STB recently obtained from Sound Transit per-station boarding statistics for both June-October and October-February. This continues the series from the first half of 2010.

A cursory glance at the numbers shows little qualitative difference between the first data set and the next two, so I think the analysis back then still stands. The June-October period is the peak ridership to date, and interestingly about half the total growth was at Westlake and Seatac.

91 Replies to “Link Ridership by Station, June 2010-February 2011”

  1. Over 10% of trips are still intra-DSTT. Other than the fact this was already the trend, this should be counterintuitive. Paying to ride the train in the DSTT costs, while the intra-tunnel bus trips are free.

    Of course, encouraging riders to board buses instead of trains for these intra-tunnel DSTT trips helps slow down movement of all vehicles through the tunnel. It is painful to watch the vast majority of riders queue up and enter at the front door of every bus, often taking over a minute. “The train is being held by bus riders only using one door to board their buses ahead.”

    The DSTT is the easiest and cheapest place to have a No-Cash POP zone pilot project. The DSTT already has ample security, who can be pressed into service boarding buses and doing fare checks. I bet they’d love having something more to do than occasionally scrawl notes on their pads.

    There are only so many bus bays at which to install bus-specific ORCA readers. Push the 255 upstairs, where it belongs with the rest of the SR 520 routes, and that would eliminate a bus bay and the need for 1/4 of the readers, plus any additional stops by buses that stop at both bays inbound.

    Part of fixing the DSTT algorithm is incentivizing use of the vehicles with the fastest boarding time (the trains), and reducing boarding time on all other vehicles (the buses). Once people catch on that the DSTT will have become a POP zone at all hours of operation, they will hopefully be recondition to a preference for the train for intra-tunnel trips, and to using both bus doors to board and deboard.

    Then, of course, a few minutes of operating time would be saved on deboarding the 41 at Northgate, the 71/72/73 in the U-District, the 101 at S. Renton P&R, and generally at every major stop on every tunnel bus route. Fare evasion, and the anti-social behavior that tends to come with it, would also be virtually eliminated on these routes, since they would all become pay-as-you-board outside the tunnel.

    Perhaps, as a result of speeding up tunnel bus boardings, a minute or two could be shaved off of Link’s programmed travel time.

    And with every route in the tunnel requiring an ORCA, ticket-from-a-TVM, or flash pass to board, the number of intra-DSTT train rides should go up, which we want to happen in order to impress the feds.

    1. Over 10% of trips are still intra-DSTT. Other than the fact this was already the trend, this should be counterintuitive. Paying to ride the train in the DSTT costs, while the intra-tunnel bus trips are free.

      My employer subsidizes a ORCA pass that permits me unlimited use wherever the card is accepted. Might many of these “counterintuitive” riders merely hold this type of card, for which they do not pay on a per-trip basis?

      1. That’s me. I work a block from the Pioneer SQ station, and about twice a week I ride Link up to Westlake at lunch to run errands, or have a snack. Since it’s free with my pass from work, I choose Link.

        If I time it right it takes no time at all, and it’s much more comfortable than the bus.

      2. Yeahs same here. I just take whatever is first because there is no cost.

      3. DWHonan,

        Whenever I ride in the tunnel, I always take LINK for that very reason. My ORCA card from my employer allows me unlimited use, so I enjoy a nice, relaxing ride from Westlake to Pioneer station…

    2. People don’t pay to ride Link within the tunnel, even though they are “supposed to” pay. And there are never any fare checkers checking to see if passengers paid inside the tunnel.

      So, over 2,000 Link trips per weekday are completely meaningless, since trips within the tunnel could be taken for free on any bus in the tunnel.

      I would say that all the trips between SODO and Stadium Stations and downtown are also meaningless, since there are still plenty of buses which make those trips, and prior to Link there were really a lot of buses per hour which made those trips (194 e.g.)

      1. Meaningful trip = trip that is significantly better (faster, more convenient, e.g.) than the previous trip without Link. In other words, what’s the difference between riding Link between Westlake and International or taking one of the many buses that makes that trip, other than that on Link you are supposed to pay $1.75 for that one-mile trip, and on the bus that trip is free?

      2. You know in 10 years when North Link opens I suspect Norman will still be trying to handwave away most of the link ridership as “meaningless”. At which point he will insist that “adding busses” could do everything link does at far lower cost.

        Of course you notice he never mentions how buses tend to get stuck in traffic or tend to have an upper limit to capacity along a given corridor due to bunching and platooning.

      3. That definition of meaningful is very subjective. For example, Link takes a little longer to go from downtown to the airport than Route 194, however it is more convenient because there are two to four additional trips per hour. So there must be some kind of a weight applied to faster versus more convenient.

        In addition, it is subjective because for every person in the region, there is a different value for each factor. For instance, you feel that a trip on Link between downtown and the airport is not meaningful because it isn’t as fast, but that outweighs the imrpoved convenience criteria. However, a person living near Beacon Hill finds taking Link both faster and convenient than the previous bus option. Without some region-wide survey, meaningfulness would be very difficult to measure.

      4. Not true. My wife and I paid to ride Link in the tunnel just two days ago. Then again my wife is one of those people you claim doesn’t exist, one who will ride a train but not a bus.

      1. “When do they start this?”

        … not until a few people write to Metro customer service and/or their county councilmembers to propose it.

  2. Looking at the total boardings for both Westlake and Seatac is about 8,000 per day.
    Westlake (major transfer point, center of CBD, and a downtown Mall)
    Seatac (major transportation hub in the region)
    8,000 per day.
    U-link is advertising to the media it will add 70,000 riders per day, or nearly 10 times the ridership of Westlake and Seatac combined for two more stops.
    Univ.Stn (questionable transfer point, end of line, largest campus and med center)
    Cap Hill (dense urban center, high transit use residential/commercial district)
    Yes, both are major stations, but 10 times more riders for two more stops doesn’t make sense, given the comparison to the an airport and the largest CBD stop.
    Could someone explain where all those riders are coming from – in detail?

      1. Thanks Daniel.
        So Ulink will raise ridership from 45,000 per day to 114,000 per day, or an increase of 69,000 per day sometime after opening.
        That’s a lot of bodies over the 21,000 per day now. Hopefully the Origin/Destination and ridership study ST is doing an RFP will answer some of those questions. Anyway, part of Central Links FFGA was to complete an in-depth ‘Before and After’ study, as a condition of the grant. That is due sometime after two years of operation.

    1. Not really sure where those numbers are coming from, but here’s the info available on ST’s website:

      For U Link:

      By 2030, Capitol hill is expected to have 14,000 daily riders, Husky stadium is expected to have 25,000 for a total of 39,000 boardings.

      Throw in North Link:

      You get 12,300 at Brooklyn, 8,500 at Roosevelt, and 15,200 from Northgate and you’re up to 75,000 boardings by 2030 from the total Northlink project.

      Can’t find the info anymore, but as I recall, Central link was to be up to 35,000 total by 2030. Giving a predicted system ridership of 110,000 boardings by 2030.

      1. So, what are the ridership projections for U-Link for 2016? Isn’t that when it is supposed to open? Who cares about 2030? ST can’t come close to predicting riderhip just one or two years into the future. Their projections for 2030 aren’t worth the paper they are printed on. Neither are their projections for 2016, fot that matter, but it would still be interesting to see them.

        What should be factored into these future ridership guesses is that telecommuting is increasing at a high, and accelerating rate. By the time U-Link opens, most of the students at U.W. will probably be taking classes online and won’t need to commute to the campus.

      2. Norman, you appear to be suggesting that the vast majority of the UW campus will become irrelevant in the next five years because “most of the students … will probably be taking classes online” by then. Do you have data to substantiate that claim?

      3. So Norman what is your ridership prediction for U-Link after opening? How about North Link? How many of those trips will you consider “meaningful”?

        Beyond that, why do you continue to whine and complain? It isn’t as if anything you say is likely to stop either U Link or North Link from being built. Now that it is built I really doubt ST will call Central Link a big mistake and sell the trains and rails off for scrap.

    2. I know your post is kind of a troll, but I still want to point out a couple of reasons why estimates might not be unreasonable:

      1) Airports are not really good trip generators — urban neighborhoods can easily outperform airports. (Compare, for example, 16th St Mission BART to SFO BART.) That said, I wouldn’t expect Capitol Hill or UW to significantly outperform Westlake.

      2) The two new stops don’t just increase boardings at those stops — they also increase boardings throughout the system as people from elsewhere go to those destinations, and as service levels increase to meet the demand.

      3) You’re comparing present ridership to 2030 estimates. 19 years is a long time; the economy should recover somewhere in that time and we can expect to see population and job growth along the whole Link corridor.

      1. Let’s be clear about something: There are certain commenters (and certainly many more like-minded citizens) who do not want public funds (taxes) spent on new right of way that is dedicated to public transit. They feel it is a waste of money. Because this ideology is ultimately what drives their reasoning, they can’t be reasoned with. They will try to appear as though they are making valid arguments and they will pick at all the things various public transit agencies are doing poorly and label anything other than buses on shared roadways as a boondoggle.

        Even if Link was exceeding its estimated ridership, certain commenters would be picking at other aspects of its operations. Only investments which support their vision of the future (fill in gasoline alternative-powered automobile technology here) which allow the current paradigm of suburbia to persist are reasonable to them.

        Now on to ignoring the Trolls…

    3. Well there are two factors at work. The first is that U-Link has by far the largest travel time benefit of any segment of Link because it goes from urban center to urban center. That is huge. The second is that ridership growth on a single line doesn’t grow linearly, because each additional station adds multiple new origin-destination (OD) trip pairs.

      2 stations = 1 OD trip pairs
      3 stations = 1+2=3 OD
      4 stations = 1+2+3=6 OD
      5 stations = 1+2+3+4=10 OD
      6 stations = 1+2+3+4+5=15 OD

      13 stations =1+2+3+4+5+6+7+8+9+10+11+12=78 OD pairs
      15 stations =1+2+3+4+5+6+7+8+9+10+11+12+13+14=105 OD pairs

      So by adding 2 stations you increase the number of OD trip pairs possible by 27! This means that you’re not just getting ridership growth at the two new stations, but you’re getting ridership growth at every station along the line because of the new possible OD trip pairs.

      1. Would it be difficult for ST to calculate trips for all O-D pairings for a span of time?

    1. …because that station is intended to serve the stadia, which (unlike the CBD) are not heavily patronized every day.

      1. I wonder where riders are going to / coming from at SODO? I guess there are some employment centers near SODO station – namely Starbucks HQ, large postal facility, and a transfer point to industrial-area buses. Can you catch any West Seattle buses along 4th?

      2. Perhaps I don’t go to enough Mariners game, but I almost find this station name a misnomer. To get to Qwest the ID station is the much better station. I think if I went to a Mariners game I’d prolly still use the ID station. It toally makes sense why this station is the worst performing. It almost seems to be in no man’s land.

      3. When I go to/from the stadia, especially Qwest, I too usually use the Intl District stop instead. It’s nicer to me and less crowded on game days.

  3. What I find most interesting about these station-by-station boarding and alighting figures is that you can determine how many people are on Link trains past any point on the line. This allows a valid comparison of Link passenger volumes to highway volumes.

    The segment of Link I find most interesting is between Rainier Beach and Tukwila stations. This would include almost all passengers going to and from SeaTac station (about 270 riders/weekday travel just between SeaTac and Tukwila in each direction).

    In the period of the chart at the top of this post, in the northbound direction, there are 4,818 passengers per day traveling between Tukwila and Rainier Beach, most of whom are coming from SeaTac.

    In the southbound direction, 4,703 passengers per week day travel from Rainier Beach to Tukwila, most of whom continue on to SeaTac.

    Compare this to I-5, which parallels Link for about a mile between Rainier Beach and Tukwila. You can see the highway right outside the windows of the Link trains.

    Along that segment of I-5, where it is 5 through lanes in each direction, I-5 carries about 425,000 people per day in 250,000 vehicles, or about 42,000 people per lane.

    So, where Link parallels I-5, just north of the exit off I-5 to the airport, I-5 is carrying about 425,000 people per weekday, and Link is carrying less than 10,000 people per weekday, both directions combined.

    So, I-5 carries more than 42 times as many people per day as Link, where they parallel each other. And each lane of I-5 carries almost 9 times as many people (42,500) per weekday as each track of Link (under 5,000).

    Link light rail is not “mass transit”, or “high-capacity transit.”

    1. But what you didn’t mention is that it is easier to grow capacity on Link than it is to grow capacity on the freeway.

      1. All you have to do is add buses to add capacity to the freeway. How difficult is that? And very inexpensive, also.

        I-5 already is carrying far more people than Link will ever carry. And I-5 has lots of unused capacity

      2. Uh, yeah, I-5 has lots of unused capacity.

        You think every vehicle on I-5 is full to capacity? lol

        You think I-5 is full to capacity of vehicles 24 hours/weekday? lol

        Do you have a point you are trying to make?

      3. And all of that “unused capacity” is utterly meaningless when a single accident results in a 7 mile backup lasting several hours.

        The capacity for adding busses is not infinite and does nothing to get those busses out of SOV traffic. There is also the small problem of things like layover space and parking space at bases.

      4. And there certainly wasn’t additional capacity as the bus I was on yesterday on I-5 was trudging along at about 15 miles per hour. And there certainly wasn’t any more room in the HOV lane to add more buses.

      5. As is obvious to everyone, except a few ideologues, adding buses removes cars from roadways, thus creating space for the buses. How anyone can fail to grasp this is beyond me.

        If your bus was full, that obviously means more buses are needed. Adding buses costs a fraction of building a light rail line.

      6. “As is obvious to everyone, except a few ideologues, adding buses removes cars from roadways, thus creating space for the buses. How anyone can fail to grasp this is beyond me.”

        Would you be in favor of reallocating a general purpose lane for HOV use on I-5 to encourage HOV/Vanpool/and bus use? It seems like a conservative and cost effective way to go. Heck, reallocate 2 lanes of I-5 as HOV and you may not even need to get a lot of buses since everybody would just vanpool or carpool to save time, right?

    2. 2/10: I replied

      We need a citation for your nearly-2-people-per-car number and also I-5 car-counts. WSDOT’s traffic counts past Boeing are much lower than what you’re quoting.

      1. Be sure to count all the buses and bodies in that segment. They’re vehicles too!

      2. 1.7 passengers per vehicle is U.S. average for private vehicles: cars + light trucks (SUV’s) + motorcycles, etc. Although for intercity trips, the average is 2.4/vehicle, and I expect a lof of cars on I-5 at the airport exits are making intercity trips.

        Also, I did not even include all the buses which use I-5, and which average a lot more than 1.7 passengers per bus. So, 1.7 passengers per vehicle is very conservative.

      3. WSDOT publishes traffic counts, and one of their counting stations on I-5 in 2010 shows 224 thousand vehicles per day (combined both directions).

        Not sure where 1.7 occupants per vehicle comes from. DOE(nergy) estimates under that for cars, more for SUV’s and vans, much less for trucks.

      4. 199,000

        They do have a couple counting stations in the area that register above 200,000. Those are in 12-lane segments (such as between 405&599). Most in that area are in the 180’s.

        I-5 is at capacity during commuting hours, when most vehicles on the freeway are SOVs. How much would it cost to add a new lane from Federal Way to Northgate?

      1. And what are ST’s “projections” for Central Link ridership in 2030, when Link is “complete”?

      2. Over 40,000, for what projections that far down the road are worth. Which, given a more reasonable 1.2 commute-time passenger-per-vehicle count, is at minimum the equivalent of adding a new lane to I-5; close to adding two lanes.

        Again, how much to add a new lane to I-5, Federal Way to Northgate? How much to maintain it?

    3. So, if I follow your logic, one lane of traffic on I-5 in each direction per weekday (42,500 riders per lane each way) is equivalent to about 1/10 of Link ridership in that segment today.
      Again, if I’m following correctly, current ridership would have to increase 10 fold to equal one lane ea. way.
      Isn’t Link limited to 4 car trains and they’re running 2 cars now and people are reporting full trains, at certain times?
      How does it ever get up to equaling a 12 lane freeway in capacity?

      1. Well, I believe you made a typo in your first sentence. One lane of traffic on I-5 equals about 9 times the ridership on one track of Link in that segment. (you wrote 1/10th, which is backwards).

        Current Link ridership both directions combined equals about 1/5 of one lane of I-5 in that segment.

        Link will never come close to equaling the volume of a 12-lane freeway. That is total B.S. Just one of ST’s many pieces of propaganda to sell light rail to the public.

      2. Thank you Norman. Yes, that’s what I was trying ask.
        Must be time for my meds again.
        Oh nurse!

      3. Link can handle up to 19200 passengers per hour per direction with 4 car trains and 2.5 minute headways.

      4. One lane of I-5 can handle 21,600 passengers per hour per direction with only 240 buses per hour. One lane of a highway has the capacity of over 2,000 vehicles per hour, so 240 buses per hour is well below capacity.

        The actual capacity of Link light rail with 4-car trains every 2.5 minutes is 12,672 passengers per hour per direction. That is at the actual “capacity” of Link cars of 132 per car, not the fantasy ST “capacity” of 200 per car.

        But, Link will never come close to carrying 12,000 passengers per hour per direction at any point along the line. Right now, it is only carrying about 5,000 passenger per DAY per direction.

        Your fantasly Link “capacity” is just that — a fantasy. Link will never come close to that, and ST has no projections of anything close to that at any time in the future. Whereas I-5 is already carrying over 400,000 people per day.

      5. 240 buses per hour!! Do you realize 1 bus = 1 driver? Do you realize how operationally expensive that is compared to 1 4 car train = 1 driver?

        Of course I-5 can carry huge number of vehicles. Billions have been spent to create it and widen it, billions have been spent on all the personally-owned vehicles required to use it, and billions are spent fueling, maintaining and insuring those vehicles. If a portion of those billions over the last 30+ years had been spent on rail transit in the region, we wouldn’t be arguing about this right now.

      6. 240 buses per hour on the freeway is not as easy as you make it seem. That’s 1 bus every 15 seconds. Considering that the *minimum* safe following distance for a *car* is 4-6 seconds, I’d guess that for buses it would be closer to 6 – 10 seconds. Perhaps one of the drivers on the blog can tell us what Metro trains for. I bet it’s noticeably more than the minimum safe distance.

        Throw some non-bus HOV traffic into that lane and 240 buses an hour seems highly unlikely without a dedicated transit lane. Since we can’t take I-5 traffic lanes and make them exclusively transit without people having fits, we’d have to build a new lane for all these buses. If we’re building dedicated right-of-way, why not pay the small marginal cost to add rail to it?

        Oh look, we have Link. Which, as Brett points out, requires only 24 operators/hour instead of the 240 you want to have driving buses.

      7. And now Norman, we are back onto a conversation we’ve had earlier that you haven’t answered yet. How do we get those four buses per minute off the freeway. Most freeway ramps have traffic lights and assuming the light cycle is every sixty seconds, four buses per light cycle is waiting for a green light. However, the bus stop on the other side of the intersection can only accommodate at most three buses (180 feet of curb space). This means for every cycle of light, one bus is unable to make it through the intersection. After the first rush hour, that could be up to sixty buses backed up onto the freeway. How would we prevent that?

        And now as for traffic volumes, what percentage of those 425,000 people in cars on the freeway are traveling between the City of Sea-Tac and downtown Seattle? I don’t believe it would be a fair comparison to measure flow of people on a line that has a terminal about two miles away with a draw area of I-5 to the west and an interstate where a high percentage of cars are coming from outside the draw area of the transit line you are comparing. Sorry – I don’t believe it to be an apples-to-apples comparison.

    4. Norman, I’m not really sure how you can make a valid comparison between a light-rail system that ends just a few miles south of the vicintiy you cite to I-5, which ends just this side of Tijuana.

      Also, you continually fail to comprehend the difference between “ridership” and “capacity” — the former is not the determining factor of the latter, as your last three paragraphs attempt to claim.

      1. I am comparing ridership of Link to “ridership” on I-5. That is apples-to-apples.

        I-5 = 425,000 passengers/weekday past a point
        Link = under 10,000 passengers/weekday past the same point

      2. If that is your argument, then you cannot state that “Link light rail is not ‘mass transit’, or ‘high-capacity transit'” because those phrases refer to “system[s] of large-scale public transportation in a given metropolitan area, typically comprising buses, subways, and elevated trains” (source). Your comparison, in such terms, is apples-to-asparagus: absurd.

      3. I am comparing I-5 to what Link actually is. This is apples to apples.

        They parallel each other at a point just north of 518, and past that point, I-5 averages about 425,000 passengers per day to Link’s less than 10,000 passengers per day.

        That is just a fact. I don’t blame you for not liking it — it makes Link looks like the stupidly expensive toy train that it actually is.

      4. It’s not that I do or do not like the numbers; I specifically take issue with your portrayal of Central Link’s sub-capacity ridership as evidence that it is not what, in fact, it is: a high-capacity transit system which has the ability to move a large number of people from one place to another (hence, “mass transit”). Is it currently under-performing? Yes, nobody is denying that — there are externalities nobody foresaw which have impacted forecasted ridership quantities. Is that evidence that the project shouldn’t have been built? No, because it’s merely the first phase of a larger network; just because the economy is down doesn’t mean capacity-improvement projects should be halted. (Look at BNSF, which invested heavily in its transcontinental mainline during the slow period of the late 1990s/early 2000s, angering stockholders who short-sightedly saw profits being spent on what they saw to be unneeded track instead of dumped in their pockets as enlarged dividends, and ended up being beautifully poised to reap the benefits of the intermodal and coal booms of the mid-2000s.)

        As it happens, ST intended to build to UW initially but was forced to revise their plans when initial tunneling bids came in far beyond the engineer’s estimate; upon reevaluating the situation, the funding they had available dictated that they could only build to the airport first and then extend the lines to higher-ridership destinations later. With a functioning system in place and lessons having been learned from the initial construction efforts, design and bidding for subsequent projects is much more likely to be accurate, avoiding cost overruns and construction delays.

        Anyway, I’m done throwing a tennis ball at a brick wall and gasping in amazement every time it ricochets back to me. Please, if you’re going to try to make detailed points, take the time to ensure your semantics are correct.

      5. @ Kaleci:”How do we get those four buses per minute off the freeway?”
        Great question. 240 buses per hour seems impossible. Norman should do his homework before spewing on the WWW. I’ll bet it can’t be done, as the Lincoln Tunnel in NY only does 1,700 buses between 6:15am to 10:00am each day. That’s only 453 per hours, @&#$$% RATS, Norman wins again.

      6. So to make Norman’s plan work, we need to redevelop an exit so that buses come off the freeway into a multi-story bus transit center that connects to an underground rail system to distribute people throughout downtown Seattle.

    5. What I find most interesting about these station-by-station boarding and alighting figures is that you can determine how many people are on Link trains past any point on the line.

      Yeah, because when that southbound train leaves University Street Station, it has 5,854 people on it. 30-car train?

      1. So your advocating Link only has 30 cars per direction per day? That’s only 15 train sets, or about one per hour.
        Well, I guess that will work, but I wouldn’t want to stand around for quite that long. OTOH, it’s still better than Amtrak.

      2. I meant per day, obviously, since the statistics are “per day.” Total on all Link cars past a point per day. Thought that would be obvious.

    6. Norman, You find it “interesting” that an interstate highway connecting Canada to Mexico carries more people than a 22-month old, 14-mile light-rail line with 13 stations? You must find the fact that the sun rose today positively engrossing.

      PS, I have an email into WSDOT requesting to reserve my P-Patch on a perfect little stretch of I-5 just north of the Mercer exit, for when telecommuting renders the HOV lanes superfluous. I haven’t heard back from them yet, but will keep you posted. I’m sure there’s just a backlog of I-5 P-Patch requests.

      1. Come on Jason, Norman wouldn’t be surprised that the sun rose today. The sun has always risen, and it pays for itself! It just makes sense. (And there’s never a miscommunication).

        What must be surprising is that people keep spending money on those toy “light bulbs” in their houses. The sun already has plenty of light capacity. Why are we spending money on new lights that are so much dimmer?

      2. Drats, looks like I’ve been out-clevered. Well done, Mr. Seater. Well done.

    7. The problem with buses going down the freeway is that the time cost of exiting the freeway to serve stops in places where people actually live and work is very high, compared to a train. I encourage you all to visit Google Maps driving directions and time how long it would take a bus to run the same route as Link does now, serving all stops, and also allow for the fact that each stop will take twice as long as the throughput of passengers getting on and off a bus is much less than with a train.

      I ran this calculation once and it turns out a bus running the Link route would take close to an hour to get from Westlake to the airport!

      So, in order to run buses in a way that provides similar benefits to Link, you would have to either:
      1) Build a very expensive exclusive right-of-way (may as well just build Link then)
      2) Run separate buses between each area and each other area. For example, downtown->airport, downtown->Ranier Valley, Ranier Valley->airport. With this approach, 10 minute headways require running 18 buses per hour, rather than 6 buses per hour. This gets very expensive fast.

      Furthermore, Norman, I think you are too quick to judge Link. Many people that could take Link to the airport today don’t because the time it takes to get downtown on a bus and transfer is too much. When Link extends out to the U-district and Northgate, suddenly, Link starts to look competitive time-wise and becomes a huge bargain when comparing to the alternative of driving to a parking lot and then waiting 15-20 minutes for a shuttle to take you to the airport terminal. (Even if it is necessary to ride a couple of miles in a taxi to the nearest Link station, it’s still a bargain compared to driving and parking).

      In other words, the existence of the north section of Link will increase the ridership on the south section, even though the South section hasn’t changed. You need to wait another 10-15 years after Link is all built before you can make comments like this declaring it a useless waste of money.

      1. it turns out a bus running the Link route would take close to an hour to get from Westlake to the airport!

        Which is why the 194 didn’t go to the airport via RV. Instead of being locked into a fixed route buses can be dispatched when and where they’re needed. Try this calculation, how long does it take a Link train to get from the airport to Westlake via East Marginal Way? About 10 years and $2 billion dollars.

  4. Sounds like people are finding out about LINK as an airport-city option.

    Having taken the long walk from the terminal to the station (when riding in on the 180 from Kent) I can see there would be some mental burn in period for travelers to become aware of it as an option (guidebooks, web blogs mentioning to tourists from Oslo “oh, yes, and you can take a low cost tram to downtown..”

  5. Why is Westlake almost 3X as busy as any of the other DT stations? I’m sure transfers are part of the equation but aren’t people from the south providing as many or more transfers? I’m guessing that being the end of the line has a lot to do with it so I wonder if the numbers will be more balanced between Westlake and the other tunnel stations once U Link opens.

    1. Terminus stations always have the highest demand. And Westlake has always had high demand. Look at buses–more people use Westlake than CPS.

    2. I would tend to agree. Another factor is that Westlake is the closes link station to Belltown, Denny Triangle, SLU, Cap Hill, etc as where the other stations more equally split the downtown core.

    3. I’m rarely in the tunnel during peak hours. Is Westlake 3X as busy then or is part of the reason for it’s larger number of boardings due to a high percentage of discretionary trips (i.e. shopping, Seattle Center, Lake Union activities). Whereas stations in the CBD are only high demand during the morning and evening commute discretionary trips are spread throughout the day and into the evening.

      I’m curious if ST models in this terminus effect what will this do to the realative numbers after U Link opens. I know all the numbers will go up but how will the relative proportions play out. At the other end of the line I can see where opening the Station at S 200th may actually decrease the count at Seatac and TIB.

      1. Even during peak hours Westlake is far busier than the other stations.

        I suspect some of the traffic is from/to Capitol Hill which means the nubmers at Westlake should drop a bit both bus and link passengers once U Link opens.

      2. Even though some of the present users will be dispersed I’m quite sure the number of Link boardings will increase significantly at all stations once U Link opens just because demand from the UW and Capitol Hill to DT is so great. Good point about the buses though. As buses get displaced how will that effect total station use? Right now I think about 2/3 tunnel use is people boarding buses. Of course when U Link opens there will be a good percentage riding Link through the tunnel whereas now it’s the end of the line for everybody. Are there any “through” bus routes?

    4. Westlake is the only station that is anywhere near the major hotels and also the Convention Center. So business people, travelers from SeaTac would choose Westlake to disembark.

      1. If you’re transferring to a cab, Westlake is also the easiest place to do so.

    5. Hmmm…never really thought about why Westlake is so much busier than other stations. For me, it is a habit to use Westlake. Taking bus #5 from Greenwood, it used to stop on 5th Avenue right next to Westlake Center. Then I would take a bus from the tunnel to wherever I was going next. Even now, when I take #5 to downtown, I will still habitually get off at 3rd Avenue and walk to Westlake, even though I know that the University tunnel entrance is closer. Old dog, new tricks, etc.

  6. I wonder what would happen if the Free Ride Area downtown is abolished? Would people take LINK in the downtown transit tunnel more often than the bus? LINK numbers may actually spike if this is the case.

    Also, what about adding a Graham Street/MLK Way LINK Station? Would the numbers for Columbia City or Othello Stations drop or would we see new riders from people living and working near this rather busy corner?

    1. Unfortunately, the long-desired Graham infill station is unlikely to ever be constructed because MLK wasn’t engineered to accommodate a station footprint in that vicinity.

      1. Looking at a population density map of South Seattle, you can see why there’s no plans for the Graham station; at the south end of the MLK alignment population density drops to suburban levels, and stays there through Tukwila.

      2. Oh, wait Graham. Nevermind. I thought we were talking about the Boeing station again.

        FWIW, the people I know who live around Graham & MLK are already Link riders.

      3. Unlikely ever? It’s all on the surface and that area has yet to be built up. There’d be a bit of roadway rework, but compared with the amount of construction that area could see as a result of gaining a station, some decade hence, it doesn’t sound prohibitive.

      4. In the case of a Boeing Access road station, its justification would not be on the density of any neighborhoods near it because frankly, their aren’t much. But, there is a huge employer nearby, in fact several large employers [Unified Grocers (nee Associated Grocers), Group Health, BECU to name a few. And, it could be the nexus of several transit routes from Renton, Kent Valley and Burien and points south. Many buses could terminate here and put people on a Kent Valley Sounder Express or on Link thereby significantly reducing the number of buses on I-5 north of B.A.R. and in the CBD.

        As oil continues to rise above $100/bbl, people will be motivated to reduce their VMT. Building a nexus station at B.A.R. could prove the key to getting people to and from their work either without their cars or with reduced usage.

      5. The only real reason for a Boeing Access road station is as a transfer station. Since BNSF isn’t going to allow Sounder/Amtrak platforms there S. 133rd makes more sense from the standpoint of both bus transfers and because there are employers like BECU within the station walkshed.

        While Boeing is indeed huge there aren’t really that many employees who work in the area around Boeing Field anymore. Besides a BAR station is quite a ways away from any of the Boeing facilities in the area and would need some sort of shuttle for access. Such a shuttle could just as easily go to S. 133rd.

  7. Interesting that there’s higher usage of Beacon Hill and Mount Baker stations in the winter. I wonder what could account for that.

Comments are closed.