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.