It’s finally here! We’ll see you at 10am at Capitol Hill Station with Mayor Murray to kick off the public launch, and we hope you have a great time at today’s all-day party in Capitol Hill and at UW. Please share your thoughts and reflections in the comments in today’s Open Thread, and we’d love it if you’d add your photos to our Flickr pool.

We’ll be too busy having fun to do a full liveblog, but STB authors will be chiming in periodically throughout the day with photos and anecdotes about the biggest day in Seattle transit since 2009. We’ll also be tweeting from @SeaTransitBlog using hashtag #ULink2016.

And we’ll see you starting at 3pm at Charlie’s for our all-ages Launch Party!

9:00am: Here’s video of the Golden Ticket ride and UW Station opening, featuring CEO Rogoff and Executive Constantine. Immediately afterward, two 3-car trains traveled together to Capitol Hill on each track. 


91 Replies to “It’s Here: ULink Opening Day”

  1. I’m onboard the first northbound train with a destination board of University of Washingyon Station. They’ve replaced the voice on the announcements. The new one is computer generated and doesn’t sound as smooth as the old one. Odd gaps in words and emphasis on awkward syllables.

  2. Two trains running neck and neck southbound from University of Washington Station? Probably the coolest thing I will see all day. :)

    1. Agreed, that was unexpected and awesome. And also nice to know that service can run in either direction if necessary for closures, etc.

  3. Mindblowingly fast. I think it really was 6 minutes from UW to Westlake. It felt like a timewarp.

    ULink is also the best thing to happen to Pronto (esp if they can make one more Pronto station move, at UW from the bus stop on Pacific to up on top of the Triangle garage at the UW end of the footbridge). I used Pronto to quicken the journey from Red Square to the station. There are so many opportunities to use Pronto as a “last mile” connector between UW Station and Red Square, UW Station and The Ave, UW Station and University Village, UW Station and Montlake Freeway Station, UW STation and the new student housing along Campus Parkway. Plus all the possibilities along the Burke Gilman. But that is, if these places get new or moved Pronto stations.

    1. Now that the city owns it, I hope they go all in on pronto expansion. Orca linked. Let’s get 5x stations. I’d use it all the time, especially in combination with transit.

  4. My favorite thing is the blue lit escalator well at UW Station. They had a scoundscape-like musician playing in the background, which made it feel as awesome as the O’Hare neon walkway tunnel.

      1. Open it up for bidding on eBay.

        Portland’s Morrison Bridge sometimes has Sounders colors during Sounders-Timbers matches because that’s who bought the colors for that day.

  5. ST did a great job. I rode from Lower Queen Anne to Capitol Hill today, taking the 1->Link, rather than the 8. Even with the 1’s slowness and the overhead of the transfer, the trip was still just as fast as the 8, on a good day. Link surprised me by how quickly it got moving out of Westlake Station. I was expecting it to crawl at 5 mph until the junction point where buses split for Convention Place Station, but instead, it got up to speed right away.

    1. Just need to get the Monorail into ORCA.

      As Belltown is being neglected in favor of SLU for ST3 to Ballard, as I’ve suggested before it would be great to make the existing monorail a 4 station Westlake-LQA shuttle with an extension from Seattle Center to future LQA Link Station and an infill station on the existing 5th Ave track to serve Belltown.

      1. It is amazing to me that we don’t repurpose the monorail, Poncho. If ST3 passes, we’ll someday have a monorail and a subway (and a streetcar and RapidRide nearby) all pretty much in the same corridor — with the monorail and the elevated tracks being the oldest and probably needing some sort of replacement. Its utility for Seattle Center travel will be greatly reduced if not eliminated when a Link light rail line between Westlake and Seattle Center opens; frankly, no one will be riding on the monorail except for novelty reasons unless there is an intermediate Belltown stop! Meanwhile, its utility as a historic tourist feature could be more attractive if operated between two destinations of which one wouldn’t be already well-served by Link. I think it would be particularly cool as part of a Waterfront project, or perhaps an L-shaped line that ends in Belltown. Maybe SeaTac airport could use it to connect to the rental cars. No matter where it would be moved to, I view it as a great opportunity to make it something that will be more useful to Seattle in the future than keeping it like it is today.

      2. Al: Westlake & Denny is still a tourist-unfriendly distance from the Space Needle.

  6. Well, that is great for Seattle. I promise that the South End stations will be celebrated by being behind schedule and over budget.

    1. You “promise” do you, Fleabag? Are you the prime contractor on the Angle Lake Station? Or on the guideway between STS and Angle Lake? Otherwise how in the world could you know?

      Or are you just outgassing flying monkeys?

      1. I just look at the record and history. Sound Transit does not care about anyone outside Seattle.

      2. Hey Renndawg… wrong dawg pound.

        I’m from Skagit County and sure felt welcome.

        I also use Sound Transit products to get around Snohomish County and from Everett Station to Seattle.

        Time for you Renndawg to go into EMCON and just… listen.

      3. If Sound Transit cared about nobody outside Seattle, you wouldn’t simultaneously hear that Sound Transit is building too much in the suburbs they don’t need and not enough in Seattle.

      4. Sound Transit is building too much in the suburbs. Maybe but Seattle wants to decide it took a lot of work by the only board member who care about the South End, Pete von Reichbauer to make sure we got what we wanted in where Link goes through our region. The Seattle powers who think we are sub human and second class, Like Mayor Murray and Executive Constantine, did not even want to consider what we wanted.

      5. I can’t say which boardmembers pushed for the SeaTac extension and which if any opposed it. That was long before Mayor Murray. What has Murray or Constantine done that cramped South King’s style? Some people here oppose extending Link to Federal Way or putting it on I-5, but I’ve never heard Murray or Constantine or any city councilmember say that, so what else have they done?

      1. Angle Lake is neither on time nor under budget. It was the south end of Sound Move, which was promised back in 2006. It will be 15 years behind schedule.

      2. 15 years behind schedule and over budget buy millions. That is jut another typical day for ST. One of the reasons I will be voting no on ST3.

      3. Na, I do believe the Angle Lake ext is on sched and under budget, And U-Link was 6 months early and $200M under budget. Good job ST!

        I was reading an old newspaper this article this morning form 1992. It was a report on a pre-RTA public meeting that actually predated ST. They were proposing to get LR to Northgate by 2020.

        And what is ST delivering?? LR to Northgate by early 2021, If ST is early like they were with U-Link then they will deliver LR to Northgate in 2020, just like what was being proposed 24 YEARS ago.

        Wow, that is some good long range planning…..

      4. The voters approved ST’s budget revision and timelines in 2008, and ST has been delivering on that. The original problem was unrealistic assumptions in the cost and timeline; so holding on to an unrealistic budget and timeline after a revision has been approved is just silly. When a corporation misses its quarterly earnings estimate, it admits it and stockholders adjust their investment based on the current outlook; they don’t complain forever that it missed an estimate a year ago or ten years ago.

    2. Judging current projects based on prior timelines is getting really tiring. We need to judge the current team by their current progress. SoundTransit today is doing a very good job. If we are constantly judging them against what Forward Thrust or even SoundMove was supposed to have accomplished today then we get a very distorted view of how the people in the agency are doing now.

      1. Yet, these guys still want more money to finish what we already paid for. No more property taxes.

      2. If ST keeps delivering like they have been, then I’d certainly give them the money they want. They have proven to be good stewards of our tax dollars.

        I’d still keep an eye on them, but so far I’m very encouraged.

      3. RennDawg, cost overruns happen, and budget revisions happen. It’s not like ST is doing worse than average, and it has completed a lot of projects on time. And that “still want more money” implies ST3, but everything promised in ST1 is funded without ST3. If you vote no in ST3, the people who will lose are those along the ST3 extensions; that’s a harm to them and has nothing to do with ST1 projects. I notice that you apparently live near KDM Station, so voting against ST3 could be convenient to you because you’ve already got yours funded, whereas other people won’t get anything without ST3.

  7. Left UW at 10:06, arrived at SeaTac 10:50. Awesome!
    Got off at Capitol Hill station on the way back–crowd there more cheerful than the rather somber one at UW. Ended up taking the 43 back to UW since there was a huge crowd waiting to get on the train. Took 25 minutes versus what would have been a 5-minute train ride.

    1. What time were you waiting to get back?

      It seems like crowds at the 10am opening were a bit less than what they expected, but the flow of people was constant through the day and may have actually increased as the day went on.

      1. Around 12:30 or so. Stopped for Broadway lunch before heading back to the UW. I only wish these stations had bathrooms:)

    2. I took a train from Capitol Hill to UW around 10:30am. The line looked long, and I was afraid there was an even longer line inside, and I wanted to quickly go up to the UW farmer’s market and back to get some frozen cranberries and stop at the library and get home before the cranberries defrosted, and then I’d explore the station areas more and ride to Westlake. But the line looked so long I was afraid it might take an hour like it did when Link opened, so maybe I should just take a bus and come back to Link later. So I went to the end of the line but it turned out you couldn’t get in there so I went all the way around the station, and when I got there the queue had just boarded and I was twentieth in the next queue. But the train came in seven minutes and we got right on. It was pretty full but not packed. So I went up to University Heights and took the 49 back, and later in the afternoon I went to Westlake and took Link to Capitol Hill. It wasn’t that crowded then. I instinctively went to toward the southbound platform at Westlake, then went across the mezzanine to the northbound platform; I’ll have to get used to that. And yes, the overhead sign now says “Bay A” without saying which direction it goes; that looks like a problem.

      The biggest problem I found is that the northbound bus stop on Pacific Street is still the old stop, which is a minute or two further from the new stop. It would have been a straight shot on the Rainier Vista bridge but the bridge and 2nd-floor escalator were closed. That made me realize that maybe next week’s commute will be harder than I thought, until they open the new bus stop. That’s partly why I took the 49 back. I also started thinking that the 49 is well positioned for trips from the northern U-District to northern Broadway until U-District Station opens, so it will probably help fill in that gap.

    3. Hey! We were on the same train! (I had 10:05-10:50; 4 min to Capital Hill and 8 to Westlake, as advertised).

      I was actually the first one (non-VIP passenger) on the platform as the folks in front of me in line stood on the escalator and I walked down the stairs. With the trains running on scheduled headways it pulled out not long after; I think there were only four or five of us in the first car. Much different than 2008.

      I took the train back from the airport to Cap Hill after some business at Sea-Tac; the train was jammed (London jammed, not Seattle) from Westlake to Cap Hill with cheering people. After some time at the market there, continued back to UW on a train that might have been fuller than the preceding one, this time with a couple of young ladies who had music and were getting everybody to dance on the “party train.” Fun!

      The UW station is beautiful and the Cap Hill one is nice as well. They feel like “real” subway stations.

      Can’t wait to see if it improves my commute up the hill this afternoon.

  8. Sound transit timetable site says last train at 2:45 ish am from Capitol Hill going south direction. I hope it’s not an error.

  9. I biked the Burke Gilman to UW at 2:30 PM, there were a lot of sporting events happening too! UW station was very busy, Capitol Hill too, I was not sure — one side of Capitol Hill appeared closed?

    I was sorry I missed the sound and light show, the video above looks cool!

    Having been on the London Tube in 2014 and Paris Metro last summer, that is one long tunnel from UW to Capitol Hill, and man are those tunnels buried far down!

    Regardless, the station designs are awesome, trains are smooth and quiet, this is a piece of infrastructure that will function for hundreds of years. Wish the attached capitol hill housing development could be even denser than proposed. Wished the UW would build condos attached to the stadium for super fans and a Whole Foods. Someday!

    1. There were a lot of events.

      1. University Heights Community Center had an opening commemoration for its park in half the parking lot. That was next door to the farmer’s market.
      2. A group of bicyclists in the U-District. At first I thought they were a group ride or Critical Mass, but it looked more like a bicycle training session.
      3. A scavenger hunt was in southwest Capitol Hill and Denny Way. One group wore sandwich boards with a picture of a large berry. Another group wore white T-shirts with a bear on it. Another group wore white and red horizontal stripes. Another group I talked to had something I don’t remember.
      4. Someone said there was a demonstration in Westlake Park about U-Pass cost increases.

      1. There was also a ton of people in the UW quad for the cherry blossoms, didn’t realize that was such a big deal here.

      2. It is. I took my family to the quad one year in 2009 on a Saturday, and there were a lot of people taking pictures and strolling around.

        Nowadays I admire the cherry trees on the sidewalks, and think about going to the Arboretum. Maybe I’ll get myself there before they’re gone.

    2. The longest London Tube segment I’ve seen is on the Victoria Line between King’s Cross and Highbury & Islington in the northeast. It’s some ten minutes underground, so like Rainier Beach to TIB but you can’t see anything. The last three stations on the Victoria Line coincide with mainline train stations so they may be further apart but I never went that far. I always wondered if that part of the Victoria overlaps a mainline for greater frequency.

    3. one side of Capitol Hill appeared closed

      For a while they made the southwest entry an exit only to help deal with the crowds.

  10. I need to applaud Sound Transit on their management of the event. Riders were cordoned off and only allowed to enter through one entrance and exit through another at each station, which probably prevented a lot of overcrowding.

    The trains were crowded and standing-room only, but were quick enough that the inconvenience of standing up was basically nothing.

    1. At both stations I observed that there was only one up escalator in service creating backups for people coming off the platform. Also I think they reversed the flow of the escalators at UW station which was causing some confusion for riders as well. I think if they let the system work as designed they would not have had many issues, as I did not see excessively large crowds all day.

  11. I went north around 12:45 and south around 1:20. It worked pretty well. Except in the mezzanine level between escalators at UW station. The bottom one was putting people into the small space faster than they were getting on the next escalator.

    Also, it was FAST. The schedules must be wrong, or maybe they will slow the trains for some reason??? Because it was teleportation fast from westlake to UW. All those years spent stuck southbound on the 70x busses. Never again!

    Hopefully more voters will use the system this summer and fall and we get a strong finish for ST3.

    1. The real-time signs seemed accurate to me but somebody said the trains weren’t following them so they may have just showed the normal schedule.But with a train every 7-10 minutes it could be off by a few minutes and few people would notice.

      I’ve been feeling more and more strongly throughout the day that Link even getting just its nose into north Seattle is going to be a big deal, because it eliminates the bottleneck of the bridges and the roads between the bridges and downtown. Bypassing that is a significant benefit, even if it’s not nearly as good as U-District Station and Roosevelt Station; at least it solves the biggest chunk of problems.

      And going from UW to Capitol Hill at express speed; that’s never been an option before. It makes it easier to go to the U-District more often. I do it five days a week so I try not to do it on the weekend, but now it’s easier.

  12. I was having so much fun ping ponging between UW and Capitol Hill stations that I forgot to go to Westlake. :(

    The display boards were a little odd at times. Once it listed 2 minutes and then that one disappeared from the display and the next was in 9 or 10 minutes. But after another minute or so the real next one reappeared as 1 minute and then showed up.

    Will the chrome car always be in service?

    The mixing of bicyclists and peds around the two shorter foot ramps at UW is messy and I’m sure a collision will be happening before long.

    I will miss the scenic views and staring off into the sunsets and sunrises that the above ground buses provided.

      1. Theres at least two in the system because I was aboard one and saw another roll in on the opposite track.

      2. The “Step Up” wrap advertising the extension is partially chromed. In the video, you can see it on the lead car arriving at the station.

      3. Yes the chrome car is in service, I rode it this evening. I was also able to catch a 3-minute train from the UW entrance to the platform without running and with a minute to spare, although I did walk partway down the escalators. When I got to the bottom I slowed down because I didn’t see the train and assumed I’d missed it, but an information agent said, “Hurry, one minute left” and I turned around a wall and saw the chrome train.

  13. I rode it around 1:30 – it was PACKED. Felt like some other major metropolitan city…it was awesome.

    One question that perplexes me often. Why do the escalators sometimes go up on the right and sometimes go up on the left??? It is SO confusing to people. Big bunch up between level one and two at the university station as people tried to cross paths…I assume there is some sort of traffic flow reason? but SO not apparent.

    1. I wondered that too: it looked like ST made a mistake in the escalators’ direction.

      I’m glad the stations are center platform, and at the platform level they look big and sturdy and ready for a lot of people, more like a “real” subway station than the DSTT ones do.

      1. Today is obviously an exception, but I have seen the escalators running in counterintuitive directions at Westlake, and I recall the explanation being that it reduces wear on the escalators to run them in both directions.

  14. Literal tears of joy ran down my face. It felt like the most joyous holiday party ever.

    I don’t often have my expectations blown out of the water in a positive direction, I kept thinking “where the hell am I?”. It’s as good as any metro I’ve ever ridden on. Definitely something to be proud of, and I hope ST reaps the rewards of this miracle. That is one fantastically managed agency if this perfectly choreographed day is any indication.

    I couldn’t resist just hopping on and off those trains all day long. That crazy new silver livery rocks. My god, we have a real kick-ass subway!

  15. I rode at around 6pm. Great to see the new stations open and it was awesome to see so many Sounders fans using it as a transit alternative…not just gawking at the new stations (like me). One big boooo towards Sound Transit on fares for the day. I got different feedback from various security and ST officials I spoke with whether it was free (not to mention a Seattle Times article that said as much). If the system is going to be free for the day, make sure all your staff and consultants know it and post it at the station entrances. it was painful to see so many people lining up to pay for tickets they didn’t need. The fact that this website and no Sound Transit site said as much just added to the confusion. I paid for my first trip from downtown to UW Stadium but then didn’t pay for my two legs back.

    1. Speaking only on all the emails I got–some of which were golden ticket related and some were not–they said it was free if you showed the attached graphic which was also posted on ulink2016.org

      1. And they were out checking fares as well, and if you didn’t tap on or off, or have a ticket (free or not) they were looking for you. I figured they wouldn’t have even bothered trying to collect fares today.

  16. I think too many folks were teleporting via Link today to post here. I basically knew what to expect, but am still blown away by the thrill of zooming between these formerly sort of distant neighborhoods, and the quality of the overall experience from end to end. 20 years since we voted for this… I saw a lot of folks riding today who weren’t even born then. I’ve never waited that long for anything that actually happened.

    The fine music at today’s launch event added a nice, humanist ambience to a scene that otherwise felt a bit like a science-fiction movie. I look forward to integrating ULink into the rhythm of my life. Leo Saul Berk’s artwork at UW station is every bit as cool and beautiful as I hoped when it was first proposed.

    It was good to see the newly remodeled UW triangle full of life and the bridge to campus well used. The extension of Rainier Vista is something we fought super hard for during the planning phase, drawing it up and suggesting it to the UW, ST and the City back in 2005 and helping to author city and state legislation mandating a better bus-rail interface there (which was a mixed success.) The relocated bus stops will help a bit. Now if we can just make Montlake Blvd. more pedestrian / bike-friendly…

    Last week it took us 3 hours to drive from Montlake to Olympia on a Friday afternoon. I’ve also gotten stuck in a car for 45 minutes approaching the University Bridge. At this point, I think ST could propose a catapult and it would pass in November.

    1. I am old enough to have voted yes in the 1970 election (a bit too young in 1968) so I waited nearly 40 years for the Link opening in 2009, and more than 45 years to this. A Grand Day!

      1. Good on ya,Lloyd! I was about 17 years too young in 1968 but my parents and grandparents did. Unfortunately the last of them passed away last year so did not get to ride the train they all waited so long for, but I’m sure that they are pretty damn happy somewhere.

    2. Can confirm. I was born a few months after Sound Move passed. Still joined the wait and am thrilled to have experienced my first (of hopefully many, many) light rail opening.

    1. Sorry I wasn’t able to attend – looked like a blast. I hope to meet “all y’all” some time in the future. Keep fighting the good fight up there, Joe!

  17. One question I have that I have never seen answered, is ST going to do anything with the capitol hill site around the station? They seem to have paved most of it over but its an eyesore. Both event sites had the same kinds of vendors and exhibitors out and about, Although I was not sure why there was a guy in a chicken suit at the UW station. Transportation Choices had a number of voulenteers at each site, getting people to sign up to contribute to ST 3 campaigning, as well as handing out information, stickers, etc. The “Bus Riders Union” was on the sidewalk at Capitol Hill Station, pushing their agenda (That ST does not take KCM tickets, and with all the bus modifications around U link this puts people who use those tickets that are distributed at a social service agency at a disadvantage). They also seem to take credit for ORCA LIFT, and now that I know this I wont support that organization at all.

    Crowds were well managed throughout the day, and I think they planned for much larger crowds but they did not need all the queuing capacity they had. This will be a major change in Seattle Transportation, the ability to get from UW to Downtown in less than ten minutes. the UW campus seems to be well connected, although I can see where some form of campus shuttle service from UW Station to 45th may be needed in the near future and probably something that would last even when then Northgate extension opens. I also wonder if 3 car trains will now be the norm. I’m not sure if it was because they are so new or not, but service with them did seem a bit slower than with two car trains. Either that or everyone was running on someone else’s markers all day long. It was an interesting experience being on the #3 car as you can look out and see the head end of the trainset, plus the different stopping positions.

    Of some complaint; Sound Transit’s destination signage on the cars leaves some to be desired. The whole sideways scrolling business with “UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON STATION” is very difficult and slow to read. They are going to have to figure something out when they start putting up “BLUE LINE TO UNVIERSITY OF WASHINGTON STATION” as the whole message will probably take longer than the station stop to scroll through. Also their reliance on the “SOUND TRANSIT” sign for cars that are sitting at the terminus stations before starting their next trips needs to be adjusted. The trains should either say where the destination is they are going next, or NOT IN SERVICE. People were boarding a trainset at Sea-Tac Airport that was going out of service as both sets of equipment just said SOUND TRANSIT without a proper destination. Later in the day I did observe the overhead signs informing people which trainset was going where.

    1. From what Brent has been posting, the TRU originally wanted the LIFT fare as a permit card + cash, but was pursuaded to support LIFT on ORCA. That gave a major boost to LIFT on ORCA and ultimately got the council to adopt it, so I don’t mind if they overstate their own role in it. I don’t know about the remaining ticket issue. If there are people who still need tickets, why can’t we get them onto ORCA?

    2. At least two or three parcels will be midrises built by private developers. What disappoints me is the street where the farmers’ market plaza is supposed to be. Why couldn’t they have made it a real pedestrian plaza rather than reopening the street? Denny Way is a residential street there that contributes hardly anything to car mobility, and west of Broadway it’s too narrow to conveniently use as a shortcut.

  18. It was really the first time Link has felt like a real subway to me. It was nice. It was four minutes station to station. (Boston is almost always 2 minutes per station on the Red line, which to me suggests we should have had a First Hill and North Capitol Hill stations too, given the time and expense — but so be it). It was another four minutes to get from the platform to the bus stop at UW station.

    The only technical glitches I noticed: The escalators in UW station switched sides, so the flow up was on the right escalator from the platform, then switching to the left escalator halfway up to the mezzanine, making all the passengers going up change places with the passengers going down half way up. (Fortunately an easy fix!) The three-car train I was on stopped at the usual location, which seemed to put the rear car almost out of the station – it just seemed odd. I did not see obvious signs directing me to the correct bus stop when I got out of UW station, but maybe I was just too distracted by the number of canvassers asking me to vote for ST3. There was a significant wait to get on the escalator at the platform level, but we’ll see if that’s a temporary phenomenon or permanent feature. As expected from ST, all the real-time information was about the train, but especially outbound the bus connection is pretty important. All these are trivial, it was a great starting day overall.

    1. Nothing saying infill stations aren’t possible in ST4… ;-).

      I hold the view we’re going to need a ST4 and a ST5 for this region. Which is why it’s so important we get ST3 right.

      I also hold the dream – not a view, not an expectation – by ST4 we will see Sound Transit expand from Olympia to Marysville (and possibly further north).

    2. There’s an imbalance in the ST District because it includes Spanaway, Orting, and Bonney Lake in Pierce County, but it doesn’t include the similar Marysville and Snohomish in Pierce County, or Covington and Maple Valley in King County. That seems to be because Pierce County was especially persuasive, and Snohomish County failed to predict the growth in Marysville and Smokey Point. Given that Marysville and Smokey Point now look like suburbs rather than exurbs, it’s probably inevitable that they will eventually be included, or there will be an out-of-district agreement to extend Sounder, or Swift-Marysville will take care of it.

      1. Swift to Marysville is anticipated for 2027, so we have plenty of time to figure out how to fit Sounder and build a nice hub in the city with good transfers.

        ST Express to Smokey Point (my neck of the woods) would be killer. The longest part of my commute is always the slow slog on the 201/202 through Marysville, hitting a ton of lights and fighting with traffic trying to reach I-5.

      2. @Bruce Englehardt

        Maybe Community Transit will add an Smokey Point – Lynnwood Station express after Lynnwood Link opens. It seems like one might be necessary by then, and quite a lot of express hours should be freed up by no longer having buses sitting in traffic between Lynnwood and Downtown Seattle.

    3. I noticed the wrong-way escalators at both UW and Capitol HIll stations today too, saw lots of people keeping right only to find the escalator was going the opposite direction. Hope ST fixes it.

  19. It was sad to see Joni Earl in a wheelchair (I think that’s what she was sitting in). Of course I knew she was unwell, but still, I wasn’t expecting this. She deserves a lot of credit for righting the Sound Transit ship when it was listing (badly).

    1. Nah, she was just tired from working over her physical therapists.

      The wheelchair is just a temporary impediment.

  20. when will they move to 3 cars on a more permanent basis? trains were definitely fuller that they usually are.

  21. I really enjoyed riding the new lines on Saturday, I did the same when it opened in South Seattle. The new stations were nice but the UW station seemed so far below grade, I wonder why. I like the cars, they are really well-designed and comfortable. I also like the new art in the stations, really great.

    Other notes –

    I rode from Columbia City and I immediately needed to use the restroom when arriving at UW. I searched all over but didn’t find one so I asked several Sound Transit people and no one knew where it was. So I went outside and was finally able to sneak into Husky Stadium to relieve myself. When I left there were several other people wandering around looking for bathrooms as well, including a large family with several small children about to pee themselves. I told them about Husky Stadium but the security wouldn’t let them in! Anyway, that is when I realized that there really were NO BATHROOMS! In fact, the closest bathrooms are a loooong walk away, at Montlake or the UW campus (or maybe the IMA?). What about the elderly or people riding from the airport or little kids? It won’t be long until that station reeks of pee! Crazy.

    The lighting at the track level of the UW station is very dim and a horrible dark yellow/green color. Maybe makes you want to pee, LOL, but doesn’t feel safe at all. The Cap Hill station is much more well-lit.

    The escalators were reversed in a few places and people were almost tripping going the wrong way. I saw a guy with a dog and it almost got its paw caught. I think (hope) this can be reversed, it is very dangerous, what about bling people? Sound Transit – people walk to the right.

    ORCA is still a confusing mess. On Saturday I heard most everyone asking how to use ORCA and how it works with the bus, etc. No where else I have ever been do they have you tap the card on the way out. Just adopt the bus model and tap it on the way in and pay an averaged fare or a zone fare that lasts an hour or two.

    ORCA #2 – Why is it so difficult to fill the card? It takes 2 DAYS online for the card to fill. The machines at my bus station don’t work so I can’t re-fill my card there. So I have to drive to a QFC to add value to my card if I want to go somewhere. We should be able to add value to the card instantly with an associated credit card or with our phones.

    Will there be food and buskers in the new stations like a real city? I hope so.

    I support Link and always vote in favor but I scratch my head sometimes…..

    -Bill

    1. The UW station is deep because it has to go under the Montlake Cut. No real getting around that. Take the high speed elevator from the platform to the bridge if you don’t want to wind your way down.

      Not having restrooms is pretty much the norm most places for mass transit stations. Plan accordingly.

      I use the TVMs at Link stations, Sounder stations, and select transit centers (Northgate, Bellevue, Federal Way) to fill my card.

      Tap-on, tap-off is normal for any rail system basing its fares on distance, which is most of the ones I’ve been on in North America.

      1. “Plan accordingly” sounds a bit unkind. There will often be unexpected delays, etc. Small children can’t plan, they have to go “right now.” All large transit facilities should have bathrooms. Train stations and airports do. Having a place to pee does’t have to be free–many stations in Europe charge for the use of such facilities to offset the maintenance cost.

      2. Not only does the tunnel go under the Ship Canal, but UW Station is right next to the canal.

        And ssh, there are top-to-bottom elevators at both UW and Capitol Hill, and they’re high-speed. I assume they’re necessary for ADA access, but they’ll get overwhemed if too many people use them. So only use them if you’re disabled or time is really short. :) The elevator from the Rainier Vista bridge goes to to bottom, as does the elevator to Nagle Place (the southeast entrance). But I took the elevator from the north Capitol Hill entrance today and it only went down one floor. It was 2-3 minutes to the train and I just missed it. But when I went into UW Station this afternoon, I managed to take the mega escalators down in two minutes and catch a 3-minute train with just some walking down part of the escalators. It seems to be faster to go down to the UW platform than up to the surface, although that may be an illusion.

        Restrooms are unfortunately prone to vandalism, heroin shooters, drug deals, sex quickies, and messy people leaving paper strewn about. That’s why they’re scarce. ST’s policy is only stations like transit centers and airports have restrooms. For UW Station, hint, there’s UWMC across the street, just look like a visitor.

        In Moscow every few blocks has a basement restrooms accessible from the street, with an attendant you pay 50c to. I hear Paris is similar. We should have that.

      3. Ship canal – of course ;-)

        I’ve traveled all over North America, parts of Asia, Europe, UK and South America and never seen a tap on tap off, but they were larger systems.

        And there were restrooms in every place I’ve travelled. If they work in the Pike Place Market they’ll work anywhere. And I don’t mind having an attendant and paying a little too. Thanks for the UWMC tip.

    2. The ORCA refill delay is because your computer doesn’t have an ORCA reader, and the bus readers aren’t connected to the network in real-time. The bus readers download the database at the base and submit the days’s charges. But if you check your balance at a reader that is connected real-time; e.g., a TVM, it will transfer your pending credit to the card immediately. The offboard readers at Link or RapidRide stations may do it too; I’m not sure. I used online payment the first couple months, but now I always go to a TVM so I can check the card afterward and get a receipt.

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