Another quarter, another set of double-digit gains over the same time last year. The system as whole was up 12%. ST Express boardings rose 14%, Sounder 11% (15% on weekdays), and both Link lines, 10%, 8% on weekdays.

Although routes 540 and 560 took hits after service cuts, the big winner is the 513, up 39%, and the 542, up 28%. The 511, 545, and 555/556 were all up by over 25%. Cost per boarding was up to $7.19,  a trend ST spokesman Andrew Schmid attributes to fuel costs.

Sounder had no special trains, but more than made up for it with skyrocketing ridership. North Sounder was up 34% on weekdays, partially thanks to fewer mudslides, and is about 10% of the total. Sounder’s cost per boarding dropped to $12.45.

Central Link carried 22,585 souls per weekday in its customary winter lull. Cost per boarding is below the bus at $6.98 and is falling.

Of course, comparing cost per boarding over the different modes is problematic, as they cover different distances, charge different fares, serve transit markets of varying quality, and have different spans of service. But the broad trend towards lower per-rider subsidy is a positive one.

91 Replies to “Sound Transit 1Q 2012 Ridership Report”

  1. 1. Incredible that LINK has half the boarding cost of Sounder.

    2. If LINK’s boarding cost is less than a bus, why does it have a higher fare?

    1. 1. Sounder trips are, on average, more than twice as long. Makes sense to me.

      2. I think you’re confused. Link is cheaper than the bus for most of its users. It’s $2 or $2.25 anywhere in Seattle, where ST Express is $2.50.

    2. 2. It doesn’t. Link’s base price is $2.00, and is up to $2.75 for the longest possible trip. ST Express bus is $2.50 for one county or $3.50 for a multi-county trip. Metro buses are $2.25 off-peak and $2.50 for one zone or $3.00 for two zones during the peak.

      So I guess a trip on Link from downtown to the airport would have a higher fare than taking an ST Express bus from somewhere within King County to the airport. But overall Link isn’t more expensive than the bus. Except within the tunnel…where buses are free.

      1. Ya, when the free buses come out of the tunnel expect another jump in Link ridership. Having to compete with a free service for short trips hasn’t done Link any favors.

      2. That’s assuming Link moves in the tunnel. If the plan is to just have people pay at the front, many in cash and change, the Link and 550 numbers could suffer.

      3. Exactly. And if Link suffers then the pressure goes up to move more of the DSTT bus routes to the surface early.

        You just don’t hold your blue-chip, high ridership, high reliability service hostage to someone fumbling for change at the front of a bus that isn’t very reliable either. And Metro sure isn’t going to spend any money to solve that problem knowing that bus access to the DSTT is short-lived anyhow.

  2. Oh, and Sounder North is up 34%! And cost per boarding is down. A very good trend indeed.

    1. Does “cost per boarding” include the fare, or is it the average subsidy per boarding?

      1. Niether. It’s operating cost plus maintenance cost over ridership. If you want average subsidy per boarding, subtract average fare per boarding.

    2. Cost per boarding drops as ridership per train goes up. Basics of “mass transportation math”. :-)

  3. Anyone happen to know why Tacoma Link’s “budget” for preventable accidents per 100k platform miles is so high relative to the other modes? Fortunately it doesn’t look like there have been any such accidents lately, but I find it interesting that the “budgeted” level for Tacoma Link is roughly 2x higher than ST Express buses, .6x higher than Sounder, and a whopping 5.5x higher than Central Link.

    Is there something endemic in the way Tacoma Link operates that makes preventable accidents more likely?

    1. 1. it’s in Tacoma? maybe that’s why
      2. it’s entirely in-street … I would imagine that it’s “preventable accidents per 100k platform miles” is similar to the SLUT

  4. A point of confusion:
    Sounder 11% (15% on weekdays), and Sounder had no special trains

    If there were no special trains, which by definition is the only weekend service provided by Sounder, how did ST come up with separate overall and weekday numbers? The only thing that comes to mind is the 11% overall increase accounts for going from “n” weekend boardings in Q1 ’11 to zero in Q1 ’12. Is that the case, or am I just working my brain too hard this early in the morning and completely missing something obvious? Thanks.

    1. I would imagine that it depends on what the definition of a “special train” is …

    2. They counted the loss of the special trains as a 100% reduction in ridership for the weekends over Q1 last year. You can see it on page 2 of the report PDF.

      1. Thanks for clarifying what should have been obvious to me, David. I’ll go back to pouring coffee up my nose in hopes of getting the synapses firing.

  5. “Sounder’s cost per boarding dropped to $12.45.” Does that include the free, subsidized parking riders enjoy at every station? I just checked on their website, and every Sounder station, from Everett to Tacoma, either has a parking garage or parking lot. The Tacoma Dome Station has the most parking at 2283 spaces.

    1. King Street doesn’t have a dedicated parking lot. Tacoma Dome is a big bus transfer station too, so the cost of the parking would also have to be allocated to the bus system.

      But if you read the notes in the ridership report, you will find that the cost per boarding only includes operating cost of the vehicles divided by the passenger count.

  6. There are some weird inconsistencies in some of the budget data. For example, the report shows the Q1 budgeted Link boardings/revenue vehicle hour as 65.88, while the actual was “lagging” at 57.35. But if you take the budgeted Q1 boardings and divide by budgeted revenue hours, you only get 50.51. There is a similar discrepancy in boardings/trip.

    It would be interesting to see how they’re determining the budgeted amount for boardings/revenue vehicle hour and boardings/trip, because it is definitely not budgeted boardings/budgeted revenue vehicle hours (or budgeted trips). If it were, Link would be passing these metrics since boardings are above budget and hours (and trips) are below.

    1. I think that’s explained in the notes:

      Central Link fell short on several quarterly standards, as those are based on average productivity for a full year.

  7. Metro has another survey up at their HaveASay website, that, among other things, asks about having the 42 take over the 8’s path along south MLK.

    It asks how many ride the different buses, the train, Access, and some other services. Get through the survey, and you’ll see how anemic each bus line’s ridership is among the survey takers (granted, a self-selected set of the internet savvy), and how popular riding Link is. But take the survey if you want to see the numbers.

  8. Part of the 560’s problem is scheduling. When a 180 pulls up just in front of a 560 at the airport, with both heading to Burien, guess which bus the riders take. Same thing at Burien, heading to the airport. It’s not that one is late. They really are scheduled that way.

    I suppose the Fauntleroy and Vashon lobby might also be a problem. More West Seattleites might ride the 560 if it took a straighter path from White Center to the Alaska Junction. (And of course, Vashon isn’t subsidizing the line with sales tax.) With the arrival of the C Line, having the 560 duplicate the most circuitous part of its path is painfully wasteful.

    1. If you read the 2012 service implementation plan, it mentions changes are likely when metro introduces rapid ride line f. Likely elimination of 560 with additional 566 trips and a forced transfer at renton transit center and or burien transit center.

      1. “Route 560: Bellevue — Seatac — West Seattle

        Service Change Concepts
        King County Metro will implement the last of its “Rapid Ride” bus rapid transit routes in 2012, Line “F” between Burien and Renton. As with the other Rapid Ride lines, Metro will use this as an opportunity to review all transit services in the corridor. No service changes are planned for route 560 in 2012, and Sound Transit will work with Metro to evaluate the future role of Route 560 in the regional transit network as service change proposals for 2013 are developed in conjunction with Rapid Ride. ST Express Route 566 will also be included in the scope of this analysis, as it shares the Bellevue-Renton corridor with Route 560.”

        I wish to see fewer, not more, forced transfers in Burien and Renton. All they do is fill up, and induce more demand for, free parking.

        The best transfer centers are train stations. The best train stations are multi-modal hubs, such as the airport.

        While downtown Bellevue has a good airport connection via 550/Link, forcing a two- or three-bus ride for the rest of the corridor, on two schedule-free routes (making it hard to time the journey without an app) is a rather harsh degradation of service from a one-seat express.

        You’ve heard me explain ad nauseam why the 120 would be the best one-seat ride from West Seattle to the airport, though a straighter 560 to the Alaska Junction is also worth looking at. For the eastern 560, I realize ST would love to have just one express route between Renton and Bellevue. Fine. Why not make it the 560? and have the 566 turn to go up to Henderson Station?

        The only real service duplication is from Burien to Renton, which is why I say ditch the 560 west. Having the 120, 156, 180, 560, 574, and maybe eventually the A line, serve both Airport Station and the south terminal stop would be really sweet for luggage-hauling travellers and airport employees, and be a strong anchor for all routes.

      2. If the “RapidRide” were actually, y’know, rapid, then people wouldn’t mind the transfers as much… but it looks like none of ’em will be.

  9. The increase in riders on the Northline has been quite noticeable this year. Last night the dang train really started to get nearly full, or so it seemed.

    I’m waiting for the day when four to six car sets are implemented on the Northline, will bring times down somewhat due to extra weight, but hell sure is great to see more and more people riding it.

    1. ST has no near-term plans to add cars to Sounder North. See the SIP (page 114). I suppose that might change if ridership continues to go up.

      1. The plans were originally to add more trains per day. That’s been delayed for various reasons (funding, mudslides). If there had been more trains per day, it would probably have been a few years before the trains needed to be longer.

        I guess nobody’s thought in terms of “what do we do if we don’t add more trains per day”. More cars per train would be a sensible choice.

  10. It is time for Sound Transit to stop cutting consists on Central Link to single LRVs weekday evenings and all day some weekends and holidays. The ridership numbers support two car consists and service quality demands them. It is no longer sufficient to guess in advance whether ridership for any particular day will benefit from two car consists or not.

    When single LRVs are filling up at Airport and Westlake stations it effects service at every other station and gives the wrong impression to new riders which we are seeing more of as the ridership numbers show.

    1. What exactly do you mean by “filling up”? ST’s quarterly report shows that the average Link car gets 40 boardings per trip. In the peak hours, it is much higher than that, which means that in the off-peak hours Link cars are averaging well under 40 boardings per trip.

      And, 40 boardings per trip means that at no point on that trip will there be more than about 25 people on a Link car. So, double those numbers for 1-car “trains”, and you get less than 80 boardings per trip per car, or less than 50 people per Link car on average at their “fullest” point on the trip.

      So, you feel that 50 people on a Link car is “full”? Or, you dispute ST’s ridership numbers?

      1. You can’t tell the difference between “peak” and “average”, Norman? Try harder, your “playing dumb” act is implausible.

    2. True. Things can get pretty crowded on weekends when it’s one car. That’s in part because a large percentage are going the whole Sea-Tac to Westlake trip, and many are carrying luggage.

  11. St’s operating costs are just insane, and utterly UNsustainable.

    Look at Tacoma Link first: $3.36 per boarding. That line is only about 1.6 miles long. The average trip on Tacoma Link is probably no more than 1 mile. That means the operating cost for Tacoma Link is about $3.36 per passenger-mile. That is just stupid beyond belief. Why would anyone operate a service that cost around $3.36 per passenger-mile just in operating costs?

    Then there is Link light rail at $6.98 per boarding. This compares to about $4.00 per boarding for Metro buses. Central Link is about 15.6 miles long. The average trip on Link is about half the line, or, say 8 miles. That would give an operating cost for Central Link of about 87 cents per passenger mile, which, again, is just stupidly expensive.

    What that means is that the operating cost (not including any depreciation) of Central Link for a trip between Westlake and SeaTac is about $13.57. Yet the fare is only $2.75 (less if you have a monthly pass or a discounted fare).

    Why are tourists and business people flying into and out of SeaTac airport getting subsidiZed by about 89% of the cost of their trips between downtown and the airport? Are these jet travelers on welfare? Are they on food stamps? Are they “low-income” people who can’t afford to pay their own way, and need to freeload on taxpayers? Many travelers into and out of SeaTAc pay $35 or so to take a taxi between the airport and downtown, or rent a car at the airport. These people can’t afford to pay more than $2.75 to ride a toy train between the airport and downtown? This is just incredibly stupid to be charging such a low fare for such an expensive operating cost.

    And this is completlely UNSUSTAINABLE. We can’t keep throwing millions upon millions of tax dollars away evary year subsidizing trips on insanely expensive little trains.

    1. Doesn’t your analysis hold true for ST buses as well? How much would a bus trip cost from the airport to downtown? Are you arguing we need to get rid of buses too? What about cars? How much do we subsidize them? And what about the airport itself? How about the Internet? Do you know the money it took to create that? And think of the cotton subsidies required to make your pants! When will we all stop wearing those insanely expensive pants?

      1. People should pay the full cost of their trips. It is up to them to decide if the actual cost of a trip on Link is too high, or not. But there is no reason for taxpayers to be subsidizing these stupidly expensive trains. If people think trains are worth paying the actual cost, then they can pay it. If people don’t think those trains are worth what they actually cost, then they should not be operating.

        People do pay the full cost of taxis, rental cars, and private buses between the airport and downtown. Why shouldn’t they pay the full cost of Link trips?

      2. Our society has already decided that transit, among other things, is worth subsidizing. Sorry that you don’t fit the societal norm, Norman.

      3. Why should they? We subsidise things we want to encourage, and tax things we want to discourage. I know this doesn’t fit into your tea party view of the world, but that’s how most of the rest of us voter see it.

      4. I can’t wait to stop subsidizing roads! As a pedestrian, bicyclist, and buyer of goods, I can get by with 10% of the current network.

      5. Norman, if people should pay the full cost of their trip, then we shouldn’t be building a new 520, and we should shut down most of our freeways, because they won’t pay for themselves through tolling.

      6. “That would give an operating cost for Central Link of about 87 cents per passenger mile, which, again, is just stupidly expensive.”

        As opposed to Taxis at $2.50 per mile? Or the airporter at $1.47 per mile? Or rental cars? Granted those include capital costs. You’re welcome to come up with a per passenger mile capital cost for Link, provided you break out the numbers and link to sources.

        Like it or not, Norman, voters here *want* to ride Link. It’s growing steadily and as more people climb on board, costs per boarding/passenger mile are dropping. With fuel prices going up, I don’t see how buses/taxis can keep up. Your only hope is that ridership plateaus.

      7. Yeah norman, because those modes are selfish and do not serve the public or city. Public transit does. And if everyone wants the cost to go down we should build more trains faster so we have a useful system that people will use en masse.

        But I find it laughable to ever consider that motorists are paying the “true cost”. Owning a car in America has been subsidized by all of us for years, from Gas to roads and more. Its certainly is nowhere near the actual cost to society of so many people owning unsustainably inefficient cars. Trains serve us, cars serve you.

    2. I don’t know how you came up with the numbers for Central Link but $2.75/$13.57 = 20% fare recovery. If you take cost per boarding, multiple by number of boardings to get total cost and then divide by number of trips it comes out to $563 per trip. Using your assumption that half of the people go the whole way and assuming the other half only pay the minimum fare you get revenue of 40 X $2.75 plus 40 X $2.25 equals $200 per trip. That’s better than 30% fare recovery. Of course spending a couple of billion and achieving “just as good as a bus” is still a long way from meeting expectations.

      1. You are right. $2.75 is about 80% of $13.57. Don’t know how I came up with 11% before. Do you think people who fly into and out of SeaTac should get tax-subsidized trips between downtown and the airport? If so, why?

        Do these tourists and business people get tax-subsidized hotel rooms, or tax-subsidized meals at restaurants in Seattle? Do they get tax-subsidized rental cars?

        Why are they getting tax-subsidized little train trips between downtown and the airport? What is the logic in that? And how can we afford to keep giving these people an almost free ride, when there are so many other things we need tax revenues for?

      2. Do you think people who fly into and out of SeaTac should get tax-subsidized trips

        What’s the alternative? We could shut it down and get nothing for the $2+ billion already invested. That doesn’t seem like a very good idea. We could raise rates but that might backfire and drive down revenue. About the only thing I can come up with is shorten the hours and decrease off peak frequency to reduce operating cost but then you again risk killing off ridership. Providing something for less than cost is an accepted way to build market share. Toyota did it for years with the Prius. 10% increase in ridership is pretty impressive. I’d expected no better than 5% year on year growth after the first two years. Even if it drops to 5% average yearly growth between now and the opening of U-Link we’d be at 43% fare recovery; better than 52% if the current rate of growth can be sustained. Instead of crying over spilt milk sit back and enjoy the lemonaid.

      3. “Of course spending a couple of billion and achieving “just as good as a bus” is still a long way from meeting expectations.”

        Link is 33% more frequent than the 594 was mid-day, 66% more frequent early evening, and 100% more frequent after 9:30pm. Plus it gives new service between Rainier Valley and the airport that never existed. It doesn’t get caught in traffic jams on the freeway. It has faster boarding. It’s a train! It will eventually offer express-level one-seat rides from the airport to the U-district and Lynnwood, and from Roosevelt to the stadiums, without any extra effort on its part. We need to steadily improve our transit infrastructure, not let it stagnate and decay. Rapid-transit lines like Link are exactly what Seattle and the region needs, not just one line but several. The cost is similar to a freeway, but the benefits are similar to a freeway too. In cities that have extensive subways, people take them over anything else because “it’s the fastest way to get around”. Maybe not for one particular trip like University Street to SeaTac on a low-traffic day, but overall.

      4. Norman,

        You’ve often referred to trains as “little”. I think you might be confusing Link with the Fun Forest at Seattle Center, which featured a train-theme ride for 2 or 3 people at a time. Link trains are actually very large, and transport large groups of people to major destinations.

        I can see why you’d be shocked if you thought we were spending so much money on an amusement ride!

      5. Norman, the trains aren’t little, and yes, people in rental cars are getting massively subsidized trips downtown (highways are built with public money).

      6. Highways are paid for with gas taxes and tolls. The 520 bridge is being completely funded with gas taxes and tolls. Which means, of course, that the people who use highways are paying for them. Except for transit users, or course, who pay neither the gas tax or tolls when they use buses on highways.

    3. Norman,

      If you want to compare costs you really have to do it per passenger-mile. The $4.00 Metro figure is incomparable.

      And even then there are lots of problems with the comparison.

  12. Compare Link’s operating costs (not including any of the astronomical construction costs or depreciation), to the operating costs of the average U.S. auto in 2011.


    This is the AAA “Your Driving Costs” 2012 Edition.

    About halfway through this pamphlet you will find “operating costs” which are also called “per mile” costs, which do not include capital costs like depreciation.

    For the average U.S. auto in 2011, the operating cost was 19.64 cents per VEHICLE mile. At the U.S. average of about 1.6 passengers per auto, that computes to about 12.27 cents per PASSENGER-mile as the operating cost of the average U.S. sedan. For a “small sedan” the operating cost per passenger-mile is only 10.2 cents per passenger-mile.

    So, the operating cost of Central Link light rail is about 87 cents per passenger-mile, while the operating cost of the average U.S. sedan is about 12.27 cents per passenger-mile. Or, Link’s operating cost is about SEVEN TIMES HIGHER than that of the average U.S. sedan in 2011.

    The operating cost of Link light rail is just absolutely stupidly expensive. How can people afford to pay 87 cents per passenger-mile in just operating costs? This is UNsustainable, because it is so stupidly expensive.

      1. It is always the same accurate information. Which part of it is too complicated for you tu undrestand?

      2. The information is accurate, it’s the arguments and comparisons that you make that are nonsensical.

      3. My arguments and comparisions are completely sensible.

        You just don’t like them.

      4. Thats because the future is scary, so it’s better to do nothing and let it fall apart in the way we expect.

      5. What happens as new cars keep getting better and better mileage, which is going to happen? The cost of driving will keep getting lower and lower.

        By the way, the cost of oil has fallen from about $120/bbl to about $83/bbl in just a few weeks. The future of gasoline prices is going to be lower, also, in my opinion.

        And, since U-Link is only a few miles long, many of the trips taken will be very short (UW to downtown, or Capitol Hill to downtown, e.g.), which means the cost per passenger-MILE for Link will still probably be very high. The cost per boarding might come down for Link, but the cost per passenger-mile might not change much at all, because the average trip length will be shortened significantly.

        Also, as the Link cars get older, and out of warranty, all the repairs and new parts will cost ST money, instead of being provided for free under the warranty. The older a system gets, the more maintenance and repairs it requires, generally.

    1. Yes, we do subsidize all forms of transportation in the United States, some more than others. It’s not my field of expertise, but I suspect 87 cents per passenger-mile is relatively little money compared to the economic benefits we get back as a society from transporting an individual a few miles to work.

      Personally, I think it’s a good idea to subsidize transportation for the economic benefit. I also think it’s a good idea to subsidize and support national military (as we do), rather than having to individually higher mercenaries for protection.

      You’d have to make a pretty holistic economic argument showing that we don’t get our money back in those subsidies to convince me that they’re not a good idea.

      1. Exactly right. A world with no subsidized transportation would be pretty miserable. We should subsidize transportation.

        As long as we do this, we have to decide how best to subsidize transportation. There are places where roads for cars work well, but there are lots of places where they suck appallingly, where they are just a horribly inefficient thing to subsidize. Urban freeways are worthless, for example.

    2. The cost per mile to drive downtown is a lot more than 20 cents a mile. First off, if you’re arriving at the airport chances are you have to rent a car. That’s going to run you about $80. Then you have to park DT where $10 for the day is a bargin. Add in $5 for fuel and your 26 mile round trip has cost $3.65 per passenger mile. Even at just $15 for gas and parking you’re at 58 cents per passenger mile. Amortise the cost of monthly parking to store your car near the airport ($200) your at 83 cents per mile before adding in a penny for regular maintenance! 87 cents per mile is pretty competitive for what it does (SEA -> DT).

      1. People pay the full cost of the rental car and parking. Unlike, Link, which is very heavily tax subsidized.

        When I drive to the airport to pick people up, I don’t have to park, I just drive up to the curb, get them and their luggage, and drive them to where they are going, where I can park for free.

        I never said driving a rental car was inexpensive. I said the operating cost of an auto is a fraction of the operating cost of Link. Which is absolutely true. The operating cost of Central Link is stupidly expensive.

      2. And the average cost of operating a car is a totally meaningless statistic to try and compare to the operating cost of Central Link. The cost per mile for operating my bicycle is 1/10th of what you’re spending per mile on a car. Therefore it’s insane to waste tax money building roads when it would be much cheaper to just all use bicycles.

      3. Bicycles are too slow, and most people who ride bikes occasionally on sunny days won’t even use them at all when it rains.

        How long would it take you to ride your bike from Queen Anne to the airport? By car, it takes about 25 minutes. By Link, 40 minutes.

        How much luggage can you carry on your bicycle? Assuming you had at least one large suitcase on your bike, how long would it take you to ride your bike to or from Queen Anne Hill and the airport, with your luggage? How about with a couple of kids, plus your luggage and their luggage?

        Bikes can’t do what motor vehicles can do, which is why only a tiny percentage of total passenger-miles are taken by bicycle.

      4. Norman, I think you get it; just waiting for the nickle to drop…

        Bikes can’t do what motor vehicles can do,

        And private automobiles can’t do what Link is capable of. Ka-ching

    3. Yes, we’ve put a huge amount of policy effort into making driving as cheap as possible. One of these days, an enterprising lawyer is going to take a huge chunk of change out of the auto and oil companies for all the damage they’ve done to human health.

      1. What about electric utilities for all the damage they have done, including all the fish killed by dams and all the farmland and timber land flooded by the lakes behind dams, plus all the coat they have burned? They going to get sued, also?

    4. What’s the cost of driving per vehicle mile when you factor in the fixed cost of buying, insuring, and maintaining the car divided by the number of miles you actually drive? Especially for those that don’t drive all that much? Now, add in the public subsidy for roads and additional money you pay every time you go to a store, whether you drive there or not, to subsidize the store’s parking lot. I don’t know what you end up with then, but it’s a whole lot more than 12.27 cents per passenger mile.

      1. What is the cost per mile of Link when you include all the capital costs and depreciation?

        The roads are paid for out of the taxes, fees, tolls, etc. on vehicles. So the cost of the roads is already included in the cost of owning and operating a car. A large part of the price of gas is taxes used to build roads. But, you knew that, didn’t you?

        None of the price of the fare on Link is used to pay for building the Link tracks and stations — it only pays for a small portion of the operating costs of Link trains.

      2. Roads are subsidized from the general fund: property taxes, sales taxes, etc. You would know this if you had ever bothered to read any of the studies on that matter. Try the Texas Transportation Institute study, or the study done by U of Wisconsin, or frankly any other study of the topic ever.

        But you knew that, and are lying deliberately. STB mods, you really should ban Norman.

    5. You’re just wrong and out of touch with reality. There is no way to build a city with density without big public transit. Cars aren’t just uneconomical and unsustainable because of the cost of fuel, but because of the cost to society. Cars take way more infrastructure, space, materials, and on and on. At some point, the roads and parking needed to serve dense areas make it so you no longer have enough room to build those building in the first place, we’d have to be all roads. All you are saying is just incredibly nonsensical and so far from reality. And selfish to boot.

      1. You’re the one who loves density. I think density is a travesty. We should be reducing population, not increasing it.

      2. This is a city, its required and drives efficiency and prosperity. If you hate density then be a big boy and move away from it. Thats your choice and it would be best for all of us.

    6. Norman, your numbers are garbage as usual. You’re comparing the “average” US auto with an URBAN passenger line. At a minimum, you have to look up the average URBAN US auto, preferably the average URBAN SEATTLE US auto. Thanks to idling, urban per-passenger-mile operating costs for automobiles are far higher than rural per-passenger-mile operating costs.

      This is only the first of your stupidly dishonest apples-to-oranges errors.

  13. As a ginger, who by definition has no soul, I would like to point out that I and many other of my kind ride link and therefore the numbers presented are erroneously low.

  14. What baffles me with Norman’s argument is that Central Link went to vote and was passed, along with East and North Link. Showing that the area clearly is willing to pay. If the gov’t forced everyone to pay for something they didn’t vote for, I can understand your argument….but they didn’t…So you sound like a whiny 12 year old who always gets owned in MW.

  15. “People do pay the full cost of taxis, rental cars, and private buses between the airport and downtown. ”

    This, of course, is not the least but true. They are all deeply subsidized.

    1. No they are not publicly subsidized. They actually PAY taxes — they don’t receive tax revenues.

      Tell us how much sales tax revenue is given to taxi companies or rental car companies every year? None.

      Those companies PAY taxes — they don’t receive taxes as subsidies.

      1. They are all subsidized, as you know, but pretend not to know in order to further your agenda.

        Heard of “free roads”? Sure you have. When taxis and rental car companies start paying tolls in Seattle, let me know.

  16. Norman, I’d like to point out something that happened in Chicago to you. This Tuesday I went to a cubs game, I took the Red line subway/El to the game (which I suspect over 50% of people going to cubs games do, considering there is not really any nearby parking). The game was awesome, we won, My friend and I left the stadium, and went for the red line, but Lo-and-behold, The entire Northside Train System had gone down, right at rush hour, and with a cubs game that had 36,000 in attendance letting out. (A building burnt down next to the northside main line(red/brown/purple), and someone had stepped in front of a Metra Train on their north city/suburban line). What would normally be a fairly comfortable 20 minute ride back to downtown to get dinner via the red line took 1 hour and 20 minutes on a bus so packed that it left hundreds by the wayside as it went down broadway/clark/state. Every Bus stop going north had 30-250 people waiting at them, who were unable to board busses because they were JAMMED full, like, people pressing against the doors full. (like the one I rode south) Also, the cabs all dissappeared in the early part of the breakdown (full) and so those ceased to become an option for people as well.

    This is all to say, Norman, that trains are absolutely necessary in large cities such as Chicago or Seattle. When our trains here in Chicago fail us, the bus system has NO CHANCE to make up for it, NO CHANCE AT ALL. it simply cannot handle the load that our rockin’ 8 car trains move like its nothing. I actually got away lucky (because I Was going south) in that it only tooke me an hour and twenty minutes, most people took 1.5-3 hours to get home that day. The roadways in Chicago cannot possibly handle the load that the trains take off them. Without trains Chicago would be half its size or less, because it would not be able to function at this size.

    1. In St Petersburg when flooding severed a metro line, and another time when a station closed for unknown reasons, there was a special bus running every minute between the two stations around it. As soon as a bus filled up, it left, and another bus immediately began boarding. So the question should be, why doesn’t the CTA have a standby plan when an El line is throttled? Or did its plan fail to execute?

      Another time, I was coming back from Vancouver BC on the Cascades but the train broke down just before departure. Amtrak booked 30 hotel rooms for those who wanted to stay in Vancouver overnight, and hired charter buses for the rest of us. It took ten buses to transport one trainload. They put us on different buses by destination, so my bus stopped only in Edmonds and Seattle.

      BTW, we had to wait an hour until Amtrak could contact Canada Customs to let us “back into Canada”, since the guards had already gone home for the night. They gave a blanket approval over the phone.

    2. Trains are not necessary in Seattle. Before Link, there were no more traffic problems than there are now. lol Link hasn’t “solved” any transportation problems in our area whatsoever.

      What a ludicrous comparison.

      1. Unless you expect Seattle to stay the same size it is right now. We need trains to grow!!!

    3. Link is not about reducing traffic congestion! It’s about bypassing the congestion. To reduce congestion, you need congestion charges, which is a separate thing. But if there are congestion charges, people will demand better transit so that they have an alternative to the charges.

  17. “Cost per boarding was up to $7.19, a trend ST spokesman Andrew Schmid attributes to fuel costs.”

    This shows why it is urgent to replace diesel- and gasoline-fueled routes with electrically powered routes. Which is mostly gonna mean rail, though perhaps you can get your trolleybuses expanded. :-)

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