Folks at 11:51 AM, ULink Launch Day Disembarking A Link Train at Capitol Hill Station

Link ridership continues to climb, with preliminary figures for May average weekday ridership in the “mid 60s” according to spokesman Bruce Gray. Anecdotally, certain twitter scolds have noted times where these loads have meant jam-packed trains. At the least, loading a bike during rush hour is uncomfortable. At worst, dozens of people are left on the platform due to lack of space.

In response, ST will increase its peak-hour baseline of 3-car trains to 6 out of 17, up from the current value of 2. On certain high-demand days, ST has already run more than two such trains. The week after UW/SCCC spring break had six. During last Saturday’s marathon, every other train had three cars.

But now six trains will be the norm, giving riders a roughly 1 in 3 chance of extra space. These are all the trains that ST adds during peak hours, so until they take the step of running longer trains during the day, this is likely all the capacity Link is going to have.

97 Replies to “ST to Triple 3-Car Trains”

  1. Hurray! My evening commute is University Street to Capitol Hill. It has been really interesting to watch ridership grow, but crowding is starting to happen. Hopefully ST is also thinking about ways to accommodate more bikes. There are quite a few bikes and it can cause circulation issues. It would be great if they could create a way to fit in more while not sacrificing circulation.

  2. This is great news, but it still won’t be enough after a weeks. As people adjust they’ll learn about the increased capacity, which will draw more riders – the same theory of induced demand for roads. We’ll probably need to double again the number of 3-car trains before long. And what would be wrong with that, considering that 4-car trains will the norm in only five years with Northgate Link?

    The other issue, as you noted, is bicycles. Link is now a Capitol Hill bike elevator, which is totally fine, but the trains are not designed to handle more than 2 bikes per car when commonly you’ll see 5 or 6 bikes during peak. At the very least, the cars need to retrofitted with an additional hook across the aisle from the current hooks (requiring the removal of two seats).

    I can give you one anecdote as a bicycle passenger. Headed from UW to Capitol Hill, I had to stand with bike at the end of the car without a bike hook. When we got the Capitol Hill, the door was jammed and did not open, and the car was too crowded for me to get to an open door. I was forced to ride to Westlake, get off, take my bike up and down the elevators (which wouldn’t be necessary with a center platform!), and ride back to Capitol Hill on a less crowded train.

    1. The next generation of trains needs to have more doors. That seems to be a big issue. The problem is that most light rail systems don’t need door-heavy configurations, so off-the-shelf procurement may not be possible.

      Link has 4 doors per car for a 95′ car length. This leads people to cluster around the limited doorways, which is further exacerbated by the internal stairs at the car ends.

      For reference, NYC has subway cars with 3 doors per 51′ car or 4 doors per 60′ car. Boarding and alighting is noticeably faster.

      1. The problem is the low floor section. For more doors you need a 100% low floor car. Alstom makes such a thing in a 65mph design, but only Ottawa has them so far, and only a few have been delivered.

    2. Many actual rail transit systems worldwide ban bicycles (except folded ones, in some cases) during peak hours. I would expect this if passenger levels continue to increase to the point where additional cars either can’t be added or don’t help with the loads any more. BART is an exception to this, with the caveat that if a train is “crowded” they are not allowed–probably a de facto ban during peak hours in many areas. LA also is an exception — but you aren’t allowed on if the bike areas are full (again, more or less a de facto ban).

    3. I have been seeing a lot of Link cars with 6-8 bikes aboard during peak hour between Westlake and CHS. It can get really uncomfortable for non-bike passengers who are trying to thread between all the bikes without getting grease or tire smudges on themselves. I expect that eventually ST will have to ban bikes during rush hour, or at least enforce a 2-bike limit (down from today’s unenforced 4-bike limit).

    4. S trains in Copenhagen have an entire carriage dedicated to bicycles. The carriage is usually in the middle of the train and clearly marked with a large painted bicycle. One side of the car consists of bike racks, and the other side is longitudal seating. I think once three and four car trains become a norm with northgate and east link, some current cars could be refurbished with a more open layout to accommodate bicycles and standees. You could run two or three standard cars with one refurbished car for example. You could also configure future rolling stock in a similar manner. Personally, I’d like to see longer trains with a boa layout, like Alstom’s Citadis Dualis.

      1. No one is going to want to stand up for a sixty minute ride. The bike and luggage areas need to be separated with shelves for suitcases.

  3. Is there a table that shows when how many trains are in service (and number of cars) throughout the day?

    1. Not that I know of, but it is easy enough to figure out. Divide the total cycle time (time to do one complete run from SeaTac to UW and back) by the headway, and round up. That gives you the number of trains.

      Based on the information Martin posted, during base period (10 minute headways) they have 11 trains/22 cars on the line, and during the peak periods they have 17 trains/40 cars on the line. Based on my calculations they have either 7 or 8 trains on the line during the early/late periods (15 minute headways); it depends on exactly how much layover time is included.

      Also keep in mind ST maintains one or two “gap” trains, probably two-car consists, to fill in if something breaks down. These are generally located at the OMF, but could be stored at the Stadium or Rainier Beach pocket tracks as well.

  4. Now it’s time that ST look at how to notify passengers of the number of cars in a train – like many urban systems do. Since our light rail future will likely always have trains of different lengths, this is badly needed as a permanent info item. This info is especially useful to bicyclists and people with luggage and strollers.

    It’s taken three months to get up to just 6 train sets. We must keep up pressure on ST to add cars and tell us which trains have them!

    1. I’ve seen this request for car count announcements a number of times, but I am confused about the utility of it. What would having info on the number of cars change about your behavior?

      1. You stand at a different spot (typically towards the back) which then distributes the load a lot better.

      2. It could also be a great way to encourage bicyclists to use the third car – should bicycles be banned from peak hour trains because of overcrowding. That’s in addition to telling people where to wait for the next train.

        People that regularly use variable train length rail systems will tell you how basic and important this is. It’s frustrating to get left behind on a crowded platform because you aren’t waiting near a door — and the train fills up by the time you get near the door (because you waited in a place where there was no train car and thus no door). If you are carrying a bicycle or luggage or a stroller, is even more frustrating.

      3. If a 3- (or 4-) car train ends up bunched directly behind a 2-car train, you might wait for the longer train.

    2. They can’t even get real time arrival done right, how in the world would they do this?

  5. If ST put every train into service, how many 3-cars can they run? It would be interesting to see what their procurement schedule is for additional cars over the next 5-10 years, b/c I assume right now STI simply doesn’t own enough cars right now to run 3-cars constantly?

    At what point do they expect to run 3-car trains off-peak, and 3-car trains for every train on-peak? After Northgate opens? Any discussion about whether Eastlink will open with 2 or 3-car trains, or is it still premature for that?

    1. According to this document, ST has 74 trains now and will buy 106 for the ST expansion “by 2030”

      According to the ST2 Plan, ST anticipated in 2012 that for serving CH and UW stations it would need 62 trains.

      However, this 2014/2015 document lists no Link vehicle purchases before 2021 … hopefully that has changed.

    2. Sound Transit’s 2016 Service Implementation Plan (PDF!) says:

      The agency plans to begin acquiring light rail vehicles as early as 2019 (two to three vehicles delivered per month) to have sufficient fleet for the opening of Lynnwood and East Link.

      The associated table shows ST having 62 cars in 2015-2018, 70 in 2019, 94 in 2020, and 115 in 2021.

  6. People will naturally hop on whichever car is closest to the escalator they come down on. In a well-designed system, the escalators would naturally disperse people among the different cars (e.g. if one station nudges people towards the cars at the front and rear, the next one would nudge people towards the middle cars). How well the Sound Transit stations do this, I’m not sure. With two-car trains, rather than four-car trains, it’s somewhat difficult to tell.

    1. My biggest gripe with the trains are the wasted space between the train cars. I wish it was an open style where you can walk from end to end. That would help disperse crowded cars. But I think their train options were limited since it had to be compatible with the bus platform?

      1. Not sure about platform constraints, but I don’t believe there are many vehicle designs that are open-gangway to begin with.

        Then they would need to comply with Buy America rules. There may be some European or Asian models, but unless the order is large enough a manufacturer may not want to establish a US assembly plant just for ST.

      2. The newer MAX trains in Portland don’t have operator cabs in the middle… only on the two ends. They always have to be operated as a 2-car consist, but I doubt this would ever be an issue for Link. Surprised ST isn’t looking at something similar, especially given the planned capacity and ridership of this system.

      3. I think Glenn from Portland mentioned before that Alstom now has a low-floor open gangway train (I think Ottawa may have purchased these?). If so, that’s something I’d love to see. Apparently open gangway trains are not used anywhere in the US (Honolulu will have them when they open), but from experience I’ve had elsewhere in the world they are becoming ubiquitous. I’ve seen figures from NYC that open gangway trains could add up to 9% capacity to a subway train. They feel more spacious even when crowded, give a better sense of safety as you can leave a given area, and they allow passengers to disperse throughout the train and balance crowding.

        The Alstom Citadis Dualis appears to be a low-floor, open gangway train set. IMO, Alston’s trains (and many others’) are visually far superior to Kinkisharyo’s boxy things we’re stuck with.

      4. They aren’t open gangway, but they are 100% low floor. You can have doors in more places.

        For light rail, generally open gangways don’t exist, even worldwide. What they do have, if things get crowded, is longer cars. The Alstom Citadis (the family of light rail cars Ottawa is using) has been built up to 170 feet long (units made for SNCF regional trains).

        I’m pretty sure Link’s needs of 90 foot cars is met by the current fleet and that future orders should be longer if they can accommodate them.

    2. No. People board at the door that will put them closest to where they need to exit. If you are going to Rainier Beach you try to be at the northernmost end of the train.

      Enclosed platforms would help people know where to wait.

  7. 3 car trains will not have the maximum impact without real time information in the DSTT. Riders should know when the next train after the crush loaded one is coming, and yes, if it has 2 or 3 cars. It is infuriating that the downtown transit tunnel remains one of the hardest places to find out information about Link.

    1. There’s plenty of information in the DSTT! Just the other evening I was in there and heard these announcements:

      “Link light rail service is temporarily suspended.”

      … and then 30 seconds later…

      “The next train, northbound, is arriving in two minutes.”


    1. At least default to 3 car sets and pull cars for maintenance as needed. It would be nice if they could sandwich 2 car sets with three car sets. There’s no way that ST lacks staffing to figure out how to provocatively pull cars for maintenance.

      It would be reasonable to have a set in reserve ready to be dispatched to relieve service disruptions or service planned events (games, parades, etc.)

  8. I’m surprised they allow bikes on the train during rush hour. Isn’t it common for agencies to ban them then?

    1. Depends on the agency. I’ve seen bans in various cities. Crowding at rush hour in NYC and Boston tends to be so bad that it is a practical impossibility, regardless of what the policy is. Those cities are fairly flat, though, so there isn’t going to be the same demand.

      Politically banning bikes at rush hour would be a non-starter here.

      1. It won’t be a non-starter once the trains can’t expand capacity any longer. Many systems in other parts of the country and world, even in some places that are at least as “bike-friendly” as we are, do not allow bicycles on trains during peak hours. It’s more a matter of where that capacity tipping point is; right now of course we can add cars, and most trains even at rush hour (at least in my daily experience) aren’t jammed quite that full yet.

      2. Bike lockers, bike lockers, bike lockers. And if you can’t get enough capacity outside around the station, bike lockers inside the station. Might as well use that capacious space for something.

    2. Yes, banned on BART as well. And those agencies actually have larger heavy rail vehicles that are much more spacious and can more easily take the bikes. Our puny light rail vehicles are that much more crowded.

  9. What is preventing ST from running 3 car trains at all times? The capital costs of purchasing those extra cars? I can’t imagine that moving from 2 car to 3 car trains adds much marginal operating cost – it’s not like you need an extra driver. Maybe slightly more power costs?

    I’ve been left on the platform by full trains and had multiple transit-agnostic friends (the kinds of people that need to have good transit experiences if there’s any hope for electoral success on ST3) recount being left on the platform following sporting events or during rush hour. We’ve got the platform capacity, it’s absolutely absurd that this sort of thing should be a regular occurrence. I don’t particularly give a shit if the third car is under-utilized on some of the non-peak trips – I don’t see how it’s costing much for it to be there.

    1. It appears that running all 3-car trains all the time would leave them with an unacceptably low spare ratio, which means they would have to start deferring maintenance on the cars to maintain service. ST needs to be able to have 10 cars out of service for maintenance at any given time, so 52 cars are available for service. They need 17 trains plus one or two “gap” trains, so if all trains had 3 cars then they would need 54-57 of 62 vehicles in service at peak. With all of the recent focus on deferred maintenance of both infrastructure and aging vehicle fleets, it is easy to understand why ST wants to avoid going down that path.

      Another 10 cars would solve the problem, but it takes several years to procure cars and ST will need to buy over 100 cars in the next few years for the various extensions under construction.; it makes more sense to procure them all at once (lower capital costs) and muddle through for a few years in the meantime.

      The next thing to do would be to start mixing in 3-car trains among the 11 base trains. After that they could switch things up and have the 11 base trains have 3 cars, and have the 6 peak trains have just 2. That requires 51 total cars in service (includes two 2-car gap trains), and appears to be the maximum amount of service Link can sustain for now.

      1. Thanks Jason, great info. But this still just sounds like a planning number. Does it take all day to maintain these 10 trains? Rather than trying to stick to a fixed number, I’d rather have as many trains out on tracks as possible. Maybe that means some days having fewer 3-car trains and other days having more (if more cars need maintenance). But having trains sitting in a yard while people are left behind at stations doesn’t seem like a good idea.

      2. I’m not familiar with all of the specifics of what “maintenance” involves. I know all of the cars (or at least the in-service ones) have their interiors cleaned nightly, get an exterior wash every few days, and have a full-on steam cleaning roughly once a month which takes most of a day. Beyond the cleaning, they need to maintain the various systems and components, and any heavy maintenance like wheel replacement,electric motor service, etc., likely requires more than a day.

        From a fleet management standpoint, ST is probably trying to keep the cars on a regular rotation while also having some wiggle room for unexpected occurrences. This is much easier and a more efficient use of their vehicle maintenance staff while ensuring all the necessary maintenance gets performed on schedule. Doing things more dynamically may lead to higher average fleet availability, but less efficient use of staff and more difficulty tracking maintenance needs. I’m not saying it isn’t a worthwhile tradeoff, but it isn’t a clear-cut win, especially since we’re only talking about a 3 or 4-year window before additional LRVs arrive for the ST2 car order.

        In the context of service capacity, I think ST should first ramp up to putting everything they can out within the bounds of their current maintenance program, and see where that gets us first. Maybe it is enough, maybe it isn’t. If it is great, if it isn’t then it could be worth re-examining maintenance needs and procedures to try and free up some more rolling stock.

    2. Back when we were struggling with ST about overcrowded one-car trains at night (imagine if they tried that now!), they made a big deal about the marginal cost of power and maintenance associated with having extra cars in service.

  10. So ST has been reluctant in the past to add 3-car trains because the cost is apparently quite significant. However, the loaded trains mean that there are more people paying fares, which goes directly to Sound Transit. I’m curious, then, what percentage of the marginal cost of adding one car to these trains is recovered by the increased fare collection.

    1. The bottleneck seems to be the number of trains in the fleet, not the operating cost. It’s similar to Metro’s limited number of articulated buses: it doesn’t have enough for all crowded routes so it has to choose some and leave others. But Link is new and expensive and ST is trying to build a reputation of top-notch maintenance. There was also an issue earlier of not wanting to run down their warranty hours before their intended deployment, although I’m not sure if that still applies.

      Fares cover 20 or 25% of costs, and well-used passes cover less. Clearly the fuller a train gets, the lower the cost per passenger; but adding a car adds another chunk of costs.

      1. I think there is also an issue at the federal level with the FTA requiring 10% spares, even though this level is probably excessive for light rail cars as opposed to diesel buses in the 1970s.

        I attempted to find out more, but the FTA web server with the document I want to check is down for maintenance….

    1. They could flip up all the seats in the third car, and recommend that those with bicycles and luggage use it. The system already is going to have been designed for at least two lines anyway, so three-car trains can be called out as a different ‘line’ in their computer system that happens to stop at the same stations.

      1. That makes a lot of sense, especially for bikes. I could see how those with luggage might object, though (it is a long ride to the airport).

      2. Well, that and luggage is not another form of conveyance that theoretically can move you from point A to point B if you can’t take the train. To be honest, when I travel I do not take trains during peak hours with luggage in any city unless it fits on my lap and I am likely to get a seat. Try taking luggage on any train at almost any time of the day in Santiago, for example. Not going to happen. That said, the person with luggage (or a stroller) is still a pedestrian and does not have the alternative to get around that a cyclist has by definition.

      3. As someone who has beem on Vancouver BC’s SkyTrain Canada Line durimg evening rush hour with luggage. Yeah, no. It’s a pain to deal with how crowded those trains get. And most people aren’t going to be taking luggage with them durimg rush hour since it’s very bulky and takes up space on a crowded train.

      4. Riders could also adopt a culture like Paris where no one sits in folding seats at rush hour. I have tried to stand in that space but can’t get away with it yet.

  11. I bike and use Link. I sometimes bike to UW Station and lock my bike and get on the train. Off peak, I’ll sometimes bring my bike on the train with me. I wouldn’t board a peak-hour train with my bike though- it’s rude. The bike is taking up space that could be used by another person or two, and it gets in people’s way when they’re trying to get on and off the train.

    Taking bikes on buses and trains doesn’t scale- it’s workable if about 1% of riders bring bikes on board, but the system breaks down if it gets more popular.

    1. This is the point of having a functional bike share system – it complements transit perfectly (which is why it should be integrated with Orca).

      “Loading a bike during rush hour is uncomfortable” no, it’s actually impossible. I’ve watched four full trains go by Pioneer Square station southbound before giving up and taking my bike on the 7.

    2. This was in impetus for the creation of the Brompton folding bike. They’re quite popular in London. The folded size is approx 22″ x 23″ x 10″. They are much easier to maneuver around. There are now competitors in the market, such as Dahon, Citizen, and others.

      1. I believe that the folding bike is the only type allowed on the Tube by TfL during peak hours, which must also help with their popularity!

      2. Mike, they are available in 1, 2, 3, and 6-speed versions, and the specific ratios can be chosen from a wider range. They use hub-gears, so from the outside may look like single speed bikes.

  12. But now six trains will be the norm, giving riders a roughly 1 in 3 chance of extra space.

    A 66% chance of being on an overcrowded train – possibly even not getting onto the train due to lack of space – is unacceptable, and the inability to increase capacity (on Link as well as on Metro, where Eastlake residents have recently suffered numerous days of zero capacity on the #70) is symptomatic of a lack of foresight on the part of our transit planners and management.

    1. In a perfect world ST would have retained options to add more cars to the original order when CHS and UW opened. Unfortunately, it simply isn’t economical for the manufacturer to keep an assembly plant open when it doesn’t have firm orders. Production runs from US transit systems are just too small to keep plants busy unless a lot of orders are concentrated with a single manufacturer.

      1. Or sound transit would learn how to operate transit and not just build it. They didn’t get enough trains. Period.

    2. I’m skeptical that trains are so overcrowded people can’t get on the first or second one. I ride Link almost every day and there’s always space available. You’re assuming that every 2-car train is 100% full and that’s not the case. Even if it were, Link comes every 10 minutes off-peak, 6 minutes peak, so it’s not like waiting for a bus that comes every 15 minutes and may be delayed 10 minutes for traffic.

      The bigger issue is bike crowding, and for that we have to start with the fact that Link is simply not designed for more than 1% of passengers having bikes, just like the buses aren’t. If we expect an Amsterdam-style future where half the passengers have bikes, it won’t work at all without bike cars.

      1. Even Amsterdam does not have this, nor should we. That capacity should be for people. Amsterdam’s Metro does not allow bicycles during peak hours, and the ubiquitous trams only allow folding bikes. (You also need to buy a special day ticket to bring your bikes on board Metro during non-peak hours).

  13. Would it be workable to turnback every 2nd or 3rd southbound train at Stadium station during peak, in order to provide extra capacity on the DSTT-UW segment, or would the increase in frequency be negated by the congestion in the DSTT and the time spent turning the train around?

    1. It probably isn’t possible until buses come out of the tunnel due to tunnel congestion, but once the buses do come out that idea has been kicked around as a serious possibility to address a downtown transit capacity crunch.

    2. Longer term, the better solution would be to turn back at Mt Baker. There are some busy bus routes there that could be useful for frequent trains.

      It needs a third track though.

  14. For their next batch of trains they should order some with less seats – maybe even no seats in the lower sections. They can sandwich these in the middle of 3 car consists to help with peak hour loads and excess bikes. I take my bike on LINK sometimes, but I recognize this doesn’t scale well when the trains are crowded, and I avoid doing so during peak.

    1. Why not just move to just having fold-down center-facing seats? This would maximize standing space, make it easier for people to get in and out of seats in crowded trains, and maximize space for strollers, wheelchairs, etc.

      At least no new cars with 2+2 seating please.

      1. Paris has this with an extra twist – their transit culture asks that during crush loads, all passengers flip their seats and stand. Equality!

        Then as the passengers thin out, seats down again. Even now, north of Capitol Hill Station, during a typical commute around 6pm it thins out considerably by 1/2 – 1/3.

      2. Because it doesn’t work for Everett and Tacoma. Or even the Eastside to SeaTac.

    2. MAX trains have more sideways seats and wider aisles; it remind me of the NYC subway. Link would definitely benefit from that kind of configuration.

      The 2×2 configuration is probably based on two assumptions: (A) ridership will usually be low enough that everybody can sit, (B) when long-distance trips come about people won’t want to stand for a full hour from Everett to Seattle.

      1. The older Bombardier cars (the 100 series) are almost entirely 2+2 seating, but those have a lot of space in them for bikes as the old wheelchair spaces are pretty big, and they can’t be used for wheelchairs now as the lifts have been removed since 1998.

        So, there are a lot of trains with Bombardier + Siemens car combinations where those wanting seats head for the high floor car and those with a bike head for the Siemens low floor car.

      2. With assumption B, it seems likely that the majority of trips on Link will always be intra-Seattle, rather than long-distance suburban trips- I think the current intra-Seattle ridership is roughly equal to the projected boardings between Everett and Lynnwood in 20 or 30 years, with (IIRC) about 2/3s of current boardings occurring in the DSTT-UW segment. The same is true for each of the East and South Link segments. And, if we add more Link lines in Seattle, it seems likely that the combined intra-Seattle ridership will always exceed the combined suburban ridership.

        It would ridiculous to make Link cars worse for intra-Seattle trips when those will be the majority of trips.

        Even with center-facing or 2+1 seating, most of the people going to and from Everett will be able to find a seat for much of their trip- either because they’re boarding an empty train in Everett, or because the majority of people will have gotten off the train in Seattle during the return trip.

  15. I suspect that for the world’s every urban rail-transit system, standing-to-crush loads are merely proof that the public thinks their system is working. New York subways very quickly discovered this when they opened in 1904. The more transit they built, the more standing loads carried.

    Unvarying embarrassment for usual pre-election warnings about permanently low ridership. Will give transit the benefit of the doubt about misinformation in the opposite direction. Since it’s history doesn’t contain any rapid transit system, nobody in Seattle even knew about the permanent major problem of its main evidence of success.

    Also ironclad reason we’ll need at least one more Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel in our near future. Not to offer more capacity, but to carry more people. It could be argued that same holds for freeways. Difference being no SOV’s in front of trains. Also, following distance on freeways holds hundreds of passengers per train.

    Our space constraints don’t have to be permanent obstacles and blockages. For example, waiting passengers will learn from experience to stand back for exiting passengers. And to arrange themselves starting from the middle of the train to distribute the crowd.

    But right now, worst blockage is most easily cured with a single decision. Either get every single bus out of the Tunnel, and either live with blocked surface streets or give transit the lanes and signals it needs to keep moving….

    Or get the bus fleet under the control designed into it thirty years ago. Starting, like with a phone call as soon as the County Exec and the Council’s Usual Suspects read this, to shut those farebox-slots with masking tape at both portals, and fare-inspect at every mezzanine stair case. Any bets how long those buses could really have to be there?

    Huge benefit: seatless car for bikes, baggage, and their owners will leave Westlake on schedule along with the rest of the trains.


    1. Don’t forget about the newest department of Homeland Security – Transit Screening Agency (TSA). All luggage and carry ons must be scanned and passengers subjected to metal detectors and/or full body screening if you fit the profile. Also, each person must be cleared to ride from the ‘No Ride’ list. Bikes, strollers and wheel chairs are verboten, as it’s easy to pack the voids with C4.
      All these measures will allow for 2-car trains to suffice for decades to come.

  16. This is a hugely heartwarming problem. I was on a crush load train last week (joked about a need for some white gloved Tokyo subway “handlers”), but I couldn’t suppress the huge grin on my face – it still feels like a wonderful dream.

  17. One issue is the amount of time it takes to couple and uncouple the folding couplers on these cars. I don’t have anything that shows how this is done on a Link car, but I do know a video that shows it on the newer MAX cars.

    The process required for coupling and uncoupling these folding couplers is shown starting around 2:21 of this unfortunate series of events:

    On the older cars with the exposed coupler, this is a process that requires a single person acting as a spotter to give the driver an idea of then the couplers have touched. The process seen in the above video with the folding coupler requires lots of time and people.

    Three car trains are really not ideal as it means creating and breaking a bunch of two car trains. If possible, it would be better to just create a few four car trains at the peak of the peak by coupling two two car trains together. Additional two or four car trains can then be brought on.

  18. I am now very accustomed to taking my bike on the train. Like many people in Seattle, I don’t even carry a tube and pump anymore, I just carry an ORCA card. I don’t want to lose the bike on link privilege so maybe I should stop being so lazy and ride my bike more during peak loads. The only problem is that we don’t have safe bike routes all over this city, especially in Rainier Valley. Link might actually save some bike rider’s lives…

    also… Why are there just “preliminary” numbers on June 22nd?

  19. Why does it have to be limited to a set schedule? If something big is going on – soccer game, UW graduation, Capitol Hill Block party, Husky football, then they really should run all 3 car trains for a couple of hours. ST should be looking hard at our Seattle event calendar and responding to demand…

  20. Something to think about: From casual observation, it appears that the highest ridership segment has moved to be between Westlake and Capitol Hill. I can’t say this is true but when I’ve ridden Link, this is what I’ve seen.

    The Lynnwood EIS forecasts also say that the highest ridership segment on this line will be between Capital Hill and Westlake once all of the ST2 extensions are built.

    How crowded the train cars are on this segment will be an easy way to gauge how the train crowding issue is.

    Finally, I would simply observe that ST3 as currently planned does not appear to do anything to offload the passenger loads on this segment. If anything, it will probably increase ridership on this segment, as people from Queen Anne and South Lake Union will be more likely to go to Westlake before transferring north once that line is built.

    1. As someone who regularly commutes from Queen Anne to Capitol Hill, I can see much of the 2, 13, and 29 riders (especially the 2 as it goes to Capitol Hill) transferring to a future lower QA station and then again at Westlake, as that would be required for anyone going to Capitol Hill, the north end, West Seattle, or the Eastside.

  21. To address crowding problems in the DSTT, couldn’t ST build a center platform once the buses are out? I could see something like an exit only small center platform and then the side platforms would be enter only. This could help in the ~10+ years in between Lynnwood/East link opening and the completion of the second DT tunnel.

    1. Several of us have been asking for center platforms for years. First ST said it didn’t want to spend the money to do it. Then it announced that East Link preparation would install a non-revenue turning track at Intl Dist that would preclude a center platform. The latest is that the second tunnel project would include reconfiguring the existing Intl Dist station so it might get a center platform.

  22. I believe luggage was mentioned in several earlier posts but on occasion I have ridden Light Rail from the airport and it seems that more and more people are using it but many of them bringing their luggage with them and placing them in the aisle and on the seats. I believe that there are a couple of spots on each train where luggage can be stored but they are filled up quickly meaning that the passengers who board later place their luggage where they can.

    I know when I have gotten on at University Street station it is at times an obstacle course trying to maneuver through the aisle with the suitcases sitting there and at times bicycles. It also seems that most of the passenger with suitcases get off at Westlake Station so the blocked aisles problem is not that much of an issue after that.

  23. Per the 2016 SIP, ST has 62 cars or LRV. When Angle Lake opens, they will need 19 trains at the six-minute headway. An earlier SIP suggested they could have a third car on up to 10 of the 19 trains. They will not procure more LRV until 2019. With 62 LRV, the maximum capacity would be three-car trains at seven-minute headway. That provides more capacity than six-minute headway and two and 10/19 cars. This would also improve flow in the DSTT, as the friction between buses and trains is reciprocal.

    It is ironic that ST has been bragging about the merits of capacity and when it comes time to serve the University District and Capitol Hill, they are not prepared. It is a bit sad that ST did not realize the power of Link. I hope they have enough LRV for four-car trains in 2021.

  24. To me, it does not appear that this is a lack of equipment.

    Jason Rogers says
    about 17 trains required for full peak service.


    Initial delivery: 35 cars
    Additional cars: 27 at the rate of one per month starting August 2010.

    That should be 62 total by now.

    So, that is enough for 17x 3 car trains (51 cars total) plus 11 cars left over. If you must have 10% spares from peak period service (FTA seems to encourage this) you want 7 cars left out of the peak period service).

    So, you have enough cars for 17x 3 car trains plus the 7 required for spares plus 4 more to make 4x of those 3 car trains into 4 car trains.

      1. There’s still enough to have three car trains on everyting plus spares.

  25. If they would decrease the dwell times they could probably complete the trip in 41 or even 40 minutes rather than 44. Then they could increase the number of 3-car trains.

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