Screen Shot 2016-06-10 at 10.18.43 AM
UW Photo

Though the location of UW Station has drawn understandable ire over the years, the massive capacity benefits it provides for Husky Stadium events is undisputed. With a long tradition of parking perks for connected alumni, unofficial neighborhood parking Jenga in Montlake, and heavy use of Metro shuttles, Husky Football traffic will be improved dramatically beginning this September 3 when Rutgers comes to town.

But UW Station will face its first major test tomorrow for UW Commencement, with tens of thousands descending on the stadium for the 1:30-4:30pm ceremony. Though Link will still run Saturday’s standard 10-minute headways, Sound Transit says it will run 3-car trains on 5 of its 11 trainsets, and will also hold two extra trains in reserve in the Sodo yard to be dispatched when needed.

Though buses on Pacific Street will be largely unaffected, Metro buses that use Stevens Way will be re-routed. Routes 31, 32, 67, and 75 will instead use the 45th Street viaduct and 15th Ave NE to reach Campus Parkway. Route 67 will only be rerouted in the northbound direction, and from Metro’s alert page it seems like Route 65 will run normally. (However, Route 65 riders coming from Wedgwood into the UDistrict will see the reroute over the 45th Street viaduct, but the route’s headsign will have changed to Route 67 by that point.) Route 372 will use a different pathway to reach 25th Ave NE via NE 50th St, 20th Ave NE, and Ravenna Blvd. Route 48 will also terminate at a temporary layover near Campus Parkway and won’t serve its stops on 15th Ave NE north of Campus Parkway.

No Sound Transit bus service will be affected, because sadly there is no service to the UDistrict from Kirkland or Redmond on weekends. Since Route 271 doesn’t serve Evergreen Point, Kirkland/Redmond riders cannot transfer there either. All such trips require either walking from the Montlake Flyer Stop or backtracking via Westlake.

48 Replies to “With UW Commencement Saturday, ULink Faces Its First Big Test”

      1. Incidentally, I’ll be really curious to see how the summer/winter pattern works out now that U-link is open. Ridership from UW station will take a serious hit when school isn’t in session. Will it be made up for by nice weather ridership elsewhere?

  1. The walk from the Montlake Flyer Stop to UW Station is fairly short though (~7 min at my walking speed, maybe 10 min for a slow walker) and there’s plenty of busses going past there as well if someone wanted to hop on for only a couple stops. I’ve been preferring 545 + Link for my commute in the evenings because the 542/541 often gets caught in traffic on Montlake, not the mention the 545 runs much later.

    1. Ryan,

      If ST could switch from running 545s every half hour on weekends to running 542s (but just to the Rainier Vista Triannle) every 20 minutes, would you prefer route 542?

      1. In general yes, but on commencement day, no. The event traffic around Husky Stadium is likely to be terrible, and getting off and walking from the Montlake flyer stop is likely to be faster for everyone. There is no point in having the bus wait 20 minutes in a long line of cars to save its passengers a 7-minute walk.

        If there existed transit priority down the Montlake exit ramp, I might argue differently.

  2. I’m sure Johnny the BRT Artist just is gonna love this Light Rail* touchdown…. /sarcasm

    Transit political goofing aside, sincere congrats to the graduates. I wish I could go to UofW and get a degree from there. Doesn’t seem to be in the cards.


    *As it is now apparent STB comment policy is NOT to name transit agency staffers, fine. I can play along like a good sport.

    1. Wrong sport. The Mariners are at home Saturday.

      Throw in a little PrideFest Picnic at Volunteer Park, and Capitol Hill Station will be facing its largest test since opening day.

      The 3-car trains will work fine for boarding at UW Station, regardless of interspersal pattern. At the rest of the stations, I hope there will be some way of notifying the waiting crowds about 3-car trains approaching, so they don’t add another minute of dwell time migrating after the doors open.

      That said, this is one of those days that will leave an impression on infrequent riders getting ready to cast a ballot on ST3. Invest in the party, make it 3-car trains all day, and put out announcements at all the stations that it will be 3-car trains all day.

    2. Good chance, Joe, that a lot of commenters really are ST staffers or other public officials. How do we know you’re not really Pete Von Reichbauer? Though you’re really covered on that one by fact that by ST Board Meeting minutes, the Councilman mainly communicates by audio link.

      Or even more conspiratorial. How do we know anybody on the Sound Transit Board isn’t really you?
      Because last public comment session was absolute proof that at identity of least one respected commenter is really, in real life, tragically, me.

      However, STB really does need one requirement for public decorum and decency. [OT] and [AH] should be joined by [DAWG] for unprintable pen, well keyboard, name.


      1. Mark;

        Well good points all around. At my next Sound Transit Board sortie, I will mention I am a regular commentator to this blog. You did give a good speech, BTW.

        My comment was that I type in a certain name and all the sudden the comment goes to moderation. Sigh. Dammit, I just wanna give the Sound Transit staff a stiff tailwind to work with when it’s time to throw the long ball… or to ease the run down the field past the Anti-Transit 49ers.

  3. Wow, ST is sure digging in it’s feet about half-assing 3 car trains. I get that there is some labor involved in coupling the cars together and more wear on the cars but I still don’t see the drawbacks to running them more often and going all in when they do.

    I do see consequences of making somebody’s first link experience crowded and standing room only, especially just before the ST-3 vote.

    1. Yes. Making 1/2 the trains does remove 1/2 the number of people that would have missed a train from overcrowding. But that leaves the other 1/2.

      1. It won’t reduce the number of first-time standers by half, unfortunately. Those third cars will be spacious, except right after Commencement lets out. Most of the riders on those trains will be crushloaded and not notice the spaciousness.

    2. Wikipedia says ST has 62 cars. Not sure if that is correct, but let’s say it is.

      11 trains * 3 cars = 33

      62 – 33 = 29 spares

      29/62 = 47% spare ratio even with 100% 3-car trains

      ST should be rotating the fleet anyways to balance out usage, so the “too expensive to couple/decouple” argument wouldn’t be particularly convincing. Most importantly, why purchase so many cars if they are not to be used?

      1. If coupling is an issue, just run 2-car trains more often, all day, and send out alerts so that the handful of riders who have memorized the schedule aren’t surprised. Heck, Id take 2-car trains every seven minutes all day instead of the 3-car trains.

      2. Doesn’t it take an about an hour end to end counting breaks? That’s 10 trainsets each direction on 6 min headways – x3 cars=33, x2 directions =66.
        Oops, we’re out of cars.

      3. TriMet considers coupling an issue, even though they used to run single car trains and couple and uncouple them at Ruby Junction regularly.

        They’ve decided that it’s cheaper to just run the same length train all day, except for a few rare cases.

        I’m surprised that ST isn’t doing the same.

        The issue might be dealing with a bunch of single cars after the three car trains are made up. In that case, maybe just run four car trains.

  4. Let’s do the math.

    ST operates 19 train sets on a weekday. At two cars a train, that’s 38 cars. With 2 train sets with 3 cars, that’s 40 cars.

    ST will operate 11 train sets on a Saturday. At two cars a train, that’s 22 cars. With 5 train sets with 3 cars, that’s 27 cars.

    It is quite obvious that doing all 11 train sets as 3 cars on a Saturday would be 33 cars, well short of the 40 used on a typical weekday.

    1. Don’t forget the two trainsets that will be sent into service to handle the post-event spike(s). That makes 39 LRVs, still one LRV less than a weekday. Even adding an extra car on the six sets that are still two cars makes 45, far short of the fleet size.

      Fork over a little overtime for the maintenance crew, and roll out the purple carpet for these future voters.

      Leaving space on the trains would also allow volunteers to circulate on the train and make sure everyone is registered to vote.

      1. Suggestion from LINK driver: Whatever train length, waiting passengers should be encouraged to arrange themselves both sides of the center of platform length, moving right and left to board.

        Might also be good to persuade all boarding passengers to step back and leave space beside the train for passengers getting off to disperse toward train ends before stepping forward to board.

        And whatever other habits will minimize walks (or runs), and coordinate passengers moving past each other. Customer assistance staff should help with this at special events for next year or two.

        We really need to catch up 70 years just to get used to minimum load rail transit needs to be considered productive. Starting with by its opponents. Who then, of course, complain about crowded trains.

        Everybody in Chicago knows what the “L” is. Same with Boston and the “T”. Won’t be long before LINK also translates as “Crush load assures service won’t be canceled. Live with it. Anybody want the mid-60’s”Wall of Buses” back?”


  5. It will be a good dry run on Saturday, but it will hardly amount to a full simulation of a game day. Lots of these attendees will be from smaller cities with no or marginal transit, and it won’t even occur to them to consider the transit option — let alone consider LR. I was at a dinner last night with an attending family from Spangle and when I mentioned the LR option I got a, “What is that?” response.

    Games will be different. Many of those attendees understand the situation at Husky Stadium and have used the event buses before. These people will be quick to switch to LR since they are intimately familiar with the failings of the event buses after Husky games. The big question for me is, “How aggressive is Metro/UW going to be in scaling back the level of event based bus service?”

    I hope they are fairly aggressive, because having all those buses sitting there idling and stuck in traffic is embarrassing.

    1. As a trial run, this event is a great ST operational test case for the football events in the fall. Let’s hope that ST realizes this!

    2. Currently, UW football shuttles come from 320th St Park & Ride in Federal Way, Eastgate P&R, Houghton P&R, Kingsgate P&R, NE 100th St near Northgate Transit Center, Shoreline P&R, South Kirkland P&R, and South Renton P&R.

      I could see the 320th, Eastgate, and South Renton shuttles going away, but only if season ticket holders abandon them in favor of the non-free-for-season-ticketholder two-seat rides involving Link. It could happen, but expect the status quo for the season opener. It is possible that UW might have already locked in a contract with Metro for the season, so they be stuck paying for some empty shuttles.

      1. Don’t forget the 44. Technically not a shuttle, but a bus that carries a huge number of people on game day. My guess is that the “Link use will be huge” will occur more often around other sporting events (Seahawks, Sounders, etc.) for years — until it goes farther north, and west (if it ever does).

      2. The buses aren’t free for season ticket holders any longer, nor have they been for a couple of years. That said, much personal experience (when not tailgating) has made me very happy with the Husky gameday bus service. Link will help with a bit of that, but it doesn’t yet extend far enough to really be an option for many of those P&Rs, nor – if there is still the option – will many want to give up a non-stop single seat ride even for the train.

        The Friday night Stanford game–where there will be no tailgating, the game shuttles can’t operate since those buses are in service, and parking will be much more difficult than a normal game day–will likely be a huge success for Link. I would expect immense ridership numbers for what will be a highly anticipated game.

        (brief aside–I have a 1956 game program from a UW game my Mom and her father attended, and was surprised to see a little map within showing post-game bus staging in more or less the same locations around the triangle they are now!)

    3. Ideally, UW would work with its UPass/PugetPass partners to have all the agencies accept season ticket passes as transit passes on game day.

      Then, advertise and run shuttles from 320th to Angle Lake Station, and back after the game; Eastgate to IDS, and back afterward; and South Renton to Rainer Beach Station, and back afterward.

      1. This used to be the case. A few years ago, transit became an “add on” to season tickets. Not sure why.

        They also run shuttles to/from downtown for game days. I wonder if they will continue to run these with Link going all the way to the stadium now.

        My observation is that there’s already quite a few folks going to UW Football on Link. Transferring to the 255 in the tunnel and then walking from Montlake.

      2. There weren’t game-day shuttles from downtown to Husky Stadium last year, so I doubt they would be brought back this year when they don’t make sense.

    4. The other thing is that, at a huge event like commencement or a footballgame where everybody leaves at the same time, people will expect to wait for the second or third train. It’s not reasonable to expect a single train to fit a thousand people at once. The advantage of a subway here over buses is that it implies you won’t be waiting long and the next train will more reliably come on time. It will be better if the train ran every five minutes (and it will when East Link opens), but even waiting ten minutes for the second train is to be expected when commencement or a football game lets out.

      1. It would be nice to have the first two standby trains be 4 cars. That involves less coupling and decoupling than 3-car trains.

  6. There are ways that TriMet handles these events that are severely annoying and other things are good:

    + Ticket exchange booths are set up to add ticket selling capacity. Many of these are exchanges for day tickets as people get off the train so there is less of a mess when the event gets out.

    + If an event has ended, trains are held until full or until the next train is seen in the distance.

    – But some lines have no added trains from normal awful weekday evenings.

  7. Will the escalators at UW station be turned off after the commencement? I’m concerned about platform/mezzanine crowding and people having nowhere to go at the bottom of the of the escalators.

    1. Given the amount ST spent on security for the opening party, I’m confident they have a plan. It may very well involve rationing entry at the top, and maybe closing an entrance.

  8. In past years for Huskies games Metro ran shuttles from Lake City Way and NE 125th using either the routing of the # 65 and the # 75 and the shuttles went to the stadium area while the regular buses on those routes were directed away from their campus route using NE 45th to 15th Ave NE the same routing being used on Saturday for commencement.

    There were also shuttles on route # 44 which went to the stadium area while the regular buses on the route ended at Campus Parkway.

    I would presume that these shuttles would continue in the fall for the football games. In the past years the # 372 did not operate on the weekends so even though it does now operate on Saturday from Lake City it will probable use the same reroute as it is using on Saturday meaning it does not go further south then NE 55th on 25th Ave NE.

    I would think however that the shuttles that ran from downtown to the stadium will probable be discontinued with Link Light rail now operating to the stadium. Keep in mind though that the UW Athletic Department as part of their agreement with City of Seattle to expand Husky Stadium some years ago has to provide shuttle service to the stadium to minimize the traffic and parking in the area. The UW has paid Metro to provide that shuttle service in addition to the shuttle service from the various park and ride lots. So the question is how does Light Rail come into play as part of that agreement.

    And just for future reference. The Huskies have a home game on Friday, September 30 with a 6 pm kickoff. Several years ago they had a Thursday home game and Metro could not provide the shuttle service because of the rush hour commute and instead the UW made arrangement with private bus companies to substitute instead. They could not use the regular park and ride lots either and I know that at Northgate they made arrangement with the mall to use the SE corner of their parking lot instead.

    But won’t that be interesting on that Friday when you have football fans using Light Rail along with the normal commuters trying to get home.

    1. The Ms also play at home September 30th. It is the third to last game of the regular season. Yikes!

      1. That night is also fan appreciation night for the Mariners and usually they attract over 30,000 fans regardless what the league standings are but throw in the possibility of the M’s playing to make the post season you could have about 65,000 to 70,000 heading for Husky Stadium at around the same time around 40,000 plus fans heading for Safeco Field. Add to that the normal Friday night rush hour traffic and it will be interesting evening on the road and for Light Rail.

    2. The opening of Angle Lake Station could preclude the use of S. 320th St lot. Of course, we don’t know when the exact date Angle Lake Station will open to passengers (projected sometime in September). You are probably right that the Downtown Seattle – Husky Stadium bus service will be gone. .

  9. Interesting how for one day, the western part of route 30 comes back, via the 372 reroute. As as thought experiment, I’m wondering whether or not it would make sense to make the reroute permanent in 2021, once the U-district station opens. The advantages are that it would improve connectivity between Lake City and the northwestern part of the U-district, replacing the former route 72, as well as restoring service to the (relatively dense) part of route 30, which was discontinued. Travel time between 55th/25th and Link would probably be about a wash, but the walk to/from the station would be less.

    The disadvantages would include that riders headed to the U-Village or UW Med Center would need to walk an extra 1/4 mile (or, in some cases, ride the 65 instead). At the moment, I’m not convinced whether whether the good from such a change would outweight the bad, but it is, sat least worth thinking about.

  10. So many times my wife and I had commented about how terrible the transit service was in Seattle and how we could eliminate a car (or two) if only…….. One of our last experiences with transit in Seattle was graduation at UW and that was almost a decade ago. Will never forget *running* from Husky Stadium to our car after commencement, parked at Green Lake, then driving back to campus to pick up a full car load of family members to go out to eat and then head home.

    Finally, we are seeing the answer to some of our gripes from so many years ago. It’s really cool to see this stuff get built. If graduation day had come a decade later, our commutes would have looked a lot different for daily classes, my work schedule, and many evenings spent away from home in Capital Hill and U District (for studying and beer). Happy for the next generation of students (although equally concerned about the cost of rent). Keep up the momentum. Lots of great projects to come!

    ~from South King County

Comments are closed.