When ST first announced that they would run one-car trains on some evenings and weekends to save money, it was said that this would be done based on expected demand due to special events.
Indeed, this kind of thing, if done right, can be very low-impact. But then there’s how this is actually being implemented. On a day with a Mariners game, Sounders game, and, uh, RapidRide opening, we got lots of anecdotal reports that trains were too full. Descriptions like “at capacity” and “full” are often thrown around way before trains are actually full, but people were left behind by one-car trains.
On a NB Link train, standing room only already at Tukwila. One car trains are not enough! – Sherwin’s tweet
Even with no major sports events… the car was at crush capacity. – PubliCola, accompanied by a photo nowhere near crush capacity
A lot of people had to stand on the 1-car trains, and some really didn’t have space for more to get on, even after the people who resist moving to the back moved to the back. (Well, more could have gotten on, but it would have been down to violating our American norms of personal space.)… I saw dozens wait for a next train. – Brent
It was bad. For one train, no one was able to board at Beacon Hill. The next train left half the people still standing, but we crushed in. Both were more crowded than the publicola photo. – psf
Not a good start.
By the end of the Sounders game, ST had started mixing in some 2-car trains, and indeed on Sunday it seemed that 2 cars were once again the norm.
ST did not return my questions over the weekend.
As a side note, in the past we’ve had really pointless comment wars over whether “capacity” should mean “how many people can fit in a car” or “the planning factor Sound Transit should use for how many people fit in a car.” The answer ultimately depends on what you’re trying to argue. Aside from that, the source for the former definition is this data sheet, which says 200. People use the word “full” to mean a lot of different things, but if a car was really leaving people behind I hope someone was out there counting, because that’s a practical limit that would be interesting to know.