In an afternoon tweet, Sound Transit announced that cell service has finally come to the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel (DSTT) between Westlake and International District. Previously delayed by finite staffing resources, Sound Transit says that T-Mobile customers have full service starting today (March 28), Verizon customers will have service beginning Thursday (March 30), with ATT following in “early April”. All networks have 911 capability beginning today.

The staffing and resource limitations also meant that the work had to be done more sequentially than initially planned. This delayed the rollout of service to Beacon Hill, where work will now begin. Service to Beacon Hill is expected later this year, but a more specific timeline remains elusive.

So now you can listen to STB’s podcast, or check bus transfers, or scroll Twitter, or have (quiet!) phone conversations to your heart’s content.

22 Replies to “Tunnel Cell Service Is Live”

    1. Buses don’t use cellular backhaul; they use King County Metro’s 700 MHz system which was installed when that system went live a few years ago.

      1. The buses might not, but many of the transit display systems use cell modems to get their data feed. This might make that more reliable.

    1. Trolleys have been detoured to 2nd, which is now a parking lot, so we’ll see how this goes

      1. Second? I thought there wasn’t any trolley wire on there (as well as its being one-way), so they’d have to go to First?

      2. They are running off-wire on 2nd. I can see it out the window right now. I think they only plan to detour for a few blocks, though progress is quite slow.

      3. That’s the thing – I’m sure they have the offside capabilities for a few blocks – but not necessarily for 30 min of no progress

      4. I’ve driven them a good long distance back to base when my ropes got tangled. As long as they don’t have the AC or heat on, they can just roll down the hill. With the regen breaks they might gain battery.

    2. Third avenue is not what?

      (I’m pretty sure cell service on Third Ave works just fine)

      1. There was a bus outage downtown on Tuesday; it’s referring to reroutes. My Metro alert said, “Transit service is currently rerouted off of 3rd Av between Spring St and Union St due to a blockage.” My ST alert said, “ST Express riders should anticipate delays for all buses traveling through downtown Seattle this afternoon due street blockages and police activity near 2nd Ave and University St. At this time no surface street stops are impacted. The University St Station tunnel entrances are closed. If you need Link or ST Express 550 please use the Pioneer Square or Westlake Stations. Link and ST Express 550 are traveling in the tunnel. They will not drop-off or pick-up at University St Station.”

    1. Coverage includes stations and tunnels, even the short bus tunnel between Pine Street and Convention Place.

  1. One good thing about wireless in the DSTT: Everybody down there will have another source of emergency information besides the reader-boards and automatic announcements.

    Mark Dublin

  2. Call me weird while everyone else is glued to their phones, I much rather gaze out the window and think about stuff, sometimes I manage to solve tricky work problems by having time to disengage from everything. Also good for your eyes to spend some time looking at things more than a few feet away especially if you spend most of your day in front of a computer.

    1. Yes. The problem is that part of the transit infrastructure is privatized: you need a phone to find out when your bus is coming, whether it’s late, whether you missed it, and to see any alerts about breakdowns or reroutes. These should be on a screen at the stops so that everybody can see them but they’re not. Thus people need phones to avoid waiting an hour without knowing whether their bus or train will come or not.

    2. I’d much rather gaze out the windows as well. That’s why I loved the express buses between the u-dist and the tunnel. But if you gaze out the window while in the tunnel between the UW Station and Westlake you don’t really see anything except maybe your own reflection.

      It can be nice to gaze out the windows at each station, but there’s still lots of tunnel to do through to get to the Int’l Station. I like the option of being able to SMS text with people via cell service while in any portion of the tunnel.

  3. My argument is that if someone is talking on the train, at least they aren’t talking on the road and being distracted. A conversation on a normally noisy bus is fine, but I would not attempt to chat for long on an express bus bound from the suburbs where everyone is trying to sleep.

  4. The story is a bit confusing. The tweet heralds is as IDS to UW, but then states it’s Westlake to UW. I don’t see it as an extension of existing, as service up until now has been only in the DSTT stations, not between them.

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