Avgeek Joe/Flickr

The sound wall installation that was expected to reduce Link headways to 20 minutes after 9 pm weeknights through July 31st wrapped up almost two months early:

Link light rail will resume its normal nighttime operating schedule beginning Monday, June 10.

Sound Transit contractors have completed installing a new sound wall along the light rail tracks near the Duwamish River in Tukwila. The work forced delays through the area and was originally anticipated to last through July.

The service reduction typically cost only five minutes or less on a late-night trip. However, as someone who’s used Oran’s unofficial Link schedule for years to avoid long waits, I gained a new appreciation for the non-STB-reading rider that has had neither schedule, nor OneBusAway, nor real-time arrival signs when Link drops down to frequencies where it would ideally have all three.

23 Replies to “Link’s Reduced Service Ending Monday”

  1. As a regular Link rider living in Beacon Hill, the 20 minute headways have been incredibly frustrating. With no information on how Sound Transit was adjusting the schedule other than ‘every 20 minutes’, it became difficult-to-impossible to mentally plan a trip. The result was long waits at stations with minimal shelter, or just cutting the evening short so I didn’t have to deal with long headways later.

    Yes, after 10 PM the delay was at most 5 minutes. But between 9-10 PM that delay was 10 minutes, and regardless of the length of delay 20 minutes is ultimately a long headway to be waiting at a station.

    I love Link – it’s a great service that has made living car-free in South Seattle radically easier. At the same time, it seems like no one at Sound Transit or Metro really care all that much about making the system legible or easy to use. Knowing many staff members, I recognize the reality of staff often being overworked, and that they really do care – but then I see almost anti-passenger actions like cutting headways to 20 minutes with NO schedule information, or the complete lack of rapid and clear info during adverse events, or announcements of significant maintenance disruptions with little warning and conflicting information…and I have to wonder what is going on. If such attitudes and the resulting actions were forced on our road networks, there would be near-riots and certainly some (politically) rolling heads. Yet, with out transit networks, such actions are seen as OK and not requiring of any mitigation (post a schedule!) or response.

    We *can* do better. It just seems that no one in the agencies really wants to.

    1. 20 minute headways + No real time data + No schedule = An ongoing embarrassment

      /Beating dead horse

      That out of the way, I’d like to commend ST on a perfect example of under promising / over delivering. Keep it up. (Like maybe a Link schedule or real time data sometime before my 50th birthday?)

      1. I see KCMetro published actual timetables for C and D this shake-up. ANY hope for real timetables for Link after all these 4 years??

      2. Funny, I made the comment about under promising and under delivering to my girlfriend today when this came up in conversation – it’s one of Sound Transit’s best qualities. They took the debacle that was Central Link’s early planning process to heart.

        I don’t know the politics or thinking behind not publishing even a skeleton schedule, but the excuse that it’s so frequent you don’t need one quickly breaks down once headways hit 15 minutes, especially given that the 36 (in Beacon Hill’s case) has more frequent headways for most of the day, maintains them to at least 15 minutes until late at night, *and* has a printed schedule.

        If you want to claim something is so frequent you don’t need a schedule, great, but don’t do it when there are other routes and corridors in the system with headways even more frequent that also feature a written schedule.

        But, as you said…beating a dead horse. ::sigh::

    2. Does the relationship between ST and Metro lead to some of these frustrations? As in, both parties are constrained to the “terms of their contract” regarding operations and maintenance. Neither can take full responsibility or ownership over system usability.

    3. This is the transit equivalent of putting up cones over a lane of traffic every evening for road construction.

  2. Mike Orr mentioned that 3- and 4-car trains can now be accomodated in the DSTT. Is there official corroboration? Might we see longer trains during pre- and post-event periods to help reduce the slow-downs from ridership spikes?

    1. 3-car trains have always been possible in the stub tunnel. If the stub tunnel is connected to University Link now, I guess there’s no limitation to 4-car trains. It’s more a business decision by ST. More cars = higher operating costs. So ST is waiting until they’re absolutely necessary, or until whichever extension it promised 4-car trains for. ST tried to go down to 1-car trains weekends except game days, but ran into periodic overcrowding. I haven’t seen any indication that ST is willing to deploy 3-car trains before 2016.

      1. That’s not correct. The Stub tunnel does not have enough space to turn-around 3- or 4-car trains until U-Link construction is done and the demising wall between the active tunnel and the ‘under-construction’ tunnel can be removed.

      2. @Mari

        So there’s absolutely no way for ST to run 3- or 4- car trains before the entire U-Link segment opens for service in 2016?

      3. They’ll need to tear down the wall prior to starting system testing. So perhaps six months before U-Link opens for service???

      4. Well there really won’t be a news until u link opens either. So not really worth it.

      5. Sorry, my previous post should have read:
        Well there really won’t be a NEED until University link opens either. So not really worth the trouble.

  3. I don’t know enough to say whether there’s absolutely no way in the universe it could be done, but the demising wall is the break between the in-service side and the construction side, so I imagine it’s pretty much required from a safety perspective.

  4. One of the few advantages of being late to the game in terms of building a light rail system is you can learn from those who built other systems. You have the luxury of studying what others did right, and what others did wrong. Which is why it’s so perplexing that Sound Transit didn’t anticipate this noise problem and simply build the noise walls as they were building the line. This mistake is a sign that we do not have the best and the brightest running ST.

    1. Cheap Shot, Sam. Most of the crud that happens around here lies at the feet of our political masters – who regardless of what they profess, are not transit experts. Many of the staff are.

  5. And I still would like to know, why did ST have to erect sound barriers for the neighborhoods in question? If the answer is the noise, then why didn’t the state have to erect sound barriers in the same spots for nearby freeways, whose noise is just as loud and much more constant?

  6. The project was supposed to include two additional sound wall barriers being built south of S. 133 St. When you travel south, on the right side of the train, you’ll see temporary rubber walls placed along the railing. For some reason that was postponed and only the section near the Duwamish was installed. However, car cuts are returning as of Monday. On nights where there is no sporting events in Soto, all trains are to be reduced to one single LRV Monday through Friday.

    The Pine Street stub cannot handle more than two car trains at this time. There is now a retractable wall installed to separate the Capitol Hill section with the DSTT. Track has been placed in the new tunnel section, but is not installed yet. To accommodate more than a two-car train, the retractable wall would have to be in the up position. However, construction crews are using the area behind the retractable wall to store supplies for track and OCS construction.

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