Train and car after the collision
Train and car after the collision, photo courtesy of KOMO News

[UPDATE 4:36pm According to Metro the accident is cleared, meaning Route 8 is back to normal.  One can only assume the same is true for Link.  Good job, emergency services, and good job, Metro alerts.]

There was a car-link collision just South of Othello at 3:30pm today.   Fortunately, no fatalities, though it’s not clear from the P-I report if the car passengers were injured or not.

Link is likely be single-track for a while, but there are no other details on the service disruption at this time.  Enough of the street is blocked that Route 8 is being rerouted on Renton Ave. between Kenyon and Henderson St.

174 Replies to “Breaking: Car-Link Collision”

  1. Doesn’t appear to be any serious injuries.

    Wonder how much Link body work runs…

    1. most of the street-level areas of the link LRVs are removable panels that can be repaired/replaced without too much ado. The LRVs were able to move under their own power … so no major problem there.

    2. Whatever it costs, I hope the driver’s liability insurance is forced to cover it… to make an example of the financial damage those who play with fire in front of trains may face.

  2. “Light rail is unsafe… we should’ve built the monorail…” blah blah..
    (expecting the usual comments from the usual posters in the usual place in 3..2..1)

    You can make the grade crossings as safe as you want, but there’s no stopping the idiot hell-bent on running the red light

    1. “You can make the grade crossings as safe as you want, but there’s no stopping the idiot hell-bent on running the red light”

      And that’s an argument against grade separated transit how?

      I mean light rail may be nicer to ride than the bus, but I think this sort of incident (and the general slowness of the non grade sep sections) makes clear the limitations of non grade separated transit.

      I think the battle between the monorail and light rail in this town was the saddest thing I ever saw in seattle. We had a huge amount of support for grade separated transit paid for by a progressive tax. And somehow we managed to still screw it up. Blame who you like (and I’ve read the finger pointing on this site) but the failure is left with the city *as a whole* at the end of the day. Hardly something to be proud of.

      And if you live in Seattle and want to know who lost in that battle it’s easy to find the answer. Just look in the mirror :-)

      1. Perhaps, but if it were elevated, it would be completely out of scale with its surroundings. If it were tunnelled, it would be prohibitively expensive. Pick your poison. I liked the monorail, but as I got more involved in planning, my view began to change. The monorail was always doomed and its probably better that it was killed in the end. We don’t need Link to fall to the same fate. Brutalist architecture and pastiche architecture are finally making their way out the door. We don’t need public transport infrastructure to contribute to the failure of the city. Where necessitated and practical, use elevated sections or trench sections, and where imperative and considerably cost-effective tunnel.

      2. The monorail did not have enough money to do their job, because they did not plan well. It comes up every time – they were warned that a 1.4% MVET was not enough, and the warnings were correct. Now, of course, we can actually build something!

  3. Looks like a VW Jetta or Passat. I thought Volkswagen drivers are too intelligent to cut in front of the Straßenbahn?

    That’s bad Fahrvergnügen!

    1. And I always thought they called it “sign then drive” for a reason. Guess not

    2. Why would you think VW drivers were intelligent? They generally pay more for cars that are typically less reliable than top Japanese and American competitors.

      In any case, I’ll be shocked to hear it declared that once again the AUTOMOBILE driver was at fault yet again…

      1. Yeah, it’s rather amusing to hear about how dangerous the train is when you have to break the law to hit one.

      2. As a car enthusiast, I can say that VW are much more fun to drive, have a much higher interior quality, and are just as efficient, if not more efficient, than Japanese and American counterparts. (Golf TDI anyone?)

        I hope this guy ends up paying for the damage to the LRV though. There is more than enough warning for drivers to NOT turn left.

      3. We agree on who should pay for the accident between Link and the VW, but you’re comparing apples to oranges on the cars.

        A Golf TDI is around $5000 more than a comparable gasoline engine Japanese or American peer. A gasoline Jetta or Golf gets 22/30 mpg vs. a Ford Focus, which gets 24/35. A Chevy Cobalt gets 25/35, a Toyota Corolla 26/35, and a Honda Civic 26/34.

        According to Consumer Reports, Cobalt is comparatively reliable to a Jetta, while Focus, Corolla and Civic are more reliable. So you’re left with subjective judgments about interior and fun-to-drive factors. Whether that’s worth the extra price, lower reliability, and higher repair costs is a up to each driver, but it hardly makes one stand out as “smart.”

      4. I think it was a repeat but Top Gear recently broadcast a show that in their usual factual manor dealt with the VW advertising juggernaut. They had to come up with an advert for the Sirocco Diesel. I liked the time lapse of the flower but Berlin to Warsaw with one tank was pretty damn funny ;-)

  4. “Central Link is experiencing delays that could last up to 30 mins.”

    – Sound Transit post on Facebook page

  5. Glad to hear nobody was killed or injured.

    This is the 2nd accident in 9 months of operations. By this time, it was estimated there would be around 24 accidents with the Link, according to the EIS (32 accidents/year) from many years ago. We’re also well below the average of 10 accidents/year (from the FTA). Obviously, something has gone right.

    1. Seems like there have been more than 2 collisions, but I don’t remember exactly. Also, I think there was 1 suicide, unfortunately.

      Still, it is hard to blame Link for drivers who can’t follow traffic signals.

      1. the driver lost their car (luckily not their life) … and I don’t think that insurance companies appreciate it when you drive into a train (ignoring signals to boot) … there goes their premium

      2. Heh, imagine the conversation. “What’s your insurance number?” “Name, city, state, yada yada yada.” “So, how may I help you today?” “Well, a train hit me?” “Wait, what? You mean YOU hit a train.” “Well, whatever.” “Yeah, we don’t cover that.” “F***”

      3. Let’s hope they have comprehensive insurance. Auto insurance, ironically enough, tends to cover a lot and forgive a lot as a matter of policy, as long as it’s more than liability coverage.

  6. I sure hope none of the Link passengers, whose time is so valuable, were late for any appointments, or, god forbid, missed their flight out of SeaTac.

    1. I sure hope you have the same sentiments for the drivers in the five mile long back-up from on I-5 during the morning commute today.

    2. Norman! We agree on something! Now that we know none of the passengers were injured, I hope this reckless, law-breaking driver inconvenienced as few people as possible and as little as possible.

  7. I had the misfortune to be on the first train delayed by this collision leading to crossover of trains to the north line going south.

    I have to say, I do not think this incident was handled well. I am not referring to the emergency services, but to Link. The total journey from downtown Seattle took 1.5 hours, I went over my two hour time on ORCA and there were NO announcements or apologies from Sound Transit except for some stupid voice saying that we were delayed by ‘traffic ahead’ which proved meaningless.

    I was surrounded by frustrated passengers and one idiot who kept trying to open the doors. ST made it worse by saying nothing and the train kept unaccountably stopping and starting – Amtrak like – for the duration of the trip.

    OK, so it was one trip and the irony was that I was only taking it to check the line out for new things etc. However, I have a number of suggestions and conclusions:

    I believe we made a mistake in making Link run at grade and not grade separated through the Rainier Valley. We should have elevated it.

    Second, Sound Transit needs to be honest with its reasons. If a train has been hit by a car, then say so.

    Third, Link is NOT seamless through the Rainier Valley and this is becoming more and more apparent with each passing trip I make through there.

    Fourth, I think that we need to reinstate the 194 because downtown Seattle to SeaTac travelers have no alternate mass transit means of getting to the airport now that the 194 has gone, and I fear that some people did miss their flights today. A train cannot simply wander away from its tracks and go some place else. At least one passenger said he wouldn’t take Link again because it is not predictable enough. As we have said many times here, the essence of a good mass transit system is predictability and reliability and efficiency and Link has the potential – largely because of the Rainier Valley – of being none of these on occasions. This is a problem that afflicts virtually all rail transit in the United States.

    Fifth, I think that Sound Transit needs to think about expressing some of the trains so that once they leave SODO they don’t stop again until Tukwila. If this seems a stretch, then make some of the trains only stop at the dedicated right of way stations (Stadium and Sodo), tunnel stations (Downtown and Beacon Hill) and elevated (Mt Baker, Tukwila and Airport). This way, maybe the signals can be fixed to allow for seamlessness through the Rainier Valley. We do this in England a lot – some trains stop everywhere, others express between major stops). I do feel that the Rainier Valley is a huge problem for Link because it was not made grade separated and on reflection it should have been. Accidents and poor synchronization are not helping either to market Link or to render it an efficient option for travelers – especially on time sensitive trips such as to the airport. The course of true Link never did run smooth!

    OK, end of grumbling, on a positive note, I noted signs today that work has re-started on King Street Station – nothing much – an odd shrouded scafolding here, a dab of paint on the old ceiling there and no one actually working, but signs anyway – like the first gentle bud of Spring.

      1. This is not a problem with buses, of course. Virtually any bus route can have local and express buses. On trolley bus routes, like the #2, they just use diesel buses for the express buses.

        Just one huge advantage buses have over trains.

        Another advantage being that buses can maneuver around obstacles, or detour to another street (if they are not trolley buses) to get around an accident.

      2. Yeah, but I was asking about passing trains, not passing buses. I understand how buses work.

      3. Trains can also have express service. Take a look at the Philadelphia El and Broad St. lines.

        The El has peak service trains, the A and B trains that skip certain stops. This is all done on two tracks.

        The Broad St. line has two different methods. North of Walnut St, there are 4 tracks which allow for local and express service. South of Walnut St, there is the Express train that skips all stops from Walnut down to the stadiums… all on two tracks! The reasoning is the timing between the trains. IF there is enough headway between the trains, you can create a local and express train on two tracks.

        Yes, buses do have greater flexibility, but this does not mean it isn’t possible on fixed tracked systems, either. Also, you cannot tell me that buses don’t get affected by traffic accidents or gridlock, either. All I have to say is look at 5th and Mercer during rush hour and you’ll see a line of 3, 4 and 16s heading north.

        So while people may favor buses, please also realize that it has con’s too AND realize that an efficient public transportation system needs to rely on all different modes.

      4. Mike,

        The CTA (Chicago’s El) no longer makes use of A/B skip-stop service, and hasn’t for more than a decade (http://www.chicago-l.org/operations/lines/route_ops/A-B.html)

        In addition, where CTA runs express service (the Purple Line Express to Howard and Evanston), there are 4 tracks (the red/purple/brown between downtown and Howard).

        The only time express trains are run on 2-track stretches is when a train has been held up significantly by mechanical or other delays and other trains are stacked behind; that train will run ‘express’ for a stretch to get the headways back to normal.

      5. Thanks for that info. My main point was to show that it is possible to have express trains just as it is with buses.

        It looks like Chicago did away with the A/B stops because they increased the headway between trains. With the Link, this might work out because there is a short headway between trains.

      6. The LIRR runs an extraordinarily complicated mix of local and express services from something like a dozen branch lines *on a two-track railroad*. This is done with SCHEDULING.

        If you have more than one track, you can detour around an accident, have local and express trains, etc. Buses, by the way, can’t detour if all the lanes on the only road are blocked, either — their sole advantage is a large installed base of roads.

        And incidentally they can’t be scheduled or dispatched to the same level of accuracy as trains, thanks to other road traffic.

      7. In Japan, the Nara Line runs local and express trains in both directions in a ROW that is mostly single tracked apart from stations! Of course, they’re only able to do this due to extremely tight scheduling and and train priority at each intersection.

    1. If you are able to get off Link heading south at SODO Station, you can catch the 124/174 all the way to Airport Station.

      If you can get off at Beacon Hill Station, you can take the 60 down to Georgetown and transfer to the 124.

      If you get stuck further along, catch the next northbound train back to SODO.

      Thanks to Metro for getting the word out, at least to the handful of people on the web.

      Sound Transit, it’s time to develop a blockage alternate plan, that involves informing people at stations and those on the trains, allowing trains to get to the next station so people can deboard and take alternate routes, providing information to people at stations about those alternate routes, and not holding people prisoner on the train. I know from my job that holding people prisoner on a bus is illegal.

      1. +1. If people were really stuck on trains for 90 minutes with no explanation, that’s another communications failure on ST’s part. They need to get on the ball about providing detailed reports to passengers and folks waiting at stations, including: (1) accurately identifying the source of the delay; (2) identifying the estimated length of the delay; (3) identifying alternate bus routes to major destinations available at various stations, (4) explaining at what point buses will be pulled from the yard to provide duplicate parallel service.

      2. Last weekend, when they knew well in advance that Link trains would not be using the tunnel, there was very little notice of that in the tunnel stations. I rode Link that Saturday, and spoke with a man who was taking his family from Lake City to Tukwila, using Link, to test it out, who stood at Westlake station with his family for an hour before he figured out that there were no Link trains using the tunnel that day, and that he had to take a shuttle bus to SODO station. He said, even without that delay, he would never take bus/train to Tuwkila again — he would always drive from now on.

        And nobody who got on a Link train at SeaTac had any idea that they were going to have to get off at SODO and take a shuttle bus into downtown. I had to explain that to several riders.

      3. “Last weekend, when they knew well in advance that Link trains would not be using the tunnel, there was very little notice of that in the tunnel stations. ”

        Other than the signs in the mezzanine and at the top of every stairway and the announcements every 5 minutes on the PA and reader boards.

        “I rode Link that Saturday, and spoke with a man…”

        Sure you did Norman, sure you did.

        For someone who absolutely hates Link you sure take a lot of joy rides on it.

      4. I won’t call BS on a particular story, but I (again) call complete and total BS on the continuous narrative of anecdotal stories that uniformly and conveniently support whatever argument you happen to be making and that feature Jane and John Does unanimously critical of Central Link. The narrative is just too far out of whack from what I and every regular Link rider I know experience. The only complaint I ever hear is frustration that U-Link (or whatever segment a particular rider needs in order to completely ditch the bus) will take so long to open. I also overhear the occasional wish that we had spent the money to elevate or tunnel.

      5. I saw all of the signs everywhere … that and the fact that they mentioned it on all the local news channels

    2. Tim,

      Your suggestion of express runs is one I have been pondering for some time.

      My recollection from the NY subway system is that it requires an extra pair of tracks. I’d like to think that an extra pair to reroute around or in the middle of a station would work, but it would increase the already huge footprint of each station. Plus, it would slow down the non-express runs even more as they wait for the express trains to pass.

      I suspect it would be cheaper and more effective to simply build a bypass route from TIBS to SODO, and suburban commuters who already have the rail reaching their neighborhood would vote for it, but that is the distant future.

      1. Yep, you have to have lots of places for a train to pass another train, at speed. It takes a huge amount of real estate.

      2. “I suspect it would be cheaper and more effective to simply build a bypass route from TIBS to SODO,”

        Sort of like the 194 route? Just go to SeaTac, instead of TIBS.

      3. No, they’re too expensive, actually. They don’t generate their own ridership increases through impacting land use, and they cost marginally more money every year to operate. Over a 50-100 year span, you end up spending huge amounts of money to keep the bus running, when a train would be paying for itself by then.

      4. If by “bs” Norman means “statement that can be supported by long-term data,” then yes. This might explain why he refuses to recognize his own statements as such.

      5. yes … where NYC has express service it is on lines with 4 tracks … usually 2 are located below the other 2 … with exceptions like the West Side IRT (1/2/3)

      6. Actually, I think the majority of them are four tracks across—when you’re running a cut-and-cover tunnel under a 5-lane street, it’s sort of the logical thing to do, and it makes the crossovers simpler, too. There are also some three-track sections, and various upstairs-downstairs configurations (my favorites are where the uptown and downtown trains are on different levels), and I think one place in Queens where the express just has its own tunnel for a mile or two, which is (as is being discussed below, apparently) an expensive but logical choice if you’re adding express service after the fact.

        An important side-issue is that a lot of “Express” service in New York is less about getting places faster than it is about traffic management—with several hundred thousand people taking each of the trunk lines each day, making sure that it’s still possible to find standing room on the train during the last couple of miles before the major destinations is a major issue.

    3. Disclaimer: I work intimately with Central Link Light Rail.

      Many of the troubles you mention are created by the political decisions made by Sound Transit, who does not operate CLLR. Believe me, if it was up to the people who operate and actively manage CLLR, there would be many changes.

      First point: Generic announcements…
      On the trains these are initiated by the operator, either with the pre-recorded announcements or via the PA. There are only a few options for automated announcements (the menu system is not very easy to use.) On the platforms, they are sent from the control center, who is usually very busy with other matters than to create a custom message for each type of incident.

      Second Point: Being honest with reasons….
      See first point on nature of announcements. At times, we do not know what is going on for a few minutes, and it can cause liability if we say one thing and it turns out to be not true later.

      Third Point: Bad interaction with Rainier Valley…
      Very true. The general consensus is that that section creates 90% of the troubles we encounter in the day.

      Fourth Point: No 194…
      I believe there are a couple of reasons for this… ST wanted to direct more traffic to the CLLR OR Metro saw an opportunity to save some $$$ by cutting a route that was covered by rail. I believe that the issue creates a problem when this kind of thing happens. There is supposed to be a procedure to create a “Bus Bridge” when the track closes, but there seem to be a few bugs in that system.

      Fifth Point: Expressing Trains…
      The “Cascade” system for setting the traffic lights on MLK would have to be completely re-tooled for not stopping in the valley stations. That system is controlled by SeaDOT, not Link, and has enough troubles with reliability without throwing that wrench into the works.
      I would love a second pair of tracks (say down Airport Way for example) to bypass MLK. But there would be more noise about that then there was about wanting to elevate the tracks on MLK. (They don’t even want us to put a fence between the NB/SB tracks to discourage jay-walking.)

      All of that said: I agree with all of your points.

      But, why be positive about MORE remodeling of KSS? It is nothing more than a rent-able hall.

      1. “I would love a second pair of tracks (say down Airport Way for example) to bypass MLK.”

        We had the 194 for years, which bypassed MLK. Which would be less expensive and faster to implement: a second pair of tracks to bypass MLK, or just running the 194 again?

      2. The 194 does not serve as part of an effective express route from downtown Tacoma to Everett. It gets stuck in traffic. It would have to run several runs per hour to keep up with light rail capacity. It’s stop time at the airport is significant.

        Why are you so allergic to getting on the light rail?

      3. The 194 was 10 minutes faster between Westlake and the airport than Link is.

        The 194 did not serve stops on MLK, or Tukwila, so it did not need the capacity that Link has. Link does not need the capacity it has — it runs mostly empty most of the time.

        Link light rail cost many, many times as much money as just continuing the 194, and the other routes which have been discontinued due to Link, would have cost.

        Why do you seem to have no concern whatsoever about the extremely excessive cost of Link light rail?

      4. Link probably cost less than operating the 194 for the next hundred years. Think on a more appropriate scale and you won’t have as many “concerns”.

      5. “Link does not need the capacity it has — it runs mostly empty most of the time.”

        I rode the NYC subway once (actually last night) at 9:30pm. It was the N from Union Square up to 49th St. My particular car only had about 20 people on it, far from capacity. Should NYC abandon this line because it was empty?

        So you want to add the 194 back into service? I’m missing your logic here. With having the Link serve the airport AND adding the 194 to make the same run, you would then be adding additional capacity for demand that is not there – based on your logic.

        1) I agree that there should be another way to get to the airport with public transportation. Does it need to be the express 194? Probably not, but we should have redundancy

        2) Norman, you’re extremely short-sighted. This light rail system was built for decades to come and is part of a larger plan. Just because it doesn’t meet your ridership requirements (are you expecting crush loads at all hours?) doesn’t mean that it isn’t needed and won’t be used in the future.

      6. What is the point of running 2-car trains that are mostly empty most of the time? Reduce them to single-car “trains” most of the day, and/or reduce the frequency. If demand does pick up, then you can add cars or increase frequency. Why run trains every 10 minutes when they are never more than 1/4 full? You don’t see how this is a waste of money?

        You don’t run the 194 again because you need more capacity. You run it because it is faster than Link to the airport, and many people prefer the 194. Reduce the number of Link trains, and start running the 194 again.

        Also, running the 194 would “give people more options” for trips. Isn’t that what pro-transit people are all about — giving people “more options”?

      7. If you would bother to read my 1st point, I **AGREE** with you that we should have redundancy by having another way of getting to the airport – just not for the same reasons.

        As an electric powered train, running a single car versus two or four would not generate enough cost savings, so why not run as many cars as possible.

        So you would rather have a system that runs a train every 30 minutes versus every 10? What happens if you just missed that bus or train; now you have to wait an extra 30 minutes and potentially miss that flight or you can wait 10 and be there relatively on time.

      8. And, presumably, it costs close to three times as much to run trains every 10 minutes compared to every 30 minutes. So, how much is it worth to have shorter headways? Is cost no object to you, whatsoever?

        Running vehicles of any type mostly empty is inherently a waste of money.

      9. Outside of salary costs, I don’t know what the difference is from running trains every 10 minutes versus 30 and currently I don’t have the time to do the research.

        I’m not sure of what other’s feelings are about this, but it is my viewpoint that public transportation isn’t to make money. It would be amazing and great if they could break even, but it’s here to provide a service for the public. It’s here to move people from point A to point B and hopefully in timely manner. As a person of the public who relies on transit every day, I want a system that comes very often so I don’t have keep looking at a schedule. If a bus or train came every 5 minutes, I would LOVE that versus having to wait every 30 minutes. It’s wasting my time to wait longer between arrival times – especially if I’m transferring between lines.

        What do you want?

      10. “What is the point of running 2-car trains that are mostly empty most of the time? Reduce them to single-car “trains” most of the day, and/or reduce the frequency.”

        Transit 101 here. Reducing the frequency reduces the ridership ALL DAY LONG on EVERY TRAIN because people plan their days based on the *availability* of a quick trip *if* they should need it (for an emergency or whatever). So that is not a reasonable option. 15 minutes is about the lowest possible frequency for a “turn up and go” service, and that’s a bit low — 10 is about right.

        Running single-car trains sounds totally reasonable until you add in coupling/uncoupling cost and time. Given that this can only be done at the yard and involves the time of fairly expensive personnel, it may be that it’s not cost-effective.

        In a system with *many* lines, you can certainly do something like this:
        — run 2-car trains on the busiest line in rush hour, and 1-car trains with high frequency (say, every 2.5 minutes) on another line;
        — run 1-car trains on all lines outside of rush hour, at a lower frequency, mothballing the 2-car trains during the midday

        You may see something like this after Seattle gets more of a network. (And San Jose’s VTA, with multiple underused lines, should be doing it already.) On a single line you can’t get as many benefits from running variable length consists.

      11. I tend to agree with your observation about Sound Transit, across all of their services not just CLLR. If they ever brought more of their operation’s staff in-house i think they would have a very rough time of it at first.

        As for your point #5, it’s my personal opinion that each operator had their own reasons for elimination of the 194. For Metro, they wanted to free up the service hours for use on the Rapid Ride “A” Line, which was promiced to voters and if not for some streamlining they would have had an otherwise hard time delivering.

        For Sound Transit, of course they wanted the lucerative end of the 194, the Airport-Seattle market without any competition, which may have been looked negitivlely upon (why’s there a parallel express bus?). When future segments open i’d expect the same kind of thing as well, where the express service gets eliminated along the duplicate portions of LINK. Which overall makes sense since the system has proven itself more or less reilable and usable for many. The only thing that would need to be taken in consideration, is cash fare transfers. And with the current policy the way it is, it might not be the best idea to remove all locally operated parallel service. This is to allow those who do pay in cash the ability to use their transfer without having pay a second fare when they switch carriers.

      12. Do remember that it’s completely up to the King County Council’s discretion on service changes. Sound Transit can’t tell Metro where or how to run Metro’s buses.

      13. No they cant, but they do work very closely with the partner agencies in the planning and design of their services plus other complementary services where practical.

        Post I-695 and in todays lean times, the local agencies i’m sure are more than happy to “offload” services onto ST to re-invest those hours towards keeping their system fully operating.

      14. Z, Sound Transit tried very hard to work with Metro – and Metro flubbed it.

        Remember that RapidRide was supposed to come online with Link? That big part of Transit Now?

    4. “The total journey from downtown Seattle took 1.5 hours”

      There goes the 38-minute average trip time on Link between Westlake and SeaTac.

      “Fourth, I think that we need to reinstate the 194 because downtown Seattle to SeaTac travelers have no alternate mass transit means of getting to the airport now that the 194 has gone, and I fear that some people did miss their flights today. A train cannot simply wander away from its tracks and go some place else. At least one passenger said he wouldn’t take Link again because it is not predictable enough.”

      I talked with a guy Saturday who takes Link from SODO to the airport for his job at the airport. He was incensed that he was going to be late, again, last Saturday. He said he is late to work at least once a week because of Link trains not running on time. He referred to Link as “light snail.” He and a lot of his friends who work at SeaTac, are adamant that the 194 needs to be brought back into service, as they much preferred it over Link.

      “Fifth, I think that Sound Transit needs to think about expressing some of the trains so that once they leave SODO they don’t stop again until Tukwila.”

      Just bring back the 194 for an express to SeaTac. Or another bus route to go just to Tukwila. Much less expensive than another light rail track.

      1. The first run of Link each day takes over 45 minutes. It might be nice to warn riders about that through signage.

        Early morning riders also have the 124/174 still available. Does this route need more night owl frequency? I’d sure love it to run every half hour, as I then might be able to move out of South Park.

        Speaking of which, am I hearing things when I hear the message at Westlake Station, “The next train to South Park will be arriving in two minutes”?

      2. The first run of Link won’t take 45 minutes anymore very soon. We’ll have a post about that later this week.

    5. Tim, sounds like it definitely needs to be handled better in the future, but to play devil’s advocate I don’t think this one incident caused unexpected hardship. In other words, ST knew that a few accidents will happen and delay passengers but in the grand scheme of total ridership it’s just not significant.

      I’ve now taken several not just for fun round-trip trips to the airport on Link, and it compares favorably to mass transit in most any major North American city. Sure, knowing what could have been possible with an elevated system or alternate routing is frustrating, but Link works. I liked the 194 pretty well, but honestly it was constantly jammed on peak travel times. By the way there are many private express carriers from the airport–they’ll take you right to your destination but it’ll just run you a lot more.

      1. The fact that the 194 was “constantly jammed on peak travel times” shows two things:

        1) the 194 was very popular

        2) they should have just increased the number of buses on the 194, instead of building light rail to the airport. Doubling the number of buses on the 194 would have cost a tiny fraction of what has been spent on Central Link.

      2. If we had built light rail just to serve the airport you might have a point, but we didn’t. Why are you so myopic?

      3. Norman *doesn’t* have a point. If Central Link was a pure airport shuttle it would be faster, more reliable, and more scalable than buses. The only reason Link was slower than the 194 during off-peak times is because it stops at 6 additional stations in the Rainier valley.

      4. Which is why the 194 was superior to Link for trips from downtown, or SODO, to the airport. They replaced an express trip to the airport with a local route. Which is an inferior option for that trip.

        Without the 194, people have one less “option” for that trip. I thought more options was a good thing. Why shouldn’t there still be an express bus to the airport, as well as the Link local route down MLK? Are you opposed to having both express and local routes between downtown and the airport?

        It has already been explained here why Link can’t operate an “express” light rail train between downtown and the airport. Which leaves the 194 as the obvious option.

        So, which is it? You just don’t like the idea of having the option of an express trip from downtown to the airport?

        Or, you just hate buses?

      5. I don’t hate buses. Unlike you I actually use the bus every day for real life purposes (not just joy rides to the airport).

        At certain times of the day for certain trips the 194 could be up to a whole 4 minutes faster from downtown to the airport. Hardly a strong justification for it. Maybe when there’s stronger demand for transit between downtown and the airport and Link is running at capacity they’ll consider some kind of airport express bus. Until then it’s a waste of Metro’s scarce resources.

      6. The point, Norman, is that Metro does not have unlimited service hours, and that Link is so superior to the 194 that it provides both local service to six neighborhoods _and_ airport service while taking just a few minutes longer than the so-called express service provided by the 194 (not that the 194 held to its schedule during the morning and evening commutes). We’ve built a high-capacity transit arterial providing fast, frequent, congestion-free service. It’s dumb to run a largely duplicative and inferior bus route. Link frees up the service hours to be used elsewhere.

        You harp and harp (and harp) about light-rail costs, but want Metro continue running a bus route replicating Link service? I can’t think of anything more hypocritical or wasteful. Can you identify where you want to Metro to cut or reduce service in order to restore the 194? Or are you advocating hiring new bus operators while Metro faces a budget crisis?

      7. Reduce Link frequency and use the savings to bring back express bus to the airport. Buses cost much less per hour to operate than Link trains. You would be saving money, and giving people a 10-minute-faster trip from Westlake to the airport.

    6. “Second, Sound Transit needs to be honest with its reasons. If a train has been hit by a car, then say so.”

      I think the problem here is:
      1. They use automated announcements, not live drivers. (This is because live drivers often have a bad record with making clear, audible announcements.)
      2. They don’t have a procedure (or perhaps even the tech?) for getting new announcements pushed into the cars immediately if something odd happens.
      3. There is not an awfully large selection of announcements.

      These are understandable errors and could be fixed in a couple of different ways, some cheap, none outrageously expensive. (I think the dispatching office should be able to record an announcement and upload it securely to all trains over, say, a few minutes….)

    1. The Seattle P-I said the initial investigation showed the driver ran a red-light, so there’s absolutely no spin in blaming the driver.

      1. Sorry, but if you seriously think the Seattle Police Department and the local media are falsifying traffic accident reports to protect light rail’s public image (and what, buying the silence of drivers who have never disputed the fact that they were running red lights?) you’re not worth engaging.

      2. Right. There’s basically a predictable level of idiocy in drivers, evidenced not only by those who run reds across train tracks. Texting while driving is another great example: just look at folks while they’re driving. You’ll be appalled, and I’m sure it’s quantifiable, so we can predict how many people will get in accidents because of texting, red light running, speeding, etc., despite safety features. That article discusses it, too – the difference between the “chargeable” (a.k.a. Link’s fault) fatalities and the ones that are people basically putting themselves in front of the train.

      3. I’ve moderated John Bailo (who has been posting today as Cress Vundt).

        He knows this stuff, he’s trolling, and I will not put up with it.

      1. So, I guess all these drivers ran a green light, did they? Face it, every driver who has hit a train has done so while in the process of committing an illegal traffic violation.

      2. I see people make these illegal turns across Link tracks all the time. I’ve just never seen someone do it when a train is close enough to threaten damage.

      3. So, it seems as if Link is not only encouraging a lot of people to jaywalk regularly (see thread on MLK signals, where several people who post here regularly admit to jaywalking acroos MLK all the time due to signal priority given Link trains on MLK), which is sure to result in jaywalkers getting hit by vehicles, but also is encouraging drivers to go through red lights rather than sit in one spot for several minutes because the signal priority given Link trains is causing big backups at intersections.

        Great system we have going here.

      4. Norman, there is no evidence that the signal timing along MLK is causing people to run red lights. Any review of accident reports and traffic citations from around the region will reveal that plenty of red lights were run in areas far from any link tracks.

      5. Well, we certainly have anecdotal evidence that the signal timing is causing people to jaywalk across MLK, just on this website alone, don’t we? If you think people getting impatient waiting through multiple red lights applies only to pedestrians, and never to motorists, then that is your opinion.

        I would suggest that some people who have been sitting at a red light for several minutes, might reasonably figure that the light was malfunctioning, and think that they had no choice but to go through a red light, or just sit there forever.

        Do you honestly think that excessively long red lights don’t cause some people to just go through the red lights?

      6. Hey, now. I’m one of the most prolific MLK cross-track jaywalkers. Now you’re directly challenging my senses of sight and hearing and my jaywalking skill. Have you ever seen me walk against the light? It is a sight to behold, so I ask that you assume nothing about my car vs. pedestrian fate!

      7. And it’s making them jaywalk on Rainier too!

        Seriously, how much time do you spend in the Valley? As far as I can tell the jaywalk rate is about the same on MLK as Rainier Ave. At least with the tracks it’s mostly concentrated at intersections on MLK instead of completely at random.

      8. According to several posts on the “MLK traffic lights” thread, people are jaywalking across MLK specifically in an attempt to catch Link trains. So, that is in no way connected to Link trains operating down MLK, in your opinion? No relationship between jaywalking and Link trains, at all?

      9. Your analogy is off, Norman, because (as you should know as a resident of a big city), jaywalking and running a red light are not the same thing.

      10. Norman, you’re creating a straw man, and I think it’s because you realize that the pedestrian timings are so bad BECAUSE cars are getting let through.

      11. What? Wasn’t MLK Jr Way built for motor vehicles? Are you suggesting that vehicles should never get a green light on MLK Jr Way? lol

        Everyone knows that the intersectsion along MLK were much more pedestrian-friendly and vehicle-friendly before Link trains started operating. Are you actually attempting to refute this?

        Just the fact that MLK is a whole lot wider now because of the Link tracks in the middle of it, makes it much less pedestrian-friendly than it was before Link.

      12. “Everyone knows that the intersectsion along MLK were much more pedestrian-friendly and vehicle-friendly before Link trains started operating.”

        Apparently Norman had never actually spent any time on MLK before it was rebuilt. I’m beginning to doubt that Norman actually lives in Seattle. So far his “observations” have been pretty much contrary to everyone else who reads this blog.

      13. More and more of it sounds like fiction to me. All of these random conversations with people on Link who hate the system — I never hear people complaining like that, though admittedly I don’t go strike up conversations with strangers on the train very much. (I’m a native Seattleite; it’s not in my DNA to be extroverted!) I do listen to other people talking, though, and generally they are pretty happy with the system. I can’t think of a single time I’ve overheard a conversation with people saying they hated Link and would never ride again.

        Crossing MLK is much nicer now — upgraded signals and a place to wait in the middle of the street if necessary. Also, separation of the two sides of traffic.

        Not to mention how much nicer the street looks these days.

        “Everyone knows that the intersectsion along MLK were much more pedestrian-friendly and vehicle-friendly before Link trains started operating” is complete and utter fiction.

      14. Well, if I have the time, I will try to find the article in “The Stranger” which describes how Link made MLK UN-friendly for pedestrians. “The Stranger” is not exactly anti-transit.

        As for the guy at the SODO station who said he was going to be late for work AGAIN because of Link “light snail”: I overheard him loudly complaining to a Metro supervisor on the SODO south-bound platform last Saturday at about 2:30 in the afternoon. Find out who that Metro supervisor at SODO last Saturday afternoon was, and he can confirm that “anecdote.” I bet he remembers that guy’s complaints.

        By the way, my trip from Westlake to SeaTac on the shuttle bus, then Link, took 52 minutes last Saturday.

        And I guess the guy in Lindblom’s story on Link and MLK Way, who screamed at a Link train, and flipped it off, was just fiction, too?

      15. I live in SE Seattle and cross those streets regularly. How much do you walk around in Rainier Valley?

        I’m sure there are some complainers, because there are always complainers no matter how good or bad a system is. What leads me to believe it is fiction is that you, and you alone seemingly, seem to always find these malcontents. The guy in Sodo might just want to catch an earlier train if he always has these problems. I haven’t had the train make me late for work yet, and that is including Wednesday’s delay (which was an extra 10 minutes for me).

        Your 52 minute trip time is misleading because it was not a normal service day — it was pre-announced that there would be shuttle buses and delays. So why complain? These are things that happen any time, and as I’ve said elsewhere, delays happen to buses, too.

  8. Does anyone know how the car turned in front of the train at Kenyon and the accident location was at Elmgrove? Did the train push it the length of the station?

      1. That’s pretty far, though – longer than the Rainier Beach Station platform, where the train was presumably going to stop, anyway.

  9. Don’t cars know that in a contest between passenger vehicles and light rail vehicles the light rail vehicle always wins?

  10. Trains do NOT belong on the road. Why didn’t Sound Transit build the MLK Line underground? Trains + Road = Disaster.

    1. Do you really need to have that explained?

      Sound Transit had a limited amount of money. It is more expensive to build underground.

      The choice came – build on the surface, or do not build at all. In that context, it’s a simple choice.

      And, uh, hitting a car every couple of months is not exactly a disaster. More non-Link accidents happened on the street before Link opened.

      1. Remember Save our Valley? They were origonally pushing that proposal, but i think it was more NIMBYism than anything else. Vehicle vs. Light Rail accidents happen. Fourtunatly not too many seem to happen up here. Tacoma LINK has a few every so often as well. It also happens in Portland (Fire Truck vs. Light rail a few years ago) and Phoenix (Bus vs. Light Rail) this past year. In both situations the light rail vehicle won.

      2. I don’t understand how a group saying “please do something you don’t have the money to do” could make any difference.

        They came very late in the game. If they wanted to fix this, they should have lobbied for money. They chose to be angry and yell at people. They lost.

      3. You mean, when the amount of money available was already set, and underground rail was already unaffordable?

        I think, perhaps, you have a strong bias.

  11. I just wanted to come back with a few additional points from what I was thinking about earlier.

    With regard to the 194, we know that Metro eliminated the service for perfectly sound reasons, but I am troubled that there is no mass transit alternative for folks going direct to SeaTac from downtown and it needs to be pointed out that on its best run, Link is still slower than the 194 was. I was picking this vibe up from several passengers on my trip today. One said Link was not a good option, another that they would never take it again and a third that the it was no substitute for the 194. Now I tried to point out that Link has lots of good space for luggage, and disputed someone’s allegation that it was a mile from the station stop to the terminal building but then sympathized when she said she was off to the British Airways desks.

    Basically, Link at is best is fine and a worthy substitute for the 194. It is modern, efficient and a good alternative to buses taking up space on the crowded I-5. The trouble is that at anything less than its best, Link is very frustrating because of the stops and pauses shall we say through the Rainier Valley. It is not seamless and it does hesitate too much to cause passengers not to fret or glance at their watches. In all the many trips I took on the 194, I don’t think I was ever as anxious as I am on Link and so far, I haven’t even trying to catch a flight. I am anxious for the image of Link and for those travelers who are depending on it to get them to the airport on time.

    With regard to express trains, I wasn’t thinking of alternate or bypass tracks, but actually of say making at least three out of six trains an hour not stopping at the Rainier Valley stations. This may not be practicable without a place to store excess trains but I lay it out there as something to think about.

    Finally, if a car has hit a train rather than the other way around, Sound Transit loses nothing by announcing this through the train drivers to the train he or she is driving. Amtrak loves nothing better than to blame its pauses and stops on BNSF or UP freight trains holding up the line! In fact, they can’t communicate fast enough and it works – we all laugh and blame the railroads which is as it should be because they hold the rest of us in their grasp.

    Oh, yes, it is positive that King Street is being remodeled actually and no, it is not a glorified rental hall!

    1. Just remember that without the BNSF and UP there would be no Amtrak. The private railroads provide and maintain the ROW. It’s private property that you are traveling on. The railroads face stiff competition from trucking and the fees paid by Amtrak don’t cover the costs to the railroads. I don’t think there’s a single Class I railroad in the US that would miss the money they get from Amtrak. From the brink of extinction US railroads now carry over 40% of the nations goods (measured in ton-miles) which is better than any country in Europe by a large margin and probably the world leader.

      1. I think you are probably giving them too much credit – they are not exactly a charity organization, whereas Amtrak is a publicly funded endeavor that deserves better in terms support from the railroad companies. They would be justified in asking for increased fees and getting them from Amtrak if they improved track maintenance and siding development to allow for safe passage of freight and passengers. Its a win-win because then the public and Congress would be more inclined to pump money into Amtrak to pay the increased fees if there was better on time performance by Amtrak trains stemming from the improved track conditions. The railroads get paid more and Amtrak passengers get where they want to go on time!

      2. That’s nuts. Amtrak by charter is supposed to turn a profit (you know, like Greyhound). All the Class I railroads abandon passenger service. They make their money moving freight. They maintain ROW the best they can given that they actually have to deliver a return to share holders. Congress passed a law that allows Amtrak to operate and pay less than any private company that wanted to offer passenger rail service would be asked to fork over. I know the mindset on this blog is SOV bad, main cause of global warming and it rewards people that are successful and able to pay their own way but getting trucks off the Interstate really does far more to improve the overall well being of individuals and the planet.

      3. What’s nuts? I am not disputing the value of the railroads to transport freight – even if every freight train does look as if it could take 80 days to get through downtown Seattle, let alone around the world.

        No, they do a great job moving and shunting freight around, but don’t discount the value Amtrak adds to communities far from airports and to those who don’t wish to fly.

      4. Yeah, it’s a great “value” since they’re paying pennies on the dollar. I’m just saying be appreciative of the “donation” the Class I railroads are making to make this possible. Getting all huffy about passenger trains being delayed when they’re not paying a fraction of the cost it imposes on the railroads is in my opinion arrogant and symptomatic of the entitlement ethos that is rampant in most “pro transit” arguments.

      5. Bullshit.

        BNSF charges what they want to for trains operating on their railroad – and ST and Amtrak pay through the nose. When you look at what WSDOT or ST work on rails costs and compare it to what BNSF charges them for similar projects, it’s astounding.

      6. Also don’t forget that part of the deal that created Amtrak was relieving the freight railroads from any obligation to operate passenger rail service and taking on certain pension obligations.

        In fact those pension obligations are a major component of Amtrak’s budget and are generally charged to the long-distance trains which makes those services look worse than they really are by raising the apparent cost.

      7. “The private railroads provide and maintain the ROW.”

        Except for the $1 billion that Washington taxpayers have invested in improving and maintaining BNSF’s ROW since 1994. Why should we expect anything in return for that measly amount?

      8. You’re talking about things like the Pt. Defiance bypass and other passenger related improvements. BNSF hasn’t lobbied for increased Amtrak service. Every penny spent has been at the discretion of Washington State or Amtrak. BNSF would would be just as happy if you took that billion and went somewhere else (spend it on buses). I don’t want the government spending money on redecorating my house and then claiming they have the right to march through any time they want. Why is it that you feel spending tax payer dollars usurps private property rights?

        I do believe we can spend public funds to improve freight mobility and passenger service but the idea that the railroads benefit from Amtrak is absurd. WSDOT, from what I’ve seen has done a pretty good job but moving freight is what railroads do best and that should be the emphasis of state funding.

      9. No, he’s talking about the freight mobility packages that WSDOT pays for regularly.

        Bernie, instead of asserting, I think you should start looking at the 2003 Nickel package and the 2005 Transportation Partnership Account. If you did that, you would suddenly back off on a lot of what you’re claiming. WSDOT has been paying for BNSF improvements for decades.

      10. Bernie, I think you’re very wrong about BNSF not benefiting from the money Sound Transit, WSDOT, and Amtrak have spent on improving their tracks. First there is the money WSDOT and the ports have spent on freight mobility, this paid for things like re-opening the Stampede Pass line and a number of grade crossing separations among other things. Second even the passenger improvements benefit freight because they add additional tracks, new and extended sidings, new or improved crossovers, automated switches, improved signaling, etc.

        I don’t know the exact legal framework BNSF operates in regarding accepting Federal, State, and local money for track improvements. However I know in every case there were specific agreements negotiated with BNSF detailing exactly what was built and what the funding agency would get in return. I suspect BNSF was in a position to refuse at least some of these agreements had they really wanted to, however as a capital intensive private business why wouldn’t you allow government to carry some of your capital and maintenance costs?

      11. Oh, and about those “property rights”. Don’t forget that the railroads received land grants from federal, state, and local government. Also don’t forget that they had the same rights to condemn other people’s property as utilities and often were able to pay much less than the fair value. Part of the deal for all of that free and low-cost land though was that they provide certain services to the communities they passed through.

      12. A good reminder about the history. One other point – back in the day main lines ran passenger only on some route, as freight would damage the rails. Now both are run on the same tracks, which means more work paid by WSDOT and AMTRAK than if those rails were pax only. Especially with the heavy rolling stock of double deck containers at 75 tons each…

      13. I’d be interested in a reference for that, as I am not aware of any US railroads where that would be all that true – that there were passenger only lines that kept freight off due to load or damage reasons. About the closest I can think of would be some flyover junctions or various cut-offs that had nigher grades than you would want for most freight.

        Certainly plenty of railroads that had multiple-track mains had tracks that usually had higher speed vs slower speed tracks, but that was more about speed differentials that weight…

    2. If they breezed through Rainier Valley without stopping, they would save perhaps three or four minutes, while bypassing a large source of ridership. There are not that many stops in the Rainier Valley (less than one per mile) and the trains don’t stop at intersections very often. Of course I would prefer it if it were underground, but this is the best at-grade light rail I’ve every seen.

      1. Well I am only talking about reducing the number of hourly trains in order to allow for some to breeze through the Rainier Valley without stopping. Most trainsets would remain as now – stopping in the Valley, but some could be made as express trains.

      2. All that does is trade time in transit for time waiting for a train. And it’s a two or three minute difference to stop or not stop in the valley – it’s trivial.

        It’s a nice idea, but it does more harm than good.

      3. One case in which it might make sense would be clearing out riders after a stadium event. Suppose the southbound riders were organized into two queues, one for stops before Rainier Beach, and one which is express to Rainier Beach, then stops at all stations after that.

        If there were a train pre-positioned in the pocket track at Stadium station it would wait for a train from the north gets loaded up with local passengers and departs, then pulls up to the southbound platform and loads the express passengers. By now, the local should be far enough ahead there wouldn’t be much chance of it interfering with the express train (it will have taken a while to load all those express passengers).

        Once the local gets to Rainier Beach, it’s end of the line and everone must deboard. It gets into the pocket track there and waits for a northbound slot. It can then either deadhead back to Stadium or serve northbound passengers along the way. Either way, it will be the next express and will get into the pocket track at Stadium for the process to be repeated.

        You might have the express train stop at Beacon Hill and/or Mount Baker while skipping Sodo, Columbia City and Othello. The express train will pick up transfers at Rainier Beach for any riders that got kicked off the local there, but wanted to go further (assuming there’s any room left on the train).

    3. “With regard to express trains, I wasn’t thinking of alternate or bypass tracks, but actually of say making at least three out of six trains an hour not stopping at the Rainier Valley stations.”

      This would cripple service (by reducing it 50%) in SE Seattle in order to make the train run a few minutes faster for people going to the airport. Nice.

      Link is not an airport shuttle. It goes to the airport, but for only 5-10 minutes additional time, it also manages to serve thousands of people in SE Seattle who were not well-served by the 194. It expanded quick, cheap and reliable service to the airport for thousands while also providing quick, cheap, and reliable service throughout SE Seattle and through downtown.

      I understand that people who were affected by yesterday’s delay would be upset, but reasonable people know these things happen. And they happen on buses, too. One accident in the wrong place and time and your bus trip could also take three times as long as it’s scheduled to, despite buses’ vaunted “flexibility.” In general, Link’s arrival times will be far more reliable than the 194’s could be, and it runs more often and serves more people to boot. All of this worrying about express lines and skipping the Valley seems wasteful, to me.

  12. By the way, what happens to the trains after they are hit? Does everyone get off before the train gets pushed or shunted or drives back under its own power back up to the main depot?

  13. I don’t think we need to overreact to today’s incident but do let’s think more about how best we can keep things moving more seamlessly in the Rainier Valley and whether the 194 was perhaps stopped prematurely – even if we can understand the logic behind it. Also, please Sound Transit, work on getting us more accurate information rather than the generic ‘train stopped due to traffic ahead’. One poor guy was losing his mind on my train and frantically pressing all of the door buttons. I think he must have moved one a little because our driver had to come back and check them all (twice) before he could move on. Yet still we got the charming message about ‘traffic ahead’. Just our luck that so many of my surrounding passengers were using Link for the first time on the first train to get stopped by the accident!

    1. I agree that a significant irritation to riding Link is the lack of communication about delays. For example, one time when Link was doing a driver switch just past SODO station, the train just stopped for nor apparent reason. A short while later, the driver made his way back to the passenger area, used his key to open the door and left as a new driver came aboard. They did a brief exchange of pleasantries, and then the new driver made his way to the driver’s compartment. Then we waited a short while and the train resumed service. No explanation was given.

      It would have been much preferable if the driver had just made a brief announcement that we would be switching drivers because of a change in shift and we would be on our way again in just a moment. People want to know what is going on when there is a delay.

      1. I agree, and this needs to be made very clear to ST. Passengers are very understanding when they know what’s going on — less so when they aren’t told.

        Incidentally, I entered Beacon Hill Station just after 4:15 yesterday and there was a relatively large crowd, and two security guards (including a ticket inspection agent) in there telling everyone about the crash. I only caught the tail end of it, but at least someone let people know. There should have been periodic announcements over the PA, though. (“Train has been delayed due to an accident on the line,” or something like that. I suppose they don’t want to upset or panic people, but come on!)

        After I was there for about 10 minutes the two minute announcement came on, and then a northbound train came through two minutes later, so the delay wasn’t too bad for me. I don’t know how long the other people were waiting, though!

  14. As most know that have read this blog for any length of time, I’m not a huge ST fan. Ridership numbers have been well below expections, costs are always way more than estimated and the implementation schedules make software releases seem almost on time. But, the one thing they really screwed up was the prediction of number of accidents. There is almost an order of magnitude fewer accidents than was predicted. If ST had had the amount of practice predicted in their original accident projections I bet they’d have this down by now. Fortunately, accidents have been so rare that ST is still completely lost when one happens. Maybe drivers are smarter than we originally gave them credit for or maybe the ROW design was far better than engineers had anticipated. Either way, I’ll take it.

    1. That’s a backhanded compliment but I am sure they’ll take it!

      I agree with you that Sound Transit is hopeless with its ridership predictions and implementation schedules but you can’t take away the results when we do get them! For the most part, what they design and build and artistically arrange has been stunning. Bear in mind that they are also in the hyped up marketing business to better position themselves to secure limited funding from a naturally sceptical public that insists on voting everything in, out, up or down. ST operates within a society that is basically over-democratised and where few people seem willing to pay for what they also say they want and where the natural economic cycles screw ST to the sticking point. Taking all into consideration, they do do a great job and that is why we are here on the Blog defending them day in and day out – most of the time!

    2. The Sounder stations were also another source of some embarrasement. Back in 96 they predicted roughly 300 spaces each in puyallup and sumner would be sufficent for 9 trains a day. They filled them up after 2 trains a day. oopsies. Although now they are moving forward with more mitigation, and hopfully structured parking in both locations to help fulfill the demand.

    3. don’t forget ridership numbers were predicted before the economy headed into the shitter

  15. Well, a strong backhand is very important to your game ;-) But I’ll just come out and say it. The accident rate on MLK is far far less than anyone could have even optimistically predicted. I think its a fair question to ask why? Or more to the point, why is it so good? The road was old and never engineered as a system prior to Link. Taking existing accident data and extrapolating that to post Link would yield a higher number. But, I think they just plain did a (excuse the pun) a bang up job on designing the ROW. MLK is much much better now than is was before. It cost billions and most of that went into the train but the “spill over” really has resulted in a better MLK than there was before.

    1. Actually, the MLK section cost a couple hundred million. When you’re talking about an “order of magnitude”, you should try not to do the same thing on your cost assertions.

  16. To everyone stating the Link is “making people jaywalk more”: Are you sure it’s not lack of crosswalks? Large roads like MLK, Lake City Way, Aurora, etc are ALWAYS jaywalking magnets.

    Also, why do people hate sharing grade? Yes, a tunnel world be more convenient, or even “cooler,” but cars and trains can run together. Look at places like Amsterdam with tram lines crossing the city, mixed in with car, pedestrian, and bicycle traffic. If you want to think closer to home, ride the MAX Yellow Line. It goes down a big avenue similar to MLK and works great. SDOT definitely should model their traffic signaling better, but they are still working things out with a technology that is new to the city.

    This is the first year for Link. God, give it a break already. You have such average American mentalities (coming from an American that is tired of that mentality). “I want it NOW!.” As with any technology (especially technology that interacts with humans), there will be kinks. Get over it and take a nap.

    Sorry for ranting.

    1. A bit more on Amsterdam.

      -17 tram routes, on street, partly mixed with all other traffic, partly on lanes shared with buses and taxis, and partly on separate lanes.
      -1 light rail line partly using metro tracks, partly on the street with its own lanes, and with level crossings.

      A total of EIGHTEEN lines sharing ROW and/or not grade seperated.

    2. “God, give it a break already.”

      I wouldn’t worry about it at all. If there is one thing Seattleites are good at it is whining. I don’t know if it is the gray rainy days, or if it comes from our parochial biases, but this is just one more opportunity for the typical Seattleite to whine.

      I’d follow the data on this one. Our system is seeing accident rates far below predicted rates and well below what has been seen in other cities. And the accidents that have occurred have for the most part been non-injury. Additionally, this is during the start-up period when you would normally expect to see a higher accident rate. It’s pretty much a non-issue with Link.

      Per “Save Our Valley”, if we had built a tunnel then we would never have the coverage we have now with Link and almost certainly would not have made it to the airport in Phase I. And now that Central Link is up and running it is clear that we really didn’t need a tunnel anyhow.

      The data shows that the system works and works well. I’d turn a deaf ear to the professional whiners – they will whine no matter what decision is made.

  17. of course the alternative would be to put actual crossing gates on every intersection … and you can believe that people would whine about the noise they’d make … considering they complain about the noise of the wheels crossing the switch frogs now

    1. Crossing gates do not appear to work. They had installed them at intersections for their trolley cars and people still went through them and caused accidents.

      1. Er, wish I could edit posts.

        Crossing gates do not appear to work. Philadelphia had installed them at intersections for their trolley cars and people still went through them and caused accidents.

      2. Crossing gates are unnecessary and wouldn’t make much of a difference anyhow. Our accident rate is so small as to not warrant the expense, and those intent on breaking the law and/or doing something stupid to themselves will always find a way.

  18. Is the intersection where the accident occurred one that allows left turns when the light is green (and thus, the driver ran a red to do this) or is it one that is marked “no left turn”? I noticed that at least one of the “no left turn” intersections on MLK is not as clearly marked as one would like — since left turns aren’t allowed there, they didn’t put in the “train approaching” lights and stuff, just a sign posted very high-up that indicates that there is no left turn. Granted, people should still see those, but I can imagine some people missing them, particularly if unfamiliar with the area. I would like to see every intersection have very, very clear and bright indications if there is no turn allowed. Signs should be impossible to miss, and be posted, perhaps, both up high, and lower, in an easy to see location.

    I know one of the previous accidents was at one of the “no left turn” intersections, without the illuminated “train approaching” light.

    1. A sign posted next to the green straight arrow signal indicating no left turn or U turn, a straight arrow and “only” painted on the pavement in the left lane. And all intersections, left turns allowed or not, have the bright blinking train approaching warning lights. The left turn lanes have them above next to the signal. At intersections where no turns are allowed they are in the middle of the intersection just below the train signal.

      Kenyon Street does not allow left or U turns from the southbound lanes.

      Makes me wonder what is distracting drivers so much to miss all these warnings.

      1. The Dawson St. intersection, northbound on MLK, where the first train/car accident occurred last April, did not seem to have a “train approaching” sign when I looked at it. However, you say that “at intersections where no turns are allowed they are in the middle of the intersection just below the train signal”, so it’s possible I was looking in the wrong place for it (I didn’t check when a train was coming by, just noticed that the sign wasn’t at the place where it would be at the intersections that allow turns). At the time, I remember thinking that the Dawson intersection wasn’t as well marked as it ought to be. Perhaps more signage has been added since then.

  19. There is an alternative to Link for getting to the airport, it’s called the 124/174. It needs to be publicized more because so many people are thinking there’s no other way to the airport now that the 194 is gone. The old route took 45 minutes. The new route may be slightly longer due to the transfer, but it’s still usable if not fast. It also runs 24 hours, albeit with gaps of an hour or two at night.

    It’s also interesting that the 124 almost shadows Link, just making a big detour from SODO to TIB. So you could take one down and the other partway back, for instance to get to the Museum of Flight.

    I think there will be a Georgetown express train eventually, stopping at SeaTac and then Tacoma. But that’s a few decades away.

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