We are just one week from the opening of Angle Lake Station, completing a heady year of progress for Sound Transit. I hope to see y’all there!
With the disappearance of waiting trains laying over at SeaTac Airport Station, since they are continuing on to Angle Lake Station out of service for pre-revenue testing, the station now has three ways in which queues are forming, but could be handled better:
1. Riders getting ready to board the train are still lining up at just the three Ticket Vending Machines immediately visible from the airport concourse. There are three more TVMs at the north end of the station, but they are hidden behind a pillar and often going unused while long lines form at the southern TVMs. If nothing else works, then deploy trifold signs pointing to the other three TVMs.
2. There are still long queues to get down from the platform on the escalators. This problem is exacerbated when one of the escalators is broken, and only one down escalator is running (as has been the case every time I’ve been there for the past three weeks). This station should always have at least as many down escalators running as there are up escalators running. We know the escalators can be reversed. We also know that there are surges to use the down escalators (right after a train arrives), while riders preparing to board show up sporadically, and really need only one up escalator.
3. Riders are not expecting 3-car trains, so they don’t make full use of the platform length, and take longer to board than necessary, cramming into the front two cars. Floor arrows or trifolds pointing to the boarding zone for the third car, and announcing that 3-car trains will be running all day (when that happens), should be efficacious in spreading out the passengers. Airport riders especially love to be able to spread out. Let riders know when 3-car trains are coming all day, and point the way with physical signs. This goes for other stations, too.
I’ve been told by ST in the past that passengers are already shifting to the third cars. In my months of observations, I haven’t seen that, except for the mad rush to the third car when passengers don’t see as much space as they would like on the second car, and at UW Station, where the train is sitting and laying over. To the extent that SeaTac Airport station passengers were taking advantage of seeing the third car sitting there, that just went away.
More good micro-news:
1. Thanks to the trains pulling through at SeaTac Airport Station, and not needing to do the slow crossover, the travel time between there and Tukwila International Boulevard Station appears to have dropped from roughly four minutes to dependably just under three minutes.
2. Thanks to the tail tracks at Angle Lake Station, providing more emergency stopping distance, the approach there should be a little faster than it was to SeaTac Airport Station. It is scheduled for four minutes, but don’t be surprised if that estimate gets reduced down shortly after the station opens.
Indeed, travel time between Westlake and UW Station was scheduled at 8 minutes when UW Station opened. Now, it is scheduled at 6 minutes (though, really, it takes about 6 and 1/2 southbound). So, a trip from UW Station to Angle Lake Station was scheduled conservatively as taking 50 minutes before the openings, but will end up taking 47-48 minutes. That said, that is off-peak travel time. Peak trips are going to be slower than that, even if the schedule doesn’t reflect the longer dwell times.
3. King County Metro is doing clever things with the RapidRide real-time arrival signs, which I noticed at Airport Station’s RapidRide stops a couple weeks ago. They now convey the electronic message:
Tap ORCA at stop
board bus at any door.
Otherwise pay as you
board at front door.
It’s not a haiku, but it gets the job done.
RapidRide started allowing off-board payment 24/7 on May 14 of this year.
4. Off-board payment and on-board security patrols could quickly become more ubiquitous, if the county council approves the Executive’s 2017-2018 budget for Metro.