SounderBruce (Flickr)
SounderBruce (Flickr)

This morning Sound Transit released ridership numbers for September 30, the day a perfect storm of Mariners, Huskies, and an afternoon commute converged. And ridership lived up to the hype, with an estimated 101,000 riders, 18% higher than the previous record of 85,000 on August 25th. Sound Transit stretched its undersized fleet to the limit – running 3-car trains as often as every 5 minutes to clear the Husky crush – while simultaneously dealing with service disruptions due to a pedestrian/train collision in Columbia City at the peak of demand. (The person survived and is recovering.)

Though there were anecdotes of failed escalators and long queues to enter UW Station, overall Sound Transit emerged from the day showing that there’s nothing like high-capacity transit to soak up enormous demand in a minimal footprint. The primary pain for the day was borne by regular commuters, however, whose restructured routes rely on transfers that were either unavailable or up to 1/2 a mile away due to bus rerouting.

Sound Transit also released systemwide numbers for August, with Link averaging 69,000 weekday boardings, easily breaking the July record of 65,000. Weekend Link ridership continued to be strong as well, with 48,000 on Saturdays and 43,000 on Sundays. Sound Transit also had its first-ever 4 million boarding month, and Link alone accounted for 45% of Sound Transit’s total boardings.

77 Replies to “Link Cracks 100,000”

  1. The anti-transit folks are now saying the amazing ridership is a fail. From the Times:

    “Niles called crowding on trains “a major fail” and said officials should have been ready. “This train we have is taking too long to build and has cost too much, and now it cannot handle the ridership planned,” he said.”

    1. That’s a Yogi Berra-ism with a straight face. Has Niles always been this bad of a hack? I feel like he used to vaguely resemble a serious person.

      1. Yeah, it’s definitely a “nobody goes there any more, it’s too crowded” thing to say, isn’t it.

        However, Niles does bring up a point. When North Link reaches Lynnwood, those 68 CT and Snohomish County ST express routes which departed their origins during the 7:00 to 7:59 hour today will transfer their passengers to Link at Lynnwood, Mountlake Terrace or 185th. There are bound to be many more riders on them and they’ll run more frequently in the future when they connect to much more reliable Link. Then, ST’s 522 and various Shoreline peak hour Metro routes will add another transfer flood at 145th and the 41 and 75 will dump their loads at Northgate. Even with 20 trains per hour there will be little if any room on the trains for Seattle passengers transferring from the 60’s and 70’s at Roosevelt.

        Enough passengers may deboard at U-District and HSS to accommodate riders from there and Capitol Hill, but he’s not entirely wrong to say that the system may indeed be a victim of its own success.

        Sound Transit has built BART del Norte for Snohomish County commuters but with half-sized trains. Grant that they will be using the full length of the DSTT platforms and that is a serious limitation.

        There will be a strong need for a parallel line at least to Aurora Village in the foreseeable future. It might be an extension of the Ballard line, but whether North King can afford to build it or not with the handcuffs the envious hooraws in the legislature have on the City is a big question.

        Regardless what happens with ST3, Link to Lynnwood ensures that Snohomish County commuters will be by far the best-served of any group by Link. They’ll the shortest headways and the individual passengers get all the seats southbound. Most will be seated from 145th north on the return, while in city passengers will all be standing southbound. True, it’s not a long time to stand but it’s ironic since North King has completely funded the system as far as Northgate.

      2. Please ignore the “and” after Lynnwood. You would be wise to replace it mentally with a comma. I ask your pardon.

      3. This just doesn’t worry me. Having to stand for a ~10 minute journey just isn’t a serious problem. Plenty of those future Seattle commuters are standing on buses for a lot longer commutes right now. Capacity that would ensure everyone a comfy seat for peak of peak commutes journeys would almost certainly be wasteful overkill.

      4. Anandakos,

        We’ve discussed before that with the new trains, with busses going out of DSTT, and with Lynwood Link opening, ST is in full planning to run Seattle-only (probably peak only) trains until at least when ST3 opens.

        Most likely we’ll see Northgate to Sodo/Stadium trains run to alleviate the capacity issues.

      5. On the surface near the Lloyd Center, MAX averages around 26 trains per hour. Granted, this is low capacity surface running and all that, but can we at least agree that Link should be able to do this if MAX can do this?

        130 or so people per car x 4 cars x 26 = 13,520 people per hour per direction.

        That’s what? Equivalent to about 200 double tall buses per hour?

        Changes to increase capacity could include directional boarding with two platforms (the “Spanish solution”). You could probably get down to the 30 trains per hour range, or closer to 15,500 per hour.

        What do you think actual peak capacity needs will be?

      6. As a now daily rider, I would like to point out that there is still plenty of capacity in what is now reverse peak. The standing room only trains are Northbound in the Morning and Southbound in the evening. There is plenty of room for Northgate commuters now even without extra trains.

        With four car trains and double frequency, there should be plenty of room for Snohomish county riders as well.

      7. “Regardless what happens with ST3, Link to Lynnwood ensures that Snohomish County commuters will be by far the best-served of any group by Link. They’ll the shortest headways and the individual passengers get all the seats southbound.”

        Westlake-Lynnwood: 28 minutes (Link) vs 28-43 min (511, 512). Everett will be analogous. In comparison:

        Westlake-Capitol Hill: 3 minutes (Link) vs 8-11 minutes (49).

        Westlake-UW: 6 minutes (Link) vs 25 minutes (43) or 15-20 minutes (255+walk). Westbound the 255 is worse: 17-28 minutes. (Assuming 5 minute walk from Montlake flyer station.)

        Capitol Hill-UW: 3 minutes (Link) vs 15 minutes (43).

        Capitol Hill-UDistrict: 3 minutes (Link) vs 17-28 minutes (49).

        Westlake-UDistrict: 8 minutes (Link) vs 10-30 minutes (71/72/73X).

        Those may be the most dramatic differences in the emerging network because of the Ship Canal, the narrow streets on Capitol Hill, and the barriers that require buses to turn while an underground train bypasses them all, plus the lack of a Capitol Hill express bus route. That’s why ridership went through the roof with U-Link. There’s also:

        UW-Mt Baker: 20 min (Link) vs 20-30 min (48).

      8. Charles,

        The peak hour 7X expresses are still running. The only previously downtown-bound routes that are forcing commuters to transfer are the (3)72. Now Metro may continue the downtown expresses after Link gets to Northgate and Lynnwood. If so, no problem, but if, say, they try killing the expresses and transferring a significant number of buses at Roosevelt it will work for the three years until Lynnwood Link opens and then I really do think that the system will be a victim of its own success,.

        Look, were 116,000 commuters per day in 2012 coming from Snohomish County to Seattle. That total is spread over four hours (5-6, 6-7, 7-8, and 8-9), with the 6-7 and 7-8 hours being the peaks. There are 68 buses departing their origin somewhere in Snohomish County in the 6AM to 7AM hour and a total today of 194. Those 194 buses have seats for about 7500 to 12000 riders, depending how many of CT’s use Double Talls or are articulateds on the ST runs. If it’s 12,000, that is only a bit more than 10% of people who make the journey.

        In the peak direction buses have access to the HOV system, but Snohomish buses are not allowed in the tunnel so they have to fight their way down Stewart and Olive/Howell. By the time a bus which picks up at 4th and Pine reaches the Express Lane on-ramp, Link if now in operation would be past Roosevelt.

        So, the reliability and quicker travel time, even with the transfer penalty, will make transit the “go to guy” for Snohomish County commuters. And of course that’s a great thing; let the freeways be used by long-distance travelers and commercial users.

        I will not be surprised at all to see that 10-12K ridership double within two years of Lynnwood Link’s opening. Even at 20K (about 7K or so over each of the two peak hours) that would take fully half of the Link trains’ capacity, essentially all of the seats.

        What I’m trying to say is that Snohomish is getting a hell of a good deal with ST2.

      9. Mike, I said “Snohomish County commuters. Nearly every Snohomish to King County commuter will get better service using Link, even with the transfer penalty. The travelers using Link on the specific segments you mentioned of course are vastly advantaged, but they’re possibly 8 or generously 10% of the people on transit in King County at any given moment during the commute.

        So, if you’ll just be more flexible and look at it from the point of view of an average commuter from each of the five sub-areas, you’ll see that a much greater cross-section of Snohomish commuters are benefited by Link than those of any other one.

    2. Zach, you can be critical of Sound Transit and still be in favor of transit. I’m in favor of the correct usage of Light rail and I will remain critical of Sound Transit. We all should be willing to discuss Sound Transits successes and failures without the threat of being labled “anti-transit”.

      1. when your claim that it’s too popular therefore its a failure, then yes – you are anti-transit.

        Depending on your specific criticisms, you could possibly be anti-transit in actuality even if you don’t accept that label. Just claiming to be “pro-transit” doesn’t make you so. No idea what you believe.

      2. Zach, the quote you used says nothing about whether light rail is good or not, it is only critical of its implementation by sound transit. We should all demand the best implementation of light rail from ST. There have been several articles and posts on this site critiquing ST choice of light rail cars, its headways, its station design, etc…

      3. If you’re not voting yes on ST III you can’t really pretend to be pro-transit in any kind of meaningful way. You’d be pro-transit in the same way that NIMBYs say they’re pro-density. They oppose it in practice, but there’s some theoretical version of it they say they’d support, but not any concrete proposal.

        This is what the current political circumstances we live in have produced for transit. Saying no will not change those circumstances, and the dream of a plan that fits your vision better in 2, 4 or 8 years is wishful thinking substituting for analysis.

        I’m critical of ST and critical of ST3, but I also understand that if I oppose it I can’t plausibly claim to be pro-transit in the world in which I actually live. In the realm of politics, being pro-X means being in favor of X after you’ve made compromises about the particulars of X with a coalition of diverse interests large enough to plausibly win. We’re not playing Sim City here, we’re making sausage.

      4. I’m pro-transit, anti-bad-transit, and anti-bad-land-use-encouragement. Thus, I am anti-ST3.

      5. Which subarea do you live in, Kyle? What projects in that area do you think are wasteful?

      1. He’s president of Global Telematics, a research and consulting firm specializing mostly in automated vehicles and BRT. They have an anti-light rail bias baked into their core philosophy and have shouted ‘poor ridership’ stats from the rooftops for years.

      2. It’s a shame. There are some very good reporters at the Seattle Times, but they almost universally follow an “equal time” journalism model that perpetually pits government against its critics. It doesn’t matter how popular the project or how much consensus has developed around a program. It almost doesn’t matter how few people a critic represents, how coherent his or her views, or how legitimate the pedigree: You find an opponent or three and you feature them prominently, above—or instead of—supportive organizations and members of the public. It’s how, in a story about Link’s stunning ridership, you somehow get ample input from Kevin Wallace and John Niles from the start, a Mass Transit Now quote in a later update, and nothing from actual Seattleites, riders, TCC, etc.

        It’s how you get headlines like this: “Plan for new Ballard park stirs up battle over parking” and get to paragraph seven before finding out fewer than 20 people have complained about the parking loss associated with a new park. (

        It distorts reality, creates a false or at least exaggerated sense of controversy, and forever puts government officials and elected representatives on the defensive.

      3. The Times is horrible. They have slanted so many stories — not just editorials, where they certainly have license to put whatever opinions they want down on paper, but actual “news” stories — that they cannot be considered a credible source of news save that of the “kitten rescued from tree” variety. The Blethen family opinions are so entwined with their news coverage that it can be difficult even for the most discerning person to tell where one stops and the other starts. Regardless of your personal opinions on the matters, their coverage of the Arena, minimum-wage law, inheritance tax, and ST/urban issues has all been discredited through their use of misstatements, severely selective editing, and highly misleading headlines.

        It’s a damn shame because they do have good writers on staff. I would hate to be in the position they are in, particularly with the economic state of traditional journalism today.

        Frankly, if you’re buying/reading that paper (except perhaps as Joe does it), you’re part of the problem.

    3. Niles is a liar. U-Link was ahead of schedule and under budget. The fact that so many people want to ride it is proof of its success and a clear argument we need more trains, not less. I’d ask why the Times even quoted him, but yesterday’s Publicola scoop made clear why.

    4. Some on the anti side are saying that the order for trains that Sound Transit just placed last month, which won’t be ready for revenue service until 2019, was (according to previous ballot measures) supposed to be ready and on the tracks by this year, 2016. They point to this as one of ST’s broken promises (spoiler alert: yet another reason you can’t vote for ST3, according to them).

      Is that accurate? Did ST2 call for these extra trains by 2016? I will say it would have been nice on Friday to have these trains. Husky goers at Capitol Hill station were very disappointed at the sight of two-car trains. Most of them didn’t understand that ST literally doesn’t own enough trains to put 3 cars on every train on weekdays just yet.

      1. Oh it’s priceless. It’s like when Russell Wilson beat Peyton Manning. I mean Sound Transit has our own Russell Wilson on the field if this overly enthusiastic fan is believable.

        Frankly this is just paradise for Sound Transit fans. We’re watching as close as it gets to the sweetest victory of all, this is a victory for the true believers! The people who in difficult times have kept the faith despite ST3 being expensive, imperfect and glossy. Just paradise.

    5. Years ago, PBS did a documentary about the beginnings of what we know as the New York subway system.

      (Though they didn’t count the one several decades earlier that got pushed and pulled through a round tube with a giant fan. The hyperloop would get better press if they used a big steam powered fan, an elegant wood barrel on iron wheels, and a conductor in a suit.)

      The pioneering planners were doubtless overjoyed at the rectangular sardine cans rolling out of their equivalent of Westlake. I think the Mayor even got to drive a train. Before civil service, mayors were honorary members of every union. Maybe Ed’s reading this right now!

      Doubtless nobody was surprised by the passenger count, because main reason the subway was built was that at rush hour, Broadway itself was a standing load without wheels. Or motion. And horses generated a lot of pollution. But it didn’t take long to notice that however much subway they subsequently built, nobody ever again got a seat. There’s doubtless a formula for this equation, but the only copy is in the Smithsonian.

      Because of its obvious proven truth means who needs it? So I don’t think LINK’s own planners covered up this fact, or even lied by omission. It’s just that in the engineering offices of all the New York Subways of the world (In ya dreams, Seattle!) it’s just assumed that everybody has known for at least 112 years that if there’s a single seat left you cancel service for lack of ridership.

      Some security lessons. Subway or street rail, those crush loads weren’t segregated by gender. But since women’s hair styles included hat pins up to about 18 inches long, that’s why the cars needed so many leather straps hanging from the overhead bars on the aisles for men to hang onto.

      Hospitals could only handle so many puncture wounds. And a many doctors didn’t completely believe in germs. “Concealed carry” predates you, NRA. Well, sometimes they left them sticking out to save time.

      So John, read today’s stats and turn sheet white. Since buses can’t be coupled, your success will take you down harder than a tabloid movie star or rock singer. Start noticing how many of your lady passengers will be reviving 1900 hair styles. And they say antibiotics are losing their effectiveness.

      Incidentally, streetcar lines used to have tracks and elegant cars for funerals. So see if New Flyer can give you black paint, wood trim, and beveled glass.

      Mark Dublin

    6. Hilarious! I remember when Link’s first ridership came out, roughly 12,000 more or less, and Niles was taking any chance he could get to say how dismal the numbers were, etc. Now that ridership is more than eight-fold, he calls it a fail? Please.

      1. Link ridership is an emerging story. I will modify my views as experience with the train reveals itself, month by month.
        Right now experience shows that in 2016 Sound Transit did not manage its fleet procurement to have enough rail cars to run a comfortable (less than packed SRO) service on U-Link for a few ridership-building years before new upstream stations open that will make riding it even less comfortable in the 2020s with four-car trains.
        My long-time fans will remember this was my complaint with the Washington DC Metro Red Line in the 1970s in the early years of service. My in-city ride to DC City Hall in the morning from Rhode Island Avenue was great until the suburbanites from Maryland took all the seats and a lot of standing room as well.
        Now WMATA has to do what I predict Sound Transit and Community Transit will be doing in the late 2020s in the North I-5 corridor … running buses in parallel with a dinky Central Link lite rail that is undersized in peak. This is emerging, but I’ve been wondering quietly if this was going to happen ever since the BART-like Forward Thrust plan was replaced by small, narrow trains. Blame the 90 degree bend in the DSTT.
        In the long, long run, residential and business locations will adjust to fit the transportation infrastructure, whether the system is truncated at ST2 or expanded to ST3 and ST4. The availability of new road modes with new capabilities will also come into play.
        Note the new Boston Consulting Group study at
        My bottom line is that $54B (+ $100B more taxes while bonds are being repaid) for rebuilding the inter-city electrics from the early 20th century is a very poor bet, very unimaginative, very conservative for a high-tech region.

    7. I rummaged around and found that Boston’s green line runs every 6 minutes at peak, but the most busy part of the line is the combined subway where all four lines operate.

      So, the combination would be 40 trains per hour.

      With no great signal system in place either. Just standard advisory signals normally used on street lines.

      At 40 trains per hour, Link would be something along the lines of at least 20,000 per direction per hour, and probably more if you allow a bit more people into each car.

  2. I rode the light-rail to the Huskies game starting from University Street Station and I boarded about 45 minutes before kickoff. My to friends and I were able to board the first train with no issues. I was actually surprised as I was expecting it might take one or two trains coming through before I could get on. The high-volume event was handled extremely well. (Metro bus service that I took home from the game, on the other hand, disappointed as usual in that they did not seem to boost service for known large crowds.)

    Upon exiting at Husky Stadium, my friends remarked at how amazing it was to have this service.

  3. Ah. I thought this wasn’t supposed to be out until today’s Ops and Admin meeting….

    But in any case, darn good news.

    And it would probably be better if the buses were out of the DSTT and ST was able to interline a turnback line between Stadium and UW stations. That would better utilize Link LRV’s while providing 3 min headways, not to mention that ST was having delays due to buses during the first rush.

    1. At times, turning a complex transit environment requires patience.

      I agree, and I just happy that from info from Zach, ST is in clear planning to do just that once the busses are out, and the new trains are online.

      1. Once the buses are out of the DSTT ST can do a lot more to put the LRV’s where they are needed. Being restricted to no better than 6 min headways is a major impediment to efficient utilization of LRV resources. It means that the only option for increased capacity is longer trains, and the net result of that is that you have to put too many LRV hours at the periphery of the system where they aren’t really needed.

        Removing the buses from the DSTT will also increase LR reliability, which also was a bit of a problem on Friday at the peak of the crush.

    2. Whatever else we can turn back outside the Tunnel, considering the loads they carry, until LINK gets farther north and east, the 41 and the 550 will be hard to put to the streets.

      The 41 can likely have an arterial route between I-5 and Westlake Station. I think best would be a strictly reserved and signal pre-empted set of lanes from Mercer exit in. But with anything sports-related, the really-packed 550 is going to have a lot of traffic to fight on the surface.

      Could possibly be turned at either Stadium or Jackson at Union Station. If it can ramp straight off I-5 at Dearborn and Fifth, might be clearest “run.” But some serious traffic control needed. New 4th Avenue transit lanes good sign of changing times.

      Meantime, I think it’s at least worth some in-service tests (real drivers and passengers, not consultants, unless they tap their ORCA cards and give other people their seats) to see if I’m right that without much capital expense, DSTT can become a lot more efficient if buses are dispatched from the portals under some control. As design intended.

      And standing order to stuff run-cards into fareboxes before entering staging, because use of either in the DSTT not in the program. Tunnel service is 60′ under Third Avenue for a reason. Mainly so it won’t be run like Third Avenue. As Tunnel was designed to prevent.

      Fare collection by Proof of Payment, not farebox. Running orders by supervision, not runcard. Drivers thinking like they’re handling a coupled train, not bus companies of their own. As design presumed.

      Best measure of all would be some training sessions for Tunnel drivers, to teach and motivate them to work together as a team. A not-a-single-design-brain-celler.

      Also, some ongoing means- maybe a website- so that co-workers driving trains and buses can even get together and talk. Physically impossible now.

      This isn’t mode-ideological. Joint use was always meant to be transitional. When suburban passengers, who however they complain have been paying for the Tunnel for thirty years, get the trains they’re supposed to…it’ll be a ceremony better than the Golden Spike.

      Maybe we can have DSTT-era Transit Director Ron Tober drive the last bus out through another paper poster. But a lot of design effort and money went specifically into handling bus-only and shift to dual mode. And wasted since Day One, or maybe Week Two.

      So as long as we need those buses, we’ve already paid to get joint operations right, and now there’s no choice about it. With the few bus lines left- no excuse not to.

      Mark Dublin

  4. I’m curious about the crowd control at the UW station entrance. Is this going to be a regular thing on game days? Seems like a design failure that the station immediately adjacent to Husky Stadium wasn’t designed to handle stadium crowds. It’s a behemoth compared to Stadium station in SoDo, was it really an issue?

    1. I thought it was mostly fine for the Stanford game. For the Portland State game, oddly enough, I did notice that there was a crush of people coming up the escalator and people were stopping at the top of the first escalator to tap their ORCA cards. That was creating an obvious calamity and there was a crowd control guy there yelling at people to keep walking. If they had just disabled and covered that particular ORCA reader, it would have been fine in my observation.

    2. I should add that I did not ride light rail after the game in either case. With everyone leaving at once, I can see where that could be a huge problem without crowd control. People would be coming down the escalators, unable to get off, and crushing people on the platform below. I am guessing the platform could not reasonably be built big enough to handle that without crowd control, though. Maybe they would need to shut the escalators off in this case?

      1. Andy, I wonder if anyone’s ever heard of a system turning steep escalators into steep stairs. More likely, you’ll have staff controlling people boarding the escalators. And arranging passengers on platforms. Anybody know if ST has security or any other people trained for this?


    3. The station is not the primary issue. If anything, modern stations are quite efficient at flowing passengers into the platforms. That’s where the problem lies, in the combination of human behavior and train operations.

      Crowds build up on the platform until a train arrives. People never space out evenly across the platform. If you let people into the station unabated and the next train is late, the platform will quickly get overcrowded in areas. This raises the risk of a crush or stampede, or someone getting forced onto the tracks.

      1. Alex, remember how short a time most of our passengers have ever in their lives ridden service like this. I’d be surprised if it even takes a year for them to get used to it. Meantime, however, there should be platform staff to guide them.

        Maybe it’s happening already, but it seems to me that passenger assistance and guidance counts as “Security.” For which we’ve already got staff on payroll.


    4. The station is already large to handle UW students. Making it larger for ten games a year would lead to complaints that it’s overbuilt and too expensive. Why does it matter if people are lined up outside or on the mezzanine? It’s the same kind of crowd control they used on Capitol Hill Station’s opening day: cordons of lines on the platform and mezzanines that must have fit hundreds of people (I only saw them when they were empty so I’m guessing how they were used) and the rest of the people outside. Friday was one of those extraordinary days like the Seahawks parade a couple years ago, with two ballgames starting almost simultaneously and the evening rush hour. You can’t build stations large enough to fit everybody on these extraordinary days: the space would be empty 99% of the time.

      1. “Friday was one of those extraordinary days like the Seahawks parade a couple years ago…”

        And Link handled it so much better than the buses did. I remember waiting for about an hour on the Ave as bus after bus passed by without stopping because they were already full up. I’ll trade that for being held 5-10 minutes at the top of the escalator any day.

    5. I’ve been fortunate enough to have attended sporting events, concerts and the like at various venues throughout this country and the world, and in every situation I recall there was a surge of people at the end of the event (as might be expected) and a 10-15 minute delay getting on to the platform or train. People do understand that everyone waiting can’t fit on the first train and, so long as additional trains are arriving, it’s not a big deal to wait.

      If you design otherwise, you get something like the Olympiastadion S Bahn station in Berlin, which was built for the 1916 games (not held) and expanded for the 1936 games where many of the events were held on the campus around the stadium in addition to at the stadium, and the likes of John Niles complains that you really overbuilt by giving the station 10 tracks/5 platforms.

      I think that as Husky fans get used to it, they’ll wait a bit when leaving the stadium and listen to the band post-game or whatever instead of rushing to get a shuttle bus–knowing there will always be another train.

  5. What are the boardings per weekday at the Angle Lake station so far? ST must have those numbers for at least a few days.

    1. Preliminary data on that topic was supposed to be provided at today’s Ops and Admin meeting.

  6. ST says there were 18,000 boardings at Huskies station Friday. If average boardings at that station are about 10,000 on Fridays (I don’t know the actual figure, but for Q2 it averaged about 9,000 per weekday), that means about 8,000 boardings above normal, which could mean 8,000 Husksies fans used Link after the game.

    If ST was running 3-car trains every 5 minutes and every car had 200 people on it — none of which actually happened, as far as I can tell — it would have taken at least an hour and 5 minutes to get the last fan on a train. In reality, I don’t think every train had 3 cars, and I don’t think headways were only 5 minutes. I also strongly doubt that the average Link car leaving Husky station had anything close to 200 people on it. So, it could have easily taken an hour and a half to get the last fan on a Link train after the game, if, in fact, 8,000 fans really wanted to use Link after the game.

    Does anyone have actual figures on what really happened? How many 3-car trains, and 2-car trains? What were the actual average headways after the game? And how long after the game was there still a wait to get onto the platform at Husky station?

    By the way, I talked to the main crowd-control guy at the Husky station during an earlier Huskies football game this year, and he told me that they were not packing the Link cars really full after games, because he didn’t want fans to be uncomfortable. So, I would guess that they were putting far fewer than 200 people on each Link car even after the game. It is not a free-for-all like it is at International or Stadium stations after a Sounders or M’s game, where some Link cars probably do have close to 200 people on them.

    1. There was a Mariners game that day too so that some of those extra hoardings were before the UW game finished.

      I also suspect that there were many others that chose to walk to the U-District and hang out/celebrate the win, anticipating the train crowd and wanting to also avoid the surge.

      Without time-of-day data, it’s hard to know how many were in these groups.

    2. I thought 8,000 boardings would mean 4,000 getting there and 4,000 leaving. So 4,000 huskies would be leaving the game and possibly using Link to get home. Anecdotally, I know my coworker took the train there but took a bus home instead because he knew it would be crush loaded after the game. I’m sure everyone who took the train there didn’t necessarily take the train home.

      1. It would be true that systemwide, the number of boardings is the number of riders*2 if each takes a round trip. At a single station, it makes sense to separately count boardings and alightings. There are a few people upthread who said they took Link to the game, but took a bus back from the game.

      2. Boardings mean just getting on a train usually. This day’s extra station activity would be 16,000 or more.

        Subtracting something like 18,000 for the UW game and 8,000 for the Mariners game and 4,000 for Angle Lake and you are back down from 101,000 to 71,000. That’s close to the August average weekday.

    3. Because it was such a blowout the crowd at the game had started trickling out early. I would estimate that between 1/4 and 1/3 of the people there had departed before the end of the game (I never really understood this; I’m there to see a game so there’s no way I’m leaving before the final whistle). Plus there were plenty of people who rushed the field and hung around well after the game ended. Given the amount of time it takes to empty the stadium itself, getting everyone on the train over the course of an hour to an hour and a half seems pretty reasonable.

      I can also confirm that while the trains were full, they definitely weren’t crush loaded.

  7. The 59.8 percent Link August farebox recovery is also very noteworthy.

    That extra revenue should go into station improvements and/or maintenance, especially for elevators and escalators.

    1. Or towards more trains or longer trains…. NOW. ST University’s football team the Transit Hawks are clearly causing meager teams to FORFEIT!

      Just imagine if FORFEIT was an option in the NFC Western Division… hmmm, I can think of one Santa Clara football club deciding to KNEEL before the Sound Transit Seattle Seahawks!

      1. It is interesting to compare what happened on Friday at Husky Stadium to what happens at a typical Santa Clara football game. Link really performed admirably up and down the line, whereas my understanding is that transit in general to Santa Clara games is a bit of a disaster.

        Ya, Santa Clara stadium is in the middle of BFE nowhere with seats that are mainly sold to corporate big wigs who often don’t bother to even show up at the game, but I guess that is what happens when you try to cheap out on your stadium by going for cheap land.

        I really don’t understand why they didn’t put the stadium in the downtown core like every other town with a half way decent football team, but then again maybe that explains it.

      2. Yeah, because the Santa Clara football team KNEELS before the national anthem to make a point instead of going headlong into communities to HEAL communities.

        Yeah, because quite frankly, quite honestly for too long Silicon Valley considered having a car a status symbol instead of just a big bank account to buy travel.

        Yeah because anything Santa Clara and BARTfart can do, Sound Transit simply does better and louder.

      3. I was surpised to find Santa Clara stadium in the middle of nowhere near the convention center. But a closer look reveals it is a kind of transit hub, with stations for light rail, Amtrak Capitols, and ACE commuter rail all in the vicinity, and the light rail connects to Caltrain in Mountain View. That can’t have been a coincidence; they must have located it there partly because of the transit access. I’ve never been there during a game, and VTA light rail is lightly used, but it does do the job of getting from San Jose and Mountain View and Milpitas to the stadium, so I don’t see how it could be a disaster. The biggest problem is the east-west segments drop to half-hourly evenings and weekends, but I assume there’s supplemental service during ballgames.

      4. @Mike: The stadium in Santa Clara is a pretty minor transit hub if anything. It’s out on a branch of VTA light rail. VTA light rail has a lot of stations, but their walksheds cover pretty small numbers of people in pretty car-dependent areas, and it’s generally slow enough that riding all the way across the system isn’t going to be time competitive. The northern parts of the system, closest to the stadium, are mostly going through commercial areas, and they don’t bring a ton of people to work in these areas for similar reasons. ACE and the Capitol Corridor are pretty minor lines, mostly serving non-Bay Area locales. Most of the Bay Area is a very long trip from the stadium on transit.

        The Caltrain transfer doesn’t mean as much as it should. Somehow, despite running through a mostly flat area, along wide roads and new buildings, the VTA line between Mountain View Caltrain and the stadium is unusually slow even for VTA due to tight curves, lots of stoplights, and a single-tracked section. At least Caltrain is OK.

        The thing is, there are lots of people that want to live in and right around San Francisco, and a lot of businesses that want to be there, too. Maybe downtown areas are good for football stadiums, but are football stadiums the best things to put downtown? All that land for the stadium, parking, and security perimeters, all to host barely a double-digit number of games each year?

      5. @Mike Orr,

        Na, Levi Stadium is not so good for transit. VTA is sort of a low volume affair. Their normal ridership is less than half what we have with Link despite their system being over twice as long. And CalTrain hasn’t exactly stepped in to fill the void.

        What really made the stadium work was an agreement with the golf course that allowed the stadium to park cars on the fairways. That added something like 20,000 parking spots for a total of something in excess of 30,000 parking spots. Given that many people are undoubtedly parking in other, unofficial areas, it is clear that Levi is just another suburban style, car oriented, stadium like the types that so many cities have been trying to get rid of.

        Give me Link and our in-city stadiums any day. It’s one less game day hassle I can avoid.

      6. Are there any multistory, mixed-use stadium/commercial/residential complexes anywhere? That might fit into a downtown better. Since the stadium part requires a large one-story space, maybe it could be underground with multiple narrow buildings above it. Of course that wouldn’t leave room for parking underground…

      1. If not more elevators, at least larger elevators would have been nice.

        I timed an escalator trip from the platform to the bridge once, walking up the steps at a moderate pace. It came in at over 2 minutes. It’s worse when the single surface-to-bridge escalator is running in the down direction (which should seriously never be a thing).

    2. Most of the escalators are still under warrantee. No additional budgeting should be required, except more staff time to prod the contractor to get them fixed.

    3. Downtowns are good locations for baseball stadiums that are used 81 games a year, or arenas which normally get at least 100 days of use (when a hockey and basketball team share and adding concerts during the summer), but not football stadiums which maybe get used once a week during the season and only for mega concerts in the off season. Ask the people of St. Louis how they feel about that white elephant of the dome downtown and how that helped their economy.

      1. The downtown football stadium seems to work pretty well in Seattle. It helps that it’s used for both football and Seattle so the seasons run from March to December. The attached exhibit hall and theater draw other crowds in the winter months.

        It’s right next to a commuter rail station and two light rail stations so there are alternatives to driving and finding parking.

  8. I swear we need to plan a victory parade for this great victory of transit. You know maybe if we all took an honest vacation day 27 October, went to Capitol Hill IHOP for breakfast, then danced with the Sound Transit staff in the streets around the Seattle Street-crawler, and then did more victory dancing on the First Hill Streetcars up to Dick’s and then on a great sugar high of cheeseburgers, fries & milkshakes rode the light rail to International District Station and at 1330 Hours started public comment to the Sound Transit Board.

    OOOOHHHH YYYYEEEEEAAAAAHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!



  9. Friday’s record ridership may be due in small part to the Huskies and Mariners, but it is mostly due to Sound Transit’s success in accomplishing a major engineering feat of building twin tunnels under the Montlake Cut, and its political prowess in getting local governments and the University of Washington to work with it. ST has even finished boring the northern tubes, which was the riskiest part of Northgate Link construction.

    I have little reason to doubt that Sound Transit will have 600,000 daily boardings by 2042, unless, of course, ST3 gets voted down. I haven’t seen any competent alternative plans from ST3 opponents that would lead to anywhere close to that ridership, or that timeline.

    I’ve also seen little evidence that opponents have a plan to make sure the legislature doesn’t impair Sound Transit’s ability to hold a second-chance election in the coming years. The best-case scenario I see there is another Roads & Transit package that cost even more, builds a lot less transit, and has a much larger carbon footprint.

    I find ST3 to be an impressive package, with about as close to the right project list as could be put together. It doesn’t completely match my preferences, but comes much, much closer than any of the other project lists I’ve seen put forward. If everyone waited to have the project list match their preferences perfectly, no transit measure could ever get more than 5%. One of the current opponents might get lucky and get to play king/project-decider (though I don’t see anyone from the current crop who would make a good king/project-decider), and then all the other opponents would find his project list still unsupportable.

    Listen to the vast majority of transit advocates, and vote Yes on Regional Proposition 1.

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