Judkins Park an hour before the march (photo by the author)

Saturday’s Womxns’ Marches were unprecedented in their breadth of participation, drawing 120,000 in Seattle and nearly 4 million across the country (and it’s worth nothing that President Trump’s 320 campaign rallies drew 1.8 million total). Beginning in a low-density neighborhood park and bisecting downtown on its way to Seattle Center, the march was fairly disruptive to transportation arterials, particularly for the 50 or so routes that use or cross Jackson St or 4th Avenue. Jackson and 4th were totally impassable for several hours, as the sheer volume of marchers occupied the entire route simultaneously.

Metro said in a release yesterday that its ridership was 40% higher than normal for a Saturday, with 250,000 boardings compared to the usual 180,000. And though Link has crested 100,000 before when sports and weekday commutes converged, the Womxn’s march set a Saturday record for Link ridership, cracking 80,000 for the first time and doubling up on its normal Saturday tally of around 40,000.

Metro and Sound Transit added unscheduled service to 17 routes and dispatched them as needed, though crushloads and delays were unavoidable. Had the march been held 6 years from now, 4-car trains could have arrived at Judkins Park Station up to every 4 minutes, significantly alleviating the burden. But Seattleites love their transit and chose it in large numbers Saturday. Well done, y’all.

35 Replies to “Womxn’s March Leads to Saturday Ridership Records”

  1. I had plans in Federal Way, so my goal was to get out of Seattle as fast as possible, which naturally led me to Link. At Capitol Hill southbound, it was wall-to-wall packed (these are just UW boardings) with protestors. But at IDS, nearly every single protestor deboarded, presumably to transfer to a bus. Basically no one used mt. Baker station, even though Judkins Park is about a mile from that station (which is no big deal in the context of a 3.5 mile march), and waiting for a bus at IDS will take much longer than just waking from MBS.

    Why wasn’t everyone getting off at Mount Baker station?

    1. My friend and I arrived at the march late, so we thought we’d join the march in progress so we didn’t miss it. Obviously, in retrospect, we could have gone down to Judkins Park and done the full march since the entire route was full for several hours, but we didn’t really think about the true scale of the thing.

      But yeah, we got off at IDS and joined the march directly rather than bussing to Judkins.

    2. Most people don’t know much about southeast Seattle. They probably thought Mt Baker station was farther away than it is. Or they think it’s unsafe to walk in Rainier Valley.

      I slept in and joined at Pine Street at 2pm. I rendezvoued with a woman who had gone to Judkins Park right at 10am. She said the park was so full she couldn’t get into it, the group plans collapsed (they were going to send people out in groups), and it was an hour after the march started that she was able to start marching (so noon). So it took her two hours to march from there to Union Street, although she must have stopped a lot along the way because I was able to saunter from Pine Street to Blanchard Street and back to the Cinerama and wait for ten minutes until she got there. Fourth Avenue was a solid wall of people as far as the eye could see both in front and behind. So I was glad I’d joined it at Pine Street and skipped the 2-hour wait and long walk from Judkins Park. Belltown was plenty of experience. I only got to see a couple of the puppets though, and none of the soapbox speakers. All the speakers must have been further south.

    3. I’m seeing 1.2 mile walk from either station to an edge of the park.

      The 1.2mile Google maps walking route from Mt. Baker showed me walking along Rainier for a bunch of that. Maybe there’s a nice aternative but I’m not familiar with it. For me, I’m coming from the north so IDS is one stop earlier, but even if Mt Baker was more direct I would have gotten off at IDS because I’m under the impression that the IDS route would have been the more enjoyable walking route.

      In retrospect it also turned out also to be the right decision to walk the reverse-route to get to the park since some of the streets were already partially closed off which worked better for so many people walking to Judkins.

      Given the lines for Route 48 in the udistrict, I didn’t even consider trying to catch a bus from the IDS. I was sure walking would be better for me.

      1. More scenic options from Mt. Baker Station to Judkins Park do exist, but the distance is a bit longer than 1.2 miles. Here’s option that’s 1.8 miles (https://www.google.com/maps/dir/47.5758934,-122.2974018/47.593558,-122.3037318/@47.5819034,-122.3017314,16z/data=!4m14!4m13!1m10!3m4!1m2!1d-122.2940247!2d47.5860174!3s0x54906af4c3ffd469:0x1a4dcd632dfbf179!3m4!1m2!1d-122.2950005!2d47.5895704!3s0x54906af3acfba38d:0xd5170e90e34a67a6!1m0!3e2).

        For even better scenery, you can go further east through Colman Park, in exchange for another few tenths, plus a couple hundred feet of elevation gain.

    4. As for myself, I didn’t know the exact location of MBS in relation to Judkins Park and didn’t want to risk ending up on the wrong side of the freeway.

    5. I boarded at Sodo, along with several other marchers, on the late side. About half of us took Link toward Mt. Baker, the other half took it toward IDS. I did Mt. Baker. I’m glad I got the full length of the route, but the downside was it was like arriving at the back of a massive traffic jam of pedestrians. A speaker on a stage was trying to direct people, but it looked like an enormous motionless gridlock of people squished together along the entire west side of the park. This was 11:30 to noon.

      My wife and I worked our way around the edge to get sign making materials and Ethiopian lunch on Jackson just east of the march, while waiting for the crowd to clear enough to join in. Even an hour later, at 1, it was hard to join and get started. So if you wanted to march but save time, joining in from the west (like the IDS disembarkers) was definitely the better way to go.

  2. I took Link from Beacon Hill to the ID around 11:00 in order to join the march there. I was the only person waiting on the platform (out of about 50 total) that was positioned to board the third car. The first two cars were completely full, and I don’t believe that everyone waiting got on the train. Surprisingly, only 4 of those people walked back to the third car when the train arrived. The third car was spacious – everyone who wanted a seat had one. The same was true when I took the return route from Westlake to Beacon Hill at 3:00.
    Sound Transit needs to do a better job of indicating that weekends always have 3-car trains, where to board each car, and find some way to announce when 3-car trains are coming on weekdays when there’s a mix of consists.

    1. At UW station at 11:30,Transit Security actively pointed out the third car, and was pretty good about pointing out where to go to use any still-running escalators down to the platform.

      There was cell service at the stations, so I could call out Seattle PD tweets that told where the front of the march was, and the organizers let you do cut-zies. I wasn’t feeling that and a bag of chips from a cold, so I did a 1/3 of the route, Westlake to Seattle Center.

      I think that all around, transit did well, especially as this was a relatively unplanned event. Thumbs up to Transit Security. The better they do and explain the third car, the better a Seattle transit rider (and serial marcher) will get. I got the feeling in my (third) train car that there were a fair number of older marchers who were trying Link for the first or second time.

      1. Exactly, I was going to mention that. You shouldn’t have to guess where to stand, with open-gangway trains, it all evens out.

    1. I was talking about special event levels of service, for which I bet it’s possible to squeeze out a bit more.

    2. Of course, pushing the Blue Line below the minimum would affect the Red Line. But there’s unlikely to be another mass march at Judkins Park. This was the only park available on short notice that could fit 70,000 people (the maximum the organizers assumed) and that the city would permit for the womxn’s march. And I assume the walk to downtown was longer than desired? So only if these conditions occur again would Judkins Park be used for a future demonstration.

      1. Judkins Park was fairly symbolic for this march though. A march that was foremost about women’s issues, but also saw many placards regarding the treatment of people of color, immegrants, and religious minorities. The fact that the route took it from the Central District through Little Saigon, Chinatown, and Japantown seemed very apropos. So I wouldn’t be surprised to see other marches that are concerned with similar social issues follow the same route.
        Something tells me that marching may be the new norm.

      1. I’m too far removed from my East Link advocacy as to understand this technically, but my conjecture is that they’ve all along been concerned about whether or not the floating span can support the weight of the track infrastructure + the trains.

        Let’s just assume that only one train can be on the bridge at any given time. The Hadley Bridge span is 1.1 mi (according to wiki – I’m assuming that’s the floating portion only). Assuming Link trains max out at 55mph, it only takes 72 seconds for a train to cross. Double that to factor in bi-directional service, and you have a theoretical minimum headway of 144 seconds, or 2.4 minutes, in each direction. Throw in some padding to mitigate any operational issues, and conceivably you could run 3-4 min headways.

        Not sure how well this theory holds up but I can’t imagine it’s technically impossible to only run every 7 minutes.

  3. It’s interesting how transit agencies across the country are responding to these marches by highlighting their ridership numbers.

    I was in DC and they were already talking about unusually high Metro ridership before the day was even done. There were lines over 30 minutes long at the D.C. Metro TVMs.

    1. I was also in DC. My experience was that the DC Metro folks did a great job of monitoring and queuing access to the platforms to promote safety, and scheduling trains to accommodate the hordes as the event ended. Their experience managing large crowds was evident. We were impressed.

    2. It isn’t really political. Locally we’ve also heard about how much transit was used for the Seahawks parade and other events. The transit records are always going to be set in concert with some major citywide events.

    3. We marched in DC and waited an hour to get on the red line after. That was with trains coming every 2 – 4 minutes.

  4. I attempted to use Link from Wallingford, around 9am, but wasn’t even able to get on a 44 to the station, things were so packed.
    I ended up taking a 62 via downtown to the end of the line at 4th/Washington, stopping in the ID for a quick breakfast, and rolling in around 10:30.

      1. Still doesn’t make sense. How do you even pronounce that? Why would you change the spelling if it verbally sounds the same? Strange.

      2. @J: Pronounce it like “women.” If you click the FAQ link Glenn provided you’ll find that the first question answered is the question about spelling.

        Here’s the answer:
        Seattle has adopted the name “Womxn’s March on Seattle” to show solidarity with the trans community, and is one of the many ways that the march seeks to promote intersectionality in this movement. Intersectionality acknowledges that different forms of discrimination intersect, overlap, and reinforce each other, and takes into account the impact of discrimination based not only on gender but also race, sexual orientation, gender identity, nationality, faith, class, disability, and other backgrounds.” More here: https://prezi.com/g-q64tlrrw3k/womxn/

      3. My interpretation of it was ‘x’ is a variable, where x can = ‘e’ (Women’s), x can = ‘y’ (Womyn’s, a term often used for queer females), etc.

  5. For awhile, might be a good idea to have either message signs or personnel direct people to the Third car. But as percentage of repeat riders goes up, word should get around. Remember how new LINK really is- I’d count its real existence as the opening of Capitol Hill and UW Stations,

    45th and University- or do they call it Brooklyn? should make trainloads look like the real Brooklyn. I was around Friday evening, and everything, and everyone, seemed to be performing very well. Was impressed with the good manners of everyone I saw, demonstrators, passers-by, and police.

    Over the next several years, good manners in the face of other kinds will be critical in holding our country together. The side that loses their cool first, loses.


    1. I believe the future light rail station at NE 45th St and Brooklyn Ave, formerly known as Brooklyn is now set to be called U District.

      I for one think this is a mistake, because Brooklyn is such a better name and also accurately reflects the area’s history before annexation. Also too many stations with University in it.

      1. They should rename University Street as Seneca Street, and UW station as “Husky Stadium Parking Crater” or maybe more usefully as “UW Medical Center”. Most people riding to UW will use the U District stop, so I think it should get the honor of “University District”.

      2. For the UW stations, I suggest Husky Stadium and The Ave, Yes, make the damn nickname official.

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