The Central Subway Tunnel Boring Machine cake by Eric Fischer
The Central Subway Tunnel Boring Machine cake by Eric Fischer

How many of you were riding Link on this day in 2009?  From the ST Press Release:

Sound Transit’s Link light rail celebrates its fourth birthday today amid continued strong ridership growth and record-setting trends this summer. The line has carried more than 30 million riders since it opened to the public on July 18, 2009.

Link has seen double-digit annual ridership growth since opening and averaged almost 32,000 weekday boardings in June, a 14% increase over June, 2012. Link also saw its busiest day ever when it carried more than 38,000 riders on Tuesday, June 11.

Great news to share on a birthday!  While a bunch of wonks like us can debate anything to death, I think we can all agree that Link is leaps and bounds better than any service this area has ever had.

Four years from now we’ll be a year past U-Link opening and only four more years to the opening of North Link.  That itself is exciting to think about. Here’s to the next four years and the next forty!

The below numbers come from the normal monthly ridership report for May but the charts underneath the fold include June estimates for Link.

May’s Central Link Weekday/Saturday/Sunday boardings were 27,428/23,844/17,412, changes of +3.1%, +4.1%, and +9.3% respectively over May 2012. Sounder’s weekday boardings were up 7.7%.  Tacoma Link ridership declined 3.2%. Weekday ST Express ridership was up 6.2%.

linkweekdaymay13 linksaturdaymay13 linksundaymay13May13Growth

26 Replies to “May 2013 ST Ridership Report: Birthday Edition”

  1. In case anyone is wondering what was special about June 11, that was the date of a World Cup Qualifer between the US Men’s National Team and Panama at Century Link Field. There was a Mariners game that same night.

    1. A letter to wsdot director Douglas B MacDonald:

      Mr MacDonald will face accusations & charges of criminal actions and unacceptable incompetence sooner or later. Sooner rather than later is preferable even to MacDonald associates who will likewise be charged with incompetent derilection of duty that led in these instances to tragic outcomes. Credit republican leaders who fought back, Ms Rivers and Don Benton, two to be commended and awarded profound respect.
      Mr MacDonald, it is NOT wild speculation to calculate that watery, clay and soft fill soils are an ABSOLUTELY INAPPROPRIATE application for this scale of bore tunnel too close to vulnerable buildings. The FEIS ‘Stacked’ Cut/cover is the ONLY appropriate seismic-stabilizing tunnel with the desirable ‘impermeable’ seawall replacement to control and reduce underground water flows.

      You are wrong, mister. You will face these charges. Your career is over.
      Wsdot & SDOT directors & department heads will face similar charges related to Mercer West, Alaskan Way boulevard, seawall soil-stabilization ‘preferred’ technique (compounds underground water channeling problem), and the closing of Battery Street tunnel and Broad Street Underpass assumptions. Engineers outside Washington ARE embarrassed for the whole lot of you Pugetopolis smart ass puke progressives and most haughtily unconservative fossil fuel frackers and spewers.
      Arthur Lewellan, July19 2013
      Author, The Seattle Circulator Plan
      (still blacklisted in Seattle)

      1. Please recall that the Deep Bore Tunnel plan was pushed by a backroom group of legislators in Olympia. (Literally a backroom deal — you can look this up in the newspaper archives. They went into a back room and came out with this cockamamie “deep bore tunnel” idea.) WSDOT had already rejected it.

        So Mr. MacDonald will simply say “I told them not to do this, here’s the Alternatives Analysis where I told them not to do this, but my political bosses ordered me to do it.”

        (You can look up the Alternatives Analysis yourself.)

        Target the political bosses.

  2. Build a slow, meandering light rail line. Eliminate most bus competition by crying “duplication of service.” Elect a mayor that puts roads on “diets” and works day and night to think up ways to punish drivers and slow cars, and, viola! You have a “successful” light rail line!

    1. How many drivers were actually slowed down by the road diets? If it was only the speeders and idiot lane-changers, I say well done!

    2. If a “slow, meandering” light rail line is twice as fast as the bus service it replaced — which Link is in the Rainier Valley — I’d love to see what a “fast” one looks like.

      And I’d like you to tell me one — just one — change in a roadway that “punishes” drivers within the Seattle part of the Link service area. You won’t be able to, because the only major change — the rebuilding of MLK — was good news for drivers.

      1. LOL at the idea of hate crime here.

        On 45th in Wallingford, for example the bus bulbs are a godsend. Traffic speed along 45th is already limited by all the traffic signals, so the bus bulbs merely allow the buses to avoid getting farther behind the line of traffic every time they stop to pick up passengers. The other major place with something like bus bulbs is Dexter; there they slow down car traffic more but help cyclists by reducing the amount of merging across the bike lane (as a cyclist I thought they were stupid when they first went in but I’ve been converted by experience).

        Which really brings us to a sense of proportionality. Neither of those streets is all that important for through traffic; both have better through routes on either side (40th and 50th in the case of 45th, Aurora and Westlake in the case of Dexter). 45th is a very important transit route and a pretty significant pedestrian retail corridor. Dexter is a pretty important transit route and one of the most important bike routes in the city. On these streets car speed and throughput just aren’t the most important thing going.

      2. “Bus bulbs are an act of hostility, if not an actual hate crime against cars.”

        I thought bus bulbs served the purpose of protecting cars parked in parking lanes from being hit by buses that would otherwise be pulling to the curb in front of them or behind them.

      3. Al – I greatly respect you and appreciate the thoughtful, intelligent contributions you provide to the Seattle Transit Blog. But why all the “LOL”s? Why, Al, Why?

    3. Just think of all the highway closures…SR 99/Mercer West Cluster. ….the so-called WOSCA detour in SODO and wonky lack of a bus bypass for Southbound buses on 99 between the WOSCA detour and where WSDOT is replacing the viaduct over the West Seattle Freeway/Bridge. SPD has a conniption when you call it a freeway. I guess one can call it a parkway to the span over the waterway.

      Link is effective for those transiting to Sea-tac. …or if I’m going from Columbia City to City Center. With 405 and 520 closures gumming up I-5, the public seeks alternate modes and routes to venues in and around the region. Link and the Proposed East Link may help….but it won’t be a cure-all. That’s why I like freedom of choice and opt to use my motorcycle for jaunts to Olympia and Tacoma when transit isn’t the best use of my time and money.

  3. July 09: 13769
    June 13: 31953

    So more than doubled in 4 years. While I doubt Link can top that, how cool would it be if it does?

      1. If the opening of U-Link doesn’t double ridership within two years, there’s something wrong.

  4. I wish someone would realize that it’s possible to build more than one LINK line at a time.

  5. Now, just imagine how much additional ridership could be gained if there were a system in place for LINK to also accept bus transfers. I’ve ridden #39 out to the Seward Peninsula a few times. Based on what I overheard a lot of the riders would transfer to LINK if it weren’t more expensive for them to do so.

    Sure, there’s the ORCA card which helps transfers, but the current fare policies don’t help encourage ridership in this one way that many modern light rail lines do (Dallas, Portland, San Diego, etc.). Sure, Chicago and Philadelphia charge different fares for different modes of transit travel but are those really the cities to use as examples of how things should be done?

    1. The maximum fare from Rainier Beach to any currently opened Link station is $2.25, the same as off-peak Metro fare. How does it cost more to ride Link? Those people need to use ORCA.

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