51 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: Stations”

  1. I am so glad we went grand with the tukwila station. The view from the large free surface parking lot is outstanding.

      1. I would hope the parking lot itself will turn into a parking structure at some point. With all of the promotion of using Link for park & ride commuters, it needs increased parking capacity.

        As for the rest of the area I’m not surprised it’s a bit desolate. Being right next to the airport doesn’t make it entirely desirable for dense development.

      2. I think you can count on that as part of ST3, with over 1 Bil in it to build tons more spaces to store our most precious family members.

      3. Mic, I detect you’re not happy about ST3 funds being spent to add more parking capacity at stations? I get that money can definitely be spent elsewhere, but with the spread-out nature of the area it’s pretty important to have parking at the smaller more suburban stations — particularly when it comes to Sounder.

        A ton of people out there would be more likely to ride public transit to the larger population centers if the last mile (or 5, or 10) btwn their house and the station wasn’t difficult (or impossible) to deal with, and that means driving. I grew up in Puyallup where the talk about the extreme shortage of parking at Puyallup Station (and by extension, Sumner) was a main reason behind not taking Sounder to Seattle.

      4. I guess it boils down to how many SOV’s do we want off the roads.
        A billion will buy about 30,000 structured parking places for about the same number of riders.
        that same billion could purchase a fleet of 30,000 new 11 passenger Chevy vans, capable of adding 300,000 riders going all over the place.
        I would choose the latter.

      5. It’s fine if ST wants to drop a cool billion on parking but it is NONSENSE that by God, it must be free parking. Does it cost less to provide 250 sf of transit adjacent storage each day than it does to have someone on an already operating train? No? Then why is transit access for people costly and free for SOV vehicles?

        No way I vote yes for ST3 until ST stops pretending this is 1950 with their parking.

      6. If ST wanted to, they could recoup at least some of the obscene cost for the Angle Lake Station parking garage by getting into the long-term airport parking business.

        To keep garage space available for weekday commuters into downtown, they could limit long-term parking to extended weekends only (Friday->Sunday or Saturday->Monday) so that each car is only allowed to take up a space for one weekday at a time. A $20 parking charge (which would include round trip Link fare for up to 4 occupants between Angle Lake and SeaTac airport) would be highly competitive with nearby private competition. The parking charge could be paid online, enforced by police with license plate scanners.

        With the train practically empty south of the airport, there would certainly be no shortage of luggage space, and the frequency, speed and reliability of Link would be most of the private parking shuttles any day. The only competitive disadvantage Angle Lake Station would have over private competition is the 5-minute walk between the Link Station and the terminal, and the potential need to take a taxi back to your car if your plane arrives between 1 and 5 AM.

        I’m sure the private parking companies nearby would raise hell if ST tried to use under-utilized parking capacity at Angle Lake to undercut them, but I say the hell with it. The transit system needs the money, so do it anyway.

      1. They built a bus terminal right in front of the mall which I would classify as step one.

        I recall hearing about a possible hotel or something, but I haven’t heard of any apartment buildings or anything like that yet…

      2. There are two different villages. The Southcenter one has a new transit center (really two bus stops across the street from each other), and Baker Blvd is zoned for TODO, and they’re promising it will be walking distance to the Sounder station via a new ped bridge. The other village is northwest of TIB, centered on 144th Street, which may mean that something urbanish extends down to the station. Tukwila’s mayor is asking for a Boeing Access Road Link station, and to extend RapidRide A to it, and argues that would be good for the village, the Museum of Flight, and Aviation High School.

    1. The reason so many parking spaces are going to be built is because in most of the region local bus service is so lacking. For $1 billion you could pay for good bus service to all the train stations for years. Then all this parking would not be needed.

      1. The argument is the other way around, that it’s cheaper to build a P&R once than to run low-volume buses on every single-family neighborhood arterial forever. That’s a lot of bus routes that don’t exist yet..

  2. I was walking over the overpass from IDS to King Street Station this morning and got to see the new screens with OneBusAway information that someone had mentioned here previously — I think it showed info for arrivals at 4th Ave S and IDS, iirc.

    I really appreciate little stuff like this — it’s a big deal for commuters making that transfer to know if they need to jog or walk over to IDS to catch a bus/Link. And it couldn’t have cost much.

    Now, if we could just get screens like this in the actual link stations at the platform …

      1. Yup. Even when the cell service comes to the tunnels (should be in 2016), it’d be nice to have some kind of signage showing times to the next 2 or 3 trains (buses will be all but gone in the next couple of years). Y’know, like every other metro system.

      2. Y’know, so that people don’t have to depend on technology that they have to buy a device and pay a telecommunications company for; that’s kind of like buying a car, and not everybody has one. And when people look it up, only they know and they don’t tell anybody, so everybody ends up looking it up in parallel (and each paying redundantly for the bandwidth). When I look up something on OBA I’ve started announcing, “10 3 minutes, 11 4 minutes”. I wish others would do it too, and that would partly make up for the lack of real-time signs.

    1. Huh? There’s an overpass from King St Station to the Link Station? I used Amtrak into Seattle for the first time yesterday, and nowhere in King St Station is there signage mentioning the Link. I knew it was nearby, so I had to whip out my phone and bring up the map app. I had a roller bag, so I took an elevator up one floor, exited the station’s north end, headed east, crossed a busy street, and finally spotted the International District/Chinatown station’s portal (which itself has no prominent logo on display).

      It’s depressing, and makes one think that a community is just plain stupid when such simple solutions are ignored. In many other places, one would expect that a rail system like the Link would actually run through, or very conveniently parallel to, a city’s sole railway terminal. But here in Seattle they are separated in a way that suggests they are aggressively competing with each other for business.

      1. You won’t find much argument in these comments about the poor transfer potential between King Street Station and IDS — it’s pretty bad. You’re right that it isn’t clear to non-local passengers how to get out of King Street and connect to other transit options. Adding to that is the confusion of Sounder trains and Amtrak trains being on different platforms and parts of the station (Sounder doesn’t even board *in* the KSS, it boards from the track overpass area).

        But even with the “overpass” on the South side of the station, which is the preferred method, you still have to cross 4th Ave S. There’s a big crosswalk and a stoplight for traffic, but you really shouldn’t be required to cross a street when transferring at such an important transit junction. Of course the stations are physically very close together, which is good, but it’s hardly a smooth transition.

        Folks had hoped for an IDS expansion westward to link up underground with King Street, but it doesn’t look like that’ll be happening.

      2. Crunchy, and Andrew, haven’t had time to check out the whole history, but where Sound Transit has its headquarters- Union Station- served the Milwaukee Road.

        Probably competing somewhat with the Great Northern out of King Street Station. But air travel available to the average person really took competition out of the picture for railroads and buslines alike.

        But for IDS and King Street Stations, really no place closer to each other that either railway could have run.

        Union Station, or underneath Fourth Aveue, would have prevented our subway from tunneling north. IDS also stands closest to the International District, as well as being best place to start boring under the exiting BN tunnel.

        But also, for every possible pedestrian connection between LINK and Amtrak, and Sounder- the ground under them is a lagoon with some dirt in it. Meaning absolutely no underground pedestrian passages.

        However, I think for the future, it would be possible to connect Pioneer Square with the International District with an elevated glassed-in walkway.

        With elevators to King Street Station. As Seattle keeps on expensively urbanizing, structure could be updated version of some streets in Venice with cafe’s and shopping. “Shout-out” to the clock tower, also imitating one in Venice.

        Having watched pile drivers pound hundred-foot-deep footings into the mud to hold IDS staging, I think a lot can be bridged in that neighborhood than can’t be tunneled.

        Mark Dublin

      3. I’m not even squawking about 100-foot-deep footers, underground pedestrian tunnels, or combined stations – all nice things that will cost lots of money to create. What I’m stunned by is the lack of decent, coherent, and plainly visible signage in the train station, and in front if the Link station (as visible from the west).

        At least Sea-Tac airport has plenty of Link signs and arrows from the baggage claim level. The issue there is that the many airport visitors who see those signs would have no idea whatsoever what the Link is or does, and will miss out on a cheap ride into downtown.

      4. I think, for the most part, people that do ride public transit in unfamiliar cities do their homework ahead of time and go online to learn what goes where. To spontaneously hop on a train because the sign says there’s train is asking for trouble – for all you know, the train might do a windy loop and take 2 hours for what would be a 15 minute drive. Or it might be fast, but run only once an hour, with a 55 minute wait. Obviously, Link is not nearly that bad, but the point is, if you haven’t done any research to prepare, you don’t know this.

        Cities that are renowned for their world-class transit systems, such as London or Paris are, of course, obvious exceptions to this.

        That said, even if you’re unfamiliar with public transit in Seattle, if you do see a sign that says “Link Light Rail”, where else could it possibly go besides downtown, since virtually every public transit system on earth is centered around downtown.

      5. “people that do ride public transit in unfamiliar cities”

        That’s the problem, many people don’t, especially in the US. Many people unless they’re super budget or eco conscious will get a cab or rent a car. The key is to build awareness of a transit option at every stage, from pre-trip planning through arrival at the airport. That involves marketing and wayfinding.

        “To spontaneously hop on a train because the sign says there’s train is asking for trouble”

        Umm… if we did information at the station right, people would know what they were getting into before boarding the train. It’s a long Tube ride into London but as you exit baggage claim at Heathrow, there’s an information hub that lists all travel options to the city from driving to public transit to an express train so you can compare and decide. That doesn’t really exist at Sea-Tac.

      6. Absolutely true, but you also have to take into consideration that it makes a difference if you are traveling alone or if you have a couple other people traveling with you. If more than one person a cab can be just as or almost as cheap as taking public transport. It also makes a difference what cab rates are. Seattle cab rates are not at all cheap but spread over two or three people it’s not so bad to get a cab at SEA to most destinations in Seattle.

      7. There’s a walkway there, but it’s really designed for stadium traffic, not King Street Station traffic. Despite the multiple road crossings it’s usually faster to just hold your nose and take Jackson.

        I suppose it might work for getting to Link, and there are a huge number of people that seem to use it to get to the parking garage on 4th from the area around the stadiums. For actual transit use it is just too far south to the come all the way back north.

      8. Mark,

        Take another look at the post about the initial design of the Green Line stations. IDS Green is going to be Buried Mezzanine PLUS a buried trackway. Definitely negative elevation against MSL.

        They can tunnel there. Wil it be expensive? Certainly, but doable.

      9. “But also, for every possible pedestrian connection between LINK and Amtrak, and Sounder- the ground under them is a lagoon with some dirt in it. Meaning absolutely no underground pedestrian passages.”

        Mark, isn’t that what they said about tunneling under Capitol Hill when they didn’t want to? As soon as it was deemed a good idea then it was suddenly possible.

      10. Sure the water table is high around King Street but there is more below grade construction than you might think. as long as the proper techniques are used constructing a connecting passage isn’t hard. A bigger challenge will be clearing the foundations of the the buildings in the way.

        The Union Station complex forms a solid wall along 4th with a connected parking garage and Union station itself.

  3. When do the articulated trolleys arrive?

    PS note partial weekend trolley service this weekend as we recently had a holiday, ive been observing this for awhile, seems trolleys on weekends occur only after a holiday, I’m guessing it’s some sort of staffing thing

    1. Depends on when production begins. Someone over at CPTDB (Canadian Public Transit Discussion Board) thought that the prototype hadn’t been accepted yet (this was mentioned on 11/29) and production won’t begin until that happens.

    2. It’s not a “staffing thing.”

      Dieselization happens due to reroutes, special events, and construction.

      For instance, there is a building under construction on Virginia Street between 1st and 2nd that requires the wire to be jumpered off so exterior construction can occur. This happens on weekends. Thus, all route 7 and 49 runs go out with diesels. Multiply that one site by all the construction happening in the core of the city, and you end up with a number of specific situations that call for the wire to be dead, and diesel buses substituted.

      1. I think the new trolley bus fleet will be able to run far enough on battery to get around construction blockage that now takes the whole line to diesel.


      2. Mark, you are correct – technically. It remains to be seen if the transit operator is willing to have the bus drivers manually re-seat the trolley shoes onto the wires one or more times on each pass through the route – or continue to operate while connected to the wires even through the dead zones (if the installed jumpers even allow this).

    3. San Francisco’s new artics (same batch as ours) are arriving. Saw two on flatbed trucks during my ride from SFO to the city a few weeks ago.

  4. I found an interesting problem with TriMet’s new Orange Line station maps. They usually have a pretty good neighborhood map of the area within half a mile.

    They’ve copied the King County Metro concept of having colored bus routes shown as well so it is possible to tell where those are, but they use the same colors for those as the MAX lines.

    This has the potential to be really confusing for someone.

  5. Regarding First Hill Streetcar opening, once they make an announcement on opening I kind of assume its going to be a month out for the actual opening or could the opening be quite sudden like “we’re opening next Tuesday”?

    I suppose it could even open same day as U Link?


    2. http://stuffnobodycaresabout.com/2013/10/27/when-the-new-york-city-subway-opened-in-1904/

    Number 1: Hour long. Looks great, will watch it after breakfast.

    Number 2: Page of details. Short definition of “Awesome”. Contract said four years.Finished ahead of schedule. With construction techniques and machinery of 1904. Also 120 men killed, compared to DSTT’s one. Though bloodless by 1904 standards

    Main motivation: By 1904, Forget Cars! Broadway was so crowded nobody could walk. Maybe reason, unfortunately, for the car industry’s rise: Subway or not, city already so packed nobody could breathe, let alone commute.

    Stations unbelievably beautiful. In 19th century, training for architects and engineers included the classics. Many could draw and render to museum standards.

    Several fellow union members and I served on advisory committees on DSTT operations, and also on the execution and construction of the art project.

    Cost complaints greatest compliment. Federal mandate said 1% of project budget. For 1% less we could have had Contemporary Minimalist Sanitary-Subterranean. The little rat in the video would have loved it, though.

    Doubt that “Value Engineering” was there in 1904. But I watched cost-cuts redesign artwork three times or more to fit budget. Each budgetary cut also improved the design. Hallmark of real art.

    Meaning a team generating more sweat than the boring crews. From chief down. Along with the rest of the project, drawing respect a from sources a lot more professional than nit-picking operations-critics like me.

    Rest of LINK stations-same. My favorite is Tukwila International. Real station art goes across several county lines-full of subareas and still not finished. Structure just makes it possible to see it all from the platforms.

    But one nasty remark about it all is signature Seattle: 25 years in service how few people even know where the Tunnel is, let alone any station. Project not wasteful- but somebody’s marketing department needs some Value Engineering.

    Mark Dublin

  7. I have a question about the Link signal system along MLK. It appears that the signal system is unable to understand that 2 trains may pass a crossing point simultaneously. This morning I watched 2 trains heading for the Genesee Street crosswalk and it appeared that they would be arriving at the crossing point almost simultaneously. The northbound train got the clear signal, but the southbound train got a stop signal and had to wait quite a while for a clear signal. The SB train then had to stop again at Columbian and Alaska before getting to Columbia City Station. I’ve seen this scenario play out enough times that I’m wondering if there is a flaw in the signal system that doesn’t allow 2 trains to operate through a crossing point at the same time. Does anyone here have enough knowledge of Link’s signal system to explain what’s going on?

    1. I’ve seen trains blast through the Orcas St intersection both directions at the same time, so maybe there’s something weird at Genesse?

      1. Anybody driving LINK will give you a longer list of problems than one incident in any one day. For more than one reason.

        Mainly, for the signals to work in favor of the trains, the trains have to stay moving, evenly spaced. On a section of right of way where many things tcan cause slow-downs.

        Also, every southbound train must run all the way through the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel- anybody want to count delays and their causes?

        As headways get shorter, every delay will make every signal problem get worse. I’d be less ticked off if I thought the DSTT joint-ops were unpreventable.

        But since nobody in charge has ever lifted a finger to prevent them, I think joint rail-bus operations will end sooner and faster than anybody thinks.

        ‘Till then, pay attention, take notes, and….Smart Phones have stop-watch apps, don’t they. Hey…maybe some really rad Viralism could get things fixed in the meantime.

        Also, go to YouTube for “Streetcars” or “Tramways.” You’ll see that we don’t yet hold the world’s screw-up record.

        Mark Dublin

      2. It doesn’t seem to be at the major intersections but at the smaller crosswalks and minor streets where the problem occurs. I’ve seen it enough times to think that there is something strange happening.

  8. BTW, I was WAY out of line suggesting YouTube signal-shaming- which has driven many teenage signals into counseling.

    Seriously, meant just sarcastic, but joke not funny. Problem is that anything on Social Media is untrustworthy for any matter that could get somebody hurt.

    Two problems out of many. One, no perspective at all- what happened before or after the camera got turned on. Also, for anything alleging blame, anonymity brings out the worst.

    So anybody serious about transit operations, carry camera and a stopwatch, or a phone that has both apps. Practice noting events.

    I really do assume that a fair number of STB readers may become transit first line personnel, and also officials. So swift analysis is excellent skill.

    Mark Dublin

  9. Crunchy, wish I could’ve answered your question sooner about trolleybuses battery motoring through special work repairs. Have seen this several times in San Francisco.

    Would be good if there was any mechanism that could guide the “shoes” back to the wire. But being able to drop poles to the roof automatically is a big improvement.

    It’s part of the driver’s job to re-wire, and with new mechanism, no danger of being hospitalized after one of the old spring-loaded “retrievers” suddenly let the spring go.

    Also, not sure how far a bus can get under battery power, but I think it can at least get around a block.

    Anyhow, still a much better system than line crew member having to pull poles and hold the ropes while running along beside a coasting bus.

    Mark Dublin

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