A time-lapse compressing 30 minutes of people during the morning rush hour in to one minute. Shinagawa, however, is not the busiest station in Tokyo. That distinction goes to Shinjuku Station.

45 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: Shinagawa Station Rush”

  1. Is the ST550 still on reroute from BTC to Main St? If so, why? There are still signs on the bus stops listing an indefinite reroute, yet the construction on NE 4th St and Bellevue Way is completed.

    1. Speaking of the 550, Carl: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b0A9-oUoMug

      Though wonder how many of those loaders get written up for failing to check ORCA cards or yell whatever they say when coach is full? Also obvious that whatever Japanese is for LINK needs more four car trains.

      Still, notice how passengers instinctively know to let heavier-direction flow take the center, and other move up the sides.But also sense that in Japan, like in San Francisco, ridership is getting low enough to make this video show final trip of a non-performing run.

      Though Washington State Legislature already has a delegation on a flight to Tokyo to see if equipment-operators in those sharp loaders’ uniforms can station giant bulldozers at every ramp to reduce drivers’ car tabs by getting their plates and a everything between them into I-5 every morning rush.


      1. Great video. I’ve ridden the Yamanote line in those conditions – but I think that was in the 1980’s! Tokyo keeps building more subways like the Oedo line which is also a loop that overlaps, and the Hanzomon line, so I think the Yamanote is no longer as bad.

        Remind me again why we need to keep the buses on the outskirts of town so that cars can keep moving. And why we don’t make more transit-only lanes instead.

      2. I was reviewing the London and Moscow networks Friday evening, and what struck me is the dizzying number of lines and stations.

        When I was in Moscow in 1996 there were around 10 metro lines, including a ring line, and I won’t even count the number of streetcfars, trolleybuses, and elektrichkas (commuter rail lines). I visted somebody lived beyond the metro and took a marshrutnaya taksi (routed taxi van) to it, but a metro extension was under construction. Now the 10 lines have multiplied in to 12, two more are under construction, `18 extension stations on five lines are under construction, a second ring line opened last year, and a third ring line is under construction,k and there’s a crosstown monorail. The lines have gotten so many that they now have numbers as well as names and colors. (The under-construction lines don’t have numbers yet.)

        When I was in London in 2002 there were 12 Underground lines, 2 DLR lines, and the Croydon tram. The Jubilee line had just opened. Now there are 11 Underground lines, 5 DLR lines, a 7-line Overground network with 13 branches (the missing Underground line was incorporated into it). more tram lines, and an Emirates Air Line cable car (gondola?).

        This shows how much transit a metropolis of fifteen million people and growing needs if there are no freeways through the city. They keep building one line after another and can’t stop or the existing lines would melt down with overcrowding.

        It almost makes a mockery out of the question. “Where would I want to live and what route would I take to get to a handful of destinations?” There are so many choices that it’s impossible to think of them all.

      3. And Crossrail.

        And the London Night Tube. There are now several lines with owl service Friday and Saturday on at least part of them, and the frequency is every 10 minutes or less. Wikipedia says that upgrades to the signaling and stations is what made owl trains possible around the maintenance schedule.

  2. Last week I took some guests from outside the country touring around Seattle using Metro.

    It reminded me how tourist-unfriendly our fare products/policies are.

    Most cities in Europe have a small-group all-day pass. It generally covers groups of 4-5 persons; sometimes it is two adults plus 3 kids, and is generally around the price of two day passes.

    Alternatively most cities have an all-day pass that is priced between 2 fares and 3 fares, which would mean $5-7.50 inside King County.

    Our all-day pass at $8 is more than three fares which I wasn’t sure we would need. But further barriers to getting an all-day pass was that we would need to buy $5 ORCA cards, and that we weren’t starting near a TVM, so the all-day pass was essentially inaccessible to them logistically and priced prohibitively. (And with the slow online load times, you can’t even buy one yourself unless you plan 24 hours ahead unless you happen to live at a stop with an TVM).

    It sure would be nice if the fare machines could issue day media like they do in many other markets. Although I guess we will eventually get to mobile ticketing, but who knows when.

    I addition to better day passes, visitors and even our residents who don’t have monthly passes would benefit from 3-day and 7-day passes for those times when either they have a few days free or a series of medical or court appointments, and there is suddenly a group of days they would like to use transit – or a more economical day pass. This was less of an issue before the RFA went away, but with the RFA gone, the $8 day pass is too expensive and too hard to get for someone coming into town at $2.50 or 2.75 who isn’t really sure whether he will need more than 2 fares. Capping the fares on an ORCA as an implicit daypass would be a solution (but still not for travelers who don’t have a good reason to invest $5 in an ORCA they will likely never use again.)

    Is the next gen ORCA project going to address some of these topics? If not, I wish it would be added to their agenda.

    1. Understatement that custom requires being delivered from an MG convertible while wearing a tweed cap and a trim mustache, and preceded by “I say, Old Chap!”

      Call and ask about a paper all-day pass. Or how to find out what senior fare is for one of them? Forget next generation of ORCA. One phone call from The Desk of…(Flip a Coin, ST Board!) should at least fix it so all an inspector needs to do with a monthly pass is to make sure it’s valid.

      And where exactly, anywhere from UW Station to Angle Lake, from any wall poster to telephone information, let alone ST book of instruction, tell a visitor (or a local) about how failure to “Tap Off” can turn a dutiful “Tap On” into Fare Evasion?

      Seriously,does anybody know how many people have actually paid the $124 dollar fine since LINK opened? If answer is more than zero, system could be looking at a settlement that’ll leave ST-3 with pedicabs. And big dodge-em cars for LINK. At least if plaintiff is white and rich enough to live in a closet in Seattle.

      Bet the Fare Inspectors resent this tap-crap enough to wish their uniforms included Vulcan phasers set at “Logic!”


      1. Fair point. I doubt they would have known what to do with ORCAs. Turned out we didn’t ride Link or Rapid Ride, more like the 33, 40, 32, etc. Sad that so many of our trolleys like the 44 are dieselized very weekend, the noise can be a bit overwhelming. Even I had to figure out that the cash fare for two adults and one kid is $6.50. As far as I can tell the drivers didn’t care what they paid and handed out transfers like candy. My friend who paid for 3 tried to give back the extra transfer when handed 4 transfers, and told me that he assumed the driver has to account for the number of transfers handed out when he submits his till at the end of his shift. Ha-ha.

      2. I explain about tapping off to someone quite frequently. ORCA Riders need some guidance.

        ST needs to add instructions at every ORCA reader. A standardized board hanging above each reader would really help! Expecting a rider to just know is an awful and lazy approach to take.

      3. I was at a stop on Westlake yesterday that serves RapidRide and the Streetcar. There were two ORCA readers that look identical on opposite sides of some street furniture. One was marked “Streetcar Only” without reference to the fact that there was another one. And the other one was marked “RapidRide Only”. Both painted the same yellow. Do we really need two freaking ORCA readers and riders can’t tap and get on the first vehicle that comes? Fix the fare policy to remove these idiotic differences – the revenue impact is immaterial, it simplifies it for riders, should speed service, make ORCA more attractive.

        Mark, it’s enough to make me Donald when we have these stupid complexities that make service more difficult and have no possible justification other than that we have multiple political entities that each set their own conflicting policies. Appoint me dictator and I’ll fix it all and they can all get a percentage of the revenue and the last decimal doesn’t matter.

      4. I was at a bus stop tapping my card trying to transfer to Rapid Ride and see my card balance which is often displayed in a small font in the corner of the screen. I’d already paid enough money that morning that it indicated just a transfer with no additional charge as I expected.

        I didn’t catch the balance so knee jerk reaction I scanned it again just to see the balance. “TRIP CANCELLED” is displayed. Awwww !@#$. Now what realm of the twilight zone did I enter? Did I just destroy my entire transfer and have to pay again or risk being caught for fare evasion? Why would anybody want voluntarily destroy a free transfer?

      5. Just tap it again and you are back. Its a feature if, say, you are in the tunnel and you tap on to the light rail, and a bus that you can take comes first. Tap off, then catch the bus.

    1. Probably same reason gray letters saying “CASHIER” to the left of the moving sign are sometimes backwards. Have noticed average electronic sign message comes out strange on every “still” on a digital pic.

      Maybe the shaking hanging sign is designed to make its letters hold still for tourist cameras.
      OK. Somebody tell us the real reason before this one goes Viral.


    2. It’s not the letters that are moving but the entire monitor screen. The left one is shaking like an earthquake. The right one is only shaking a little bit. They must be hanging on cords and swaying in the wind, but so slowly that only a time-lapse camera can perceive it. That’s like how plants grow: the branches circle around as if surveying the area and they extend and add leaves but it takes a time-lapse camera to perceive it.

  3. Carl, I know we live in a Post-Truth world now, but tell us the truth: Would you and the rest of your angry delay-lynching mob of fellow passengers have liked it if the driver HAD cared what anybody paid?

    Bet it was a complaint of yours that set fare policy for the northbound 41 at Westlake every Friday pm rush. Call and tell your reps you made a mistake or we’ll put it on Twitter that your name is Carl, which is a well known alias for Donald.


    1. I much prefer to keep the buses moving and on-time over fare collection. At least for the tunnel routes prior to 10pm it would be best if they had been kept pay on exit. Or why not off-board fare collection. We have ORCA readers on the platforms. Here’s a novel idea – make the Link are the same flat fare that every in-county bus has and make every tap their ORCA. Why the hell does Link need to be different?

      And how did I become Donald?

      1. The buses have different fares from one another if you’re going between counties (ST) or zones (Metro). The readers won’t know which bus you’re boarding, so a peak hour adult fare could be $2.75 or $3.25 or $3.75

      2. No pay on exit! That was confusing to the extreme. It’s one thing on commuter routes that get the same people every day, but another thing on routes that get visitors and occasional riders. I had it all down pat by visualizing it geographically: pay on the non-downtown side except routes that don’t go downtown. But then it changed from 24 hours to before 7pm, and that screwed me up for years because I don’t think temporally, I was repeatedly not thinking what time of day it was and entering or exiting the wrong way. I never did get it fully down by the time the Ride Free Area was abolished. And forget explaining it to visitors. “Why is it pay as you leave? Buses are always pay as you enter. What if somebody gets on and doesn’t have money?” Well, that happened too.

      3. There are no multi-county buses in the tunnel. If we establish a single in county fare for all buses and Link then the whole problem is solved. Everyone with ORCA can tap and not worry which vehicle they use and no one has to tap off. The service speedup and therefore lower operating costs should more than pay for any missing 50c. Replace loaders with fare enforcement on the tunnel routes.

      4. Here’s another idea: Do like they do in some other transit systems and have card readers at each door and give people the habit to always tap on and tap off. This is how it works in Amsterdam. People could board and leave at any door as well.

      5. Really sorry, Carl. Our communication is stuck in a murderous STB feedback loop. Just messing with you anyhow. We see eye to eye.

        But the problem is that never in this Nation’s history have two commentors been so savagely attacked by the Fake Press. Or suffered so much at the hands of Leakers.

        Or been dishonestly accused of withholding our income tax returns alleging we’re making too much money, when in fact we’re trying to conceal the fact we don’t have any.

        Not to mention how much less we’ll have if we lose a fraction of the lawsuits we’ve been served with. Screw the Special Prosecutor! If they bring in the Assistant DA from Hackensack we’ll be looking at life without parole for low crimes and misdemeanors.

        So we must now occupy ourselves with getting Fare Inspection to cite the millions of voters who either voted illegally or sneaked across the border from Idaho. Sad…


  4. Can someone explain the odd experience I had on the 32/75 a week ago Friday. Bus #3694 was scheduled to depart Seattle Center at 3:49. The bus is sitting right there empty. The reader-board counts down to “0” then resets and counts down from 7. The driver gets in and we leave at 3:56. 22 minutes later we find ourselves behind another 32 (3669) in Wallingford. OneBusAway reports that we’re running about 8 minutes late (duh) and the other one is 22 minutes late.

    In the U-District, as the 32s become 75s, we pass the 3669 go onto campus and skip almost all of the stops. We also pass another, disabled 75.

    So: Why did my bus start late in the first place? Why bunch it up with another 32? Why skip stops when people are expecting a (late) 75?

    It seems to be any one of these events is not designed to inspire confidence in Metro’s schedule.

    1. Peter, 3:49 says it. Until buses get their own lanes with signal preempt, it’s impossible to keep them on time in any traffic. Let alone weekday PM rush.

      In the DSTT, buses should have always run on headway, not schedule. With increasing passenger loads now, same should hold for all routes. Do readers note actual buses, or just schedules?

      If it’s the second one, they ought to switch to reading “about ten minute wait.”


      1. That really doesn’t explain it. The bus started out late so of course it would remain late. The 32/75 isn’t even in the tunnel. Just seems totally weird to deliberately start a run late.

  5. Bertha’s trailing gear is almost completely gone (maybe only 1 day of work left), and the cutterhead/Pressure Sheild assembly is nearly gone too. Now they are saying “early” 2019 for the start of viaduct removal.

    Question: Has Seattle Tunnel Partners made up some time? And could the DBT open in late 2018 instead of 2019?

    And if the DBT opens even a few months early, will Metro be ready with a service implementation plan? My gut tells me “no”, but I’m not sure Metro would do a very good job anyhow. So maybe it doesn’t really matter.

    Now if we could just get congestion relief tolling on both I-90 and I-5 in DT Seattle to handle all the diversion.

    1. I went on the One Center City walk yesterday and one of the brochures says Alaskan Way will close on 2019 and reopen for buses in 2020 and for cars in 2023. So there will be three years when buses will have Alaskan Way all to their own. So that’s something. I assume ferry traffic will be there too. As for buses in the tunnel, probably not until West Seattle Link, unless the One Center City reorg pushes some downtown buses into the tunnel (which means they’d go to SLU instead of downtown).

  6. NYC subway delays blamed on unrealistic schedules (Citylab). “Not only do timetables measure delays (i.e., whether trains are arriving “on time”), they may also be causing them—because people are not machines.”

    “So, if drivers are rarely on time, why do schedules exist at all? Would there even be delays to measure if they didn’t? This might sound like a stoner reverie. Passengers don’t care about schedules; they just want to know that there’s a train coming soon. Timetables, however, do matter to planners, dispatchers, and operators. They determine the number of trains that can be in service at a given time, help manage signal timings and employee hours, and prevent collisions”

    Um, passengers don’t care about schedules if the train’s coming every 3-5 minutes. Then it’s just a 5-minute addition their travel time — a small part — and a 5-minute uncertainty on their next transfer. But if a train or bus comes every 10-30 minutes, then it’s a big deal. My commute, if I take a path involving Link, involves one train and 1-2 buses. So up to 10 minutes + 15 minutes + 15 minutes of waiting, and a 10-minute walk at one or both ends (or another bus). For a worst-case scenario of 40 minutes of walking and waiting. Or if a “15-minute bus” actually comes in 20 or 30 minutes, longer than that. Or when I’m coming home from Bellevue on Sunday or evenings, the B comes every 15 minutes transferring to a 550 or 271 coming every 30 minutes. Sometimes that ends up with a 25-minute wait too. In cases like this, passengers do care about schedules.

    Question of the day: does the article’s premise, that the unreliability on the NYC subway and formerly on the London Underground are mainly caused by schedules with insufficient padding time, apply to Metro buses?

    1. Mike, is the problem that trains are running off-schedule? Or leaving holes in service and arriving in bunches? If passengers are noticing that, it’s not a schedule problem. Wonder if London’s been taking a leaf from BART and DC Metro and deferring maintenance too.


    2. I took it to mean people are waiting a long time for a train. I doubt most passengers even read the schedules to the minute, except perhaps at late night. So trains are running late and into the time of their next run, and that causes missed runs and perhaps bunching.

      London, if you read the article, used to have this problem but it diminished substantially when the author and his team created a de facto schedule based on what the dispatchers and drivers are actually doing to compensate for the longer dwell times at rush hour and unscheduled bathroom breaks when layover time shrinks to zero and driver-shift changes. That information had not been getting back to the planners to adjust future schedules. London instituted new schedules and reliability increased. New York has not yet done this; the article says it should.

    3. Insufficient padding time is clearly an issue on the 11, at least in the afternoons – it seems impossible for them to keep to any semblance of a schedule. If the delays are equivalent, then it’s not such a problem as nobody cares if they are catching a bus that should have been there 15 min earlier when the route is on a 15 minute schedule. All too often, however, you either get bus bunching or abnormally long periods between buses (up to 25 minutes). If you’ve just missed one and the next one is 25+ minutes away, even a middle-aged guy like me can walk to Madison Park from downtown before the next bus catches up. The thing about walking the route is that you can see that there are very few actual locations where traffic slows the bus – so hopefully there can be some reasonable fixes. Whatever the reason, they aren’t given enough real-world time to consistently complete the route on time.

      (The 8 seems even worse, but because of the more frequent headways there normally seems to be one coming shortly whenever I want to catch one at Capitol Hill station.)

      1. The 11 needs six coaches in the afternoon rush to maintain 15 minute headways, rather than the 5 they have during AM and mid-day. Probably only for 2 roundtrips…

    4. Bus bunching is a feature to me; I plan on it. For example, if I see a lot of people waiting for the 41 in the DSST, ID stop, I assume that it is the beginning of a bunch, then take the second or even third bus (waiting for the Lake City specific 41) and catch that. I’d rather get the seat. If I guess correctly I’ve lost only a few minutes and save my sanity.

      I also do that in the morning with the 522 and 312, which also have a tendency to bunch.

      I also assume that I am helping to even up the ridership in the bunch.

      1. It’s not a feature for the people who are still waiting for the previous bus or the one before that, because those are the other buses in the bunch.

  7. Maybe this is a far fetched idea, but here it goes. We make all modes of public transporation frequency based instead of schedule based. In each neighborhood there would be a transfer hub. Could be smaller than a park and ride because it would require only kiss and ride spots. The frequencies would have to be coordinated so all modes would work most of the time. For example: when Link runs at 6 minute intervals, the busses would have to be 12 or 24 minute intervals. The hubs not near any rail would have a grace period for everyone to transfer. It sounds very difficult but in the long run, I think it would reduce transfer misses. That can increase my commute by as much as an hour. Nothing is perfect because of traffic, but it would be better than leaving 1.5 hours early beacause of the missed transfer.

    1. Traffic moves closer to perfection, meaning absence, the more heat the passenger public applies to its elected representatives. It’s a lot less law of nature than, say, snowstorms. Whether the Mayor can handle clearance or not.


  8. I was just in Japan and everyone told me to use Shinagawa Station instead of Tokyo Station to leave the area due to the crowds and how Tokyo Station connects a lot more with the city’s rail lines. This video is pretty accurate to how it was on my visit!

    We should have been on board with widespread rail in the US decades ago, but at least we are starting to realize it.

  9. I preferred taking the Chuo-cide Line out of Shinjuku. Highest number of jumpers in the world because ….density makes people happy.

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