As someone who’s a big fan of center platforms in general, I asked Sound Transit spokesman Bruce Gray what the prospects were for East Link to add a center platform where it meets the Central line:
A center platform at IDS was not studied as part of the EIS plans and isn’t in the works for final design. As I understand it, there was discussion of this early on but the following issues are the main ones that precluded moving forward with it:
- Difficulties having enough space to add elevators/escalators for a center platform given the space constraints in IDS
- Fire/life/safety codes make it difficult to fit a wide enough center platform that could accommodate the crush loads we see at rush hours, much less game days
- Potential need for a turnback (pocket) track at IDS
- Our long-term ridership projections put Eastside > Airport travel at about 3% of daily ridership – not enough to warrant the costs/risks associated with what it may take to do a center platform
This may be one of those things where I can’t be moved by any arguments weaker than “this absolutely cannot be done,” which is not what I’m hearing. This is a minor project in the scheme of things, but it’s another example of the system punishing transfers as much as possible. If you have luggage, a stroller, or a wheelchair, it’s no small thing to take two elevators instead of simply walking across the platform. Even if you’re an able-bodied youth, it’s frustrating to see the train on the other track as you pull in, knowing you’re never going to make it.
It may be primarily inattention to detail by Sound Transit, or astonishing lack of foresight by the designers of the DSTT. In either case, it’s one more item where decades from now, riders will wonder “what were they thinking?”