Photo by AVGeekJoe from U-Link Opening Ride
Photo by AVGeekJoe from U-Link Opening Ride

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.

Update: Mike Lindblom at the Times ($) broke the news that 3-car trains will be deployed starting next Monday, alternating with 2-car trains during peak. Thanks to commenter Al S. for catching that.

112 Replies to “Please Move to the Center. Keep Moving. Yes, Keep Going Until You Can’t Move Any Further.”

    1. “In order to make room for others, please roll out some 3-car trains during the peak crushload, and leave all the new riders with the best possible first impression.”

      Rolling out the purple carpet Monday morning and evening would be money well spent, IMHO.

    2. Not to worry Tim. Metro is re-training the Orca helpers at the stations with state of the art boarding techniques.

    1. Problem with the seating next to the operators’ cabs. First row of seats, by the door- legroom blocked by panel. Next row: Only row with leg room. Last two rows: sand box under seats ahead.

      For anyone over five feet, uncomfortable in the extreme for any distance. Proof that whoever designed and bought that car never rode one. And should now be required to ride in one of those seats for a year.

      If sandboxes can’t be moved, better answer would have been to make them all aisle-facing bench seats. Would have provided more standing room in the aisles too.


    1. I wrote to Sound Transit on Monday about lack of 3-car trains, and received this reply:

      Thank you for contacting Sound Transit regarding the use of 3-car trains on Link light rail. I appreciate you taking the time to share your comments with us. I apologize if the car you were riding in was crowded.

      With the opening of the 2 new stations at Capitol Hill and UW we are now able to operate 3-car and 4-car train sets on Link light rail along the entire alignment. 3-car trains were run on opening day to meet the projected ridership. However, there are currently no plans to run 3-car trains for the entire service day regularly. Operations will continue to closely monitor ridership for any possible adjustments.

      Running additional trains when not required for ridership adds cost, or tax dollars, due to increased maintenance, increased staffing, parts, etc. We also have a limited amount of additional cars available for revenue service. In September of 2015, Link increased the frequency of trains during the peak travel time and now provide 2 more trains per hour. During special events, when we project higher than normal ridership, we may add cars to the train. We will continue to base the number of cars and frequency of trips on ridership data, and make changes accordingly.

      I understand how frustrating it can be to be on a crowded vehicle. I have forwarded your comments to our Link Operations team for review. Please let me know if I can answer additional questions or be of further assistance, and thank you for riding Sound Transit.

      Thank you,

      Jon Highland
      Sound Transit Customer Service
      (888) 889-6368

      Connect with us

      1. Surely it isn’t more expensive to maintain a few extra cars than it is to harm public opinion not long before the ST3 vote.

      2. Who asked for 3 car trains all day? Just a couple 3 car trains would be helpful in AM & PM peak. Since they must add/remove trains for peak (meaning some go out of service after morning peak, then go back in service afternoon peak), just have the peak trainsets be 3 cars, and the all-day trainsets be 2. Simple.

      3. There needs to be an attitude change with ST staff.

        1. The Customer Service Rep should have committed to get back to you after getting details from the operations staff about when or how or under what conditions the additional cars would be added.

        2. Complaining about the additional cost of empty cars is offensive since the complaint is about overcrowding. That slight was way out of line and comes off as nonsense.

        3. ST drivers should apologize to riders on crowded trains period – and management should give drivers something constructive to say.

        4. Board members should be making public statements that adding cars is being pursued. They need to pressure the staff to resolve the situation and let the press know it!

        If there is a problem during the first week (and UW spring break week), it’s only going to be worse next week. There should be an emergency operations solution rolled out before next Monday. Heads should roll if there isn’t one put forward. This is a daily crisis and not a special event challenge and it is not going away.

      4. ABSOLUTE AGREEMENT with each comment above mine as of 1337 Hours.

        Dammit Sound Transit, on Saturday you gave a license to dream to transit advocates.

        On WestWingDay you are blowing it. Big time. Fix this. Three cars for each light rail. NOW.

        Light rail should be marketed as that ride that’ll make you higher than dope and lighter than when you got on.

        Somebody in the Sound Transit District should start a petition drive…

      5. I’m sympathetic from having been crowded this morning southbound, but honestly it sounds to me like Sound Transit is doing exactly what they should be, taking a measured approach here. There was a huge uproar a few years ago about state ferry vessel assignments as the new larger and fancier Olympic class boats came online. It was mostly about certain vessels not being on certain routes and so forth. There were a lot of suggestions about things like “peak” service with extra boats and the like or how one time period deserved a bigger boat over another.

        All this was on a forum, but finally someone who actually worked for the state ferry system (and had for decades) stepped in and explained the numerous issues involved in vessel assignments ranging from currents and tides to coast guard regs to the unions contract. It shut the discussion down in about two posts. Link is simpler operationally than the ferry but there are a lot of “trickle down” effects from the time required to couple/decouple 3 car trains and the extra labor required for maintenance, extra cars to clean each night and so on. So I don’t like it but I’m pretty satisfied with the answer so far.

      6. I also sent an email and got the exact same response verbatim.
        Next week is going to be a Sh!tshow.

      7. I recall when ST first decided to start running 1-car consists on weekends, based on a year’s worth of ridership data. The program was rolled out the Saturday the A-Line was rolled out, and there was a Sounders match. Oops.

        ST had plenty of supporters for generally using 1-car consists on non-event weekend days, including myself, even as we called them on their unfortunate failure to make that day an exception.

        In the case of next Monday, we do not have a year of data. We are expecting a whole bunch of new riders, of indeterminate numbe, who knows when The conservative approach is to roll out as many vehicles as possible Monday, and then let the data guide vehicle-size planning from there.

        Kyle’s example is apples to oranges.

      8. Note interesting news in the article here: 57K on Tuesday! We’ll be looking at numbers well over 60K within the next week or two with restructuring and end of Spring Break for UW, and numbers approaching 70K once Angle Lake opens and more riders shift over at this time next year.

      9. Al S. said it better than I was going to. Only thing to add is that in addition to being regular passengers, based on last election, this blog and its readers will likely have a lot to say in the days leading up to ST-3.

        Including distribution of ST’s answer to today’s question about train length, quoted verbatim, and headed with “Attitude Deserving a vote of No!”

        Every numeral and letter of “data” should be backed up with a day of riding LINK for hours in question for a week. Like money, data is worthless without some value behind it.

        Mark Dublin

      10. ST’s 62-car fleet is large enough to operate all 3-car trains during peak hours. And still provide a 10%+ spare ratio. The only reasons not to do so would be added electric power consumption and wear-and-tear on the cars.

        Their promise to begin operating some 3-car trains next Monday is a good start.

    2. I would rank the first day UW is in session and has weekday commuters to be a special event. I would also rank the first day of the service change, with all those new “forced” transfers at UW, as a special event, though that is more of a northbound phenomenon, and does not appear to be a capacity issue. The Kansas City Royals being in town (for a scrimmage) may exacerbate the southbound crushload.

      That said, I was down at Airport Station a couple times yesterday, and each train was turning around to become the next train back. That was not the case at UW Station, however. (Drivers need breaks somewhere.)

      1. The Mariners are still in Arizona until April, so there will still be some time to dial it in before baseball returns to Safeco.

    3. I’ve never understood the three car train interest here (not to pick on you in particular, Gordon, or anybody else).

      In general, I’d prefer more frequent trains to larger trains, because more frequent trains solve the capacity problem while also reducing wait times. Obviously frequency comes with a larger number of operators and so increased costs, which needs to be taken into account. And the higher the frequency, the less travel time savings there are to be gained by increasing frequency (doubling frequency from half-hourly to every 15 minutes saves an average of 7.5 minutes of travel time per rider, but doubling from four minutes to two minutes only saves a minute per rider).

      Maybe six minute headways is the point where operational cost increases balance out wait time decreases for link – especially under joint ops, because frequency competes with metro DSTT use – but as a general principal, I’d advocate achieving capacity increases with increased frequency. Wait 20 minutes sometime for an eight car BART train and you’ll see what I mean.

      1. They can’t go below 6-min headways while there are still buses in the tunnel. Get the buses out and they can go at least as low as 3-min, and possibly lower. But with buses in the tunnel we are SOL.

        Wait until 2017 or 18.

      2. That would all make sense if there weren’t buses and delays in the tunnel.

        At some point, with more frequency, the wait+trip time can start getting longer, as delay time balloons.

        Waiting another minute for a train is much less aggravating than waiting several minutes on the train.

      3. Even with buses out of the tunnel the MLK segment is also capped at 6 minutes. The extra trains would have to turn at the Stadium pocket track.

      4. It’s always possible to start running what I’ll call the “short blue line” trains between UW and Stadium Station, where there is a turn-around tail track. That would allow for more cars available where they need them.

        If the trains to and from the airport were the trains that immediately “chased” this short line, the short line would take the bulk of the crush loads and I would think that the DSTT tunnel could then allow for some buses.

        Still, I would prefer that ST does the easiest thing and figures out how many cars they can spare — and then assigns them to every other train set operating at peak periods.

      5. @Al.S,

        That is pretty much the interim proposal-run a short interlined line from UW to Stadium utilizing the pocket tracks. That would put the core at 3-min headways and leave the RV at 6-mins. Buses would need to be out of the tunnel however.

        However at this point it is still just a study item.

      6. @Lazarus: Yes this is a service plan did not originate from me.

        It’s a good Plan B strategy, especially when Northgate Link opens. There might be another round of crush loads when that segment comes on line and thousands more move to Link from express buses.

        This plan could also serve as a way to terminate the 550 (at either ID/C or Stadium Station) should buses get too slow once the 550 is taken out of the DSTT. I would think Eastside riders would be happy to hop a train headed south every three minutes, and then transfer to a 550 that is running at a higher frequency like every 7-10 minutes using some sort of paid fare area.

  1. Might I also add the other transit rider’s secret. Figure out where the second cars’ doors will open and board the second car, preferably the last door of the train. We all know darn well that the crush load of the second car (and tweet pics of that second car) is going to be ST’s signal to put the third car on.

    If you say that you now live in a real city because of this train, please board the train like you do live in a real city.

    1. >If you say that you now live in a real city because of this train, please board the train like you do live in a real city.

      Damn right.

      Also learn how to use an escalator. WALK ON THE LEFT; STAND ON THE RIGHT. It only takes one or two dolts standing on the left to back up the whole escalator for as long as it takes for the platforms to clear.

      1. Seriously, especially when we don’t have the choice of stairs on the lower levels of UW and Cap hill. Stand right, walk left. We need signs.

      2. +1 on the escalators.
        But it would help to educate people if Sound Transit and Metro would install signs saying “walk on the left, stand on the right” like they do on the London Underground. Many people now using Link are new to it, and may have never traveled to another city with proper mass transit before.

      3. Got back from London last night. TfL have an advertising campaign on right now where they seem to be trying to be suggesting that people stand on the escalators, reminding people that not doing so is one of the leading causes of injury on the Underground.

      4. All you have to do is say excuse me and push past… is Seattle too passive aggressive to simply say excuse me?

      5. From my experience, standing right is universal in London and Toronto, while in DC it’s half observed. In Seattle it has never been a tradition and I never heard of it until I went to Europe, and the calls for it here only started a few years ago, probably because more people had moved from back east where it’s more common, the way “pop” has become “soda” half the time.

      6. If London is stand left, then it must have been Moscow and Toronto where I saw stand right consistently, because I don’t remember seeing people standing left.

      7. >Ah, but walking on the left may not be the best option!

        Interesting study. Thanks for that. They stated the the theoretical limit for changing from walk left/stand right is the a height threshold of 60.7 due to any taller and too few people walk. What are the heights of our new escalators?

        >All you have to do is say excuse me and push past… is Seattle too passive aggressive to simply say excuse me?

        This is fine when there are a handful of people on the escalator, but when there’s a solid block of 70 people in front of you, pushing past doesn’t work too well. No need to fall back on the “passive-aggressive Seattle” trope; sitting and thinking about it for 0.7 seconds should be enough to realize this.

      8. Also, at risk of ruining the secret, if you haven’t already — try the new station elevators. They are wicked fast. (just please don’t tell everyone ;-)

        Denny elevator @ Cap Hill gets you from surface to platform (5 second walk of the train) in about 20 seconds.

        I can literally go from my bed to being on the train in under 5 minutes. The elevator is what makes it work.

      9. The London study also assumes that there is more than one escalator going in the same direction.

        One escalator each direction seems to work ok for Skytrain.

  2. Yes! A refusal to make room is vile, despicable, anti-social behavior, and it’s practiced far more commonly and aggressively in Seattle than anywhere else I’ve used transit that tends to get full. Decent people everywhere should publicly call out and shame bad actors at every opportunity.

    1. Don’t assume malice when stupidity will suffice. Most times I’ve seen people standing in the aisle with space next to them, it’s because the people are so focused on their phones they don’t realize a space has opened up. I’ve never had someone refuse to move if I loudly say to everyone “keep moving back” or politely say to them “you can keep moving back”.

      Somewhat related, my pet peeve are people who station themselves by the doors and refuse to step off to let others leave the bus/train. I almost did a face plant getting off a bus because squeezing past 2 people by the door threw me off balance. I’m less polite about it now and will use my 6’1 frame to shove past door blockers.

      1. People that hover at the back doors of the bus and don’t move is my biggest bus pet peeve! I told one guy that I wasn’t a ghost and couldn’t walk through him – he barely looked up from his phone. I ended up having to shove my way through.

        I was encouraged by the signage on light rail about not hogging seats with luggage and things like that – I hope Metro picks something like those up.

      2. While passengers can make courteous requests, and help each other, loading and unloading the coach is really the driver’s responsibility.

        The driver is also in the best position to instruct and direct. With the best results. Through the inside rear-view mirror, a driver can often see spaces the passengers can’t.

        Aside from knowing how to restart a hybrid bus, the worst deficiency in driver training is the use of the PA system. Not only location and operation of the microphone, but how to speak to passengers for maximum cooperation.

        “Please, thank you, Sir and Ma’am, Ladies and Gentlemen” The rougher and younger the passengers, the best results. Also best guarantee of safety.

        However, it’s long past the time for courtesy over Metro’s use of fare-boxes in the Tunnel. Effectively turning a 2-door 60′ coach, already one door short, into a one-door van, at times demanding max efficiency

        Now that “Proof of Payment” signs are on all Tunnel platforms, if those fare-boxes aren’t each covered with a bag at entry portal, it’s worth a work action and a boycott.

        Mark Dublin

      3. Along a similar vein, it would be nice if the bus drivers announced (or played a canned announcement; I thought I heard this before but haven’t in forever): “Whenever possible, please exit through the rear door.” At least on the buses I’m on, nearly everybody still goes to the front and keeps people from boarding, slowing down the trip. All Metro has done is put little stickers on the freaking ceiling near the front telling people to exit at the rear. I’d be surprised if 10% of riders have even noticed them. You’d think the drivers would do this, as every minute saved is an extra minute’s break at the turn, where it is usually well-deserved (and needed).

        Or, we could do like the buses in Panama City and Rio do, and make you go through a turnstile after paying your fare! Only one way out… (no, I know this isn’t possible due to among other things making the bus inaccessible, but it is certainly effective in those places)

        Of course on the trains this isn’t an issue! :)

      4. Forget “slowing the trip”, they’re also forcing people to stand in the rain to wait while they, having given no thought not only to what door they intend to exit from, but the idea of getting up and getting close to the door as they near their stop. Honestly, drivers who stick their hands up to stop people standing in the rain from getting on while someone is coming from the very back of an artic to the front door (walking right by the back door) is a reason people can be driven from taking transit if they have an option.

      5. Some operators will wait for everyone to sit down, if there is room to do so, and encourage riders not to get up until the bus is stopped.

        Incident risk minimization.

        I’ve sensed some train operators doing the same during slow ridership periods, but maybe there is a mandatory minimum dwell time.

    2. Haha, let’s pump the breaks a bit here on ascribing motivation to strangers

      People aren’t born with an innate knowledge of transit etiquette. When I first started to ride transit I probably did this type of thing because ‘standing around unsure of what to do’ is a pretty natural reaction when you’re new to something. They’ll learn eventually.

      I do agree it’s annoying when people ignore directions when they are given, though

      1. I said nothing about motivations, I talked only about behavior. Behavior can be awful regardless of motivation.

        But I really don’t buy the defenses at all. You don’t have to be some sort of genius to see people not able to board, getting passed up, etc. We basically have to choose between questioning their decency or insulting their intelligence. Perhaps people with very specific mental illnesses might be exempt here, but that’s obviously going to be a tiny minority of the many thousands of passup enablers riding transit in and around Seattle.

      2. They’ll learn eventually.

        I was yelling at people about moving back on crowded morning 44s in the 90’s. It’s not getting better.

  3. I don’t quite understand where people are standing and how they’re blocking others. What I see is people standing in the low-floor section and reluctant to walk up the stairs to the high-floor sections at the end of the car. But I haven’t been on a train that’s so full that it’s preventing people from getting on.

    What’s probably needed is an announcement, “Please spread out into the upper aisles at the ends of the train so that more passengers can board.”

    1. I think he’s talking about the part in the middle of the car that is articulated. I assume people are leery of getting too far from the doors, or they’re having flashbacks from the articulated portion of bendy buses.

      Still, why no 3-car trains? that’s ridiculous.

      1. Exactly. I think people are still approaching this like they are riding the bus and need to fight their way through a narrow aisle to get to a door.

        I think it will get better with time, but reminders never hurt.

      2. A “pinch point” is generally avoided in design as it is subconsciously perceived as either a corridor to pass through or a place to get stuck. Both the narrowing of the cars and the stairs at the end (as on buses) are mental barriers that are difficult to overcome without being reminded that one should go there if necessary.

        It would be nice for our next major car order if low floor light rail technology has progressed to the point where the cars can be completely open like many newer “metro” high floor cars are; understanding that in those much of the equipment is underneath the floor. Those trains feel much more spacious and comfortable even when full…plus I’ve always thought the Kinkisharyo cars we have are horribly ugly to begin with.

      3. It would be really nice if you could do a temporary lease of an Ottawa car, get a 1500v power supply, and test them in service in Seattle.

        They are 100% low floor and rated at 65 mph.

        It would be interesting to see if the 100% low floor makes a huge diffeence, or if the space in the car taken for the motors interferes with the passenger movement too much.

      4. Are those the Alstom Citadis Spirit cars? Those are nice looking (and all low-floor, as you note). They actually look sleek and like they are moving; the Kinkisharyos we have are boxy and just look clunky to me.

  4. Sound Transit needs to consider reconfiguring some of the trains to reduce the number of seats as well as opening up the space. It’s very hard to get in and out of the trains because of the seating locations as well as their storage space. The center is hard to access on crowded trains and they also have a strange lack of hanging hand straps as if they never intended people to stand on their vehicles (esp in the center and “upper” ends).

    1. Agreed. It’s nice to have a seat if you’re traveling end-to-end (or more or less that), but most people won’t be doing that despite ST’s insistence that this is a suburban commuter railroad. Even if you are, as people come and go seats open up.

    2. ST never insisted it’s a suburban commuter railroad. Trips between downtown, Capitol Hill, and the U-District, and Columbia City to Capitol Hill have been expected ever since the alignment was moved to Broadway and University Way.

      1. Mike, as you probably know I’m fully aware of the history of the agency (as well as rail transit planning here as far back as 1908, not the 1968 everyone uses), and it’s pretty obvious that car design and station placement was (and is still) done to get people comfortably in and out of the city. The city stations are there because they are on the way, and they are minimized and located in such a way (Mount Baker, Northgate, Bellevue, lack of infill stations or design for such at several locations, lack of future interline or transfer possibilities in design, horrible locations for bus transfers) to make urban rail travel far more difficult than it should be. Of course most of the trips will be between in-city stations; that’s where the people are and that’s why more of those in-city stations were needed than we are getting. That does not obviate the fact that ST is attempting to build out 40 miles in either direction from the central city, and listening to people in Everett who tell them “NO 130th Station!!! That would slow down my train!!! Do you really think if they were starting from scratch, ST would have built 4 downtown stations? They would have eliminated at least one of Pioneer Square/University Street. I get the politics, and the fact that for whatever reason this wasn’t just a King County agency as it should have been, but that doesn’t change what they are building.

        The seating arrangements in the cars are not set up for short in-city travel, but to get as many people seated as possible. I don’t even take a seat traveling from downtown to Capitol Hill, or from the stadia to Beacon Hill. I do when I go to the airport.

        By definition nothing other than an suburban commuter railroad would even attempt to serve Tacoma and Everett on a single line, or countenance Issaquah or anything past (maybe) Highline and Lynnwood – and even that is somewhat problematic; I’d say the airport and Mountlake Terrace, and that only for the bus transfers. They have tried to meld the S-Bahn and the U-Bahn and gotten neither.

      2. “NO 130th Station!!! That would slow down my train!!! ”

        That’s what some cities are saying. Whether ST will accept that argument is still up in the air, as it’s not deciding hardly anything right now. The reason 130th wasn’t in the final ST2 alignment was different and more temporary: ST was already starting to prepare for ST3, and it wanted to defer optional parts of ST2 to give a bigger down payment for ST3 and more carrots to help its approval. The Seattle mayor and council were unanimous for 130th, and some of them are on the ST board, although the council seats have changed, but I doubt the current council is any less supportive. So you have a few Seattle boardmembers who are definitely for 130th, a few Snohomish boardmembers who might be against it based on their cities but it’s still uncertain, and the rest of the board who might go either way.

  5. Any word from ST about why they aren’t running 3-car trains? You can blame inefficient packing, but people left at the station will still have a negative experience. This is easily avoidable at very little extra cost.

    1. They’ve repeatedly answered why they won’t run 3-car trains all day. I can’t vouch for whether they studied the cost to Metro (same taxpayers) for increased operational difficulty upstairs from all the bus routes kicked out of the tunnel, to allow more frequent 2-car trains, instead of slightly-less-frequent, but more roomy, 3-car trains, during the peak of peak.

      1. My understanding is that they will run 3-car trains during peak on an as-needed basis, but that they aren’t yet sure when they actually WILL be needed. A little operational experience will go a long way in this regard.

        My experience with U-Link so far is that the early adoption is stronger than I would have expected. If so, then I’d expect to start seeing 3-car trains more often.

        Just got off the bus myself. Was thinking of taking Link instead to UW and then transferring, but took the 16 for no other reason than nostalgia. Reminded me of why this city needs more LR.

    2. It is actually surprising, given how risk averse and conservative ST is, that they wouldn’t run 3 car trains during the first month of Ulink opening. If the capacity is unneeded, then cut back to 2. As my comment says above, at least run 3 car consists on the peak trainsets (the ones they add during peak). That would provide a little extra capcity overall but wouldn’t require lots of coupling/decoupling activities.

  6. I think London had the best managed stations that I have experienced. They seem to have cameras everywhere and a voice that will instruct people what to do. More than once I heard them address people by their clothing colors to tell them specifically to move further down the platform or stop blocking an exit tunnel. The gentle scold seemed to get results.

    Most transit in this country seems to rely more on passengers to self regulate. A hearty “Move Back” will often yield results or just pushing through sometimes gives people the idea that they are in the way.

    1. Last I checked, we don’t even have working loudspeakers in the tunnel from which to issue live announcements. Somehow, the pre-recorded announcements work.

    2. But in Seattle, you’d say “Woman in the black jacket” and it could refer to 10 different people.

  7. I rode the train from Capitol Hill to Beacon at 6 PM the other day and the trains were packed (there was also a delay so they were extra packed). What made me most uncomfortable about this was when the train rolled into Westlake and two people in wheel chairs could not get on. I was seated farther in the train, but could see that no one moved to try to let them in. One of the folks in wheel chairs seemed quite angry and hurt (as he should be) about not be able to board. It seemed like a real big fail for the transit in the city when the people who need it most can’t use it.

    1. That’s pretty crappy. I would send this as yet another reminder to ST staff (via email) on needing 3-car peak-hour trains.

  8. I agree with all the pro-3-car train comments above. I don’t think enough attention is being paid to the slow alighting and boarding process that packed trains create.

  9. Seattleites never know how to board and deboard transportation. Look at the busses. Why on earth are people getting off at the front??? Get off on the back, that means everyone. Those using the from door should be those getting on, period. So I’m not surprised that people don’t know how to maximize space and improve efficiency.

    1. Metro has done a really bad job at educating their ridership base. There should at least be reminders somewhere to “board in front, exit in rear.” But nnooooo……

      1. Yep. Said the same thing above before my mousewheel got me down here. It’s a little thing and needs to be done, particularly on a system where for 30 years you often had to exit at the front.

    2. If I have my bike with me I always exit via the front. It only took once watching the rear of a bus taking off with my bike on it to make sure I never left via the rear when unloading a bike.

    3. Because people always exited front, and it was required when it was pay as you leave. Also, the older articulated buses have the rear door way in back, and it feels excessively long going all that way to it, and there’s nothing to hold onto crossing the articulation circle so you fall into somebody’s lap, and if there are people standing in the aisle behind you it’s hard to squeeze past them, and if your seatmate gets up to let you out they stand behind you rather than in front. Cities with universal rear exiting usually have the doors in the middle rather than way in the back, and 2×1 seating so the aisle is wider. That makes it easier to walk to the rear door and a shorter distance to it.

      1. It’s not mandatory to exit the rear, but I see people sitting right at the rear doors or one seat in front get up and walk all the way to the front. Part of this may be because the drivers rarely seem to automatically open the rear door, even with a slight delay so that boarding passengers go to the front. Certainly if you’re sitting at or near the front it may be slightly faster to go that way, but even so there is a delay if there are a number of people waiting to board. It should be a constant cycle…board front, exit rear while others are boarding front.

        On the 11 at least it is part of the extreme delays that route seems to always have.

  10. Three cars trains would unfortunately be rather inefficient.

    Four car trains, however, could be configured and de-configured by simply coupling two two car trains together. This prevents a bunch of folderol with moving single cars into and out of the mix to create three car trains.

    TriMet used to make one and two car trains at the Ruby Junction station pretty often, but those cars don’t have the hidden coupler that newer car designs like Link have. It’s a more time consuming process to couple these, and thus probably is limited to the end stations.

    Ideally this would happen at Stadium since that avoids running extra trains through Rainier Valley as well as the tunnel. I don’t think that can be done with the time consuming coupling process required on this type of car.

    Maybe two spare two car trains could be stored at Husky Stadium but that only gets you two four car trains. Maybe that’s enough?

  11. As others have said, now is the time to pull out all the stops to provide a great ridership experience. Adding the third car doesn’t really cost ST anything except a bit of additional wear and tear on a vehicle that is designed to last for decades (Portland is still using vehicles from the MAX opening in the 1980s). This is the time to build excitement and make the service as convenient/comfortable as possible in order to encourage continued ridership (as opposed to one-time curious riders).

    If ST isn’t responsive then we risk alienating potential new customers over something that’s pretty trivial. And those customers are potential voters. If Link gets a perception that it’s too crowded, people will just drive or seek out the other alternatives. The new route has the potential to serve lots of new riders, but still has several drawbacks in terms of station location/bus transfers. Some might decide that the extra 5-10 minutes on the bus is easier than getting to stations, navigating down to the ground, riding a packed train, and getting out of the station to street level.

    1. It does seem like using 3-car trains for the first month would add little cost or wear. It’s using them month after month that the costs add up. A little extra cost to guarantee passenger comfort the first month is worth it, and can come out of the same budget as the information agents and the first-day band stages.

  12. Since I will have to ride light rail starting next week with the deletion of my route I decided to also ride today but later then my normal time so I would add some observations.

    I rode the train from UW around 920 this morning and there some people on the train but not a lot. However a lot of riders got on at Capitol Hill and it was standing as the seats were filled.

    The trip back was a little more interesting and backed up the posts earlier about people clearing the doors so that riders can get on and off. The trip back was at 1220 from IDS and the train was pretty full with standees and I was on the first car. What happened at University Street Station was that there were 2 people with luggage that wanted to get off but were not able to do so in time as the aisle was blocked as was the doorway and they had to ride to Westlake Station.

    As was the case with the morning trip it seems that more people got off at Capitol Hill then at the UW but as pointed that may have something to do with the school spring break.

    It will be interesting next Monday when school resumes and the Metro changes are implemented if 2 cars can handle the load.

  13. We need a light rail riders union to represent our interests and just be that loud squeaky wheel to get common sense ideas implemented. Like 3 car trains during peak. What a concept. Save tax payers money? It’s also rider convenience to not be smashed and fight their way to a door at their stop. Or having enough room for wheelchairs to get on. Sounds like common sense to me.

    I was never a fan of the light rail trains. They had awkward raised seating at the front and back which didn’t seem welcoming for standees and nobody really stands there – wasted space. The tiny narrow space connecting the cars is claustrophobic with people sitting there. Can’t imagine people standing in that tiny narrow spot as well! Wasted space. The driver cabs in the front and back in the middle trains are wasted space again. Sigh….

    1. Unfortunately ST opted not to go with high floor platforms, which would have addressed this (damn bus joint operations screwing us over, again….). Thing is though, these streetcars are really designed for a more urban environment where they make regular 90-degree turns. Link is designed to more of a metro standard. I wish Link had gone with Metro-like cars instead that are more spacious inside and maybe don’t need to corner as sharply.

    2. There’s a Transit Riders Union already. And STB’s impact is essentially like a riders’ union. The problem is you can’t get 99% of riders to join because transit is not their hobby.and the idea of joining a transit union sounds like walking on the moon.

      1. except Transit Rider Unions aren’t about better transit, they are exclusively social justice organizations

      2. Our TRU is a social justice organization. The Straphangers’ Campaign in New York is a transit advocacy organization.

      3. TRU has campaigned tirelessly to get more transit service. More transit is better transit.

      4. The Bus Riders’ Union in Los Angels is a social justice organization. Our Transit Rider’s Union is focused on transit issues, and has helped campaign for the various propositions. Their membership is more working-class than STB is so more of their focus is on issues that affect the poor.

  14. I got a late start yesterday morning departing the UW at 8:40 AM and the cars were 10% full. Cap Hill 50% full. Got off at University Street, train 50% full.

    Headed home at 5:10 PM, lots of people waiting at University Street, train 70% full. More get on at Westlake 95%. Cap Hill 35% full. UW 35% full.

    Rode the bus from University Street on Monday and many people were waiting for the train to Cap Hill and UW. It was really strange to see a whole new group of riders appear from “nowhere” (ok other cap hill bus routes)!!

  15. If Link is already overloaded just by going to the UW Stadium, just wait until it gets to Roosevelt and Northgate. Right now the ridership of the Metro bus 41 alone could probably just about fill every Link car. The TOD plans I’ve seen indicate that there will be two 20-story apartment buildings built in the current Northgate transit center parking lot, that’s hundreds more people right there. There are many other apartment buildings going up in the Northgate area, and of course the Roosevelt neighborhood has many new apartment complexes too. From what I’ve seen they’ve only just begun with all the apartment buildings going up along NE 65th Street. I hope someone at Sound Transit and Metro are doing the math and will be ready for the onslaught when the light rail (finally) gets to Northgate in 2021.

    1. Is there somewhere where we can write in *support* of those 20-story apartment buildings? That would be such a sweet place to live!

      1. Your city councilmember and the mayor. Tell them to implement all of HALA and go beyond it.

  16. I’m looking at the maps for some of the restructured bus routes, and I noticed a few little quirks.

    The northbound 65 no longer turns left from Sand Point Way onto 40th Ave, instead it goes right by Children’s Hospital along 45th. Seems like a good improvement, avoiding a time-consuming left turn and better serving the hospital before heading up to Wedgwood.

    The northbound 45, 71, and 73 seem to have a huge spacing between UW station and the next stop – the Ave and 41st. That seems like way too large a spacing since the bus misses most of southwest campus. Southbound they seem to have several stops along Pacific.

    OBA and Google say the 345 is cancelled after Saturday, leaving only the 346. Presumably it isn’t?

    1. The stop south of the 15th/Pacific intersection is closed for construction. I hard a 48 driver mention it a couple days ago. The stop on 15th just north of Pacific, which was earlier closed, was reopened because the other stop was closed.

  17. Just think… you can travel from Westlake to UW in the same amount of time it takes to just load the bus at Pike @ 4th bus stop.

  18. Link was overloaded two years ago when I used to use it.

    Yip people are dumb about moving into the middle and just wont do it on Link, once you work that out, you can be that person who moves to the middle or end, and you have some space ;-) Oh wait the people making a short trip to Beacon Hill will take the seats, then have to rummage past everyone standing up to get out.

    People also play this game on Sounder trains, sit in the isle seats, put your stuff on the window seat or hope that it’ll remain empty because you took the isle seat. Nice try but in about 5 minutes every last seat will have someone in it.

    Next, some of us like to go line up at the door to be one of the first people out so we can zip up the stairs and beat the slow mob of people, so what do people do? Rather than move into the empty space near the doors and the lower level isle, they just block up the narrow walk way to the stairs for the upper level. Next, so the people that lined up first to be the first off the train at King Street are not actually in any hurry, and will amble up the stairs blocking everyone else.

  19. Headway management is perhaps more important than three car trains when dealing with peak ridership. Ideally if we could get a train to each DSTT platform every six minutes – would our trains be overloaded during the PM peak? (meaning standees but no delay in boarding or people turned away). Monday this week during PM peak, We had a disabled train interrupt our headway near Beacon Hill Station. Tuesday and Wednesday both had busses disabled for more than five minutes in the DSTT during PM peak and the resulting backups bunched up Link as well as outbound bus service. With UW attendance next week – who knows.

    It is clear that during PM peak our ridership level demands that we meet our 6 minute headway and many times we have gaps nearing 10 minutes frequently followed by another train just behind or just a couple of minutes later.

    One other item I count up to as “learning curve”: Westlake station northbound during peak we see most passengers waiting for the train concentrating at the north end of the platform and then all try to fit into the first car of the consist when it arrives – spreading out across the middle of the platform would speed departure and evenly load both cars. The stairs/escalators at the north end don’t help much here – more room at the bottom of the stairs. This will get much worse next week when all northbound outbound busses will need to use Bay A (Bay B stops are being removed). Add a crowd of 255 riders to the crowd of 41 riders waiting at the north end of the platform – it all adds up to wasted dwell times.

    We have not been briefed on how three car trains are to be implemented next week as of yet. Perhaps accelerating the procurement process for the next batch of LRVs is being considered (and the additional staff needed to maintain/clean and operate them).

Comments are closed.