I rode back and forth on Link Light Rail trains a couple times Tuesday afternoon, just to see how the new Capitol Hill Station and University of Washington Station ridership would impact PM peak Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel Operations, during the interim week before several northeast Seattle routes start terminating near UW Station.
The time trial from Stadium Station to Westlake Station took 10:20, at the height of peak-of-peak. That compares quite well to some of my 20-minute time trials for that segment in years past. The time from Stadium Station to UW Station was 18:10. Yes, you can get to UW from the SODO faster during the peak hour than you used to be able to get to Westlake, on the same trains. This was with a 45-second delay before University Street Station and another 45-second delay before Westlake Station. An earlier off-peak time trial took 16:20 from Stadium Station to UW. Both trips had more standees than open seats, but the trains were not crowded.
The southbound time trial, at the tail end of peak-of-peak, took 18:35 from UW to Stadium Station, and 11:20 from Westlake to Stadium Station. This is slightly on the slow side, but most of the delay was simply dwell time getting everyone off and on the train. Westlake alone took 55 seconds to get everyone off and on. The train was crushloaded by the time it arrived at Pioneer Square Station. Some riders had to wait for the next train. But there was more room on the train, at the center articulation zone.
I was the only one who moved into the center standing area. I called out in vain for people standing by the bike/luggage areas to move to the center and make more room. Shrugs.
And so, I must offer a David-Lawson-style chastisement to the passengers who blocked the open space. You were fully capable of standing in the center area. Other people were waiting to board. You made them wait six-ish more minutes for the next train. Not cool. (I don’t know how long it really was, as the real-time-arrival signs were not meshing with real arrivals or departures.)
The southbound trains are likely to be much more packed next week, not just because of all the bus routes that will connect to UW Station starting Saturday, but also because UW will be back in session. Honestly, I could shout for everyone near bike/luggage areas on the trains to move to the center and fill up that space until I turn blue in the face, but even if a dozen more riders could be pushed onto each train, a southbound capacity challenge is brewing next week.
That said, more people are alighting than boarding at International District / Chinatown Station during PM peak. That bump in alightings appears to be from the new passengers boarding at UW and Capitol Hill. So folks, move to the center, and keep moving until all the space is filled. Take a deep breath, hold it for 2-4 minutes, and let it out when the train suddenly gets less crowded at ID/C Station.
BTW, Mark Dublin, I still owe you lunch at the Beacon Hill taco truck.