Sound Transit rolls out new schedules on February 5th. The schedule book is already online. There are no changes to rail service, but ST Express is changing as follows:

Route 522: New trips added; stop changes in downtown Seattle and minor schedule changes
Route 540: Service returns to Kirkland Transit Center; minor stop changes in Kirkland
Route 554, 577, 578, 590-595: Stop changes in downtown Seattle
Route 511, 513 and 532: Please note that when the Mountlake Terrace Freeway Station opens in spring 2011, schedules will change for ST Express Routes 511 and 513, which will begin serving that station. You’ll also have more travel options with new trips added on routes 511 and 532. For the most up-to-date schedule information, sign up for e-mail alerts at

New connectivity is always exciting.

33 Replies to “Feb. 2011 ST Schedule Book”

      1. Yes, but it also means better GPS info for OneBusAway and automated stop announcements.

      2. Stop annoucments? For six stops?

        On accuracy, Metro’s system is accurate to within 10% of the distance traveled between beacons.

        I’m not too excited on losing WiFi and reliability. In my informal measurements, Metro has had a much higher on time percentage compared to PT.

    1. How much money could ST save by contracting their service operations out to private companies like First?


      Is CT contracts out to First, why doesn’t ST contract their SnoCo routes directly to first rather than going ST > CT > First? Too many middle-men…

      1. Search around, I’ve explained it many times.

        Not every operator has mechanics, shops, supplies, training, experience, etc. to make the qualified to operate Sound Transit’s equipment.

      2. I believe that by law ST is required to deal directly with the transit operator within who’s taxing district they operate the service. Also, ST would be a very small player and might actually end up paying more per service hour than what CT is able to negotiate. Plus they’d have the HR overhead of dealing with the contractor (it’s not like just calling Shuttle Express). Last I looked CT charged about $10-15/hr less than Metro. So it’s fair to say Metro would likely save about that much by operating on the CT model. But there’s other trade-offs and Metro has some much more complicated operating considerations than CT.

      3. I believe that by law ST is required to deal directly with the transit operator within who’s taxing district they operate the service.

        If so, they are breaking the law by moving route 566 to Pierce Transit. Route 566 operates entirely within King County.

        The difference in deadheading to Auburn Station and from South Base in Tukwila and PT’s base in Lakewood is only about a mile, and PT’s hourly cost is lower.

      4. Because 1st operates from a CT facility, 1st would have to charge much more if they had to get their own base and all that goes with it.

      5. > Can you provide the legal citation?

        No, I remeber reading it once and didn’t bookmark it. I have searched for it but can’t find an answer either way. Maybe someone can show that they don’t? Honestly, I’d really like to know. But, in King County ST is required to use Metro for any routes accessing the tunnel because only Metro employees are allow to operate in the tunnel. I suspect there would be similar push back for any Metro owned facility which is the majority of the P&R lots. Remember the uproar when a bill was proposed that would allow private operators to use Metro P&R facilities? ST also has to rely on Metro for back-up coaches so even if it’s not a strict legal requirement it would be if not impossible prohibitively more expensive to not contract with Metro. Someone in the ATU might have more insight as to the requirement to use their union for all transit publicly funded by King County?

        ST operates Tacoma Link if I’m not mistaken because PT doesn’t have any operators or desire to train operators for light rail (or streetcar or whatever you want to call it). Tacoma Link costs more per hour (a lot more) to operate than Central Link. So that doesn’t bode well for any notion that ST could save money by going it alone.

  1. Disappointing to see that there is again no schedule for Central Link.

    In fact, now it says weekdays, outside of 6:30-8:30am and 3:30-6:30pm, every 10-15 minutes – with no more specificity than that.

    Ridiculous. When buses list exact departure times even when they are running <10 minute headways.

    1. Exactly. How can ST measure “on-time performance” for Central Link when there are no listed times to be on? Apparently, Link trains can just depart and arrive whenever their operators feel like it.

      1. Even if we don’t know the departure times at the terminals, I’m sure the operators do. Of course, that might be measured from the time the previous train left.

      2. We know when Link trains do arrive, and they do stick close to the 10-minute ideal before 10pm. So the idea that ST is shortchanging frequency or that drivers are inserting 5-minute breaks is contradicted by facts. Hopefully this change is just a difference in wording and not a forewarning of service reduction. If service is reduced, it will be obvious, and people will come to STB complaining that they had to wait fifteen or twenty minutes for a train, the same way they now complain about Metro not being on time or their bus not showing up at all.

    2. I think the 10-15 minutes is more accurate, and therefore more appropriate. The trains don’t all suddenly stop at 10 pm, and wait to spread their headway between each other to 15 minutes. If I expect the trains to be spaced every 10 minutes, and I run in to the QFC to buy some groceries, I expect a train to be there almost precisely 20 minutes after the previous train. If the trains are in the transition period (roughly 90 minutes) from 10-minute frequency to 15-minute frequency, then fewer riders trying to plan when a future train will come will be fooled by the detailed but inaccurate schedule.

      This ambiguity allows the train schedule to shift based on demand. Right now, the tunnel tends to be pretty dead not long after 7 pm. It makes sense to start spreading out and downsizing the trains sooner. As the daylight grows, people will be out later, and more service will be merited, especially on major sporting event nights.

      That said, I hope the schedule ambiguity is made up for by constantly-updated schedules at the stations and on the web. If there is a more detailed schedule for a period of a few weeks, please publish it. Plus, I hope connection times to buses has not been thrown out the window. Nor is it easy to find a way to mesh fluid service levels with the operator picks, except by not guaranteeing hours of work.

      I hope there will be much better info available to the public than a blanket 10-15-minute-frequency period, but I trust ST to have thought this through, and to be doing it for good reasons.

      1. Right now, the tunnel tends to be pretty dead not long after 7 pm.

        I don’t know. Granted it was a Friday night, which you’d expect to be busy but I was in the tunnel during the change over. 2 car trains were coming in north bound and they were pretty empty (Pioneer Square) but south bound was single car trains that while not “full” had more than half the seats taken. I guess what surprised me the most was that at 9PM there’s way more people still leaving the DT than coming in. And that walk down from First Hill; let’s just say DT Bellevue makes me feel a lot safer and is much more vibrant at 9PM on a Friday.

      2. Maybe it has been happening all along, but I noticed that trains are now dead-heading from Airport Station when they go out of service. This makes more sense than doing all the dead-heading from the stub tunnel, since southbound runs continue with higher frequency longer, up to 90 minutes. The dead-heading time is only 13 minutes longer.

        Or are they actually dead-heading from both directions and cutting the transition time in half? Sorry, Tim, the pick cards are Greek to me.

        In order to be more accurate, the schedules might need to indicate different frequencies in the two directions, e.g. 7.5-10 minutes southbound 6:30-8:00 p.m. and 10 minutes northbound 6:30-8:00 p.m.

        Whatever the case, if the trains are going to be 10-minute headway during a period, barring a breakdown, why would it be too much trouble for ST to give that much detail?

      3. The sooner headways start stretching out, the sooner Link becomes a less viable transit option for unplanned, spontaneous, car-free trips.

      4. Pick sheet won’t tell you much. I forgot the Link run cards for next shakeup haven’t been posted yet.

        Go back to the same URL and click “Click Here for Fall 2010 Run Cut and Run Cards” at the top and again go back to the bottom. Link run cards are there, and the basics should be easy enough to decipher.

      5. Bernie, by your logic the schedule for weekends should say “10-15 minute service all day” and for weekdays it should say “7-15 minute service”. Then they can do whatever they want and it will be accurate. What an idea, maybe the ST 545 and 550 schedule should read “7-30 minute service”. The imprecision is also there for the 7-8 to 10 minute service switches.

        Or, they could publish the actual schedule, and you’d know 10 minute service from Seatac ends at 9:50pm and from Westlake at 10:07pm etc.

      6. Carl, You’re getting your loud-mouthed B’s mixed up. It was me defending ambiguous frequency postings.

        On further thought, a lot more detail still seems merited and accurately doable. They just need to have a separate frequency schedule between northbound and southbound.

        For example:

        Northbound Weekdays
        First Trip: 5:00 a.m. from Seatac/Airport Station
        5:00-5:45 a.m. every 7.5 minutes, once first train reaches each station
        5:45-9:15 every 7.5 minutes
        9:15-10:00 every 7.5 – 10 minutes
        10:00-2:45 p.m. every 10 minutes
        2:45-3:30 every 7.5 – 10 minutes
        3:30-6:30 every 7.5 minutes
        6:30-7:15 every 7.5 – 10 minutes
        7:15-8:30 every 10 minutes
        8:30-9:15 every 10-15 minutes
        9:15-1:00 a.m. every 15 minutes
        Last train to Westlake Station leaves Seatac/Airport Station 11:00 p.m.
        Last train to Stadium Station leaves Seatac/Airport Station 1:00 a.m.

        Southbound Weekdays
        First Trip from Beacon Hill Station: 4:00 a.m.
        First Trip from Westlake Station: 5:30 a.m.
        4:30-5:15 a.m. every 15 minutes, once second train reaches each station
        5:15-5:45 every 15 minutes (but no tunnel service until 5:30)
        5:45-6:30 every 7.5 – 15 minutes
        6:30-8:30 every 7.5 minutes
        8:30-9:15 every 7.5 – 10 minutes
        9:15-2:00 p.m. every 10 minutes
        2:00-2:45 every 7.5 – 10 minutes
        2:45-7:15 every 7.5 minutes
        7:15-8:00 every 7.5 – 10 minutes
        8:00-9:15 every 10 minutes
        9:15-10:00 every 10 – 15 minutes
        10:00-11:45 a.m. every 15 minutes
        12:00-12:30 a.m. every 15 minutes (no tunnel service)
        Last train from Westlake Station 11:45 p.m.
        Last train from Stadium Station 12:30 a.m.

        There are unavoidable periods of ambiguity during frequency transitions. I’d like ST to limit the posted schedule ambiguity to those transition periods.

      7. Brendan,

        ST is ruthless about cutting runs on commuter bus routes that aren’t full. I don’t see why they’d treat Link any differently.

        Frankly, a lot of the commuter buses are much more crushloaded than Link is during rush hour. The extra runs on the 522 will be packed to capacity immediately, so I hope ST can come up with the money to add even more.

      1. Whatever schedule Metro is publishing. It probably is identical to the schedule (runs) that operators pick.

        In the future, expect One Bus Away to show headways instead of exact times. (If available) real time information will help decide what time to add the headway information to. Example: 08:00 and the line runs every 10 minutes. With no real time available, schedule will show 08:00, 08:10, etc. With realtime available, and assuming the last vehicle passed at 08:02, you’ll instead see 08:02, 08:12, 08:22, etc. That is assuming that the operating agency plans on keeping headways and not schedules.

        Eventually Sound Transit and Metro will no longer supply schedule data for both RapidRide and Link.

  2. Regarding the 522 schedule, more trips has been long in coming. If the fire chief were to ride the 522, he’d be turning lots of passengers away.

    I wish ST and Metro would talk to each other to space the 306/312/522 better. It’s pretty infuriating to see a crushload and then an empty bus right behind it.

    1. This is exactly my problem with the 522/312 (I live in Bothell and work downtown so the 306 isn’t relevant for me.) In the morning, the southbound 522 shows up at 8:03 exactly one minute after the 312, and frequently people all get on the 312 even though the 522 has fewer stops and gets to Seattle earlier.

      The uneven spacing often results in two northbound buses from the same route (say the 522) running one after the other because the bus with fewer passengers doesn’t have to stop as much and it catches up with the previous bus. I’ll get off the 522 and then watch the next 522 drive by. I suppose bunching is impossible to avoid with 10 minute scheduled headways but evenly spacing the three main routes would go a long way toward minimizing the problem.

    2. Bunching would do zero good for Northbound trips. As the routes take different paths from Downtown, whatever schedule spacing you were trying to have would go out the door as soon as one of the paths experienced a disruption. Southbound spacing would make a ton of sense but there’s not much you can do, short of putting all the routes together at the same stops Downtown, to make it work Northbound.

      1. The northbound spacing is most important downtown. If the buses bunch along Lake City Way, so what? They’re already full and mostly just dropping passengers.

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