New Years Seattle #2 By Simonds

[UPDATE 2:29 – Sound Transit will be extending hours of operation. More updates as we get them]

[UPDATE 3:12 – ST will add two southbound departures, leaving from Westlake at 1:00am and 1:15am]

Yesterday Sound Transit sent out a press release reminding riders that all ST service New Years Eve (Friday Dec. 31st) will operate on the normal weekday schedule while service on New Years Day will operate on a Sunday Schedule. I was disappointed, but not surprised, to see that Sound Transit will not extend Link’s hours of operation beyond the normal last departure at 12:41 12:37 from Westlake, just 20 minutes or so after fireworks at the space needle ends. I find this absolutely ridiculous and an oversight on Sound Transit’s part.

First look at Metro’s core routes. Most of them will operate till around ~1:30am with the last trip of the night on high ridership routes like the 49 and 7 leaving downtown at 2:12am and 3:30 respectively. Even the monorail is operating till 1am. Or look at our neighbors to the north and south. Vancouver is extending skytrain operations by an hour to ~2:15am in addition to its extensive, easy to understand, and well branded night bus network. Not to be outdone Portland is running MAX untill 3am. And in both cities all night service is free!

And it makes perfect sense why Vancouver and Portland are taking these steps. First off New Years Eve is essentially the biggest and latest party night of the year, tens if not hundreds of thousands of people will be drinking, hundreds of thousands of people will be out watching firework displays and it will be essentially impossible to get a taxi. To me the the correct decision is obvious. In fact in a perfect would Metro would add late night runs to it’s routes as well.

My hunch is that last year when ST extended service not that many people took the trains, likely due to lack of knowledge, not demand. If Sound Transit announced service today, tied it to the fireworks at the space needle, points out the horrible traffic, got Mother Against Drunk Driving to encourage people to take transit, and made all rides after 8pm free I’m sure a few news sources would pick up the story and get the word out.

Sound Transit is building a multi-billion dollar regional mass transit system and it needs to complement that capital investment with an operational investment in the highest level of service.

I intended to write about late night transit service in more detail later.

32 Replies to “New Years Eve Link Service”

      1. And by that I mean people that don’t normally take transit but would think about it for events like this.

  1. Actually, we’ve been finalizing plans for later service on NYE. Details to come shortly. We still had some operational issues to work out when yesterday’s release went out.

    1. The press release doesn’t specifically say but I assume those two extra trains won’t return to base in revenue service?

      1. They certainly OUGHT to be in revenue service on this one of the most dangerous nights to be on the road

    2. Gary, why doesn’t Sound Transit meet TriMet and TransLink’s free New Years service? What are the politics behind making such a decision? Seems like a great PR opportunity for ST.

      1. Probably because nothing is really free. Providing that service is expensive. People in this are don’t even want to pay an extra .02 for a can of pop to support public services.

    3. Sorry about not getting the announcements onto the station boards until this afternoon. I hope it helps us get a few more riders.

      Link Control.

      1. Thanks for the extra service! I’m hoping that, starting next year, extended hours on New Years early morning, Christmas early morning, and any other holidays known for high overnight DUIs that make sense can be part of the published schedule, as well as the pick. If it helps to then start Link later those mornings, then hey, so be it.

        Indeed, maybe extended hours on Friday and Saturday night could be coupled consistently with later starts Saturday and Sunday mornings, if that takes care of the maintenance needs.

        Thanks again for answering questions from the public.


  2. From my experience late night service after a major events on bus/the slut the operators typically don’t really care about fare enforcement and usually has been to difficult to enforce because of the volumes of people and that a lot of the riders don’t ride the bus normally and don’t really understand the fare structure.

  3. Oh dear, forget MADD. They are a useless, prohibition lot. Not serious anti-drink/drive organisation. Surely, we can encourage a call for a truly reputable group.

    1. There are things that ST and Metro do that certainly don’t surprise me but really frustrates me.

  4. Portland and Vancouver BC really have their game together when it comes to meeting transportation needs of its citizens. I was in Portland for New Years last year and the late night, free transit service kept me out spending more at local businesses (on copious amounts of liquor and food). TriMet gave me a safe ride back to where I was staying in the morning. It was most excellent!

    If this were done in Seattle, we’d have to have all 94 different transit agencies agreeing to something, then hold meetings about its impact to our carbon footprint and cyclists, then maybe in a year something will be done. Goodness, I don’t even want to think of the pass-the-whose-going-to-pay-for-it-political-hot-potato when someone suggests providing free Metro and ST service. The Seattle process really is amusing.

    To STB: how about asking Metro why they don’t offer free service

    1. “how about asking Metro why they don’t offer free service”

      Seems like a truly silly question in a time when budgets are hurting, and the County is looking at laying off police officers.

      Do you *really* need to ask?

      And why should it be “free”? SOMEONE pays – why not those who use the (already subsidized) service? Why shouldn’t someone who is able to blow a hundred bucks on over-priced drinks not be able and willing to pony up $2.00 for a ride home?

      1. Should they be able and willing to pay? Sure. But some of them won’t be.

        Realistically, I would sooner forgo the extra revenue for the public safety benefit. For federal accounting purposes, the value of a life is well north of a million dollars. Free service on New Year’s Eve will cost much less than a million. If it saves even one life, I think it’s money well spent.

        That doesn’t change the fact that we need a funding source. But we should be able to make a partnership with bars and clubs, where they contribute some extra money to pay for the free New Year’s Eve service. It’s strongly in their interest to keep people safe, and anyway, they can just pass the cost along in the form of higher prices (since alcohol demand is much less sensitive to marginal cost than transit demand).

      2. Providing free service one night a year isn’t going to change anything and can do a lot to attract first time transit users.

      3. I don’t think this has much to do with public safety. How many people will be getting off the train and into cars for the rest of the ride home? It’s more about attracting more people into DT which is a PITA to drive in and expensive to park. A city wide cover surcharge of $1 or $2 for all licensed establishments that remain open after midnight would go a long way in offseting the cost of extended free transit (Metro and Link).

      4. This is 100% about public safety. Why do you say it isn’t? The best thing that we can do on New Year’s is to make it possible for people to drink without having to drive at all. Most of the Link stations are *not* park and rides, and certainly, most/all riders of the night owl buses will not be planning to get into cars afterwards.

        That said, I agree that the $1/$2 cover surcharge would be a great idea.

  5. Maybe my mistake in begging ST for overnight service New Year’s morning was to not provide *a funding source*. (No, my checkbook isn’t that big.)

    We could lament the extra costs to hospitals, the state and federal health care system, the state troopers getting holiday OT (not to mention *gasp* a pension), specialty programs paying taxi drivers to sit around and wait for calls for free rides home, etc.

    Or we could figure out a realistic plan for next year to actually give the DUIers an alternative that is easy to find. Maybe the mayor’s night-life initiative will get special consideration by the city’s Transit Advisory Board, and pre-emptively deal with the need to get people home safely on Saturday and Sunday mornings. A regular plan will draw more users (I mean passengers) than a one-night specialty deal cobbled together with essentially no public notice.

    The plan for overnight Link service may need to be a bus route, with local stops, to replace the functionality of the route 8 bus line. (There remain those in southeast Seattle trying to convince us to be afraid of our own shadows, so getting choice riders to take transit home may mean near-doorstep service.)

    The other key here is calmness. Offering a service that encourages the throngs to rush home after a party that ends about 12:30 am is an explosive combination. Folks, take your time, have an exit strategy that has options beyond 2 am, and join us here for another exciting year of Monday-morning-quarterbacking our excellent transit and other governmental services.

    Speaking of which: Thank you to Sound Transit, King County Metro Transit, Pierce Transit, Snohomish Community Transit, Everett Transit, Kitsap Transit, Thurston Intercity Transit, and Washington State Ferries for the best year of transit service I have had the joy of using in my lifetime!

    Thank you also to the STB bloggers, webministrators, contributors, and trolls for giving me a useful alternative to ABC’s series of unreality shows (Well, okay, I don’t have a teevee, so I’m just guessing from the lame commercials.) and for offering useful constructive ideas, some of which end up getting implemented. Scary, I know.

    I’d also like to say “Hi!” to my mom, dad, and brother, without whom I wouldn’t have been able to get around at all in my hometown during Christmas vacation. So, here it goes: Hi!

    Happy New Year, everyone!

    1. I agree. The city really needs to have a serious discussion of the role that transit should play in providing late night transportation to people who have been drinking. We haven’t ever really addressed that topic straight on.

      1. I would be in favor of a 100% ban on being intoxicated on public transit. If you’re obviously drunk – you’re not getting on my bus, period.

        Let the irresponsible drunkards take a cab home – or get their asses tossed on jail for being idiots. I do NOT want them on my bus swearing, puking, pissing, getting in fights, stumbling around and acting like drunken louts – nor do my sober passengers want to put up with that crap.

        We don’t need MORE drunks on buses and trains – we need FEWER.

      2. @ Beavis

        It sounds like you have a problem with people that have been bing drinking, not people that have had one too many drinks and want to be responsible and not drive.

        What you describe certainly is a problem and that is why I’m glad that late night transit service is just one part of the mayors nightlife initiative. Extreme intoxication is created by people drinking too much, not late night transit service. We need to deal this problem at the root. Deciding not to provide late night service won’t solve the problem.

      3. i have seen the sober in fist fights on busses. drunk and behaved shouldnt be a problem. i have seen people singing (beer and wine too?) on the ferries. most seem to enjoy it.

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