In brief response to Kevin Desmond’s op-ed, I agree that at this stage of rail service it’s probably premature to kick all the buses out of the tunnel. A train running every 7.5 minutes in each direction leaves a lot of capacity on the table. It’s one major drawback of ST building one of its lower ridership segments first.
That said, 15 incidents a month — which I suspect happen mainly during peak commuting hours — really aren’t acceptable. I think Mr. Desmond would agree that there’s room for improvement. What I don’t understand is why Metro would add peak trips in the tunnel (the 217*) even as Metro and Sound Transit are trying to troubleshoot the unique problems with this one-of-a-kind system.
There’s always a tradeoff between letting more riders benefit from the tunnel and diluting that benefit by putting in too many buses. Before there was Link, not every bus that could use the tunnel did so. Today, trains occupy a large amount of the capacity. What’s different, though, is that given a multibillion dollar investment in reliability, expectations are higher. Someone interested in its success, and presumably Desmond is, should be looking for ways to remove obstacles to its smooth operation.
It’s premature to kick all the buses out of the tunnel, but we should reduce it to whatever level is necessary to reach an acceptable level of reliability for all modes that use the DSTT. Once the problems are licked, Metro and ST can discuss cautious additions to the list of routes that use the tunnel.
*My bus, as it happens.