Here’s an update on Link station boardings/alightings from ST spokesman Bruce Gray, a continuation of previously released data from 2010. For some reason, the 2nd quarter is the season for these.

Each value includes both people getting on and getting off at the station, so it sums to twice total system boardings.

2Q 2012 Boardings/Alightings by Station

Station Northbound Southbound Total  Chg Fr. 2011(%)  Chg Fr. 2010(%)
Westlake 4864  4416  9280  8  17
University St. 1830  1877  3707  12  30 
Pioneer Sq.  1536  1538  3074  5  22
ID/Chinatown  2187  2352  4539  10  22
Stadium 733  621  1354  4  7
Sodo  823 789  1612  19  28
Beacon Hill 1615  1389  3004  17  31
Mt. Baker  1489  1435  2924  17  35
Columbia City 1260  1237  2497  13  29
Othello  1512  1406  2918  22  42
Rainier Beach  1103  1120  2223  10  32
Tukwila IB  2332  2047  4379  9  27
Seatac/Airport  3674 3997  7671   7  22

The relative shares of the stations has remained basically constant over the last couple of years. The Rainier Valley is a quarter of all boardings and alightings. Assuming that no trips remain entirely in the Valley*, then just over half of all Link trips are to or from a station there.

* Obviously not true!

26 Replies to “2011-12 Link Station Boardings”

  1. They should give the data showing boardings and deboardings separately. Then you could calculate the average trip length. From earlier data, which gave boardings and deboardings separately, the average trip length on Central Link was just about exactly 8 miles. I don’t know how you could calculate average trip length from these new figures, but perhaps it can be done. Can anyone figure that out?

    With higher growth in the middle of the line than at the ends, it would appear that the average trip length is getting shorter, since trips from one end to the other (SeaTac to Westlake) are the longest, and it appears those trips are growing more slowly than shorter trips, e.g. SODO to downtown.

    What is ST giving for average trip length on Central Link now? If they are not making this public, why aren’t they?

      1. Thanks. That is exactly what I was looking for.

        Using that data for 2012, I come up with an average trip length southbound of 7.17 miles. Haven’t done the northbound trips yet.

        If you use Central Link’s Q2 2012 cost per boarding of $6.28, divided by 7.17 miles per trip, you come up with an operating cost for Central Link of about 88 cents per passenger-mile.

        Peak point on the line is between SODO and Beacon Hill at 7,683 per weekday southbound. That is a little over 60% of the total boardings occurring at the peak point.

        From Rainier Beach to Tukwila, Link averaged 5,250 per weekday southbound during this period of 2012. That is the stretch where Link is very close to I-5 for about a mile. Along that stretch, I-5 averages about 40,000 passengers per lane per weekday.

        1,396 southbound trips never left the Downtown tunnel, so all those trips were of 1.1 miles or less. That is about 11% of all southbound trips.

      2. Also, of the 32% of boardings in the Rainier Valley, 11% go to downtown, 10% stay in the valley, 1% go to Tukwila/Seatac and 10% go to other destinations.

      3. “That is the stretch where Link is very close to I-5 for about a mile. Along that stretch, I-5 averages about 40,000 passengers per lane per weekday.”

        That might be a valid comparison if I-5 only went from downtown to SeaTac.

    1. IIRC, Link boardings are automatically measured by an ‘electronic eye’, and I believe that simply does not have the ability to accurately tell whether people were entering or leaving the trains. (The numbers will also be inflated if someone runs on the train, off again, and back on while the train is sitting at the station. This does not happen much.)

      They can’t use that technology to tell what trips people took. They could track that with ORCA and ticket sales. They could also do counts and estimates using people.

      Actually, this makes me curious: what is the source of each of the datasets for boardings, deboardings, etc? I realize there are several different possible ways to acquire the data and I don’t know what’s currently being used.

      1. I was also told by one of the people ST hired to manually count boardings and deboardings on Central Link that ST believes the automatic counters sometimes count large pieces of luggage (with a warm hand on the handle) as passengers, which would also inflate the passenger counts.

      2. I believe the electronic counters do differentiate between motion toward vs away from the sensors. And I seem to recall that they are used in conjunction with pressure pads; although that could be a different type of automated counting equipment. They are estimates because not all the cars have them. But since ST doesn’t accept Metro paper transfers it seems the exact number of paying customers should be available from ORCA transactions and Link ticket sales. If the number of scofflaws is seriously inflating the ridership then it would seem to indicate that stricter fare enforcement is in order.

  2. Is this boardings per day or for the entire quarter, i.e. if Mt Baker has 2924 boardings for the quarter (90 days) then it would be 32.5 boardings per day on average? I must be misinterpreting something here. Thanks

  3. Surprising to me:

    1) about a half of trips start or stop in the Valley + Beacon Hill (as martin mentioned)
    2) About a third of trips start or stop at the Airport.

    I wish there were a way to separate alightings and boardings, but it;s clearly only Airport and Westlake where we can be sure.

    1. As mentioned in a comment above, boardings and alightings are separated out in the Draft SIP.

      Note also that the rate of growth is highest for midline stations. Their pie sections should be getting bigger over time.

  4. If you combine all nine of the station ons/offs from Wesrlake to and including Columbia City you get 16,337 daily riders.
    Lynnwood TC will have more than all those combined (16,500 according to scoping documents). Just sayin.

    1. How many on/offs will Westlake –> Columbia City have when U Link opens? There should be a big network effect.

      Or to put it another way, what will the on/offs be at Husky station in 2016 or Northgate station in 2020. How many for the terminal station at the south end at those times?

      1. What makes you think people who want to go to Rainier Valley from UW or Capitol Hill are not already taking Link? Just riding a bus to downtown and transferring to Link.

        I don’t see U-Link adding many trips to Central Link south of the downtown tunnel. Are there buses from UW and Capitol Hill to the stadiums, SODO or Beacon Hill now? Or do the buses from UW and Capitol Hill just go downtown, forcing riders to transfer to Link to get to the stadiums or SODO or Beacon Hill? If the latter is the case, then U-Link won’t be adding many trips to Central Link, except for inside the downtown tunnel.

      2. Currently, the only direct buses between the Ranier Valley and capitol hill/U-district are the 8 to capitol hill and the 48 to the U-district. Both of these routes are slow and unreliable. The availibility of Link for these trips will improve speed and reliability tremendously. Some of the people that would take Link all the way might be just sucking it up and doing the train->bus transfer, or depending on the unreliable 8 or 48. More are probably deciding the bus is crap and are driving in the interim until U-link gets finished.

      3. Better yet, for most of the people who would ride from Valley Link stations to UW, they have to do an 8-48 or 7-48 transfer! That is the depths of bus hell right there.

        As for the buses to downtown, the whole point of Link is that it will halve the travel time from UW to downtown (or cut it by almost three-quarters nights and Sundays). That will attract more choice riders to UW from all areas where a downtown transfer makes sense, including the areas further south on Link.

      4. Norman, as someone who lives in the RV, I know a bunch of people who currently drive to Capitol Hill who would take Link (my wife is one of them).

        asdf, the 9 is a better than decent RV-CH route, but unfortunately is limited for when it runs.

    2. Opps, forgot to double the Lynnwood number to 33,000 daily. 16,500 ons AND offs, or more than all of current Link on a great day.
      I can’t wait until Lynnwood becomes the new CBD. I’m so happy for them!

      1. Mic,

        It makes me think you’re not arguing in good faith when you’d post a comment like this after having been presented the case in a post about a week ago.

      2. No, just an honest mistake that I caught and corrected, even though you made note of it.
        Reporting both ons/offs for both directions at each station is odd, when most data is given as daily boardings. That’s all.

  5. Why is it that the Rainer Beach stop has one of the lowest boardings? I always thought that station would do poorly because it seems like it’s in no mans land and no parking, which might help. My design in a perfect world with funding would have routed this station to Rainer/Henderson area. Or add a Boeing Access road station with parking. While we’re at it, there should have been a First Hill station and not a streetcar. They should have found a way to fund it and design a safe station.

    SODO station low boardings…well self explanatory to me.

    1. The station location was chosen at least in part based on the assumption that it would be a good connection point for service to southeast King County. That hasn’t happened (yet), and so it’s not too surprising that ridership is lower than expected.

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