This morning, Sound Transit released the specifics on the extended schedule for Link on New Year’s Eve. As was done last year, two extra trips will run from Westlake to accommodate late New Year’s revelers. Tacoma Link will also see extended service:
Sound Transit Link light rail and Tacoma Link trains will operate on extended hours Saturday, Dec. 31 to accommodate New Year’s Eve revelers. Link light rail will run two additional southbound trips from Westlake Station at 12:58 a.m. and 1:13 a.m.; the last northbound trip will depart Sea-Tac Airport at 12:20 a.m. and continue to Westlake.
The last northbound trip for Tacoma Link will leave the Tacoma Dome Station at 1:00 a.m.; the last southbound train will depart the Theatre District Station at 1:24 a.m.
The monorail will also be running its last trains until about 1am, so Link riders who will be celebrating in the Seattle Center area should have enough time to get back to Westlake to make their connection:
On December 31. 2011, the Monorail will be open until 1:00AM for the New Year’s Eve fireworks at the Space Needle. Due to regulations, the Monorail will carry its last passengers from Westlake Center to Seattle Center at 11:15PM. We will resume service from Seattle Center to Westlake Center once we receive the “ALL CLEAR” from the Fire Marshall (estimated to be 12:20AM).
It’s heartening to see accommodations continuing to be made for late evening service, but there’s plenty of precedent from other cities to do more. Many agencies across the country will run an extra service overlay on the evening of New Year’s Eve in addition to their regular Sunday frequencies, with some even offering fare-free service past a certain period, including neighboring Portland and Vancouver.
Obviously, with so many transit agencies under the ORCA umbrella here, there may be some policy complications to going completely fare-free for a certain time period, but from a technical standpoint, the ORCA system is capable of doing just that. With so many infrequent riders taking transit regionwide on the evening of the 31st, making service seamless would be a good step to leaving a lasting impression for our system.