by CARL STORK
Sound Transit recently announced yet another Link Light Rail service curtailment for maintenance work. Here’s the notice ST has given riders:
Central Link light rail will operate every 20 to 25 minutes from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. on Sunday and Monday due to track maintenance. Signs at the Beacon Hill, Mount Baker and Columbia City stations will direct both northbound and southbound riders to use the southbound platforms for boarding during the maintenance.
I have lost track, but this must be at least the sixth or seventh time that there has either been a period of reduced frequency and/or closure of a portion of Link Light Rail for various construction or maintenance purposes – and the line has been in operation less than one year.
If Link is to be a high capacity spine of our regional transportation system, then I feel that ST must make a far greater commitment to operating the full scheduled service 7 days per week. ST should adopt the following principles, below the jump:
- Whenever possible, maintenance and construction should be performed during the overnight closure period – which is four hours Monday through Friday nights and five hours on Saturday and Sunday nights.
- If a maintenance and construction project cannot be done in that fashion, the approval needed to close the line or operate reduced service should require substantial justification up through the ST GM, and should be planned six months in advance, and all other maintenance and construction work that is foreseeable should be synchronized so that all this work occurs at the same time. In the last six months I remember partial Link closures that occurred for WashDOT construction near Royal Brougham and for tunnel work by Metro, and reduced service occurred for switch heater installation, for rail grinding, and for installing track lubricators. None of this work was coordinated, each was a separate closure or curtailment, and it seems like each agency or department can cause a service curtailment for its own needs with little justification and no coordination. Sound Transit should have more stringent criteria to permit service curtailment and work should be coordinated and synchronized.
- If a reduced schedule will be operated with a frequency of less than 15 minute headways, a schedule should be published so that riders know when to expect their trains. Telling riders that trains will operate every 20-25 minutes between 10pm and 1am is inadequate. Riders should not be expected to wait for 20-25 minutes after 10pm without knowing when a train might arrive.