself ample time to get to your connection. Bring a book, an iPod, write your loved one. But trying to time a connection within minutes and then ranting at the skies when it doesn’t happen about the horrific incompetent indjustice of it all is just flat odd, nonproductive, and a complete waste of intellect, energy and emotion.

        That about cover it?

      22. Jeff,

        I actually agree that the 48, in that case, should leave on time; I was replying to your assertion that it was *impossible* to know if the 8 had arrived.

        Nonsense. No schedule – train, bus, cab, postal van, pizza delivery or otherwise, can be “precise”. So long as there is traffic, varying rider patterns, weather, mechanical issues, sunspots, you name it – there will be delays.

        Do you not see how Link should be less susceptible to traffic and rider patterns? As for mechanical issues, if that were the only problem I don’t think many people would be complaining.

        Not only utopian, but completely unrealistic. Ever seen a work schedule? Do you have any idea how operators are scheduled from when to when? How they get to and from their work location?

        That’s funny, because I’ve seen Metro drivers changeover at stops well away from base. So Metro must have achieved “Utopia.”

      23. Oran,

        Explain how operators are scheduled. What are the constraints?

        Oh – and one of the biggest one here is overtime. Schedules are made to keep overtime to a minimum (with notable exception – there are no part-time rail operators and at Metro part-timers are not permitted to work afer 8pm, before 3am, to take a shift over 7 hours and 59 minutes, or to work weekends mainly to ensure that full-time drivers still have available overtime – a policy with which I disagree).

        Probably the Sound Transit rep that posts here can shed light on the transportation issue – I’m assuming that rail operators take a motor pool car to and from their relief point, and that Mt. Baker has parking available for those cars – where Convention Place or Westlake do not. Time to and from base is also paid time for operators – so again, overtime considerations come into play.

      24. One more – it seems to me that making an operator relief at any tunnel station would be a bad idea, so “end of the line” reliefs as you suggest would put all reliefs at Tukwila station (for now) and SeaTac station once the line is complete. This would expand the cost to ST substantially in terms of paying for operator time to get back and forth from the Link base to the relief point (Tukwila or SeaTac).

        Mid-point reliefs have been going on for decades – aboard Metro buses. Most road reliefs don’t take place at the beginning or end of the line, with some notable exceptions being the 7, the 49, and the 70 whose reliefs take place at the downtown layovers at Lenora, Virginia, and Main – all quickly accessible to the downtown bases.

        FYI, for this type of road relief (those that don’t involve checking out a base car and driving to the relief point with the relieved driver returning the car back to base), Metro only pays the driver for his or her time ONE-WAY. In other words, the driver is required to check in at base (most drive to their downtown base, park at the employee garage, sign in and take a bus or LINK to their downtown relief point). The operators are NOT paid for their time to return to base to pick up their car and return home.

      25. Martin,

        Do you not see how Link should be less susceptible to traffic and rider patterns?

        Less susceptible perhaps – but not immune. Link operates at street level along much of its line, and shares the tunnel with buses. Rider patterns can and do change depending on what’s going on, so no I don’t think that Link would be less susceptible to those than buses.

        That’s funny, because I’ve seen Metro drivers changeover at stops well away from base.

        Uh-huh.

        And? Not following you. You’re fine with buses relieving at locations far away from base (by the way – there are 7 Metro bases but only one Link base), but not train operators? Relief points tend to be dictated by cost and efficiency. Do you believe that those aren’t factors in the rail relief points?

        Where do you think that rail operators should make their reliefs – and why? Let’s start there. Do you want the delays involved in making a relief – even relatively minimal ones – to occur at a tunnel station? Would you prefer that they take place at the other end of the line at Tukwila Station (now) or Seatac Station (after completion)? What makes the most sense to you – and why?

        What’s your point here?

      26. Jeff,

        I agree with Martin that your tone is becoming increasingly patronizing and annoying.

        Not so much selfish as ignorant of reality.

        Jeff, I am aware of reality but you come off as really cynical. I never demanded that ALL services run on time (see below for what I and the agencies expect). I guess we come from different backgrounds. I’m coming from an engineering perspective and have a belief that there’s always room for improvement and that they can be improved. I appreciate the operator’s point of view but it’s only one of many that need to be balanced, namely the user’s point of view.

        Most routes and runs DO run on time

        Exactly, there are performance standards. My problem is that those standards are not being met (perceived or actual). To repeat, the on-time performance standard (on-time broadly defined as within a few minutes of schedule) 80% for Metro buses, 90% for ST Express, 98.5% for Link.

      27. And to comment on “stop and smell the roses for heaven’s sake.”

        You don’t know where I’m coming from. I enjoy riding buses and trains for the sake of it. I could get left waiting in a tunnel station for an hour because I missed my connection and see it as a plus because now I get to watch buses and trains come by and the people who ride them. I take photos and videos of buses and trains and pour over their detail. I even thought of becoming a part-time bus driver once because I like the things so much. You get the picture.

        Personally, I am not as concerned about being late and missing connections. But I’m trying to put myself in to the shoes of average transit riders, who are less tolerant. Be glad that this isn’t a Seattle Times/PI thread, you’d be burned alive and those commenters have no notion of reality or logic.

      28. Oran,

        I agree with Martin that your tone is becoming increasingly patronizing and annoying.

        I didn’t see Martin make any such stated assessement, so will presume it is youru own, not his. I will also add that if that type of observation/criticism is intended to add to the discussion, I fail to see how it would.

        At any rate – regardless of your perspective, I see a double standard as your observation is applied.

        Nevertheless – I do encourage you to follow that urge to become a part-time, or even a full-time driver (if Metro ever starts promoting anyone from full to part-time) again. Your perspective as well as your “tone” when encountering comments critical of transit and operators such as I frequently see on these threads may change substantially.

      29. Oran,

        On another note – I have made a number of points and provided a number of explanations in response to questions that have arisen about some of the observations about relief points, delays, etc. I have done so respectfully and in good faith – and had those points gone unresponded to – including by you.

        Rather than getting personal and calling my posts “patronizing and annoying” – something that as I said likely adds nothing to the conversation – how about acknowledging that some user perceptions are based upon a lack of information and at least in some cases unrealistic expectations?

        Most importantly – what do we do about all that?

        Neither Martin nor you – the engineer – have offered any real solutions that take some of these complexities into account, only continued pile-on criticisms. Comments such as “it takes brains” or “Maybe Susan Hutchison was right” aren’t patronizing?

        I’d love to bring the discussing back from the brink of incivility here – and pledge to do my part in that by shelving some of my own frustration baggage drawn from my daily experience as a driver. How about you? There’s likely stuff to be learned here yet.

        Back to one of the main points – where *should* Link operator reliefs take place that makes the most sense? How much time should those reliefs take, and in what form? Should ST (or for that matter Metro on bus reliefs) pony up more money for necessary overtime to make sure that drivers are compensated for their time getting to and from relief points? Should schedules be made less cost efficient in some cases so that such reliefs are more ‘transparent’ to the commuter?

        I’m all for venting and kvetching – from either the consumer, operator, or administrator end of things, but not sure that ultimately foments progress, particularly in a forum such as this.

      30. Jeff,

        Normally I’m not one to start calling people names, and getting personal and I apologize for those remarks. Forgived and moving right along… Let’s return to the original posts:

        …changes mid-day at mt. baker. … having to wait 5 minutes on a light rail line in the middle of the line without any advance warning is highly unacceptable.

        this is truly inexcusable. i can’t think of another city in which i’ve ridden light rail where service delays are built into the middle of the trip but not called out on any schedule anywhere.

        This is an information problem. Like you said, information is key, and I think we all agree here. Make an announcement! That should deal with most complaints. They have canned messages for being delayed in the tunnel (“The train is bring held due to traffic ahead. The train will be moving again shortly. We apologize for the delay.”) and for service delays in general. Why not one for operator reliefs. This is the easiest solution.

        Building reliefs in the printed schedule This is more difficult as there are no detailed schedules posted at stations, just the frequencies and first/last train time. The timetable in the schedule book also abbreviates a large part of the day by saying (“every 10 minutes”). A note could be added, “during transition between peak and off-peak hours, some trains may be taken out-of-service or change crew at SODO or Mt Baker, adding a few minutes to your trip. Please plan accordingly.”

        The worst is when a southbound train makes crew changes around 5:30pm at the O&M Facility. Nothing quite like sitting in a full train for 5 minutes while the operators chat with each other. I’ve been caught in this pickle twice.

        Next, operational issues. This seems to be an excessively long relief time.

        First, do operator changes really take 5 minutes every time? I doubt it. How long do they usually take? Most, from my personal observations, have taken around 1-2 minutes. It involves the operator to be relieved safely stopping the train, leaving the train, relief operator boarding the train, enter the cab, set up his/her stuff, and proceed. There are no external safety checks to be done (or they were done really quickly, visually). 1-2 minutes is within the margin of being on-time (< 3 min) and shouldn't be a big deal. If some operators can do it in less time than others, then you have a training and discipline issue. All I can say is to instill a sense of urgency and to review relief procedures with operators. Riders must keep filing complaints for excessively long delays like this to keep the pressure on ST (I know, I work in a public agency, too). A lot of problems can be fixed with training e.g. Link operators not understanding how the signal priority system works. Second, having reliefs in the peak direction during peak hours. With trains coming every 7-8 minutes, having reliefs can add delay to the entire system (not to mention less recovery time at the end for the incoming operator). The train might already been delayed in the tunnel by a minute or two, why intentionally add more delay and anger customers? Moving people quickly with minimal delay should be the priority in this three hours of peak. Having reliefs in the off-peak direction affects the least amount of people. So that 5:30 pm SB relief should be moved up to 5:10 pm NB before the train gets downtown and give those extra 20 minutes for relief time of walking to their car. Or schedule reliefs before and after peak. My route 257 driver doesn't jump out in the middle of the route so why should Link? I know scheduling is a complex business but the software can be programmed with rules. Overtime and pay rules are complex negotiations between the Union and the agency so I don't know if what I suggested is even possible. I don't think we have to change the relief point now. They'll be changed eventually as the system grows and we add more lines and more trains.

      31. 5 minute is an unacceptable delay when passengers are in a train waiting to get to a destination. Operators should say hello, sit in the train, and start operating. Coffee breaks and bonding time with co-workers are totally a fact of a happy life, but not in the middle of a route.

        Zed kind of hit the nail on the head. This is annoying when it’s on a bus that you can exit. It’s obnoxious when you are literally stuck in a train and have to suffer through someone’s small talk.

      32. It would be a courtesy for the operator to announce that “we will stop briefly to change operators. This will take just a minute. Thank you for your patience.” Passengers in the second car have no idea why the train stopped and don’t see the whole process.

      33. No disagreement on that one. Information is key, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with letting passengers know what’s going on. I’ve had Link operators in the tunnel go so far as to let people know if they are waiting for buses to clear the tunnel before entering. I think that helps folks know what’s going on, and quells anxiety.

      34. Jeff,

        I hate to pile on, but I have to say your response to this complaint is really tone-deaf. Your most loyal customers are saying “this is really annoying and has to be rectified.” A response of “quit whining”, when things could be fixed pretty easily, is what gives monopolies and government employees a bad name.

        There’s a perception that the lost time is chit-chat, and operators should be really careful not to give that impression.

        If a train is already in operation, it’s a little disconcerting if it’s in need of immediate maintenance checks. If that’s the case, ST/Metro should spend the dollars to have these occur at the termini, not in mid-route.

      35. Martin,

        And I guess what *I’m* saying is that folks are asking for things that are unrealistic and don’t take into account the realities of public – or heck, even PRIVATE transportation. I know of no system, service, or entity save perhaps radio commercials that run on time the way some of you folks seem to want them to. One bus runs late – you complain. The connecting bus leaves on time – you complain about THAT (because the late folks can’t make their connection – ignoring the fact that if bus “B” waits late for bus/train “A” – then the folks on bus “B” won’t make THEIR connections.

        What you are reading as “tone deaf” is actually something called “reality”, and I often see a real lack of it among many riders who fail to consider basic realities like traffic, garbage trucks, wheelchairs, traffic lights, etc. “Why is this bus 3 minutes late? I missed my connection!” says the pissed off rider. The expectation that buses, trains etc. will run on a clockwork dime IS completely unrealistic fantasy, and more an excuse to vent than anything else.

        And trains/buses in operation have thousands of moving parts – they need constant inspection and attention. Aircraft, too. That must REALLY freak you out.

      36. And trains/buses in operation have thousands of moving parts – they need constant inspection and attention. Aircraft, too. That must REALLY freak you out.

        Jeff, your tone is increasingly patronizing, and it’s simply disingenuous to suggest that the maintenance check has to occur at the midpoint of every run. If the check were performed at each terminus on each trip, the incoming operator should be able to postpone the next one until they reach the end of the line, or even just until the train is stopped at Beacon Hill or Sodo.

        Your casual dismissal of suggestions to reduce some delays because it can’t entirely be eradicated is a real disservice to the operators I know that try very hard to not waste their customers’ time.

      37. Jeff, did you even read the original comments? Do you know what the problem was that started this thread? Nobody was complaining about buses being late or complaining about delays caused by unpredictable circumstances or demanding that every bus run like clockwork without fail, we weren’t even talking about buses. The complaint was about a very specific delay caused by a very specific action that could very easily be solved. Nobody was asking for something unrealistic, just that if ST is going to inconvenience a train load of passengers for the convenience of the operators that those operators move a little faster and keep the delay to a minimum. Better yet, change operators at the terminus so that no one is delayed.

        And believe it or not, there are rail systems all over the world that run very tight schedules, down to the fractions of a minute, it’s not as impossible as you want to believe. There are lines with headways under two minutes, do you think they achieve that by shrugging their shoulders and saying it’s impossible? No, they achieve it by good design and sound operating practices. Stopping a train mid-run for five minutes to switch operators or taking a rush hour train out of service before reaching downtown are not good operating practices. Maybe it’s good for the operators, but it’s not good for the passengers, and the passengers are the only reason Link exists to begin with.

    2. I’ve lost count of the # of trips I’ve had that should have taken 15 minutes that have stretched out to 20 or even 25. It’s becoming regular to have that happen a few times per week. One expects slight delays in at grade sections – its angering when they happen in the most expensive, grade-separated sections for the reasons everyone is talking about here.

    3. During the last operator change I experienced between SoDo and Beacon Hill (southbound), the operators too about 5 mintues to make small talk (on the train, in front of everyone) while the trainful of passengers waited. Maybe the operator change procedure could be tightened up a bit?

  3. I remember when service first started that northbound trains would go out of service at Beacon Hill, I wonder why the change?

    1. I don’t think the in-bound morning trains should go out of service at all, but if they must, inside weather-proof Beacon Hill makes the most sense.

  4. OK, here’s the story, straight from the horse’s mouth (actually two horses…) —

    NB trains go out of service at night at Mount Baker Station because there’s more bus service there and secondarily because there’s no doors on the station so nobody can get trapped inside. Concerns at Beacon Hill Station are there’s much less bus service late at night, and a late-running train could drop off riders after the elevators are shut off. (The system shuts down at 1:00 and that means that gates and elevators and such are all closed promptly at that moment.)

    There are also two NB trains after the morning rush that also go out of service at Mount Baker Station and that is done to be consistent with the nighttime pattern.

    Trains should leave the TIBS terminal signed up to Mount Baker Station, NOT Downtown Seattle/Westlake Station. All riders should be alerted that it’s not a through train to Westlake. If you see this not happening, by all means let us know.

    1. Why are AM trains going out of service Northbound (the peak direction)? Even if this happens “after the morning rush,” there are still more people riding into the city at that time of day than people leaving downtown.

      It seems it would be very simple to change this to have trains go out of service in the AM hours on the Southbound run, and then have Northbound trains go out of service in the evening.

    2. Is it not possible to have the doors and gates shut down later than the rest of the system, to give people time to get out? Seems like a design blunder if it has to be all-or-nothing.

      If that really is the issue, can’t they change the shutdown to 1:10 or something….

  5. Even though the “late night bus connections are better” at Mt. Baker, isn’t this a little inconvenient for people that would take the last train to Beacon Hill? That’s not like people that want to get off at Mt. Baker can’t….

    Also, in response to “I can’t think of another city in which i’ve ridden light rail where service delays are built into the middle of the trip”; Phoenix does the same thing, and reformed their operator switch protocol after lengthy delays. The train used to wait at the airport stop (44th/Washington) for operators to drive to the station from the base (not far) in a van. Often, the train would arrive and wait for the operator to park the van, walk across the street, etc., etc. Now they just stop the train in front of a strip club near O&M and change there… Phoenix also has operators announce at every stop that the train is only going so far, and informs passengers that “the next train goes all of the way into Mesa/Phoenix. Yeah, the constant announcements are excessive (especially considering that the final destination is listed on the front of the train), but it helped people understand what to do.

    And Link does post the final destination on the front of each train; seeing and hearing “this is the train to SODO station” should suffice as is.

    1. “Even though the “late night bus connections are better” at Mt. Baker, isn’t this a little inconvenient for people that would take the last train to Beacon Hill? That’s not like people that want to get off at Mt. Baker can’t….”

      Exactly. The “more bus service” excuse is a red herring. If someone needs to connect to a bus, they can get off at Mt. Baker. Might as well do a stop at Beacon Hill before parking the train for the night. (And does the 38 still run to get you from Mount Baker to Beacon Hill at 1:00 am?)

      The doors issue is another story, but it seems as if setting the elevators to an “up-only” mode would solve the problem.

  6. ST guy, that is really silly. What about the people who live at Beacon Hill? And can’t the train operator look at watch and make sure she is dropping off passengers with plenty of time to make the 1am deadline?

    1. You make a good point. As someone who lives on Beacon Hill, I’d not like to have to climb up McClellan St. hill (15% grade) at 12:xx AM just to get home.

      As far as the train operators go — they’re human; stuff happens to humans — so let’s see if we can “idiot proof” things here and there…

  7. Surely ST operations must know if any trains are still operating, and could tell Beacon Hill staff when it is safe to close the station.

  8. I can see the point with the trains terminating at Mt. Baker Station late night, due to security reasons with tunnel stations. No, there is no Route 38 at 1AM, but those headed to Beacon Hill can get off at Othello Station and take the Rt. 36 from there (Last trip leaves Othello Station at 2:49am daily), but some riders will consider this inconvienet, where the bus ride takes longer than the LINK ride from the Tukwila area.

    I have seen early evening trips inbound saying “Beacon Hill Station” on the destination, when the peak transtitions to off peak (this was early in the startup, things may have changed since then).

    In the other hand, there is no excuse what so ever of having mid morning service inbound terminating at Mt. Baker Station, when at that time of the day is the predominant direction of travel (and making riders get on the next train). Those trips should be continue on to Westlake, and deadhead or run to SODO station outbound. Seems to be a ST scheduling screwup.

    1. Our run cards still show some trains going out of service at Beacon Hill (mid day and some earlier evening trips), But there was a policy change that instructed all northbound trips to go out of service at Mt Baker several weeks ago. The reason for this was never made completely clear but I suspect that it has something to do with security sweeps needed before the trains pull into the yard. It may be that Mt Baker is the only station where security personel can access quickly to assist an operator with sleepers or other passengers refusing to deboard the train – who would have to be removed before the train could leave.

      Tentative run cards for airport station service have been posted but I did not look close enough to see where trains go out of service.

  9. ” No, there is no Route 38 at 1AM, but those headed to Beacon Hill can get off at Othello Station and take the Rt. 36 from there (Last trip leaves Othello Station at 2:49am daily), but some riders will consider this inconvienet, where the bus ride takes longer than the LINK ride from the Tukwila area.”

    Worse than inconvenient, I imagine a lot of riders just wouldn’t realize they need to do this. If there was an announcement on the train at Othello that would work, but otherwise I bet people would go right past it to Mount Baker and then be stuck at the bottom of the hill. It’s a heck of a hike up McClellan.

  10. Anyone timing their connections to within 5 minutes should catch an earlier train.

    And we wonder why so many people continue to drive instead of take transit….

    1. Switzerland runs 9000 intercity and regional trains per day, 95% of which will arrive and depart within 3 minutes of the posted schedule. We should be able to run a 15 mile long light rail system on time.

      1. Zed,

        How many tunnels does Switzerland share with bus traffic?

        How many surface streets do they share with automobiles?

        Would love to see a cite for those figures by the way. Not that it’s relevant. If we had a Swiss system here – STB would be filled with people complaining about those 3 minutes.

      2. Jeff,

        Sound Transit’s OWN performance standards call for 99.85% 98.5% of scheduled train trips to be completed within 3 minutes of scheduled terminal arrival time. That’s in the agreement between ST and Metro to operate Central Link.

        Think that’s unrealistic? Tell it to your bosses.

      3. There’s a schedule for Link? Does Sounder meet the 99.85% standard?

        I’ve tried hard not to wade into this since; one, I have no personal knowledge and two, I’ve got no dog in the fight. But if there’s no published schedule how do you measure on time performance?

      4. I made a mistake. It 98.5% not 99.85% for Link.

        There is a schedule. ST published it for the last service change.

        Sounder’s year-to-date (Q2) on-time performance is 97.54% for 2009 and 99.78% for 2008. The standard for Sounder is lower at 95.00% (the average of all trains in a month arriving at a terminus within seven minutes of schedule.)

      5. Thanks Oran!

        From what I’d been reading on this blog a major complaint was that ST wouldn’t publish a schedule for Link. However, the schedule you linked to made no promises for much of the day. And since arrival times aren’t listed for large portions of the day it’s hard to claim that peoples claimed wait times aren’t simply to get trains back in phase.

        There seems to be a problem; even if it’s just one of perception. But can anyone document Link not meeting it’s schedule?

        Not taking a side here but is the problem the schedule, the people responsible for scheduling the trains, or the people responsible for keeping the trains on schedule?

      6. It’s not a scheduling problem per se, it’s that some morning northbound and evening southbound rush hour trains are stopping at the maintenance base for an inordinate amount of time to change operators. It’s not a huge deal when the operators do the switch quickly, but quite frequently the train will be stopped there for 5 minutes. I understand why they switch there, because it’s more convenient for the operators, but stopping a train full of people in the middle of nowhere is not really adding to the image of Link being fast and efficient. They really should be switching operators at the end of the line so the operators can take the time that they need without impacting the travel time of passengers.

      7. I wasn’t expecting a schedule for Link to be published. The reason I came up with (half-jokingly, half-seriously) to explain why ST wouldn’t publish schedules was so people can’t claim their train was late. When service runs every 10 minutes or less a schedule is generally not needed. The combination of real-time arrival info and frequent service should be enough for most riders.

        Internally, there must be a way to track reliability. They might have a schedule for operations that’s more detailed than the public schedule. Sound Transit also has a travel time matrix on their website.

        The whole “5 minute” debate started with a trollish comment that 5 minutes isn’t really worth much. That really ticked people off. Who are you to judge how much my time is worth?

        The point is that people get impatient and frustrated when things don’t go the way they expect it or they are left in the dark. So it is two issues: First, riders have no idea that their train will have an operator change. Without information, riders can’t plan around it. Second, five minutes is too long for an operator change. These usually take 1-2 minutes, even with some talk. See my video on YouTube. No one here, not even Jeff, knows what the procedures for Link operator change are. So any claims of 5 minutes for safety checks are bunk.

        Operator changes should be factored into the schedule so they don’t count as ‘lateness’. The problem is no one except the operator knows that schedule.

        Looking long term, how will operator changes be handled on East Link, which goes nowhere near the train yard? It’ll have to happen at stations or at the end of the line, just the way it should be. Or East Link trains become Central Link trains and change operators as normal.

        As for measuring Link reliability, John Niles claims 75% on-time reliability over the period of around a month. I doubt the sample size (23) is large enough to make any statistically accurate conclusions.

      8. Who are you to judge how much my time is worth?

        Oran,

        The short answer is that as a fellow citizen, I don’t believe that your time is worth anymore than mine, or anyone elses.

        I guess like all folks, my reaction to the “5-minute” gripe that has come up here and on other threads (funny how it’s always “5-minutes”) is based on my own personal experience/baggage. Having served in the military and seen some of the world, and having worked in nonprofit organizations supporting people with significant disabilities for 20 years, having seen people wait for hours for a hot meal, months for health care, and years for basic support services (if they get them at all), feeling sorry or otherwise empathetic for someone getting very, very worked up about 5 minutes out of their commute time isn’t something that fits into my personal psyche.

        Mind you, I’m not speaking for Metro, for drivers or as a driver here but as a citizen who also rides the bus and has all of my life. Having seen the things that I’ve seen, eperienced the things that I’ve experienced, and having the general values that I hold – if you’re going to be substantially put out, stressed out, angry, indignant, etc. over 5 minutes time (regardless of what YOU think your time is worth), you’re not going to get a heck of a lot of sympathy from me unless that’s 5 minutes you had to wait for paramedics to arrive, for warning to get out of the way of a tornado, etc. Missing a connecting bus once in awhile because you had an expectation that you’ll always be able to make that connection with 5 minutes in-between the arrival of one mode of transport and the departure of another? No, I will not apologize for not acknowledging that your anger has some validity. I gotta be me, I guess.

      9. “How many tunnels does Switzerland share with bus traffic? How many surface streets do they share with automobiles?”

        That’s irrelevant. I was pointing out that an extremely complex rail network spanning an entire country can be run with great punctuality, so it shouldn’t be too huge of a deal for a 15 mile long light rail line with 13 stops to be run efficiently and on time.

        BTW, here’s the reference, don’t know if there’s an English version;

        http://sbb-gb2008.mxm.ch/_pdf/SBB_mit_ug_gesamt_d.pdf

      10. Your “English version” is in German. My high school Deutsche can’t parse.

        And no – I don’t believe that my question is irrelevant. How could it be?

      11. Jeff,

        Agencies really ignore this kind of feedback at their own peril. The STB audience is extremely well-disposed to ST and transit and knows more than most about bus and rail operations. And we’re telling you that the current policy communicates a blatant disregard for the valuable time of customers. What do you think average riders are thinking?

      12. the current policy communicates a blatant disregard for the valuable time of customers. What do you think average riders are thinking?

        I don’t make assumptions about what the average rider is thinking – I prefer – and I believe that both ST and King County Metro prefers – to listen to what the average rider is thinking.

        Having been an average rider for years – I have to say I never had some of the thoughts I hear from many here, much of which jump almost immediately to snarky comments about incompetent or “untrustworthy” driver/operators.

        No, I don’t think that there is a “blatant disregard for the valuable time of customers” – and find such characterizations more than just “overly negative” – I’m sorry, but such a characterization of those who plan and run the services we’re talking about here do not have horns, forked tails. They do not live in a sealed box, nor do they routinely torture puppies and kittens for the sheer pleasure of it – but you and others on this board often make it sound as if this is the case.

        There’s no shortage of negative rhetoric on any issue, and I’ve certainly been guilty of carrying on on a degree of my own. Surely you must acknowlege that perhaps not every question about service has an easy answer, indiviudal, or incompetent process to blame?

      1. Because the Metro trip planner can give you connections that are 5 minutes apart. That’s an assumption they made in the system. By Metro’s own standards, a bus is “considered on-time if it is up to 5 minutes late or 1 minute early.” Metro aims for an 80% on-time rate. ST Express buses aim for 90%.

      2. Oran,

        Metro aims for an 80% on-time rate.

        Then according to this “by the book” interpretation – you can expect 2 in 10 buses to be late on average, and 1 in 10 trains.

        That means that if you’re connecting to a bus, you can expect (at a minimum) to miss your connection one out of ever 4 days – according to the stats you provide.

        Back to the real world – the one that you and I both agree can and should continue to listen to consumers and look for ways to improve things. We both know that some buses never seem to run on time, at least during certain calendar stretches. The #12 for example outbound on Mariner, Seahawk, or Sounder game days NEVER run on time – due to congestion on first avenue.

        Some buses run on time in the summer – but not when public school is in session.

        So aside from what I often see as a reflexive and almost gleeful instinct to pin problems on drivers – for whom the average consumer onfortunately holds on to a bevy of unpleasant and (mostly) completely inaccurate stereotypes – what other factors might be coming into play, and what might be done about them?

        Scheduling is one issue. An operators, we are very invested in quality service to the everyday user of the services we provide. Why? Because we’re the first to hear about it when people are unhappy, and invariably the first to be blamed, usually by folks who have no clue nor have they taken the time to consider that there are other factors at play besides the uniformed public servant with a big target on their forehead sitting behind the wheel.

        For a pretty good explanation of how scheduling on buses is done, take a look at the last couple of ATU 587 newsletters, which include articles from a scheduler attempting to explain “how things work” to us drivers – who are ourselves often out of the information loop.

        You can find the articles in these issues – they’re a good read:

        Time Point Intervals and Recovery Time – Bill Clifford
        http://www.atu587.com/documents/ATUJuly2009.pdf

        Randall Kelley Responds to Last Month’s Article by Bill Clifford
        http://www.atu587.com/documents/ATUAugust2009-2-.pdf

      3. Thanks, Jeff.

        It is unfair and unreasonable to put all the blame on drivers or even Metro as a whole. The operation of streets and signals are beyond their control. If Metro controlled the streets they would give utmost priority to transit but they don’t so they have to work with city transportation departments, King County (funny how they are the same department but are siloed), and WSDOT, which have their own priorities.

        I know the city (Seattle) is trying to make bus transit operate better by providing facilities like bus lanes and signal priority and removing bottlenecks. They have to deal with other groups who share our roads and who may disagree.

        The more infrastructure a transit agency has in their control or in their favor, the better service they can provide.

      4. Jeff,

        All this stuff adds up.

        Someone might have to budget 5 minutes to walk from their house to a bus stop, 5 minutes in case the bus arrives early, and 10 if the bus/train transfer doesn’t work out. Now you’re adding 5 minutes because the operator can’t be trusted to drive fast enough on a dedicated right of way with signal priority to make the lights in time. An now you want to budget another 5 minutes if there happens to be a shift change. Pretty soon you’re at 30 minutes (plus actual travel time!) for a trip that might take 10 in a car.

        You can never completely eradicate delays but a dedication to strive to eliminate unnecessary ones is what separates good companies and good agencies from bad.

      5. Now you’re adding 5 minutes because the operator can’t be trusted to drive fast enough on a dedicated right of way with signal priority

        Now Martin – really, “the drive can’t be trusted”? I hope you can acknowledge a flat bias in that statement, and a failure to recognize that there are other factors besides “untrustworthy drivers” that might impact the time that a train gets to the station.

        As far as budgeting more than 5 minutes to make a connection – whether from Link to bus or from bus to bus, you appear to be saying that 5 minutes is the limit to what is reasonable to budget in terms of extra time. I hear your argument, I simply disagree. My perspective is one of someone who has been a Metro rider since I was a reallty little dude watching JP Patches to my current status as an operator and Grandson of a 43-year career driver.

        You appear to be aruging that if it is necessary to budget more than 5 minutes to ensure making a connection, that is unreasonable and something needs to change. I agree with Oran that always looking for ways to improve the system can and should be a priority, and those improvements can and should include enhancing schedule reliability. I diagree however with what I perceive as a quick-to-judge condemnation of drivers and rail operators when things don’t work out that way.

        I also believe that as a consumer of public transportation – as am I – you have some responsibilitiy of your own, and one of those responsibilities as with anything else, be it work, medical appointments, air travel, etc. – is PLAN FOR DELAYS. Suggesting that you may want to plan for more than 5 minutes to make a bus or train connection doesn’t to me in either my long history as a commuter and citizen of the world to be unreasonable. I am hearing that you disagree.

        As far as separating good companies and agencies from bad, I guess I’d be interested in seeing some statistics from other transit agencies on how well they run their buses and trains on time, and how they compare to Metro and Sound Transit.

        Wouldn’t you?

  11. Martin,

    From your updated intro on this thread:

    given that late night service is just as good on the 36 as it is on the 7

    Is it possible that rationale for Mt. Baker has to do with the fact that more than just the 7 runs there? The 8, 14, and 48 all service the Mt. Baker Transit Center, and at greater frequency than the 36 passes the Beacon Hill station.

    Aren’t the bus connections, both to downtown and to South Seattle and beyond – actually better at Mt. Baker station than Beacon Hill, considering the additional routes that service the Mt. Baker bus transit station?

    1. Jeff,

      The 8, 14, and 48 don’t run late enough to serve the last train, unless you happen to be taking the 14 just up the hill to Hunter and Hanford. So they’re simply irrelevant to the problem of what to do with the last train load of commuters.

      At other times, you simply wait for next train.

  12. Zed,

    I understand why they switch there, because it’s more convenient for the operators, but stopping a train full of people in the middle of nowhere is not really adding to the image of Link being fast and efficient.

    I’m sure that the residents in and around the Mt. Baker station area would disagree that they live ” in the middle of nowhere”, as would anyone that – well drove, walked past, rode through, or had ever experienced that area. You might also want to talk to the folks of Twisp. Now THAT is the “middle of nowhere”. Or say Garyowen, Indiana.

    They really should be switching operators at the end of the line so the operators can take the time that they need without impacting the travel time of passengers.

    What difference would that make? Whether at the end of the line or at Mt. Baker – any delay is still a delay. And I don’t think it’s for the convenience of drivers – it’s an efficiency issue (including cost).

    1. I wasn’t talking about switching operators at Mt. Baker, as I’ve never experienced that. What I and other people were referring to is when they stop the train on the elevated section of track above Forest Street near the O&M base to switch operators. To the passengers this is the middle of nowhere because it’s not a normal stop and unless an announcement is made the passengers have no idea why the train has stopped.

      If they switched operators at the terminus, passengers would already be at their destination and the operators could take all the time they need without impacting passengers’ travel time. Do you really not see the difference?

      1. If they switched operators at the terminus, passengers would already be at their destination and the operators could take all the time they need without impacting passengers’ travel time.

        Uh – people at the ‘terminus’ have a tendency to want to go to the OTHER endof the terminus, i.e. folks at Tukwila/SeaTac want to go downtown. How would having driver do their changeover here NOT impact time?

        Explain.

      2. The answer for the relief point is simple – how many minutes is ST willing to pay for an operator to have to travel from OMF (where we report for work each day and get all information and materials needed for work) to the relief point? The “shack” is a five minute walk – SODO would be twenty minutes. Any other station would be much more and might require relief vehicles (like suburban bus bases).

        The chatting between operators must include any information regarding conditions of the vehicles, Right Of Way and Overhead Contact System which has not gotten in to the current train orders in order to ensure safe operations.

        As an operator I have always preferred making reliefs at terminals – bus or rail. This allows me to adequately prepare for operations. Any time I am rushed to begin working increases the chance of making mistakes. Operating costs seem to preclude making reliefs at terminals.

        I know it must be frustrating to riders when the train is stopped for any reason. The relief happens only once per day on my shift. Delays in the DSTT and losing the preempt cycles on ML King happen much more frequently. Each of these can delay the train two to three minutes or more per event, per trip. While I do not waste any time making reliefs, I prefer to focus on trying to solve the delays mentioned above. Both of which are fixable. We report delays up the chain and I am sure that dedicated people are working hard on solving them (I have seen progress on some and participate in discussing the rest. There are political issues dealing with ML King signals which have been mentioned elsewhere on this Blog.

        When I get the opportunity travel to other cities I see examples both of other systems suffering from the same difficulties we see here and practises much better than ours. I am convinced that we will get better even though it may seem to take too long.

    2. There are wires crossed here somewhere. The driver change problem is at the O&M, between Beacon Hill and SODO, and to most passengers it looks as if the stop is in the middle of nowhere (it’s up in the air!) for no reason. If you are sitting near the front you see that it is a driver switch. But when this has happened to me, there has been no announcement made or anything, and people who can’t see that it is a driver switch don’t understand why they are stopped between stations.

      (For what it’s worth, every time I’ve seen a driver switch there, it’s been very quick — not 5 minutes at all. However, I have been stopped for about 5 minutes at the O&M stop at least once, but was sitting so far back that I don’t know if it was a driver switch that time or some other cause. The driver switches I have actually seen have been quick enough.)

    3. (Submitted that last post too soon.) The Mount Baker issue is not a driver switch issue, but an issue of NB trains going out of service there even though they are continuing on through Beacon Hill to the O&M.

      There are two problems with that, from the rider perspective.

      1. In peak NB hours, going out of service in mid-run and making everyone wait for another train is a major slowdown in the passengers’ commute, and the type of thing that makes commuters say “Screw it — I’ll drive.”

      2. Making Beacon Hill riders get out at Mount Baker when the train is going through Beacon Hill anyway seems kind of silly. Beacon Hill is protected from the weather and a better place to wait for another train. And if it was the last train, this means a pretty serious uphill hike for Beacon Hillers, with no good bus service to fill in at that time of night.

  13. Riding northbound this afternoon we stopped for a driver switch at the O&M booth. The driver made an announcement over the PA that explained why we were stopping, and the switch took exactly 1 minute. That seems like a good way to handle it. That is the first time I’ve heard a driver explain that a switch was happening — they definitely should do that every time.

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