48 Replies to “Zach Talks ULink on KUOW”

  1. 7:22 from doors close at UW to doors open at Westlake. And that includes 1:14 of dwell time at Capitol Hill, which was about a minute longer than necessary. I have never understood why Link’s dwell time exceeds that of every other light or heavy rail system I’ve ridden, which includes (just to show off) Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Washington, Baltimore, Chicago, Cleveland, Minneapolis, Portland, San Francisco (BART, MUNI and Caltrans), Los Angeles, San Diego, Salt Lake City, Denver, Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal, London, Paris, Amsterdam, Vienna, Budapest, Rome, Naples, Barcelona, Athens, Glasgow, Liverpool, Dublin, Melbourne and Sydney. Everywhere else, the doors open, the passengers disembark and embark, and the doors close. Here, we wait for no noticeable anything.

      1. Really short dwell times work just fine in many other cities. There is no need to sit for 2 minutes at every bloody station.

      2. Joe;

        Just FYI you’ll want to be prepared for some short dwell times when you visit Portland on your April visit. Sometimes they have to wait for their schedule time slot to open, but there are a few time slots on the schedule where the following train is only a minute behind. The first train won’t dawdle too much in those time slots.

    1. I’d imagine the dwell times have to do with the spacing of the trains. If ST wants a train every 10 minutes, they need to budget extra time at the platforms just in case, but that also means that trains can’t consistently leave 30-60 seconds early

    2. Wow – 1:44 dwell time is crazy. I do agree on the overly long Link dwell times. Traveling on Link I have taken to timing the door-open times and it seems to vary from driver to driver. From as little as 10s per station (this is about right) to sometimes 30 or 45s for no obvious reason. Please speed this up, Sound Transit! I’m not on this train for fun – open doors get on/off, close doors, let’s go. This is not a fairground attraction.

      1. Fine sentiments, but having a bit of a grace period running to the ULink or a little extra time in the crowds to get off would be much appreciated. Not everybody is a 20-something in the best shape of their life. OK?

      2. The fix for that is to run trains frequently enough that you stop caring about beating the train to the platform.

      3. I suspect the real reason for 2-minute dwell times at Capitol Hill Station is to give the line of buses ahead of the train in the downtown tunnel a chance to clear. In general, it is better for the train to idle at a station with the doors open, then in the middle of a dark tunnel with the doors closed. I’m guessing this is less of an issue during the off-peak hours, when the volume of tunnel buses is less. Once buses get kicked out of the tunnel completely, Link’s dwell times at CHS will probably reduce to around 30 seconds, similar to that at all the other stations between Westlake and SeaTac.

    3. The dwell time is way too high. Consider that Swift has a stated dwell time of 10-12 seconds, which it often keeps when not deploying its ramp.

    4. Sometimes they dwell in the tunnel stations for longer than required because of issues with joint ops. Once the buses leave the DSTT the dwell times should become more consistent.

      1. I realized I was feeling discontent today at Westlake about the lack of real-time signs, even though I knew that was minor compared to the fact that THERE’S A TRAIN GOING NORTHBOUND TO UW EVERY 10 MINUTES NOW!!! In a few days I’ll probably feel just as strongly about other minor problems as I did a week ago about larger problems. I think people’s emotions are relative to the last experienced state, not the absolute magnitude of the issue.

  2. Okay, some of you people need to quit whining.

    The fight for light rail was a long, tough slog.

    Great men like Rob McKenna and Dow Constantine stood together when all was almost lost and saved Sound Transit from going the way of the Seattle Monorail. Unlike in the other Washington where doing the big things means fillibuster… hyperpartisanship… and more. No wonder small minded people are flocking to Billary and Drumpf instead of say Carly Fiorina for the Republicans or demanding the Democrats get Dow Constantine to run for President… and Martin H. Duke for US Secretary for Transportation.

    I just thought from my Skagit perch looking down a little polite reminder of why I cheered VERY LOUDLY when the light rail pulled in was necessary. They said it couldn’t be done…

    Chin up people. You can handle a little extra time of doors open for folks.

    1. Your comments are uninformed, Joe. There was not a soul entering or exiting the train for more than a minute. There was no one rushing to the train. It was just sitting there.

      1. You guys calm down. There’s no use having a comment war over how long ST keeps Link’s doors open. If that ruins your day, send an email to ST. These comment sections are generally very good, but this kind of discussion is only useful and informative when discussing bigger scale stuff (ie what to do about Kirkland), not minuscule operational details.

      2. The problem is dwell times add up. From seatac to Westlake an extra minute of dwell time at each station adds 10 minutes to the total trip time, a fairly large amount from the POV of the passenger. More importantly it wastes service hours. Over 6 trips you’ve wasted a whole hour, which doesn’t come cheap.

      3. I experienced thirty seconds waiting to get on and hoped the doors wouldn’t close on me, although part of me assumed the driver would look to see that everybody boarded before closing the doors. I have seen longish passengerless dwell times particularly in the evening on Link, in St Petersberg, and on other systems. I always assumed it was just making up for lower volume in the schedule, they way buses also wait for a minute or two sometimes when they’re ahead of schedule. Link’s dwell times could probably be shortened sometimes but I wouldn’t call it a major problem. If there’s a particular problem at Capitol Hill I wouldn’t know since I usually get on/off there rather than sitting through it.

      4. Once, at TIBS, I was with a group of about 10-15 people, and a couple in our group were still busy fumbling with the ticket machine down on the mezzanine when the train pulled up. Somebody apparently discovered that if you just stand in the doorway with one foot on the train and one foot on the platform, you can hold the train indefinitely. And that is what he did, for about 2 minutes or so, until the whole group was ready to go.

        I won’t comment on the morality of actions like this, suffice to say that improved frequency would reduce incentives for such behavior.

    2. @Joe,

      It’s called The Seattlw Whine. It’s a core competency around here

      As far as McKenna saving LR, that is the biggest price of revisionist history I have ever heard. McKenna and his other horsemen of the apocalypse (Fimia, Niles, etc) did everything in their power to throw LR under the bus. If they had their way we would still all be riding Buses Stuck in Traffic. And we probably wouldn’t have any bus improvements either.

      As far as your political comments, please leave them for the conservative echo chamber that is the Seattle Times. Here we try to stick to transit issues.

      1. Lazarus;

        First, thanks for warning me NOT to drink the Seattlw Whine (Wine).

        Second, as to Rob McKenna’s heroism:

        One more note (from me) on light rail’s opening weekend.

        On Friday afternoon there was a parade of ribbon-cutting speakers—Mayor Nickels, Sen. Patty Murray, FTA head (and former Murray staffer) Peter Rogoff, King County Council Member Julia Patterson, Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon among others—at a press conference debut ride from Westlake to Tukwila and back.

        And all of them gave heartfelt shout outs to Sound Transit Executive CEO Joni Eearl. And rightly so. She saved the agency after it tanked in 2000.

        But had the crisis in 2000 gone undetected, stand up leaders like Joni Earl would never have been asked to step in. The project would have quietly failed, and the agency would have simply dissolved around 2003 or so. It took a loud crisis, to wake everyone up and get the project back on track.

        And while the press (and I’m proud to have played a role ) deserves some of the credit for spotlighting the agency’s financial disasters, it was dissident Sound Transit board member Republican Rob McKenna (the others were party line cheer leaders) who nudged the press to take the closer look. He already had taken a closer look—and his spread sheets were more than compelling.

        It was all toasts and shout outs galore on Friday—Greg Nickels, Patty Murray, Slade Gorton (?), Ron Sims (?!?)—but I’d say Rob McKenna (ironically, given that his agenda was to bring the project down) was one of the most important Sound Transit board members there has been.

        . . .

        I have a call in to McKenna to get his reaction to light rail’s opening weekend and to see what he thinks about my sense that he’s a Sound Transit hero. His super power: His honest watchdogging while other board members were cheer leading and lying.

        The author? Not me. Josh Feit.

        Finally, Dow Constantine is great. Dow Constantine can make the light rail shine. Dow Constantine can throw touchdown passes. Stop Trump!

      2. @Joe,

        That write up is more than a bit odd, and I certainly wouldn’t call it complementary to McKenna. At best it falls into the “keep your friends close, and your enemies closer camp”. And it certainly doesn’t say that McKenna just would have killed LR if he had his chance. In fact it pretty much implies he would have.

        In regards to stopping Trump, not my problem. You guys created him, you stop him.

  3. Also I gotta say this idea I heard on KUOW of let’s build parking next to the light rail… it’s bad enough Everett Station will get out of a ST3 more parking.

    I get the serious problem of first/last mile. Transit can’t go on every road and be cost-effective.

    I appreciate those that use the bus on I-5. It’s saving us taxpayers a ton of money and is real congestion relief.

    But at some point, it’s time to dig in and fight. Fight for a better system. Fight hard. Demand concessions from Everett & Snohomish County with one voice.

    IF Everett pols so badly want a damn parking garage extension, okay then… Everett ups its investment in Everett Transit. In a big way. Or no deal.

    IF Paine Field, what will we see in bus service expansion or get to finally stand down Sounder North? Or Hwy 99 alignment. Or no deal.

    We got ULink or ST1 because Dow Constantine and Joni Earl and all of you didn’t give up on them or The Dream.

    Saturday just got a license to dream big. Saturday was like the Huskies winning another National Championship or a local kid making the Navy Blue Angels.

    Backbone, not backdown. Spine Destiny needn’t be a bad thing.

    1. Sigh. I know a lot of people who seem to think every light rail station other than the ones inherited from the DSTT should have a giant parking garage attached.

      1. It might be helpful if we found an optimal response to the parking issue that both makes sense and doesn’t sound dismissive:

        “Parking can be a part of getting to rail but its also limiting, the more places to live, work and play there are along the rail, the more useful it is to everyone. Stations that only go to parking garages mean you need a car at both ends.”

        Anyone have a better way of saying this?

        If we sum up why parking doesn’t scale that communicates what we need to say clearly and in a way that folks who know nothing about transportation would understand, it might go a long way to diffusing this gut instinct to put giant parking garages everywhere…

    2. Parking at suburban stations (e.g. Metrorail) is fine (it may even serve as a revenue source) but it makes no sense to demolish housing in the city (when more people are moving in) to build parking garages instead of more housing.

  4. Living in NE Seattle I’m hearing a lot of angst from commuters because of losing their one seat rides to dt via 71,72, 73 and someday others such as the 74. It would be nice if ST could at least atone for no drop-offs near UW station for seniors and their luggage with a better configured 78. A Mary Gates Way shuttle configured to run behind the UW sports complexes would be nice. I’m going to do a run their now and see if there are any options.

    1. I see that the Children’s shuttles turn at the Golf Range exit and into E1 which is a pathway to E18. This would work.

    2. I drove by the other day and down the route of the 78 down NE 41st and was surprised at the lack of any new bus stops along 41st. So effectively, this is a Childrens Hospital to Link express it seems. Although, it’s not like many in Laurelhurst probably even take the bus, so I guess I’m not too surprised.

      1. True, but adding a stop is so cheap, there’s no good reason not to do it. If the ridership potential isn’t worth the trouble of putting a pole in ground, why bother running the bus at all?

        There is also the possibility that some people will ride the 78 who wouldn’t have ridden the 25. The 78+Link will get you downtown much faster than the 25 ever could.

  5. Since I will have to ride light rail starting next Monday from Husky Stadium I decided to see how it would go today event though the # 72 was still available today.

    What I found is the lack of good signage all around. When you get off the bus on Stevens Way there were no signs to direct riders to the station. Now I knew how to get there because I am familiar with the UW Campus but there will be other riders who are not.

    I found the same lack of signage as I got to station as after crossing Montlake on the bridge the walkway splits but no sign to tell you if you need to go downstairs or stay on the upper level. I stayed on the upper level and entered the station. There I could see the Orca machines and elevators on the left and a stairway and an escalator ahead but again no signage to tell you where to go for the train. The escalator was also closed as it was not working.

    I asked a person who worked for Childrens Hospital who was there for directions and he told me to take the elevator down to the last floor. But in the elevator there is no sign on what button to push for the train level other then next to the bottom is says “P” which certainly does not tell you anything if that is the train level which it is.

    On the return trip back I took 3 escalators up but when I got to the top there was no sign to tell you where the bridge is to cross Montlake so that you can walk to Stevens Way.

    There was a representative from Sound Transit there and I brought to his attention the lack of signage and he agreed. He pointed out that there are signs but they are so small and not that visible so unless you happen to look in that direction you will not see the signs.

    On Stevens Way they have finished putting in the 2 new bus stops that will open next Monday. I also had a chance to talk with a Metro supervisor and in my conversation with him he was not looking forward to next week with all of the bus changes in NE Seattle as he feels that a lot of people will not be happy with the changes and that the replacement service will not satisfy them.

    1. I agree, signage would be really nice. Like huge arrows on the floors and sidewalks saying, “HERE TO STREETCAR” (which Westlake Station needs desperately), “HERE TO BUSES”, “SOUTHBOUND” and “NORTHBOUND”.

    2. I saw information agents both ways at UW today, both on the platform and at the entrance. They’re there precisely for people who have questions. The maps on the wall show the nearby bus stops but there’s a sticker on them “Not until Sept 26”. Likewise the TVs will have bus departure times but not until the 26th. That’s probably one reason why the information agents are there.

      Of course, the entire bus transition is not going well from a visitor’s standpoint. Most of the bus stops have the new route numbers which aren’t in effect yet, although they have the current schedules. But a few transfer points still have the old route numbers to avoid the worst confusion, but then it’s inconsistent from stop to stop.

    3. Some of the overhead signs have stickers on them where the text underneath partly shows through and makes it harder to read the text on top. At Capitol Hill Station are stickers over the word “Buses” saying “Nagle Place” or such. Westlake also has a sign saying “Airport & [something]”, where if you stand and decipher the sticker it says “SeaTac/Airport” (redundant given the first part of the sign), and I assume the text it’s covering up is “Angle Lake”.

  6. Here is one thing I definitely fault Metro on. The website still doesn’t provide a clean way to look at the schedules for route after next Saturday’s shakeup. While the Metro trip planner does appear to support planning trips after March 26, their trip planner is not very good, and it is not unreasonable to ask to be able to just look at the route by route schedule directly.

    I understand that people still need to be able to plan trips according to the old schedule for one more week, but I don’t think it’s unreasonable for the page listing the old schedule to have a link you can click on to see the new schedule for the same route.

  7. Good interview Zach. I don’t think on my feet too well, so there’s always stuff I wish I had said that didn’t get set in the moment.

    One thing that might be useful to point out any time someone asks about the value of Link to the region as a whole: for two stations to make a huge difference they have to be accessible to people.

    How popular would Interstate 5 between Denny and Wallingford be if everything else in Seattle remained dirt roads?

    When the Good Roads Movement happened, it wasn’t just a matter of building highways such as 99, but also of making local streets paved and function better for drivers.

    These two stations provide an equivalent to Interstate 5 between Denny and Wallingford, but because all the connecting bus service remains the same slow and cumbersome service it always has been it’s a bit like having that section of Interstate 5 in all its modern glory while all other roads remain dirt roads.

    To maximize the benefit, the rest of the system needs to catch up.

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