Photo by Stephen de Vight
Photo by Stephen de Vight

[UPDATE: Niles has the full ridership breakdown.  Saturday was slightly down from September, Sunday boardings were flat.]

The Times mentioned Friday that October’s weekday ridership was 16,200.  That’s quite a bit up from September (14,852) and probably reflects a full month of many bus routes being rerouted to serve Link (as well as the 42 being eliminated).

Standard disclaimers: monthly numbers suffer from small sample size problems (not every train is measured), seasonal variations, distortions from special events or lack thereof, and economic impacts.  And so on.  More importantly, Central Link is a decades-long project and the real question — was it worth it — won’t be answered definitively for decades.

The target is 21,000 by the end of the year.

197 Replies to “October Link Ridership Up”

  1. the 194 ending will provide a large increase in ridership … I always see that bus leave the terminal full … with 4 or 5 getting on the LINK connector bus

  2. Now that they have some data about how people are actually using LINK (or not), it’ll be interesting to see if there will be continued changes on the buses. For the most part, I’ve found that even though I live very close to the Columbia City station, it’s not always the fastest option for me. I hope this continues to be re-examined in the future.

    As a side note, I have learned a lot about Seattle Public School students using the train. Their $.75 passes will be accepted on the train if:

    1. They need to have a pass that has the word STUDENT in black letters across the front.

    2. They need to carry their student ID’s with them.

    I have a request in at Sound Transit asking why students are the only people responsible for having to carry ID along with their passes. Seems unfair, especially considering that the only way to find out about the rule is via a fare enforcement officer on the train!

    1. Is it not always your fastest option because of the 42?

      The 42 should have been cancelled entirely. It’s extremely cost ineffective now.

      1. I’m taking rail to connect to get to the UW. The 8 to 48 or 39 to 70’s are typically faster, mostly because I can track when to leave my house to make the connections.

        I never use the 42. I don’t understand why it’s around at all. I’d much prefer to see the 48 continue on to Columbia City and the 8 run more frequently.

      2. I would add that my daughter, who rides to Garfield a lot earlier than I do, prefers to take rail to the 48 because the 8 is too crowded and slow during the commute hours with oodles of children trying to get to Franklin, Washington or Garfield.

      3. 48 south to Garfield in the morning is ridiculous though… One extraordinarily crammed bus to the point when people have to sit on the floor in front of the yellow line, and an SRO run before and after that one. Sucks when I get on the later one.

  3. Did you get these numbers from ST? I see that John Niles now has the posted on his Public Interest Transportation Forum site. This wasn’t up when the Seattle Sometimes ran their story. 16k is what we saw after the service change on Sept 19th, a bump of about 2,000 riders on weekdays.

    One reason for a drop off on weekday ridership was the end of the Baseball season. Previously I’d opined that Sounders fans were more likely to use Link that Seahawk fans. That didn’t seem to hold. Ridership for the football playoff game barely got a bump. The pointy ball fans seem to be catching on to Link with a 7k boost on game days.

    I commented last month on the thread “Open Houses for ST2 Bus Improvements” about monthly trends at Woodinville P&R, 2009-10-25 13:06:26 . The jist of it was there was a consistent jump in usage in Nov/Dec from Oct usage. I had some theories on why but it will be interesting to see if Link gets the same bump. Of course the end of Dec will see a bump from the airport opening but it will also suffer some on the commuter side from people taking vacations.

  4. Here is the daily ridership estimates from ST for October:

    http://www.bettertransport.info/pitf/LinkBoardingsEstimateSummary.10.09.pdf

    As you can see, there were a few days in early October where ridership was in the 19,000/day – 20,000/day range. Then it tapered off throughout the month.

    Here are the weekday ridership averages by week for October:

    week starting September 28: 17,906

    week starting October 5: 17,780

    week starting October 13: 15,539 (not including Columbus Day, Oct. 12)

    week starting October 19: 15,850

    week starting October 26: 13,782

    So, from this data, it might be that LINK got a temporary ridership boost from the changes in the bus routes on Sept. 21, then ridership gradually declined back to the 14,000 per day range.

    Or, maybe not.

    Personally, I think the ST ridership estimates are not very accurate, since they fluctuate pretty wildly from one day to the next for no apparent reason.

    Did anyone who rides LINK every day notice an uptick in ridership in late September/early October? Or not?

    1. Taipei MRT’s ridership varies by as much as hundreds of thousands per day. Does that mean that the estimates are inaccurate? I wouldn’t say so.

      1. From a quick glance at the document you provided, I would say that those numbers look a lot more consistent than the LINK estimates.

        Most Mondays are around 1.3 million, most Fridays are around 1.5 million, and most Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays are around 1.35 million. There is some variation, obviously, but not nearly as great from day to day or week to week as the LINK numbers.

        Also, at the bottom of your statistics sheet, it says, “Data Source : Ticketing Center of Station Operations Division”

        So, it seems that these numbers are the numbers of tickets sold, which is a lot easier and a lot more a accurate to keep track of than boarding estimates based on automatic counters above the doors of about 30% of LINK cars.

        Has Sound Transit given out any figures on tickets sold, or fare revenue so far? That might be more accurate than those automatic boarding counters.

        Is there anyone here who knows how those automatic boarding counters on LINK cars work? Are they very accurate? For example, can they distinguish between a person boarding and a large piece of luggage being pulled along behind the person on a long handle? Or might they count a large piece of luggage as another person boarding? What about baby strollers?

        How do those counters work?

      2. Counting tickets sold on Link is not a reliable way of measuring ridership. Link is an open system and most people who ride don’t buy tickets as they already have passes and everyone isn’t using ORCA cards yet.

        Taipei can measure ridership from the counters at fare gates which everyone needs to pass through to enter and exit the system.

      3. Charles, the counters don’t distinguish between separate objects by motion, but by infrared energy. So distinct entities that give off infrared will be counted. It’s unlikely a baby could be mistaken for a piece of luggage.

        In the way of ridership inconsistencies, keep in mind that Link is still just a “pilot” segment. Lot of people still testing out their commutes, seeing what works for them, what doesn’t.

    2. The estimates are inaccurate. Only a few trains have rider count hardware on them, so the margin of error is huge. You need a whole month to have good accuracy – even the week data has a big potential swing.

    3. I have seen numbers go up in two areas:

      1. People of color

      2. Students

      I’ve also seen students then taper off as there has been confusion about their passes, etc.

      The lack of a stop at Graham is frustrating. Along with small retail shops, the largest Asian grocery store outside the ID is there, and DSHS as well. And this DSHS branch also houses CPS units and job training.

  5. October is typically Metro’s strongest month. School is in session, 31 days, no official holidays. Doesn’t get better than this. Typically.

    1. That doesn’t track with what I saw from Woodinville P&R usage over several years of data. It’s very strange but at least for some modes October is a lull. Link data doesn’t yet provide anything for trends but it is very interesting to look at. Now, before it’s mature, is a really great time to look at individual events like sporting contests and such.

      Weekend ridership is low. Not surprising, but there is often great potential there. Maybe rates should be lower on weedends. Even if the revenue is neutral an increase in ridership is like free advertising; and a very effective form of advertising.

  6. Wow, very weak numbers for Seattle. I’m still shocked by this anomaly. I consider it an anomaly because compared to Phoenix, a reputed transit unfriendly region, and car dominated culture is kicking predictions right out the window. People are trading in the freeway commute for a light rail trip faster than you can say, fill ‘er up!

    There is a push in Phoenix to have nearly 50,000 passengers per day on average by January 2010. Since we’ve surpassed 41,000 daily riders, and the tourist, second home “snow bird” residents, sporting events, and holiday shopping season are upon us in Phoenix, this might not be so hard to accomplish.

    Even when it was 108° out, no school, and a huge recession in Phoenix during July ridership still trumped the 26,000 ridership forecast by years end without a problem. Let’s hope the metro Seattle area can contribute to positive gains for light rail across the nation in order to build more support for such projects.

    1. No need to be shocked. We’ve iterated time and time again that these new numbers don’t prove much. Transit opponents might wave their arms and claim that this is a failure of Link, but does this prove that? Absolutely not.

      Keep in mind that multiple cities that have opened new rail lines have park and rides at several of their stations, which tend to boost ridership. It’s a trade-off that we have to deal with.

      1. Why were light rail park and ride lots eliminated? And how are the numbers not proving much. We are lucky here in Phoenix that numbers are so positive otherwise transit opponents in this great state of Arizona would have the rails ripped out by years end. Seattle is lucky that the populous is a little more forgiving for such government “giveaways.” Some, the loudest minority, in Phoenix have the misconception that freeways build themselves for free compared to mass transit. LRT would be a dead horse in Phoenix if the situations where reverse. That might have something to do with my shock and alarm of the Seattle system.

        Enjoy your weekends, I must head out for the night!

      2. Cisco, you can read this past post on why ridership numbers aren’t exactly relevant at this stage:
        https://seattletransitblog.com/2009/07/20/dont-worry-be-happy-this-is-expected-ridership/

        The most important reason to keep in mind is that Seattle’s entire transportation system is in transitional flux right now. Changes are still being made, and will continue to be made over the course of several months. A restaurateur doesn’t count on sales within the first month of opening as a financial metric, especially if the menu, look, and feel of the restaurant are all still being tweaked.

        A lot of Valley Metro’s riders are new transit users. While Link has its share of new riders, many are also long-time bus users that are unfamiliar with rail transit. I admit that thus far, Sound Transit has done a subpar job of advertising Link, especially to mixed-income immigrant communities in the Rainier Valley. However, we’ve experienced what you could call a “mode war,” where existing bus users almost have an aversion to rail, since it seems so foreign to them.

        The city has a very aggressive smart growth agenda as per its Comprehensive Plan– building park and rides in a city as dense as Seattle makes no sense. It consumes valuable real estate that could be used in the way of TOD investment. Rainier Vista and the Station at Othello are two such developments that will greatly benefit from Link. The Rainier Valley is a very walkable and bikeable area; to plague that quality by incentivizing automobile use would be completely unfair to existing residents.

        Nearly a third of Seattleites either use transit, bike, or walk to work. That’s one of the highest non-vehicle commuting mode shares in the country. Ultimately, building park-and-rides does not reduce the SOV mode share; it hardly affects VMT reduction, and it ultimately negates the marginal cost benefits for an individual to take transit.

        Withholding park and rides is a long-term investment. You might wave your hands at the sacrifice of ridership, but think about it. What kind of ridership are you reaping with additions like park and rides? Tie it in with what we’re trying to do with the city, not just limited to transit. We don’t just want to raise the transit share mode. We want to chop down the SOV mode. Park and rides don’t help that.

      3. I also want to add a little tidbit about the Rainier Valley. This is one of the most diverse communities in the United States. 81% of its residents are minorities, and 40% is foreign-born.

        I’ve heard from community developers in the Valley that hundreds of languages are spoken there. Just imagine the marketing nightmare that Sound Transit has on its hands.

      4. These are very good argument but fall short of a tangible argument. The fact is the light rail line replaced Phoenix’ most heavily used bus line, the Red Line. In fact, many Seattlites have tried to argue that light rail users in Phoenix are “new to transit,” which is completely false and disingenuous. The red line had many times the ridership compared to any other line in metro Phoenix.

        Park and Ride lots not only serve suburban commuters to the center city region of Phoenix, where 76.8% of employment for the Valley of the Sun exists within 10 miles of downtown, but also serves as Express/Rapid bus transit centers for light rail use. I think elimination of this connection in Seattle was shortsighted and should be addressed there.

        Also interesting to note, while Seattle has a high share of transit rides, metro Seattle doesn’t and this is evident when compared to traffic problems and congestion compared to Phoenix and metro Phoenix. Metro Phoenix has experienced some of the largest gains in ALL forms of public transportation and no increase in traffic congestion. Despite Phoenix being the nation’s 5th largest city, and 12th largest metro, we have the nation’s 19th worst traffic, tumbling from the top of the pack for such traffic woes.

      5. A similar note about Phoenix, our Gateway neighborhood, Tempe, and Christown in Phoenix are huge international neighborhoods where over 160 foreign languages have been identified as being in use. However, only Spanish and English are used widely for dissemination of information. Phoenix minority-majority city, after all.

      6. As far as transit centers and park-and-rides go, I’ve already made the case against them in Seattle. Just for the record, transit connections are being made at each station. And more will come in February. Park-and-rides make a little more sense in low-density suburbs with high-SOV mode shares, but everywhere that’s been denied a park-and-ride for Link does not match that characteristic.

        When you’re talking about traffic congestion, population density is a far better metric than population. The last thing I want to do is to turn this into a Phoenix-Seattle “my city is better than your city” quibble, but I want to note that Seattle MSA’s transit share is 8%. Phoenix’s is 2.6%. I would never in my lifetime use congestion as an accurate measure for how many people are taking transit.

        Also, what’s also important is to remember that Valley Metro has connected Phoenix with outlying suburbs. Most of Central Link still resides within Seattle proper. So commuting and transportation patterns are completely different.

      7. I don’t think this is a city v. city argument, but a what should be implemented argument and what works argument. It is obvious that SOV use in metro Seattle is extremely high. The 2.6% use of transit in Phoenix is old and has not been evaluated for 2009; we expect this percentage to accumulate accordingly.

        As for connecting to “outlying suburbs,” LRT only extends 1 mile into Mesa, a city 10 times the distance from the Tempe border eastward. Tempe is also a very small and compact city, less than 5 miles from east to west, so much of the light rail, is only in the city of Phoenix. I think what is underestimated is the actual compactness of metro Phoenix despite its characterization of a sprawl burdened region. I think Seattle and Phoenix can learn much from each other. Phoenix, urban and downtown development, and Seattle, smart and involved community transit planning.

      8. Cisco, if Sound Transit had built U-Link (to Capitol Hill and UW) and North Link (Roosevelt and Northgate) first then the numbers for our rail transit system would be off the charts. Some of the busiest bus lines in the region travel between Downtown, Capitol Hill, U District, and Northgate.

        For a number of reasons the first phase of our light rail system wasn’t the segment with the highest ridership potential.

        Seattle has an extremely high walk/bike/transit share for people commuting to downtown (or a low percentage of people commuting via SOV). Even on a regional basis transit commute share is quite good.

      9. So why weren’t the most viable neighborhoods connected with light rail ridership first? Wouldn’t that have served the community better? It seems counterproductive to have built a vastly underutilized system first and then open up with extensions in 6-10 years. Much of this is also speculation; especially with U District ridership in other metros including Phoenix and Tempe.

      10. That’s exactly what I think is the reason. Phoenix upgraded their highest ridership bus route to light rail. We didn’t but we are working on it.

        Our initial starter line would have been the longest, longer than Phoenix’s, 24 miles from Northgate to south of the Airport. The complexity and cost of the project led to that line being divided into smaller segments hence the initial line, the airport extension, the university extension and the north extension. If that were open all at once as originally planned, then we wouldn’t be having this discussion.

      11. Cisco, those high ridership segments involved tunneling. Building over 3 miles of tunnels on the initial segment is a risky proposition. That nearly killed the entire project in 2000 which is why they deferred it to later. Construction of the U Link is already under way.

      12. This is good information to know since Phoenix’ system has also been broken into smaller segments in order to address complexity including right of way alignments and elevated track needed to cross freeways and other obstructions. One goal in Phoenix is to connect Glendale’s Westgate City Center and downtown to the current system. Westgate in Glendale (not to be confused with Phoenix’) is home to the Cardinal’s stadium, Jobing.com arena.

        This will connect the nation’s most populous suburb (Mesa with 520,000 residents) to the regions second most populous suburb (Glendale with nearly 300,000 residents) and the stadium and surround city center as some of the largest region draws in the state. There is strong contention to get Glendale connected much sooner than expect and the Seattle situation can be used as an example for why more rail will only lead to better transit options and decrease in freeway congestion. Glendale and Mesa are also transit friendly cities and their bus ridership numbers are positive, including Express/Rapid bus service into the Central City.

      13. Yeah, and it’ll take an hour (or longer) to reach Glendale from Mesa; from the current Mesa stop (just within the city border), it takes 40 minutes to get downtown. Link is a rail connection between dense urban centers with a mix of tunnel, aerial, and at-grade stations; VM light rail runs solely at the surface and (in central Phoenix) stops every half mile.

        Obviously, Link will eclipse VMetro in ridership when we connect more urban centers (i.e. Cap Hill and UW).

      14. Much of this is also speculation; especially with U District ridership in other metros including Phoenix and Tempe.

        The University of Washington has the second highest concentration of peak transit service in the Sound Transit service area outside of Downtown Seattle. Buses between Downtown Seattle and the University District are often at crush loads for much of the day. Often riders will have 2 or 3 coaches pass before one with room for them to board shows up. This is with 5-10 minute headways. I don’t think the ridership for either UW station or Brooklyn Station is all that speculative.

        Similarly the buses between Northgate and Downtown Seattle are at crush loads during peak periods even with 10 minute headways. Northgate is also a major transfer point and park & ride.

        Capitol Hill is an incredibly dense neighborhood near downtown that while having frequent transit service with a number of bus routes also has very slow transit service due to a large number of passengers getting on and off at every stop as well as dealing with a large number of traffic lights and surface congestion. Link will offer a fast way of getting between the core of the neighborhood and elsewhere.

        While it is hard to say prior to U Link and North Link opening I suspect the experience with the lines to the North will be the ridership estimates are on the low side.

        From looking at the long range plans from Sound Transit and Puget Sound Regional Council Link ridership remains very strong all the way to Everett. Though this shouldn’t be surprising given the heavy transit ridership between Snohomish County and Shoreline to Downtown and the UW.

      15. I would add that the bus route with the highest number of riders doesn’t even come near downtown; it goes to the UW. When rail gets there, we’ll all be thrilled, numbers will go up, everyone will realize the gamble paid off.

        We also have to remember that the cost per mile on this initial line was the most expensive in history (according to the very reliable wikipedia), and that’s without having tunnels under water. The costs overwhelmed voters.

        While I would have preferred a “complete” line, I must remember that this is infrastructure that will be in place for decades and decades, long after I have to haul my backpack to the UW.

      16. I think you guys overestimate your “urban” centers compared to the suburban centers in Phoenix. Bottom line, people in metro Phoenix have been waiting for transit service for a long time. Despite it taking an hour to get to Glendale to Mesa in an hour on the line, it takes that long or longer to do it in a car. The savings, parking fees, gas, ability to enjoy libations, etc are huge factors when considering to drive or use light rail in Phoenix, hence our weekend and evening service makes Seattle’s numbers look non-existent.

        You guys are great cheerleaders for your system but shoot yourselves in the foot by not acknowledging any shortcomings of the current system and hoping that riders in Seattle (there are more cities in metro Seattle believe it or not) that may make or break the regional system. Remember, Seattle is a sprawling mess just like Phoenix despite its great downtown. When I lived there I had friends whose parents commuted from Lacey, WA to Seattle (60 miles) and from Bellingham, WA to Seattle (not sure the distance) and stuck in traffic for hours. There is no suburb in Phoenix that is 40 miles away…I’m glad you guys are so enthusiastic but unfortunately have some unrealistic outlooks.

      17. Cisco,
        I’m not trying to fuel a Phoenix vs. Seattle pissing match. The development and commuting patterns are very different as are the current transit usage and attitudes toward transit.

        Weekend ridership on many bus lines in Seattle is quite strong. I expect Link will eventually have better weekend numbers as people get used to it and as it expands to areas with strong weekend transit ridership like Capitol Hill and the University District.

        To some extent the current Central Link line is making a big bet on TOD to drive future ridership rather than going where the riders are today. This may prove to be a smart decision or a mistake in the long run, only time will tell.

        However I wouldn’t say we’re blind to the problems of the current line. There has been plenty of criticism here of the current connecting bus service or poor information provided for making connections between rail and bus service.

        I don’t think we’re being unrealistic about the prospects of the light rail line North to the UW in 2016, Northgate in 2020, and Lynnwood in 2023. The traffic congestion on I-5 North of downtown is obvious as is the heavy bus ridership. The North line will offer clear travel time savings over both driving and express buses all the way to Lynnwood.

      18. This is all fine and well, but AGAIN, what is going on NOW that ridership, for lack of better words, sucks? Forget 2020, 2023, or 2030, that is a lifetime from now (I over indulge, but you get my point), what is needing to be addressed NOW to effect change? Why is Link showing dismal gains in ridership or loss as some would argue? These are fundamental questions.

        For instance, in Phoenix, we’ve addressed weekend hours (now ending at nearly 3am), frequency of train arrivals at stations during peak times, standby trains near “parking stalls” for the trains so that doubled up service can be achieved after huge crowds move between areas, for instance after games (DBacks, Suns, Mercury, Roadrunners, ASU games, etc) and cultural events (art walks, First Fridays, Second Saturdays, Third Thursdays, the Irish Cultural Center, Japanese Ro Ho En Friendship Gardens, etc). This has caused an increase in ridership as it has become more user friendly.

      19. Ridership sucks? Says who? The weekly ridership numbers should be taken with a grain of salt, statistically.

        Be patient, we haven’t implemented the second phase of bus/rail integration. That comes next February. Then in June we have a rapid bus hooking up to the south end of the line.

      20. The numbers…they are low anyway you slice it. Will you meet projects, well you are all hoping to. But I will take your advice and look at the numbers with a grain of salt. We shall she how it all pans out, but still, is enough being done to address the issues, from your responses I am assuming no.

      21. Low compared to what? Phoenix?

        And what are the issues? Lack of parking? Lack of bus connections? The fares? Lack of TOD around stations? Walkability to stations? Those are all being addressed but very slowly. That’s the way it goes around here.

      22. Phoenix’s numbers are low compared to Salt Lake City. What is being done to address that?

        Do you have a point Cisco, or are you just going to keep asking for input and then ignoring it?

        The numbers in Seattle are not low. The line that is open now is just a portion of the complete line that is under construction. The ridership numbers for the segment that is open now are exactly where they were forecast to be and are growing steadily. When the rest of the initial segment opens, Link will be the busiest light rail line in the nation.

        If Phoenix had only opened half of the line do you think ridership numbers would still be where they are today?

        Like I said before, Phoenix’s line is 42% longer and has over twice as many stations. In order to make an accurate comparison between Phoenix and Seattle it is necessary to use a normalized statistic, not just raw boarding numbers. I previously calculated a normalized statistic, and showed that ridership between the two is roughly equal. You chose to ignore that.

      23. Not ignoring anything actually. I think you take offense to the fact that ridership in Seattle is low and that no options are being addressed. In Phoenix we have seen leaps and bounds in growth every month in ridership, tipping to over 1.2 million light rail riders for the month of October and even more in November from estimated counts so far. What is being addressed in Phoenix to surpass Salt Lake City you ask? Well, just look at what is going on…over 7 billion dollars of private and public investment along the line, weekend hours, increased frequency of travel, public meetings and outreach initiatives, addressing growth issues and pollution reduction tactics to a growing populace, making light rail very visible in the local papers and on television aside from what the public entities are doing.

        The Phoenix line IS NOT 42% longer; it is 30% longer if rounded up, and in an area that is sprawling and still many times less dense than anything in Seattle. So again, I ask, what is being done?

      24. No options are being addressed? We have done a lot.

        – The bus network is being integrated with the rail line in multiple phases
        – Zoning around stations have been changed to encourage transit-friendly development but due to the economy (and political factors), development hasn’t happened quick enough.
        – Fare system integration with introduction of the ORCA smart card earlier this year
        – Station access improvements for pedestrians and bicyclists with better sidewalks and signage
        – Print, television, radio, and billboards encouraging people to “Travel light”
        – lots of public meetings before and after the line opened (this is Seattle, we love our process!)

        Service isn’t being added because it’s frequent enough. Trains come every 7.5 minutes during rush hours, every 10 minutes until 10 pm every day, and 15 minutes at other times. Trains run 5 to 1 am.

        Seattle is NOT growing as fast as Phoenix is so the pace of change is happening much slower than you want to see. That’s the big difference.

      25. I don’t take offense to it at all, because I don’t see the numbers as low. Unlike you I have a long term view, I don’t expect everything to change overnight. I’ve been a transit advocate for nearly twenty years and I’m not going to cry because after 5 months the ridership numbers are only meeting projections in the midst of the largest recession since the great depression. The ridership numbers will grow naturally as better bus connections are made, development near the stations occurs, more stations open and people adjust their commutes. It’s really not the huge deal that you’re making it out to be.

      26. Well then, I guess all we can do is hope you are right. From a business and planning standpoint, it isn’t adding up to me but maybe I am missing something. Phoenix was growing fast, but what has changed is the make up of how that is happening.

        We are paying close attention to what happens in Seattle, and when numbers go up, and if they go up as you envision, we will probably be more happy that you, LOL! One fear is that Seattle doesn’t meet projects and that a year from now, numbers are still low and this conversation is the same.

      27. I’m not too worried. Even if the numbers don’t look great it doesn’t seem to be dampening enthusiasm for further expansion of rail transit. If anything it is increasing support with the Mayor and City Council President in Seattle talking about a city funded expansion of Link to West Seattle and Ballard.

        Beyond that both Sound Move and ST2 have been approved so we’re going to be building more until at least 2023 no matter what happens.

      28. I think Seattle and ST will do well with McGinn, glad I supported his campaign through my tiny donation. :) People in Seattle (expect us who are interested in transit) aren’t watching the ridership numbers like a hawk because they know its a system that is in transition and numbers are not relevant at this point in the game for Central Link when it still doesn’t even connect to the airport, when that happens numbers should look better and at least they’re not lower than they are! I hope ST really works to fix those issues in regards to the accuracy of the ridership count. From what you guys have commented it seems like those numbers could be seriously flawed.

    2. Not a apples for apples comparison. Phoenix was lucky it was relatively cheap to include Tempe(ASU) and Mesa into its startup line. Wait until Seattle gets University (UW), Pill Hill and etc onboard…the numbers will skyrocket. Also the east-west street cars are going to be huge feeders once they come on board. Look what they do for Melbourne Australia’s light rails.

  7. Just for comparison for our Seattle Transit friends, our highest ever light rail ridership was May 13 when President Obama gave his commencement speech at ASU and “METRO had its single highest ridership day on Friday, Oct. 2 with 50,562 riders. Several factors could be contributors to this peak including the arrival of the fall season and visitors as well as events such as the (monthly)First Friday art walk in downtown Phoenix.” http://raillife.com/blog/

    Are there no transit police in Seattle that ride the train or patrol the system like in Phoenix? There is a hefty fine for improper use of the system in Phoenix.

    1. Cisco, you’re underestimating the steps we’ve taken to make Link work. In fact, officials from Valley Metro came up to Seattle to help with inaugural line. Of course there are transit police. We have fare enforcement officers that constantly patrol trains for fare evaders. Many regular riders can attest to being checked multiple times.

      1. That is a good sing; I am encouraged in Phoenix by the fact that there have been no safety issues (such as violence, assaults, etc) after almost a year of service. The fact that both the regular police and Phoenix Police Transit Security ride the train in great numbers is a huge factor. It is interesting that each municipality here must use their own security for the train. I too would like more cooperation on that front, and many other issues for that matter since this is a REGIONAL system and therefore, regional cooperation should be encouraged. But that is hard when political wrangling is a given.

      2. Here we have actual Sound Transit Police who are part of the King County Sheriff’s department. I’m not sure what Sound Transit does for it’s facilities in Pierce or Snohomish County or what the plans are once Link hits the county line.

        Sound Transit also contracts for security guards through Securitas.

  8. Cisco,

    Your comparison couldn’t be more apples-and-oranges. Phoenix has been fortunate enough to have its inaugural line connect Downtown Phoenix, Sky Harbor Airport, And ASU from day one. When an equivalent service is running here, with Airport Link and ULink complete, our numbers will dwarf those currently enjoyed by Valley Metro.

    I’m a huge fan of Phoenix’s service, but let’s be fair. If Phoenix’s starter line went only from Montbello/38th to Loop 202/24th, you’d have Seattle numbers or less. I guarantee it.

    1. From my cell, please excuse any spelling errors:
      Actually, very untrue. Valley Metro has contributed 1,000 connections at the highest point to the Airport connection, which is just a shuttle bus on Washington Street over a half mile from the nearest terminal. ASU contributes between 2,000-6,000 riders Monday-Thursday as Friday is a low attendance day due to few classes. ASU has little to do with downtown Patronage as most Tempe students stay in the University District and Mill Ave or head north to Scottsdale’s Old Town for entertainment which isn’t connected by LRT.

      Furthermore, weekend light rail use in Phoenix trumps Seattle. Apples and Oranges? It SHOULD have been as Seattle is many times more dense compared to Phoenix and still more dense compared to Tempe (Arizona’s most densely population area for now).

      1. I think it should be noted that Phoenix’s line is not really physically comparable to Central Link. Phoenix’s line is longer, connects two city centers, and has twice as many stations as Central Link. When Central Link is extended to Northgate it will be more comparable to Phoenix, and Link ridership is projected to be over 100,000 then.

      2. How will you attribute 100,000 riders by a Northgate extension and when is that planned to open? Furthermore, Seattle’s line is 14 miles long, only 6 miles short of “sprawling” and low densities Phoenix line. The argument before what that Phoenix would need at least 100 miles to have 50,000 riders because of the distance of the regions population. Now the argument is that our line is too long to compare to Seattle’s? Doesn’t add up…

      3. University Link opens in 2016. Northgate in 2020. University Link will replace one of the highest ridership routes between Downtown and the U District (13,000+/day). It also serves Capitol Hill. Travel times will be significantly reduced compared to buses: from downtown, 4 mins to Capitol Hill and 7 mins to Husky Stadium and UW Medical Center.

      4. In 6 to 10 years? Well, I hope that in 10 years ridership is much higher than 100,000 for Seattle.

      5. One reason I say that is because in Phoenix we have seen anywhere from 70,000-130,000 additional riders per month in growth. Between September and October for example, 70,000 additional riders used light rail and so far in November, we are expected to top that and in the coming months to add even more. With increasing density in downtown Phoenix, Tempe, Christown and Westgate we can’t even begin to speculate what ridership will look like in a few years. Seattle already has the density on its current line to dwarf Phoenix and its alignment, but ridership hasn’t reflected that, why? That is the fundamental question. Forget the extensions for now, no doubt they will add numbers, but don’t forget Phoenix’ system will grow and so will density here with an already large ridership base.

      6. I don’t know how much you were expecting but the ridership projections were 15,900 for the first six months (July 20,2009-late January 2010) according to the 2009 and draft 2010 Service Implementation Plan. So I think we’re doing just fine. And it’s not just density. It’s travel patterns as well. Like you said that ASU is not a major factor in ridership despite them having over 50,000 students. I won’t repeat what Chris said above but that pretty much answers the question.

      7. ASU has 58,000 at the compact Tempe Campus. If you’ve ever been to Tempe, you’ll notice the huge free Orbit transit system run by the City of Tempe to transport students in the U District. It is a complicated system with many neighborhood connections. Biking, walking, and other self motorized transportation options are much more common among ASU students compared to light rail given the density and compact nature of that area. Also, most of the student population isn’t taken into account in the Tempe residential density and census counts because, well transitional and transient student populations aren’t counted as residents. In Seattle and UW maybe the situation will be different, but it is a much smaller school and I somehow believe that the student population is centered and housed in the U District in Seattle.

        I haven’t live in the Puget Sound region for sometime, I am a H.S. graduate of an Oly high school, but from what I remember and recently seen, this is the case for UW as for ASU.

      8. I’ve said before that the transit ridership between the U District and Downtown is among the highest in the bus system, indicating strong transit demand. Whether students are counted in the census or not doesn’t matter. Just the fact that there is a large concentration of students and faculty plus employees of the medical center constitutes a major regional destination. It is true that most on the UW campus walk and bike but many also hop a bus downtown for shopping and other activities. The UW itself is a major transit destination with over 40 bus routes from all over the region serving it. I attend the UW and ride a bus downtown all the time. Buses to downtown are always packed with students.

        The U Link extension connects the three largest urban centers in the state: Downtown Seattle, Capitol Hill, and the U District. That’s why the expected ridership is so high.

      9. Hopefully you are right: I don’t want to pin too much emphasis on what I would consider a gamble. Someone said that the U District and downtown’s “busy” bus line connects 13,000 riders daily. Unfortunately, that is not considered very busy, even in Phoenix as some of our far flung suburbs record higher ridership counts between destinations like Surprise and Avondale in the far West Valley.

      10. Don’t take my word for it, those projections are what Sound Transit submitted to the FTA for grant money using the standard methods that all agencies use to project ridership for federal funding purposes. It’s not only that route, it’s the combination of other routes, too. UW to Downtown, UW to Capitol Hill, UW to South Seattle, Capitol Hill to Downtown, Capitol Hill to South Seattle, you get the picture.

        The numbers that I could find for the Phoenix Red Line say that in 2005 daily weekday ridership was 10,526. And that was supposedly Valley Metro’s highest ridership line. So how can a suburban line exceed that? Now that was 4 years ago, the 13,000 figure I cited was from 2 years ago.

      11. Many reasons for this, one there is no true “regional bus” service in metro Phoenix, rather, each municipality is responsible for suppling service at transitional bus stops at the cities’ borders. The 10,526 number you found could be for Tempe or Phoenix or Mesa or Glendale which still uses a component of the old line for transport into Phoenix…

        Another thing, the Phoenix light rail line was expected to carry 50,000 daily riders by 2020, however, we are looking to meet the 50,000 mark by 2010…and January 2010 as a matter of fact.

        Also consider population growth in Phoenix which is hard for Seattlites to comprehend. Since 1990 the Phoenix population has grown in such as manner:
        980,000; 1995-1.02 million; 2000-1.3 million; 2005-1.4 million; 2008-1.56 million, 2010-projected 1.64 million. Daunting numbers for many cities to grasp and fathom. Much of this growth IN Phoenix has been very centralized along the alignment of the current light rail system and old red line bus route.

      12. And those numbers are purely for the city of Phoenix; now transpose that growth to an even faster growing metro region…

        Note; Tempe, Glendale, and Mesa (despite other cities suburban sprawl) have been growing increasingly dense. Mesa has a population density over 4,000, Tempe 4,500, and Glendale nearing 5,000. Phoenix itself has gone from a density of 2,200 in 2005 to over 3,200 by 2009 and we expect the 2010 census to boost all 4 of these cities’ densities even higher.

      13. I find it extremely unlikely that suburban lines in Phoenix are busier than Seattle’s busiest bus routes. Valley Metro’s Destinations Newsletter from Fall 2008 has boardings for Surprise at 19,329 and Avondale at 112,189 for the entire year.

        But there you have it, Phoenix is growing really fast in comparison to Seattle.

      14. Just in case you don’t want to add up the added population Phoenix gained in 10 years, I’ll make is simple for you; Phoenix added the equivalent of moving all of Seattle into Phoenix (remember, this is only Phoenix and not the entire metro area).

      15. True that isn’t a fair comparison as Avondale and Surprise really on have ONE busy line and Seattle has many, many, many more than those suburbs; good point. Still I fail to see how 13,000 added riders to the current line (having 16,000 riders as a nice estimate) will added up to 100,000 riders…

      16. What the other commenters forgot to state was those numbers are year 2030 projections not year of opening (2016 and 2020) projections. Central Link in 2015 is projected to have 39,700 boardings, a year before the next major extension opens. Sorry if that raised your expectations too high.

      17. LOL, thank you for that clarification! What confused me is someone earlier on the blog stated that if Seattle had opened all the links at once that the current line would carry over 100,000 people; this confused me as the current numbers made no sense. This is more hopeful, and maybe since the Phoenix line has shown an almost 50% greater ridership than expected, the busier lines in Seattle will do the same. I think this is highly plausible considering the make up of the population of Seattle.

      18. Based on the SEIS U-Link will have 47500 riders in the opening year. Total system-wide ridership is estimated at 87000. Completing the additional 3 stations of North Link to Northgate should add around 24000 riders though the numbers will probably be a bit higher since that segment won’t open until 2020 instead of 2015.

      19. Cisco, since Central Link and the Valley Metro light rail line differ in length and number of stations, it might be better to compare a metric other than total daily boardings. Let’s look at average boardings per station.

        Link: 16,200 daily boardings / 12 stations = 1350 boardings per station

        Valley Metro: 40,000 daily boardings / 28 stations = 1428 boardings per stop

        Not much of a difference, eh?

      20. Not a very good comparison at all. Why? Well because some stations were put in place for future Growth and there is really nothing around them; Washington and 24th St. for example. The truth is, Seattle’s line is only 6 miles shy of the Phoenix line, not much of a difference when you consider that the population of Phoenix is less dense and must travel further to each station in order to board the train. Makes a HUGE difference.

      21. Why isn’t it a good comparison when the numbers are normalized per stop? Actually Cisco, if you’ve been to the Rainier Valley there’s plenty of land to be redeveloped. There’s no significant development around Rainier Beach Station right now. Columbia City and Othello still have lots of empty lots for future development. There are empty lots next to Beacon Hill and in Tukwila’s strip mall land practically that whole area is to become an urban village in itself.

      22. Obviously, you’ve never been to Phoenix. Normalizing what? There is no way to normalize any type of situation where density should play a huge factor in Seattle’s ridership numbers. That is something that needs a serious look at in Seattle, plain and simple.

      23. Oran,
        Don’t forget all the potential to turn those parking lots around Mt. Baker Station into TOD as well. Also I expect we’ll see some significant development around the Airport and S. 200th stations. Going North there are some major redevelopment opportunities around the Brooklyn Station as well. Roosevelt will see the development of the Sisley properties, and then there is Northgate which has seen a lot of new mixed use developments but has the potential to absorb a lot more residential, office, and retail space.

      24. Cisco,
        As I pointed out elsewhere SE Seattle isn’t exactly the densest part of Seattle to begin with. Also remember two of the stations are in the middle of an industrial area (Stadium and SODO). Furthermore the specific alignment chosen avoids much of the density in SE Seattle. There are also issues that make much of SE Seattle less walkable than it could be including a lack of sidewalks. However that said, the Beacon Hill Station does serve an area of moderate density and Mt. Baker Station is located where there was already a major transfer point. In addition both Othello and Columbia City stations are located next to Seattle Housing Authority property undergoing major redevelopment into mixed income neighborhoods with higher density than was there in the past.

        For U Link and North Link there is little concern about ridership because the stations are in areas of high density and located near major destinations with strong existing transit ridership. I suspect the actual ridership on U Link and North Link may very well exceed projections by as much as the line in Phoenix has. Similarly I’d expect any future light rail or streetcar lines serving Lower Queen Anne, Fremont, Ballard, Greenwood, Wallingford, or Aurora to show strong ridership.

      25. I don’t know why you’re so disappointed by the numbers Cisco. The ridership numbers are pretty much on target as Sound Transit forecasted. Is that considered a failure? So why are you making a big deal of this?

        For the record, I’ve been to Phoenix, once, and only to change planes. I took a shuttle ride to see the 44th/Washington station, saw a train and then went back to catch my flight.

      26. Because we are talking about Seattle here. I expected Seattle to initially show huge ridership. I’m not sure why, maybe because the national perception of Seattle is one of HUGE favoritism towards mass transit. I guess this is why I am disappointed.

        If you saw the Washington station then you notice very little development so far compared to anything in Seattle. There is the large Crowne Plaza Hotel across from the station.

      27. We already have huge ridership but most of it is on buses. We have a strong bus system (the largest all bus system in the country until now) and it takes a while for rail to get integrated with that. Our daily transit boardings in the region exceed 500,000 and the vast majority of them are on buses. That’s what the rail opponents around here focus on, is that we could do this cheaper and better with just buses. “We don’t need rail,” they say.

      28. They are obviously wrong about rail, but why are buses such a factor? Is there too much parallel service? If so isn’t that a self-defeating situation of the Link? The purpose of rail service is to cut reliance on fuel based, CO2 emission types of transportation including buses (even if they are “clean” buses or natural gas like in Phoenix), cars, etc.

      29. A lot of our inner city buses are electric trolley buses. Take the 7, which is a high ridership route that goes down Rainier Ave, it uses articulated trolley buses. The 7’s route parallels Link’s route but it can’t be replaced by rail because they don’t exactly overlap. Take the time to study what we’re doing with connecting bus service.

        See the map for SE Seattle http://metro.kingcounty.gov/up/sc/plans/2009/062009-sesea-map.html and SW King County http://metro.kingcounty.gov/up/sc/plans/2009/072009-swkc.html

      30. I live in Downtown PHX, and probably ride our light rail more than Cisco does… average of 12 times a week (living car-free). Here is the thing, we do have a big boost in our ridership numbers because of people taking it to events at ASU and downtown: i.e. not typical transit users. Seattle doesn’t have that yet, nor do they have the airport connection that we do here. I see plenty of people getting from the airport to our light rail, where I think in Seattle most people rely on their superb bus network (where in PHX most people rely on taxi/autos from airport). But then again, the PHX airport stop doesn’t have great numbers because we couldn’t afford having our project go directly through the airport because of the infrastructure updates that would have been required. Also our highest ridership was not Obama’s visit to ASU, but was just this past month during our First Friday art walk with 50,562 riders on Oct, 2. So we do have robust ridership numbers that don’t rely on any one segment of riders. Our line in PHX replaced the bus line with the second highest ridership in our system: the red line, the first highest has been the green line which runs along thomas ave, and is now numbered as route 29. A ton of other cultural events have been going on lately as the weather has gotten nicer in phoenix (inverse in seattle I’m sure), and while these users aren’t typical transit users it is saying a lot when that many people ride a system in a city that is practically 100% auto dependent. I think both systems were the right systems for their cities, and when Link connects up to Seatac, UW and Northgate things will improve drastically. PHX’s Metro will improve only with the densification of downtown and the TOD around the Metro… so once again Seattle isn’t all the way there yet, and PHX really needs to step up with the areas around the light rail line because we can’t rely on higher weekend ridership over the long run. I don’t think that these systems can be compared to one another solely on ridership numbers. Because then we are only looking at he situation with blinders on. The best way to compare the two cities transit is to look at the picture from a regional scale… and which region spends more public money on transit? Obviously the answer is Seattle where there is drastically lower VMT and all that good stuff due to your region’s priorities, the same cannot be said about the valley of the sun.

      31. Lets not forget that the SOV share of Downtown commuters is very low in Seattle, only places like NYC, DC, Boston, and SF do better. We also have one of the largest commute shares both regionally and for CBD commuters for cyclists.

      32. Very good analysis, K, however, I live in Downtown Phoenix’s Historic Roosevelt District about 3 blocks from the Central and Roosevelt Station. I ride the rail everyday, even if I use my car on occassion, but the rail is my primary source of transport.

        That said, even with some of the events you listed, ridership STILL exceded expectations during the extremely slow months of June, July, and August. I pointed out that the busiest day was during First Friday, however, that is not a one time event and something that has been ongoing in Phoenix monthly for over a decade. Second Saturdays, and Third Thursdays are relatively new to the scene however. Furthermore, weekend use has eclisped projects by over 70% and on occassion 90%. So yes, for a city that is highly dependent on the car, it shows a great resolve to change. There is also no slowing in the pattern of growth.

        Airport use isn’t really a factor yet as the line is inconvenient and will be until the SkyTrain opens. Commuters, as of August made up 30% of the ridership projections, but again that share has been on the increase along with overall numbers. Also on the weekends, I always use the train to go out to enjoy nightlife and the trains are heavily used and at 2:30-3am, the flow home is obvious.

      33. The 1000 Airport users then use the train the next day for something else – prior to their airport trip, they didn’t know it existed. Cisco, you’re completely discounting the ways in which new regular riders learn about the system.

      34. Kind of, but the truth is further eclipsed when you take into account that some airport users are suburban riders that do not reuse the train the next day. Or those that use it initially but then visit a resort in Paradise Valley, Scottsdale, or Cave Creek and are miles and miles away from transit and the light rail.

  9. Note, when Phoenix Sky Harbor’s SkyTrain connects to the light rail station at Washington and 44th Street, airport patronage of the light rail line at the nation’s 8th busiest airport is expected to skyrocket. The 2013 extension (sooner if Metro’s public meetings and funding challenges are answered sooner) to Metro Center from Montebello and 19th Ave’s Christown station will only further add to the thousand’s of daily riders.

    1. The Northwest expansion isn’t going to Metrocenter anymore. It’s behind schedule and has already been cut one stop short to terminate around Rose Morfford park, which is east of I-17 and will drastically cut down on the ridership numbers since I know for a fact that the connections to the west of I-17 are horrible for pedestrians (I grew up in the area until I was in middle school). The sad reality is that tax revenue is down so critically in the city of Phoenix that the serious word on the street is 15% budget cuts are going to be made to fire/police services and that 30% across the board in all other city departments. On top of that the state of Arizona is eying draining the funding from the cities that it is obligated to provide, the cities are now in talks to suing our state legislator AGAIN. One of the main funds the state wants to grab from is the transit funds from cities. I have a very dark forecast for Phoenix’s Metro line expansions and I think you need to wake up a bit to the situation here.

      1. Yikes! Thankfully the laws here make it really hard for the state to steal revenue streams that don’t already go to the state general fund.

      2. This is a huge, IF scenario, it has already been shown in the state constitution that the legislature CANNOT take funds from one program that has been voted on by the public like the transit tax; that is a dead issue. The Metro Center connection isn’t dead as it will reroute the transit stop to the needed location and will not require passengers to cross any street or freeway. I’m afraid you are slow on the issues Khamis, maybe you should attend some public meetings?

      3. Not to mention that the tax revenue shortfall is a short term situation as the city has begun to notice a alight increase in revenue funds especially in the central city, Tempe, and along the line.

      4. Cisco, yeah I wasn’t talking specifically about the state swiping away voter approved transit taxes, but what is happening is that the state is limiting the cities ability to change impact fees (which pay for local infrastructure upkeep and upgrades when new developments get constructed within the city). http://bit.ly/3uvLWP And this is very recent news. The city of Tempe is $2 million short on the transit fund, and Tempe is on of the most vibrant economies in the valley, it is just a little lagging w/ experiencing the effects of the recession so now they’re looking at how they can make up that funding by making major cuts or adjustments to the Orbit system – I don’t see this as a major issue for light rail but it’s substantial in regards to the health of our regional transit network. http://bit.ly/tHkWR Businesses are still closing in Tempe, because the city made the same mistake they did when they allowed AZ Mills to go in and let that sprawling totally non-transit friendly Tempe Marketplace get built last year. Everyone is now driving to big box stores over ‘traffic-congested’ Mill ave. It’s so sad that all the small local shops on Mill are gone.

        As with the Metro Center shop, I am sure Metro Rail and Valley Metro will do well with the situation they are handed, but I know that was not the preferred location and that the move was made because of serious funding shortfall as were the delays in construction and opening of the Northwest Extension.

        I’d be in a ton more public meetings if I didn’t have 19 credit hours at ASU (I am a senior studying planning) on top of working part time. At least I keep my ear to the ground and am on top of the transit issues around here.

        With that, I still think the system we have today drastically improved the transit network of the valley, and in Seattle Link hasn’t done that yet, it’s expansions are far more critical to it’s success than the ones here are, and Seattle has a top notch bus network, which can’t be said the same here (except in Tempe… for the time-being).

  10. Sheesh…

    look guys, they built central link through the ghetto and charged more than buses. It is not surprising that nobody rides it. People will ride north link.

    1. So “ghetto” types don’t ride public transit? That is something I’d expect to hear in Phoenix; thank goodness I don’t!

      1. Nobody said “types” – that’s something you’re adding.

        People who make less money will probably choose to walk to the other bus options over taking Link.

        That will change when Metro fares go up early next year.

      2. This is a good analysis, but still the attitude of calling an area ghetto is rather detrimental. Unfortunately not everyone can live in Medina…therefore many will understand that the inference that the ghetto contains ghetto individuals, sorry but that’s the truth. If someone was at a meeting who lived in this area, and someone referred to it as the ghetto, how would that person feel (not very welcomed).

      3. SE Seattle has quite the mix of incomes, there is everything from run down and crime-ridden apartment complexes to millionaire’s mansions. There are neighborhoods like Columbia City where gentrification has occurred and neighborhoods that have been in decline for years. By and large SE Seattle is solidly working and middle class though.

        Sadly I think at least some of the views of the area by people who don’t live there is due to the ethnic diversity. There is a subtle racism present in many comments I’ve heard about SE Seattle and in attitudes toward it. On the other hand you can’t deny the problems the area has had with poor schools, crime, poverty, run down property, or a general lack of investment compared to the rest of the city.

      4. The region is working on the problems with the fare structure, and I think that’s a valid point. It is just very confusing in Seattle with all the different fares and Link is adding to that unfortunately. But it will get fixed!

  11. The only reason I am bringing up these issues in this blog is for input, I don’t want to argue with anyone or make someone believe that one city is better than another, but I and others in Phoenix have had amazing conversation with transit bloggers in other cities comparing situations. It has helped tremendously in brining up issues with Valley Metro.

    By saying, “we’ve already addressed the issue and it’s covered” isn’t a very conscionable argument and should never be used as one. Issues should never be dismissed by mere speculation and excuses as to why something isn’t working, like low ridership counts; one reason I think the community in Phoenix has responded positively and with such huge turnout in Phoenix. No one’s opinion is shutout and dissenters aren’t run out of the room.

    1. Okay, here’s some input:

      – We have cheaper parallel bus service.
      – We don’t go to the airport yet, meaning lots of riders who would otherwise use Link for other trips as well don’t know about it yet.
      – Our main airport bus (carrying 3000-4000 per day, I might add) is still operating and cheaper than the train.
      – These ridership counts are incredibly inaccurate on a week by week basis. I’ve been told by ST staff that they only have enough data to give accurate numbers for a monthly average. It’s unclear why they’re releasing the smaller data points without margins of error.

    2. A question for Cisco: Are population densities along the Vally Metro line actually lower than the densities along the Link line? Ranier Valley is one of the lowest density parts of Seattle — I wouldn’t be surprised if Seattle’s overall density gives you the wrong impression of what to expect from the actual part of Seattle accounting for most potential riders. This is in part why you see a lot of commenters on this blog saying “don’t worry, it’s fine” — we know the ridership wasn’t expected to be huge until more development comes.

      Also, a thought on Park and Rides: Park and Rides work really well when a train is primarily serving a commuter pattern, but they’re not great for developing urban neighborhoods at nodes. Seattle wants its neighborhoods urban, but as Link extends into the suburbs, I’d expect suburban jurisdictions to be happier being less urban. So the Tukwila station and the upcoming S. 200th station, for example, have a lot of parking. I don’t think this is good for long-term civic development in those areas and it could be bad for ST’s finances (outlying stations being less cost-effective is killing BART’s efficiency, for example) but it will increase the rider catchment in the areas it’s extending into. It’ll be interesting to see what happens arout Tukwila and S. 200th station.

      1. Even worse for ridership, Link mostly avoids what density there is in Rainier Valley which is mostly along Rainier Avenue about 1/2 mile East of the Link alignment. This is the old interurban route between Downtown Seattle and Renton. There are a number of reasons the light rail alignment didn’t follow Rainier Avenue. Mostly due to Rainier being a narrower ROW requiring tunneling in historic areas and the longer travel time for riders heading to the airport.

        The upside is there is a lot of TOD potential around the SE Seattle stations and this hopefully will serve as a catalyst to revive an area of the city that hasn’t seen a lot of investment in the past 60 years.

        For park & ride use the private sector has opened pay lots near many of the stations. Even if Sound Transit had opened park & rides at the stations it is unlikely they would have attracted many riders from outside SE Seattle. I do note that not every station on Valley Metro has a park & ride and except for one station near the airport the park & rides are out toward the ends of the line away from downtown Phoenix.

      2. If you’d ever lived in NYC,or Manhattan, you’d notice that there are huge transit centers with park and ride stations, so not sure if your analysis that a park and ride wouldn’t be conductive to urban environments is accurate. Another thing, on an earlier blog, Tempe was compared to the Rainier Valley and slightly had an edge in density. Therefore the most densely populated region in Arizona is only a nudge more dense than the less dense area of Seattle.

      3. You have to be cautious about context here. And saying NYC or Manhattan doesn’t make any sense. Are there really park and rides in Manhattan? A lot of NYC was built up before the automobile came along so it didn’t have a chance to affect development. It may be true in the more outlying areas of NYC but certainly not Manhattan.

      4. There are definitely no park and rides in Manhattan, and only a few on the fringes of NYC served by Metro North. There are quite a few in New Jersey served by NJTransit, but that doesn’t exactly count as the city. Besides, building a park and ride in Manhattan just isn’t logical.

      5. You’ve never been have you, there is certainly a huge transit center with a park and ride in Manhattan. You need to take a trip to NYC to see the options offered. You might be surprised. Remember, Manhattan encompasses Washington Heights, Harlem, the Battery, the parking centers near the bridges, and lets not forget the other 4 boroughs where expressways, transit centers, parking structures and such are available.

      6. My friend in NY said the lots aren’t called park and rides but go by many names; garage (easy), park shares, structures, etc. The rates for parking can be ridiculous to obscene and rarely fair, LOL! She said you can find some spots for $20 every few hours, LOL! No thanks…

      7. Some she referred me to are 45 Wall St., Ludlow, Chambers, Pearl St., and Greenwich Station; she did say some were run by private companies but connect to direct transit stops. She further noted a requirement of monthly contracts or weekly rates at the least…so not the traditional Park and Ride that most consider like in the West Coast.

      8. A paid parking lot or garage is a little different than a park and ride. If that’s your definition of park and ride then there are hundreds of park and rides in downtown Seattle! And a hundred more along Link.

      9. No, now you are just being facetious…trust me there are transit options designed around parking, then taking transit.

      10. So, are people expect to pay for those lots in the Rainier Valley and then use the transit option as is the case in NYC?

      11. Yes but those parking lots are not considered park and rides by the transit agencies and thus are not promoted in official rider information. The expectation being that P&Rs are free and not paid.

        We have an extensive system of park and rides in the suburbs with express freeway bus service into downtown Seattle. They are well used with many lots at or over capacity. We have very few park and ride lots in the city of Seattle itself due to a city policy that discourages them. We’d rather see dense development on that prime real estate than parking lots.

      12. Ok good, I think this is the issue with internet communication. THERE ARE P&R lots in the Seattle area. From what I was reading there were none. Makes sense to me now, as there ARE NO P&R lots in Central Phoenix either, only at the end of the line stations in suburban areas. That was my misunderstanding. But, can part and ride lots be addressed along the light rail line where TOD can be developed in conjunction? If you look at Tempe and Mesa, future P&R lots will not diminish the fact that the density of the area will skyrocket.

      13. The parking is already there. It’s just that are people willing to pay for it? And how much ridership will a 100-stall parking lot add anyway? There’s no space in the city to build sprawling parking lots and building parking garages are expensive and effectively stop TOD from happening. It’s easier to rip out a patch of asphalt than to tear down a multi-story parking garage.

      14. This is a shortsighted view on parking garages and their development. Take a trip to other cities where the garages aren’t even visible, like some in Phoenix, and you wouldn’t notice anything negative. TOD is the anchor of the Park and Ride in some locations. Retail along the outside of the area and on the ground floor, development and office structures and high-rises above the parking, etc etc. There is no need to tear down anything if you say there is plenty of land to develop around certain underutilized stations, right…

      15. Actually I would say it’s a longsighted view.

        Its fine if private developers want to build parking garages or lots around the stations, but inside the Seattle city limits we’ve decided not to subsidize car storage with public money. Parking in the city costs around $20,000 per stall to develop, not a good use for transit dollars. We are building subsidized park and rides in the suburbs, but that’s a different situation.

      16. I disagree. We have parking garages in Seattle that replaced a building that are still standing to this day. A lot of the downtown infill development happened on parking lots not garages. The new TOD for the future Capitol Hill station will have very little parking and not for commuting purposes. City policy discourages P&Rs for transit access in favor of bus, walk, and biking.

        I think you are underestimating the amount of environmental and planning hoops we have to go through before getting anything built here. Building parking structures is really expensive and I’d rather see the money for improved transit service. Requiring the private sector build parking as part of TOD only increases the final cost of housing and rent for that project.

      17. What I also completely forget is the sheer size of available land in Phoenix for different types of development compared to Seattle. No metro area has been able to eliminate the use of cars, not even in Europe, and therefore there still need to be options to address those that choose to use such methods. I am not innocent in this regard; I drive a couple or few days a week from time to time because I like to drive.

        Selfish, yes. While a development in Phoenix that utilizes a parking structure underground, above ground, or mixed in with development might make sense here in a region with plenty of room, it might not be a wise move in a smaller city like Seattle. I failed to grasp that notion at first. This is a unique situation but can be understood in Phoenix terms if we eliminate the rest of Phoenix outside of the Central City. Would I want any park and rides in this limited area of Phoenix where density is key and is being developed…absolutely not! In fact, because of land available downtown, many citizens, developers, transit proponents have won a significant victory over a city of Phoenix ordinance that required hundreds of parking spaces per square footage of new high-rise and high density development. I don’t remember the ratio, but as an example, Our new high-rise development downtown which will have two towers called CityScape, would have initially required an additional 3,000+ parking stalls to have been approved.

        Luckily the city rescinded this ordinance for the Central City and the developer moved ahead with the project (scheduled to open next year) with only 500 parking spaces (mostly for the hotel, condos, and the CEO’s, Presidents, etc. of the companies moving into the buildings of course, LOL). This is one reason projects stalled in Phoenix before…the sheer number of parking that would have been required of a project. One city that was pointed to in order to eliminate this requirement was of course New York, but also closer to home and more relevant to Phoenix, Seattle. So, I understand your argument related to P&R.

      18. Well in downtown Seattle most of the parking garages in newer office and retail developments is underground as well. Heck for most 4-6 story mixed use developments the parking is also underground. However that parking is damned expensive at $20k-$40k per space. As you point out requiring excessive parking can kill a project just as much as not having enough. Even when developers can get away with not building parking they usually put in just enough to keep the bank happy.

        Some of the TOD along Link might decide to rent out excess parking to transit riders. Though that would depend on the supply of parking and what the demand was. So far the private parking that has shown up near Link stations hasn’t been full.

        There is a great opportunity for a private developer right now. The Post Office has a large parking garage next to SODO station that is for sale. So far there haven’t been any takers though.

        Two North Link stations will have park & ride faclities at or near the stations. Roosevelt has 2 lots with a total of 536 spaces within a couple blocks of the station. The Northgate TC has 1486 spaces within a couple of blocks. While there are no plans to increase the parking at Roosevelt there will be a major expansion of parking at Northgate TC as part of putting a Link station there. This may be done like the Northgate Garage and Thorton Place development where the parking is a public/private partnership and used for supporting retail outside commute hours. After all Northgate is a huge mall and has a bazillion parking spaces that are mostly empty during 9-5 M-F.

      19. I’ve never seen and find it difficult to believe there are any P&Rs in Manhattan. Many of the suburban train stations (LIRR, MN, NJT) have pay lots holding a couple of hundred cars. To the best of my knowledge, with 30 years of visiting and 10 years living near NYC there are no P&Rs on Manhattan as we know them here.

      20. True, that is an acknowledgement I made with the exception of the Port Authority that was noted earlier. It is immensely HUGE, HUGE, HUGE and nothing not in L.A. (that I am aware of) measures up to that “park and ride lot” in Manhattan. Also the Journal Square Transit Center offers a park and ride that the Port Authority contracts with private companies to offer this service. Lloyd, none of this is very new and I’m surprised you don’t know about it.

  12. Another point to consider and that I’ve brought up in other regions where light rail is facing a huge fight is the recent victory over political forces that seem to want to end the sustainable movement in Phoenix. Luckily, those critics have been silenced and conceded victory and the people of Phoenix have heard this.

    I’m not sure if many of you have heard of the Goldwater Institute, named after the late, great Barry M. Goldwater and started by contributions from his son. However, this institution has twisted the popular workings of Mr. Goldwater into republican right wing propaganda. Almost no other force in Arizona worked as hard as the Goldwater Institute to end light rail construction. They released “study” after “study” proclaiming a white elephant in Phoenix with the light rail line. “No one will ride, a boondoggle, a waste of tax payer resource was the cry heard lough and clear from the institute cronies.

    When the “talking head” of the institute recently conceded that, “we were wrong, the light rail line is useful.” Transit proponents in Phoenix felt like we’d just won the Olympic Games for the nation, LOL! One female transit enthusiast in Phoenix teared up at a meeting after hearing of these words. Now, our fight is to continue the relevance of light rail everywhere to not give the Goldwater Institute future evidence of failing systems and failing extensions and Seattle’s success holds a lot of weight in our future believe it or not. If densely populated Seattle can’t support light rail, how can Phoenix will be the future cry of the Goldwater herd. Sorry, if I came off as too harsh and a plain critic of the Seattle system.

    Here is a sample of the Goldwater Institutes initial fight to kill light rail in 2003: http://www.goldwaterinstitute.org/article/1209

    Their conceding light rail is useful to the New York Times:
    “PHOENIX — Among the many detractors — and they were multitudinous — who thought a light rail line in this sprawling city would be a riderless $1 billion failure was Starlee Rhoades, the spokeswoman for the Goldwater Institute, a vocal critic of the rail’s expense. “I’ve taken it,” Ms. Rhoades said, slightly sheepishly. “It’s useful.”

    She and her colleagues still think the rail is oversubsidized, but in terms of predictions of failure, she said, ‘We don’t dwell.'”
    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/20/us/20rail.html

      1. Yeah but the Goldwater Institute has a great influence on the State Legislator, I mean sure PHX got the light rail built based on years and years of taxing off of the growth boom in the region (remember private growth market like construction and real-estate accounted for around 1/3 of the entire private sector economy in PHX, over $30 billion annually)…. until a little over a year ago. How are we going to be able to do such progressive initiatives as the light rail line with no revenue source… and increasing sales tax is no option. Time to maybe thing about a TIF… but then again the people of Phoenix and AZ would not go for that just yet.. things have to get really bad first before they wise up… maybe if we look to Las Vegas we can get a step ahead, because they’re one of the only cities in a worse spot financially than us.

      2. Thankfully the Sound Move and ST2 taxes are locked in. The shortfall due to reduced sales tax revenues is a bit worrisome, but ST has a long time to course correct and at worst it means some of the outlying areas of the system might be delayed a bit.

        Going beyond ST2 almost certainly means convincing the legislature to grant new taxing authority. Other than that the only other possibilities are initiatives like the proposal for the City of Seattle to fund further light rail expansion within the city. Frankly I think it will be harder to get new taxing authority out of the legislature than it will be to convince voters to approve rail expansion.

      3. Very true, housing construction was 30% of the STATE economy, not Phoenix, the largest industry in Phoenix is actually medical science, research, health care, medical equipment manufacturing, and all those related fields including (two of the nations premier cancer research centers, TGEN/International Genomics Consortium, Barrow Neurological Institute, St. Joseph’s Hospital (one of the largest medical campuses in the nation), Banner Health, etc.

        The next large industrial machine Phoenix and the metro are working on involve solar and renewable energy. First Solar is the first international firm (a German company) that moved its headquarters to Tempe on the line. One of their motives for picking Tempe is because of the ASU Global Institute of Sustainability (the world’s first such educational college). Furthermore ASU’s designation as one of the nation’s greenest schools and a ciriculum and student body that is one of most involved in sustainability effort.

        Things to consider for future growth in Phoenix, a region already experiencing positive growth in many sectors. You bring up good points and the Mayor of Phoenix is looking into a small increase in tax to continue transit growth.

      4. On the regional economy, another international solar firm JUST announced a headquarters move to Phoenix to join First Solar: Chinese SunTech will join a list of such industrial players making their home in Phoenix.

        I agree that metro Phoenix should look at other funding mechanisms for transit and Seattle serves as a great example.

      5. You’re getting way off-topic here, Cisco. This blog entry is about Link ridership numbers, not commerce in Phoenix. Please try to stay on-topic in your comments.

      6. I’m sure highway advocates will counter that the gas tax pays for highways but they always forget other subsidies. Off the top of my head:

        . Property & Sales taxes that pay for local roads
        . Higher prices in products we purchase from stores to pay for their “free” parking
        . Indirect costs for car crashes: Police, fire, and medical response, medical costs
        . Indirect costs for Pollution and related illnesses
        . And the biggie: Federal taxes for military costs to defend our oil suppliers (many of whom don’t particularly care for us!?)

        Yes, Transit has it’s indirect costs as well but I’d stack them up against the auto industry any day… I’m a relatively conservative person but I’ve NEVER been able to understand why “conservatives” are, in general, all gung-ho for roads. Personal freedom, fine. Personal freedom with costs pushed off onto others in the form of higher taxes? Baloney…

  13. WOW. So much Phoenix/Seattle light rail beef! I’ll just throw this out there…

    I am typing this from my dorm in downtown Phoenix where I am a student on the downtown campus of ASU. I can’t wait to leave Phoenix in 37 days (after graduation) and return to Seattle because the transit system here SUCKS! I lived a more quality car-free life out of my parent’s house in Mill Creek than I am here, and I think a big piece of it is the integrated bus system.

    Oh, and Phoenix is straight up lame when compared to Seattle (lest we forget).

    1. Are you sure you’re not from Portland, LOL, this is usually a Portlander’s, self-congratulating “argument” than a Seattlites…

      1. It’s true, although we don’t have a unified transit agency, our transit service is pretty good. It’s no wonder why our State as a whole ranks 8th in the nation for people taking transit to work, and 3rd last for SOV commuting, both of which are better than the national average. We even beat Oregon.

      2. Very true; I was referring to the attitude though, LOL! There is a huge lack of smugness in Seattle compared to Portland for some reason. We are expecting huge gains in ridership and transit percentages here in Phoenix starting 2009. I’m not sure how we would look at state rankings since the layout of Arizona and population patterns are strange here.

        Ok, the only intercity rivalry I’ll offer today! GO CARDINALS!!! Beat the Seahawks! I had to I apologize! And last comment on sports here from me, I lament the loss of the Sonics to OKLAHOMA CITY! Ugh the travesty of it all! I loved the Sonics in Seattle, I had season tickets there my entire high school career! That was a sad day for the NBA really; history lost.

      3. The lack of smugness is a good thing. You see, it took us a long time to get rail transit built in this city. Ever since the streetcars were taken out of service, we’ve tried many times in the 60s, 70s and failed until 1996. We are happy with what we got here because it’d be very likely that we’d have none at all.

        The majority of the population in Washington lives in the Puget Sound area so that influences the state’s numbers. So we don’t have to cherry pick Seattle, obviously the densest city and highest transit use in the state, as the state as a whole is doing pretty well.

      4. Very good, even though there was some hostility earlier, its been very easy to comment and get information from Seattlites. I remember the 1996 failure, I was in school there at the time, the same thing happened in 1989 in Phoenix. The ValTrans proposal was an all encompassing plan that would have offered the Valley elevated trains through most of Phoenix along the current alignment, more of the i-10 would be in a tunnel under central Phoenix like the current 1.5 mile tunnel between 7th Ave, under Central Ave, to 7th Street. It is too bad for both cities that the earlier plans failed.

    2. i completely agree. wait until global warming really hits and lets see how many people are still moving to phoenix.

      1. Or moving anywhere for that matter…no place will be immune to “global warming really hitting.” Comments like these are very shortsighted and don’t engage in constructive thought. The reason we are here is to discuss issue that directly relate to matters of the environment.

  14. It’s clear that Central Link ridership thus far is below projections. I don’t see how ST will meet the 2010 projections even with the opening of Airport Link next month because it’s only supposed to provide 3,000 daily riders to the system.

    The root problem in my opinion goes back once again to this ridiculous multi-agency turf war we insist on paying for in this region. The idea all along was that light rail would replace much of the Valley-Downtown bus service with the lost bus service being used in the Valley to improve connections to rail. Instead there seems to be this hysterical response that “bus service is being cut” and I do not thing Metro/ST have done a good job of integrating the two modes well. Take for instance the new Metro TC near Mt. Baker station – poor signage, poor advertising of the connection. It seems to me that Metro (and its employees) feel they have something to fear by actively promoting the light rail service. The bus drivers see is as “that train”, etc. Compounding the problem is the differences in fare structure and confusion around transfers, pass acceptance, etc. People see that the train is more expensive, or are unsure whether they can transfer or use their pass; this means they stick with the bus.

    I’ve said it many times on this board but to improve the passenger experience, efficiency of the system, and cut costs, we simply HAVE to start consolidating some of these entities. As it currently stands, ST’s services largely operate in a vaccum separate from the existing agencies. If Metro/ST worked together to streamline connections and use a common fare structure (as they should have in the first place) I think we would get more realization out of our multi-billion dollar investment. Another park and ride (either at Lander or Rainier Beach) wouldn’t hurt either…

    1. That’s not clear at all. Looking at the actual projected ridership numbers, we seem to be within a few percent.

      1. The only tax more stable than the sales tax is property tax. I seriously doubt you’re going to get agreement to replace sales taxes with property taxes, regardless of the objective. TimsMagicBunny® may have failed this time (praise be!), but he would be very likely to prevail in a contest between homeowners and renters.

    2. I agree with Ryan. moreover I think Pierce, King and Snohomish counties should be merged. We also need to reduce the number of cities in the greater Seattle area. I heard Kevin Desmond say that there where 40 different cities that they talk to when they were make there emergency plan. The fact that TriMet is really the only transit agency in Portland (I know c-tran is there too) is probably a major factor in why they are so successful with buses, street car and light rail.

      Also we need to start to move way from sales tax, as it is not a very stable funding source

      1. Wait merge counties and cities? I strongly disagree, it’s important to have more local governments as people in different areas have different needs.

      2. It’ll never happen. People live in Bellevue, Shoreline, and White Center precisely because they don’t want to live in Seattle. They see Seattle as overtaxed and too bureaucratic, and want a small government they can have more influence on. Likewise, people live in Mountlake Terrace because they don’t want to be part of King County. While I wish all these areas could be consolidated, it runs counter to the why these suburbs exist in the first place. (Of course the original driving factor for suburban growth was schools and racism, but there are several other factors too.)

        Of course, I feel the opposite. I value walkable neighborhoods and frequent transit, so I live wherever they are.

    3. I’m driving the 14 in the afternoons M-F and am actively pushing light rail to passengers I notice who would benefit. The trouble is, people are set in their ways and are reluctant to try something new. Examples:

      . One passenger was waiting for the 14 at Mt Baker – I was headed back to base so I wasn’t headed to her destination at 3rd & Pike. I suggested the light rail told her it would be faster, and even explained how to get to the station – she declined since she was familiar with the 14 and didn’t want to figure out the fares.

      . Another passenger rides my bus from Mt. Baker all the way to Summit & E Olive. I suggested he ride with me to Mt. Baker TC, transfer to light rail, and then transfer to either the 14 ahead of me or the 43. He declined and still rides with me each night since “it’s relaxing”.

      . A visually impaired passenger rides from downtown and could ride light rail to Mt. Baker TC and transfer. It would be faster but I haven’t suggested it since I’m unsure of the facilities for visually impaired passengers – Frankly, I’m reluctant to suggest that this passenger cross Rainer Ave twice a day.

      There are lots of other examples and even a few success stories. Light rail’s fare structure is the most confusing thing to folks. I don’t get into that since that can take some time to explain and I really need to keep that bus moving. To Metro’s credit they have put a blurb about light rail on the 14’s schedule and I’ve seen posters in the Mt. Baker neighborhood encouraging people to “Explore your travel options”. But more could be done.

      I wonder if Metro could provide training to drivers on how to publicize Light Rail? Anybody who drives a connecting route could attend such training and be given materials to give out to customers. Metro and ST could even have feedback sessions where drivers sit down and tell stories like the ones I’ve outlined above. Just a thought…

      Give it time – I’ve seen a steady increase in passengers transferring to and from light rail.

      1. The Mt. Baker station has a few downsides to it:

        1. The time it takes to get off the platform and cross the street to transfer often eats up any savings in time. (Have you seen how long it takes to cross Rainier?!?).

        2. There are currently 4 different areas to catch connections, some across the street from one another. If I need to take a bus down MLK from the Mt. Baker station, I have to gamble on whether the 42 or 8 is going to run more on time and then stick with it. There is no option to just wait at one stop and catch what’s coming next.

        In terms of ridership:
        If a child does not have a Seattle Public Schools pass, the child has to pay more than $.75 cents to ride rail. So if my family is riding together, we all have to take the bus because I’m not willing to pay an additional fill-in-the-blank for my son every time we want to catch the train. (I have a UPASS and my daughter has the SPS Magic Pass.)

        Many Rainier Valley riders are not only commuters. We ride as families to visit our friends, we ride to go to the doctor, we ride to get our groceries at Viet Wah or to go to DSHS. Given transfer times from train to bus (particularly at the Mt. Baker station) and the lack of a station at Graham, bus is often better.

      2. There needs to be a crosswalk from the station plaza on Rainier to the transit center at the very least. The crosswalk should give priority to pedestrians and not make them wait so cars can go by. Even better would be a pedestrian bridge between Mt. Baker station and the TC, though that would be expensive.

        I have to agree the scattershot zones at Mt. Baker are also quite annoying. Especially the SB stop for the 7, 9, 34, & 42 which really should be right at the plaza next to the Mt. Baker station on Rainier.

      3. I do also think it takes a lot of trial and error to figure out what works best. For my family, that varies by time of day and final destination.

        Not everyone is as dedicated. They want to choose one thing and stick with it. Predictability has a lot to do with that.

        So do transfers. Particularly as it’s getting wet and cold, I know I’d rather have one continuous ride instead of having to transfer at Mt. Baker, even if that means an extra 5 or 7 or sometimes even 10 minutes.

        In terms of the scattered bus stations at the Mt. Baker transit center, a digital display of “next buses” for all of the routes would be very very helpful.

      4. I’ve noticed a lot of bus riders in the area are rather set in their ways and reluctant to change. This is likely at least in part responsible for the howling heard every time Metro does a major route revision or stop consolidation. It isn’t just SE Seattle either. The 8 took forever to build up to a respectable level of ridership. When the 307 was switched to the 522 and 41 people were still griping a year later about having to make a transfer in Lake City to get to Northgate, not to mention the number of riders who couldn’t get it through their heads that the 522 made no stops between 125th and Downtown. Many people weren’t happy about the stop consolidation on Lake City Way either.

      5. Is it really so hard to believe that there might be some people who prefer buses to trains? The seats on buses are certainly much more comfortable than the too-hard seats on LINK cars, for one thing.

        By the way, since I mentioned comfort, this has nothing to do with buses vs trains, since it currently affects riders of both, but the “benches” in the Westlake tunnel station have to be the hardest, coldest, least comfortable benches ever designed. I’m sure they are partly designed to discourage loitering, but really…..do they have to be just brutally uncomfortable?

      6. Discouraging loitering would be a weird goal in Westlake, considering how long you might have to wait for a bus or train – if it’s late and I’ve been standing up at a show, I want to sit down for 14 minutes!

        Another question: are Link seats heated, or do I just have a weird sensation of warmth every time I ride on a cold morning?

      7. You’re right, Charles. It is to discourage sleeping. Understandable, but still annoying at the end of a long day.

    4. Very true, that is a good point. Is the different agency battles a reason that buses are cheaper than rail? In Phoenix the bus and rail are the same price and an all day pass serves as a ticket for their type of travel mode.

      1. No, agencies aren’t cutting bus prices to compete with each other.

        The fare for rail was set at a certain level to achieve a certain farebox recovery rate. The target is to cover 52% of light rail operating costs with fares by the end of 2017. Buses only cover around 20% of operating costs. The budget crisis has forced transit agencies to raise bus fares. It is ridiculous that Metro local fares are going to be equal to or greater than regional express fares. Next year, light rail fares will be less than the equivalent bus trip fare.

        A round-trip train ticket here serves as an all-day regional pass but they don’t advertise it as such.

  15. I thought this was the SEATTLE Transit Blog, not the PHOENIX transit blog.

    Cisco, you should start your own Phoenix Transit Blog and discuss your system there. I’m tired of hearing about it.

    1. We have plenty, the point is to get some information and share ideas. This is America after all, region v region is rather silly in an economy that will increasingly rely on increased national and international cooperation; why shouldn’t communities interact even regarding basic necessities like transportation as well? Funny note, of all the cities that have interacted with each other, Portland and Seattle are the most hostile; even compared to Philly and NYC, DC, and Boston…

      1. Man you have WAYYYYY too much time on your hand. You just about wrote a book. You are now STB’s most prolific troll. I’m sorry but you obviously don’t know a lot about the Seattle and are thus drawing a lot of poorly informed conclusions.

    2. Dude, it’s not Burien, either. Ha! I think Cisco was commenting, not blogging. I thought it was interesting!

      1. You comment about it not being Burien was too predictable. Did I mention anything about Burien? No. Besides, from the nature of this Blog, it is obviously about the greater Seattle area. I think Burien qualifies. Not to mention, this discussion which was supposed to be about Link ridership, includes Seattle, Tukwila and SeaTac. Enough said.

  16. I actually like Cisco commenting on this board. Its good to hear form a different perspective for a change and quite honestly, I agree with him on lot of these issues. I know we may make the projected ridership of 21,000 by years end, but thats nothing to brag about when our numbers will just meet expectations. Not to step on anybody toes, but It kinda makes you wonder did we built the system the people wanted? or was it force by political will? I believe this may be part of the reason for low ridership on our initial segment. Let me just say, I’m happy Mike is our next Mayor.

    1. Marcus, you’re a brave man. You have just QuestionedTheConsensus® on STB. Jason will be along shortly to correct your error.

      1. Anandakos,

        No one is being censored here. Are you so soft-skinned that you can’t handle it when commenters are rebutted by other commenters?

    2. Actually you know that all this tell me? How hard it is to accurately model ridership. There is a lot of factors in real life that models simply can’t include. Remember they got it wrong it Phoenix too.

    3. It’s good to hear about other cities like Phoenix. It’s just the number of Phoenix posts that got overwhelming. I stopped reading them about halfway.

  17. Link won’t capture a large share of U-District-to-downtown bus commuters until the station opens at Roosevelt. The 71/72/73 busses don’t pass anywhere near the UW station.

    1. I’m guessing once U Link opens they will change the 71/72/73 to end at UW Station. It will still end up being faster than the bus to transfer to Link most of the time. People along the route will still have a direct route to Downtown if they don’t want to transfer, at least at peak times (64/70/76/77/79 depending on where you are).

    2. I’ve wondered whether they’ll reroute the 71/72/73 to meet Link, but how? Pacific Street and Montlake are already so overcrowded it takes the 43 and 48 ten minutes to transverse it in rush hour.

      1. They could be re-routed onto campus, if a turn-around area could be made on Stevens Way near Rainier Vista.

        Alternatively, there is a fair amount of unused ROW between Pacific and the Med Center, so so it might be possible to extend the currently-existing carpool lane all the way to 15th. In any case, the type of traffic will probably change a lot depending on which version of the 520 interchange finally gets built.

      2. Montlake overcrowding can be fixed by making the exit HOV 3+ and transit only from 7AM to 7PM. With transit options to the UW there’s just no excuse for SOVs crossing the Montlake bridge during the day.

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