train and bus in tunnelKing County Metro and Sound Transit are still in discussions about which, and how many, buses to run in the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel after U-Link opens in 2016. Sound Transit and Metro are looking at running 40-50 buses in each direction during the peak hour, assuming 6-minute headway on Link trains, according to Sound Transit spokesman Bruce Gray.

Gray noted that Metro and Sound Transit meet frequently to discuss ways to improve joint tunnel operations, and can decide to move a bus route out, among other measures, if on-time performance doesn’t meet expectations, although the expectations are currently being met. King County Department of Transportation spokesman Jeff Switzer noted that, in addition to other ways of decreasing dwell and waiting time, Metro is looking at having only one bus bay per platform, perhaps even before U-Link opens.

Also still under discussion is the date buses will leave the tunnel forever. Although Sound Transit has been planning for a 2019 date, the King County and Sound Transit spokesmen did not deny that joint operations might continue until Northgate Link opens in 2021, and perhaps as late as East Link opening in 2023.

What does not appear to be on the table is Link frequency 2016-2021, and the possibility of running longer trains outside of peak. While Sound Transit has enough Light-Rail Vehicles to run 3-car trains at 7.5-minute peak headway, and can fit up to 104 LRVs at the current base, Gray pointed out that running 3-car trains all day would increase LRV mileage and maintenance costs significantly, and that off-peak ridership is nowhere near enough to justify longer trains. Sound Transit will be able to deploy 3- or 4-car trains on short notice to clear crowds. Two Link operators are kept on standby in case extra trains are needed.

However, 3- and 4-car trains will not be able to operate in the tunnel until after U-Link opens, due to safety restrictions. Sound Transit (via Gray) dismissed Glenn’s suggestion of de-coupling and recoupling trains due to safety considerations and the operation taking longer than two train cycles to perform.

I used current trip counts and times, the long-range plans for ST Express bus service additions in the 2014 Service Implementation Plan, and Metro’s April 2014 proposal for route reorganization to estimate what the bus volume picture might be in 2016.

Maximum Afternoon Peak Trips Per Hour for Routes I Suggest for the Tunnel
Route 41 101 102 150 216 312 522 550 554 Total
Northbound 14 4 5 8 7 7 3 48
Southbound 5 6 4 4 3 3 16 5 46
Maximum Afternoon Peak Trips Per Hour for Other I-5 and I-90 Metro Routes
(Excluding SR 520 and UW Routes)
Route 76 77 111 114 143 157 177 212 214 218 219 301 316 Total
Northbound 4 4 3 6 4 21
Southbound 4 3 3 5 13 9 5 6 6 2 56

All the all-day Metro-operated I-5 and I-90 express bus routes remaining after 2016, and the other peak-only routes going to the primary destinations of those routes, might fit in the tunnel, albeit somewhat tightly, with 6-minute Link headway (assuming there will be no express buses from the U-District or coming into the Central Business District from SR 520). The tunnel routes under this scenario would be 41, 101, 102, 150, 216, 312, 522, 550, and 554. Based on current trip-count plans, this scenario would result in up to 48 northound trips per hour, but 19 of them would be deboarding. There would be up to 46 southbound buses per hour, with 8 of them deboarding. This count shows a way for Sound Transit to help meet Metro’s peak tunnel usage goal, while protecting reliability, by moving routes 522 and 554 into the tunnel, using up bus slots with deboarding buses.

The current peak-of-peak run count is 59 northbound buses (with 17 deboarding) and 60 southbound buses (with 16 deboarding), by my count. If the 48/46 scenario proves too tight, moving route 150 upstairs would produce a more comfortable 43/42 count, toward the bottom of Metro’s desired range.

The additional peak routes that might fit in the tunnel if there were only going to be 8 trains per hour per direction might be routes 76, 77, 218, 219, and 316 (up to 12 additional northbound and 12 additional southbound trips per hour). Express buses with essentially no chance of fitting in the tunnel, by my math, would be routes 111, 114, 143, 157, 177, 212, 214, and 301 (up to 6 additional northbound and 42 additional southbound trips per hour).

Sound Transit appears to have a case that the marginal gains from putting more buses in the tunnel at 7.5-minute Link frequency are outweighed by the extra wear, tear, and maintenance on LRVs from unnecessarily running 3-car trains all day.

82 Replies to “Post-2016 Tunnel Buses”

  1. Am I reading this sentence correctly? “However, 3- and 4-car trains will not be able to operate in the tunnel until after U-Link opens, due to safety restrictions.” Is there some missing context?

      1. I misread that in the same way, too.
        But, I thought the reason was that the turnaround stub-tunnel at Westlake wasn’t long enough for more than 2 cars to fit in before the switch?
        I guess maybe the tunnel’s longer, now (or will be soon), but there’s too many buses for 3-4 car trains? Doesn’t make a heck of a lot of sense to me, though.
        Longer trains would be pretty sweet before & after games, at least.

      2. “Somebody mentioned a signaling system that has to be tested before the wall can come down.”

        Yes, that is one of the reasons.

      3. Longer trains would be pretty sweet before & after games, at least.

        There is a set of crossovers combined with a middle track siding just south of the Stadium Station. It looks like it might be long enough to hold a three or four car train. Measuring it with my fingers it looks like it is about the same length as the platform at Stadium. Running north the long “Stadium Specials” would empty of passengers at Stadium station, reverse move into the middle track siding, then for southbound come north into the southbound track after the next through train has cleared the platform.

        They would probably want to install a walkway along the siding for operators to walk from one end of the train to the other without having to climb down onto the ballast.

        This would at least give extra length Link trains for games from there south anyway.

        The Link cars must have couplers that need to be manually retracted and extended when they are in the stored position. TriMet’s S-70 cars were built with couplers that are that way. Coupling and uncoupling the Bombardier cars and early generation Siemens cars is relatively simple and fast but those have permanent couplers and no end shield over the coupler pocket. The fast formation of rush hour trains at Ruby Junction where through single car trains were converted to two car trains while passing through Ruby Junction and making their regularly scheduled station stop there, could only be done with Bombardier and the early Siemens cars due to the manual retraction and extension required on the newer S-70 fleet.

        Maybe on the next car order SoundTransit should head the way TriMet did with the S-70 fleet, and make them single ended cars? They are only operated in pairs and the end where the other cab would be is additional passenger space. That would at least give some additional capacity.

    1. There’s a big wall (aka the demising wall) at the end of the Pine Street Stub Tunnel which physically shortens the turning tracks, preventing ST from using 3-and-4 car trains in the tunnel. The wall is for noise and dust control from ULink construction, as well as to provide a safety barrier of sorts. There’s already one at UW Station for NLink construction, but it does not limit train length.

      1. But the wall has to come down for the test phase.
        And test phase needs to include some three and four car trainsets.

  2. So when Sound Transit starts running 3 and 4 car trains, does that mean the trains will have to stop at each station twice, one for the front pair of cars and one for the back pair?

    1. No, the platforms were all built long enough for 4 car trains. This was planned a long time ago.

    2. You know those signs they put on the platforms (where the front end of the Link trains stop?

      They are situated so that every train will have an LRV stop at that location.

      1 & 2 car trains do it now … 3 car trains will fill the end of the platform so the front will stop at the same location and 4 car trains simply use the whole station platform.

      Link station platforms are 400′ long and the actual LRV’s (including the couplers) are 96′ long each.

      1. I noticed that the cars line up perfectly when two trains are stopped on opposite sides (as in, the sign for the front of the Northbound train is also even with the end of the Southbound train and vice-versa). I hope my love of symmetry won’t be ruined by these 3 and 4 car trains. ;P

      2. From what Gordon Werner said above, it sounds like the symmetry would be disturbed for a pair of 3 car trains, but not for 4 car trains.

      3. Hmmm… Ok. The downtown transit tunnel stations are pretty long. But when I was at the Tukwila Intl. Blvd. station, watching a train leave, the two-car train filled the length of the station – completely. Will they just make these shorter stations longer later then?

        Also, based on how crowded I see these sardine can link cars when I commute from Seattle on a bus adjacent to it, the sooner they can get these two-car trains, the better. Will they be able to link (no pun intended) and unlink the cars as they see fit, so there are 3-car trains in the peak, and two-car trains when there is less demand?

      4. The platform at Tukwila Int’l Blvd is 400′ long, you can measure it on Google Maps if you like. It extends beyond the roof of the building. All of the stations in the system, including U Link, Northgate Link, East Link, and (I assume) Lynnwood Link are designed to fit 4 car trains.

      5. One reason all Link trains stop where they do at all stations is to line up with ADA markers in the middle of each station – tactile strips lining up with the end doors at the middle of a two car consist. While this didn’t work when we operated single car consists, It will work with all possible configurations in the future – there will always be doors that line up with the markers.

  3. You’re assuming the 71/72/73X will go away in 2016? That’s quite a big assumption, and your table doesn’t leave any leeway in case Metro decides otherwise. Do you think they’ll all fit on Pacific Street and at UW station? Or do you want to truncate them at Campus Parkway and have people transfer to the 43/44/48 to get to Link? That’s two transfers in less than a mile.

    1. the 71/72/73X won’t be needed after Link reaches UW … at least not in their current form or frequency.

      Most likely they’ll be part of a complete NE Seattle route reorg that will eventually hub the Brooklyn station but probably will start with the Husky Stadium station.

      I really hop the 75 moves to the Husky Station site as it would be easier than having to trek all the way into UW campus to connect to/from it.

      1. I wouldn’t count on the 71-series going away.

        There is a lot of discussion within Metro on whether or not they can eliminate those routes in 2016. If I was a betting man, I’d assume they’d stay.

      2. The 75 is a tradeoff. Rerouting it would be better for thost going to Link but worse for those going to campus, the U-District, or Fremont. And it may be impossible with the amount of traffic on Montlake Blvd and the lack of layover space at the station.

      3. It seems that it would be completely possible to eliminate the 72 and improve the frequency on the 372 line. The 73 could also be rerouted to the UW Station.

        The DT-UD connection is still important, but perhaps the best answer would be to restructure the 71 to connect to LINK, and put the 66 in the tunnel, and run that bus every 10-15 minutes at all times.

      4. The 71/72/73 won’t need to go downtown once the train reaches the U-District, but it won’t get to the U-District for a while. Until then, a transfer to the Husky Stadium station would be a real pain, for several reasons. First, the roads are often clogged. Second, there is only exit to the station, and they put it on the wrong end (next to the rarely used stadium, not next to the hospital). The bus could work its way through campus (i. e. replace the 72 with the 372, etc.) but that means quite a walk for someone heading downtown (and again, there is no station on the side of the street closest to campus, either). Unlike the exits, you can’t blame Sound Transit for that. They wanted to put a station at Campus Parkway (which would be a better station for buses as well as those in the area) but the UW killed the idea.

        No, as tempting as it is (I for one would welcome the change — I’m wiling to walk a ways to improve reliability) I don’t think the 71/72/73 will be re-routed. The might be kicked out of the tunnel, but I still think they will go downtown.

    2. I’m not counting on routes 71-74 going away. I’m counting on them at least leaving the tunnel, given that there will be fewer runs between the U-District and downtown, and they can provide the local service on Eastlake, which makes going into the tunnel not a time-saver.

    3. I’m assuming half the people will switch to Link; those going to lower campus and the medical center. But that still leaves the other half who are going to the northwest part of campus or the U-District or transferring to another bus. So the 71/72/73X can probably cut its frequency in half, but not be eliminated until U-District station opens.

      1. There is no reason to continue running the 71/72/73x in the tunnel past Ulink opening. Those needing to go to upper campus or the Ave can transfer to many buses and arrive probably as fast or faster than their current commutes provide. Link is forecasted to take 6 minutes from Westlake to Husky Stadium. A Metro bus takes that long getting from Westlake through CPS station given all the waiting times for loading, traffic clearance etc.

        And given this, I would think it is very likely 3 and 4 car consists are going to be needed all day to accommodate ULink passenger demand.

      2. Charles, that would make sense if the transfer at UW Station were anything less than terrible. Unfortunately, it’s completely terrible, and expecting people on such a high-demand trip to make a terrible transfer isn’t reasonable.

        I’m absolutely certain that West U-District – Downtown service will be needed, with at least 10-minute frequency during the day, until 2021.

      3. How is it any more terrible than transfers at Mt. Baker Transit Center when transferring to Link? I think passengers traversing the pedestrian bridge from the Station over Montlake to the Island where bus transfers already take place would in fact be easier than the experience at Mt. Baker.

        Ideally, Multi-Modal transfers would involve bays that are in close proximity to the other modes of transit and should not require people to brave elements or cross streets. But that is not how Sound Transit or Metro design things around here…

      4. It’s just as terrible at Mt. Baker, and that’s why no one transfers at Mt. Baker and we can’t have nice things like a 7S/48 through-route or a reroute of the 7N to serve First Hill instead of wasting thousands of service hours puttering down Jackson to downtown.

        At both Mt. Baker and Husky Stadium the situation could be meaningfully improved by redesigning bus routing and stops, but only in ways that the powers that be haven’t really thought about.

      5. I’m with Dave Lawson on this … the connectivity at the UW Med Ctr station is going to be horrific. Additionally, there’s a bit of a time penalty for a bus to actually get over to the station from University Way.

        It is most likely that all those buses will continue running downtown, as express buses, and going into the tunnel. There might be a slightly lower frequency or a bit of a scheme restructure (perhaps they will all be the #80 that has been proposed) but trying to figure out buses per hour in a U-Link tunnel scheme and counting on the 71-series being gone at the same time is nothing but a fool’s errand.

        And for Brent, upthread – are you really suggesting that the 71/72/73 will run on 3rd Ave downtown and then run as Eastlake locals? Really? That’s so far out of left field its totally not up for discussion. I’d say there is a less than 5% chance that this would happen.

      6. Is the access drive around the soon-to-be-gone construction trailers at Husky Stadium going to remain? If so it could make a good loop for buses coming to/from Pacific as that intersection is signalized and is the main entry to the parking lot anyway. The drive to the south of the trailers (adjacent to the Cut) could be retained as transit only and be signalized for that where it joins Montlake. (It’s visible on Google Earth for anyone who wants to see what I’m talking about.)

        Buses northbound on Montlake past the station wouldn’t need to use it as they can stop adjacent to the station (although given the lane configuration there it may be easier to). Buses southbound on Montlake from U Village/points north would stop across the street where the bridge is–I think there is already a pull-off there waiting for this. Buses eastbound on Pacific would head straight across Montlake into the station drive I’ve proposed; they would then return to Montlake via the transit-only intersection mentioned (with a transit priority left turn arrow) and continue south. Buses that will go west on Pacific from Montlake/520 would turn right at the transit drive next to the Cut, then exit straight onto Pacific at the signalized intersection. There could be enough layover space here for any routes terminating at Husky Stadium station as well.

        While I am generally not a fan of pulling off/on main routes of travel, the location of the station makes it a bit of a walk from any potential bus stop used by routes on Pacific, and being able to pull up almost adjacent to the station entrance would make for a much better transfer than currently appears to be the case. If they had only built an entrance at the south end of the station, the transfer here would be immediate.

    4. Is Husky Stadium really just a terrible place for a subway station? It’s surrounded by a mostly empty stadium, parking lots, freeway ramps, and water. Getting busses to connect there just seems hopeless.

      1. It’s also adjacent to a huge medical facility and school. Many students will walk to campus via the Rainier Vista. Lots of them already transfer buses across from the hospital. If bus service is realigned, there should be ample opportunity to provide very frequent services from that station to the Ave and upper campus.

        There is no rule that says that all stations must be located in vibrant walkable residential neighborhoods. This station serves a reasonable use. But i would agree that after Link extends to Northgate, it is the 43rd and Brooklyn station that will most likely be the most heavily trafficked station serving the U District.

      2. All of these problems stem from the 5-year gap between UW Station and U-District Station, with the peripheral station open first. The problem is that University Link was restarted in between ST1 and ST2, but North Link didn’t get going until ST2 so U-District Station is significantly behind.

      3. Yeah, what Mike said. But in general, it isn’t a great location. I would stack the stations like so:

        1) Montlake, at 520. This could be at surface level (not bridge level) meaning the 520 bus to train transfer would be much better. For the rare football game, a simple shuttle bus can be provided for those unwilling or unable to walk. The vast majority will simply walk.

        2) Campus Parkway. Really the heart of the university, but also provides great interaction with buses crossing the University Bridge. This was the original plan, but UW killed it.

        3) The U-District station (where we will get a station).

        That doesn’t mean that the stadium station is a terrible location. But having one exit, on the worst possible side is the big mistake. Forcing folks from the campus to go up and over (then back down again) is also a really bad design. Making matters worse, there is no good way to get from the hospital (where thousands go every day — unlike the stadium).

      4. Sounds like a good place to terminate many northside bus routes (and Uber drop off point), even if it isn’t always a destination in and off itself.

        Instead of all these buses coming into Seattle, find a “satellite hub” LINK station outside of downtown and have them let people off there and then go back to ferry more. Same thing South of Seattle.

        Then, inside downtown, run DART style circulators that ferry people from LINK stations.

    5. “they can provide the local service on Eastlake”

      That is not the goal of the expresses or their passengers.

    1. It’s funny looking at the string of “[ot]” edits after they are done. One can only imagine what these comments were.

      Let’s call it STB Mad Libs!

  4. This is a good suggestion, though I would make a small change. I would suggest that the philosophy should be that busses that will be ultimately replaced by Link (either North or East) should be in the tunnel, and all other busses moved out. Then in 2021 move the busses out that go north, and in 2023, move the busses out that go East.

    Practically, what that means is instead of having the 101, 102, and the 150 in the tunnel, have the 212 and 214 in the tunnel.

    Besides I don’t think it makes sense to split the 554 and the 212/214 becuase ideally Eastgate or Issaqauh bound passengers can go one place to catch a bus.

    Arguably you’d also want the 218/219 there but I don’t think they’d fit. Those seem like the lowest pri buses.

    1. Routes 212 and 214 are together in my suggestion, upstairs. Routes 216 and 554 would be in the tunnel because they go to Mercer Island (and ideally have space to pick up passengers on Mercer Island who are then headed to Eastgate and Issaquah).

      As you may know, I am not a fan of continuing to run routes 101, 102, and 150 downtown at all. But since they will be, putting them in the tunnel frees up the most space upstairs all day.

      All the I-90 routes *will* end up upstairs again, for a year or two or more, once work begins on the track reconfiguration in ID Station.

      1. I agree with you because those routes will just delete the portion to Downtown Seattle.

        I think rebuilding ID Station when they could have put one when the were builing the Central link line. I think Sound Transit should think about installing switch were they think another would split from the main line.

    2. There has always been a political geographical basis for placing routes in or creating routes for the DSTT. The 101,102,150 (and until next year the 106) are the only south end routes left that benefit from the DSTT through downtown Seattle. These routes also have dedicated ROW extending to SB I5 (yes more would be nice though). It would be a hard sell to remove these especially since they are day base service and don’t add nearly as much peak impact as some of the north end (41) or east side (550, 216,219) routes do. All King County areas helped pay for the DSTT.

  5. When you say ceasing “joint operations” do you just mean between Metro and ST? Or do you mean light rail and buses? The latter case sounds more reasonable, but there’d be good reason to do the former — letting ST express buses stay in the tunnel while moving Metro buses out of it. I won’t pretend to know any of the implications of changing routes or schedules, but it’s still an interesting question.

    1. I meant when buses cease operating in the tunnel. It is likely Metro operators will continue to operate Link after that, but that is not set in stone.

  6. How about this:

    * Reroute the 65/68/75 to UW Station (north-south).
    * Extend the 31/32 to Children’s (east-west).
    * Replace the 72 and 73 with the 372 and 373. (Metro has already proposed this.)
    * Replace the 71 with an all-day 76 (to Magnuson Park) until Roosevelt Station opens. (asdf’s idea)
    * The 48 takes on some of the 71’s role to 65th.

    1. And where do all of the people currently riding that 71/72/73 between downtown and the U-District go?

    2. To the 48. “All those people” are not going to the same place. Some are going to campus, some to the Ave and environs, some to Roosevelt, some to Latona, some to University Heights, some to 65th, some to Ravenna, and some to Maple Leaf. I’m not concerned about those going to the Ave who may have to transfer at UW station. Nobody said you must have a one-seat ride door to door. And even a transfer at UW station is better than than the current 71/72/73X that regularly turn people behind (like me this morning) and get caught in traffic. I’m concerned about those transferring at UW station and again in the U-District, because that’s a 3-seat ride and you may wait 10 minutes for the 43/48 and then the third bus is half-hourly and you may miss it. And I’m concerned about those going from U-Village to the U-District and Fremont if the 68/68/75 are rerouted.

    3. At first glance, I like the idea. Above all, we should definitely not be expecting people north of the U-district to transfer twice to get downtown. In the interest of making a more informed decision, it might be worth conducting surveys of today’s 71/72/73 riders who board in the U-district. If we could get numbers as to how many of them are walking from the west part of the U-district vs. walking from campus vs. transferring from a connecting bus, we could make a more informed decision what to do.

      My guess is that, in the end, we will still need the express/local overlay of the 71/72/73 in some form, but it might not need the same level of frequency or span as the current express service. For instance, perhaps express service could be limited to when the express lanes are actually open, and the time saved by running express, the greatest. Local service from the Ave to downtown via Eastlake, of course, is never going to go away, even after Link is fully built out.

    4. Actually, this is like the Aleks proposal for south King County. The problem is the gap between UW Station and Campus Parkway or Stevens Way. Likewise in South King, the problem is the three-seat ride if you simply truncate the 101 and 150 at Rainier Beach Station. So the solution is to extend the local routes to move the transfer point. Extend the northern routes to UW station (72 and 73 in the form of the 372 and 373). The 44 and 48 already go to UW station so they’re OK. Then extend the western routes to Children’s (31 and 32). That way the northeast can access both UW Station and the west, the west can access the east, and the north can access UW Station. The 48 can add extra turnback service to 65th to handle the crowds; or a shuttle route added for those who disbelieve in turnbacks.

      The all-day 76 is perhaps a harder sell, but it’s really like the 41: a stopgap until North Link opens. It gets northern riders out of the U-District completely, so they’re not adding to the congestion. And its downtown footprint is pretty small.

      1. If there’s an all-day route serving Roosevelt until Link gets there, it should be the 64, not the 76. The 64 serves more transit-appropriate territory more directly, and can partially replace the 72.

      2. An all-day 76 would cover the east/west portion of service along 65th, and draw riders going downtown who would otherwise drive in the middle of the day, but will become future users of Roosevelt Station.

        The 64 covers dense apartment territory laid out north to south.

        I think the 64, if any route, should be the one to continue express to downtown via the U-District.

      3. Perhaps adding a stop to the 64, at 25th & 65th.

        Why does the 64 have that loop between 95th and 110th?

      4. That’s a temporary reroute to get around construction on 35th. The permanent route is straight on 35th.

      5. I kind of like seeing the bus on 110th…I grew up on that street and bought a house near it, and for some reason think it’s cool.

        I imagine the drivers aren’t too fond of it though!

  7. I wouldn’t plan on 71-series expresses going away or being turned at UW Stadium until LINK gets to Brooklyn station. But also wouldn’t rule out some 71-series passengers taking an express break along the Ave before taking the 44 or 48 around the curve for a LINK ride.

    In other words, until the station at the stadium is finished, we really don’t know what passengers will choose to do, and in what numbers. I really think a lot will depend on how fast and reliable LINK really is.

    My bet is there’s a fair chance that people forced to ride a 71-2-3 in the Eastlake direction will do the coffee-break and small-shopping thing. Yeah, this is my preferred mode of travel anyhow, but having had to ride from WLS to 35th and 70th NE, if it’s not faster, I doubt the LINK route will be any slower.

    And with game or freeway wreck taking down the whole region’s road system- we’ll need imported Sumo wrestlers to load our trains.

    Meantime: wish everybody would stop assuming DSTT is anywhere near max capacity. Think Seattle Symphony with musicians who’ve got trouble starting a violin and no conductor. Or Sea-Tac Airport with the control tower turned into a storage closet.

    Good metric: operations where no bus has to make more than one stop per station. Solution will require level of communication and training to fix a lot of other problems too. If the boards of staging switches in both portal control towers aren’t still there after 24 years, bet LCC could handle just as well if not better.

    First step: demolish the wall between rail and bus coordination- to further facilitate someone in charge of both together at all times Tunnel is open.

    Mark Dublin

    1. Agreed with all Mark has said here.

      We need to be pushing for excellence in joint operations given we have at least 7 more years of it.

      The bar has been set too low, and far too many readers on this blog have accepted that low bar.

      Mark, frequently is a lone voice in the woods pushing for better tunnel operations. I wish someone would listen.

      1. I am unaware of any readers of this blog who have accepted the bar of current joint operations. Mark is not alone at all, just a difficult read sometimes.

        My most recent observations are that southbound peak lag is almost entirely due to dwell time for the trains. The trains need to load, close the doors, and move. ORCA boarding assistants and station security could tell runners another train is coming in 8 minutes, and report door holders so they can be warned and fined. I witnessed a string of runners hold up a train by almost two minutes.

        Northbound is about ineffective use of the bus bays, and a longer delay than southbound.

        Search for articles on the DSTT, and you’ll see STB has beaten this horse to death.

      2. There is no reason why joint operations in the DSTT cannot achieve a level of expertise that would provide stop free movement for buses and trains between stations. We haven’t seen that outside of peak since Link revenue service began over five years ago. Transit time for Link outbound loading passengers between Westlake and Stadium stations could be between six and seven minutes (less inbound) but it is scheduled for between nine and ten minutes and during afternoon peak or events is much longer even though it is scheduled the same. The only reason Sound Transit reports that Link operates on time most of the time is that when you look only at leave and arrival times at Westlake and Sea-Tac stations – we are on average on time 90% of trips (higher actually). Any time trains or buses get stopped between stations in the DSTT, or buses have to stop multiple times at stations, the delays cascade to a level to ruin service for everyone.

        There is no apparent coordination currently that addresses this and we will never see the capacity potential of joint operations without it.

  8. Does anyone know if it is possible in the future to make an underground pedestrian tunnel from the med center to the UW station?

  9. The 71/72/73x will be restructured after U-Link opens and will no longer go downtown anyhow. Move them to the surface in 2015 in prep for U-Link opening in 2016. Then, at the first service revision after U-Link opens for service delete the surface legs and truncate them at the U.

    Moving the 71/72/73x out of the tunnel in 2015 also supports 6 minute headways for Link, and we know that this is required to support demand while they are still limited to 2 car trains. The buses will be leaving the tunnel in 2019 anyhow, best start moving in that direction.

    There really is no reason to try to maximize bus utilization of the DSTT. Doing so just interferes with Link operations, and we know the DSTT will become rail anyway. Any money Metro spends now for short term bus utilization is just wasted money.

    1. “The 71/72/73x will be restructured after U-Link opens and will no longer go downtown anyhow.”

      That is the question. Will they be restructured after U-Link or after North Link? Metro hasn’t said, and judging from past restructures it will keep mum until a year before opening. It has proposed to consolidate the 66/71/72/73 in the cuts, but that’s now apparently cancelled, and it would probably be in the DSTT anyway.

      1. Why would Metro run a competing service to Link that was more expensive to operate, slower, less reliable, and had lower ridership? Hubris maybe? Because there really isn’t any good reason.

        Metro has already committed to getting out of the DSTT. This is a good opportunity for them to show that they mean what they say and that they are dedicated to high quality and well coordinated service. They need to work with ST on a coordinated and methodical plan for converting the DSTT to rail-only.

      2. “Why would Metro run a competing service to Link that was more expensive to operate, slower, less reliable, and had lower ridership?”

        Because, until North Link opens (bring U-District Station online), the service isn’t really competing. There is a large ridership base in the northwestern U-District that is not well served at all by UW Station, and trying to force them all to use UW Station would be a nightmare for the riders and the system alike.

      3. Not really. A forced transfer at UW Station would actually represent faster and higher quality service than the current Metro service. It wouldn’t be that hard to make it work very well.

        I’m generally not a fan of having government officials meddle in operational minutia, but if Metro doesn’t start getting more serious about coordinating with other transit partners, then I think the KCC really needs to force them too. I think Dow’s previous comments on the matter were intended as exactly that — a warning shot across Metro’s bow on exactly this issue.

      4. “A forced transfer at UW Station would actually represent faster and higher quality service than the current Metro service.”

        I don’t believe this is true, particularly if you add enough buses to Pacific to handle the volume of current 71/72/73X passengers. It’s a ten-minute ride at the best of times from 45th/University to UW Station. And that corridor already struggles with a very high volume of buses. Then it’s a five- (or more, depending on crossing signals) minute walk from the bus stop into the station. Then you have your three- to four-minute average wait for the train.

        The 71X and friends do that trip in about 20 minutes, with an average wait of four to five minutes. At very best it’s a wash.

      5. Spoken like someone who doesn’t actually ride the buses from NE Seattle to Downtown.

        The first issue is the 5 minute walk between the current bus stops and the station. This represents a huge transfer penalty.

        The second issue is the traffic on Pacific and Montlake which can cause significant delays to buses using those streets.

        I think a better idea would be the proposed route 80 and increased service on the 372 and possibly the 373. Make the 373 and 372 terminate at UW station and let riders “vote with their feet”.

      6. “Why would Metro run a competing service to Link that was more expensive to operate, slower, less reliable, and had lower ridership?”

        It’s the “150 issue” and the “522 issue”. If they were close to Link like the 41 and 550 or 218, there’s no question that they’d be deleted or truncated. But the 150 and 522 run several miles away from Link, and it’s not clear that the transfer penalty is acceptable. (Some advocates say yes; Metro so far has said no.) In the U-District the distance from Link is shorter, but the volume of passengers and the urbanity of the U-District and the congestion there compresses the issue.

  10. For those of us on the northern end of the 72 and 73 corridors, many riders are clamoring for the beginning of U Link. If the restructure proposal allows for the elimination of hourly service at evenings and Sundays on these routes (through a expanded 372 or 373), that will be the convincing factor for many. In Maple Leaf, at peaks, the 77X is available and extremely crowded (i.e. lots of standees on every trip). For Ravenna 72X riders, the 372 plus a transfer to U Link would be faster than going over to 15th. I think you will find that rerouting/restructuring 72 and 73 service will be very popular among North Seattle riders.

    1. The 72 is absolutely atrocious north of the U-District. Not only is it hourly evenings/Sundays, making a mockery of its “Lake City – U-District” connection, but it takes an hour to get downtown, making a mockery of “express”. The 73 is also hourly in the off-hours and takes a long time, but at least its routing is more logical.

Comments are closed.