28 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: Tokyo Station”

  1. I’ve been contemplating the East Link transfer hassle at International District – Chinatown Station lately. Specifically, I’ve imagined how a center transfer platform could be added. Since we are five years away, we don’t have time and funding to design something major and expensive — so we are best left to advocating for an inexpensive solution that could be realistically opened in 2023. Making the several thousand transferring riders ride up escalators and then walk down stairs (or wait for and use tiny elevators) seems cruel and unnecessary.

    Several future East Link stations have pedestrian-only crossings at tracks either in front or behind stopped trains. Could this be done here? Given the anticipated frequencies of two combined lines, getting a “gap” to cross both tracks simultaneously seems difficult. However, crossing one track at a time seems doable. The crossing also would mean that stair or elevator access would not be required (although great to have).

    Two options seem apparent. One would be to have two crossings (in front of and behind stopped trains) to only one side. The other would be to have crossings at each end that go only in one direction (either both in front of a train or behind one) so that someone would need to walk the entire platform length to cross both tracks.

    Safety features (bollards, gates and/or railings with gaps for aligning with train doors) along with walk/don’t walk lights could be added to help with that issue.

    A few questions do emerge:

    1. Was this low-cost solution ever seriously considered here?

    2. Will the new vehicles allow for train doors on both sides to open simultaneously?

    3. Is a low-cost solution attractive enough to ST that they would divert funds to do this (perhaps led or funded by Eastside interests)? I’d think that it would only take a few million dollars, and the current construction raises the consciousness of the issue because it’s now more real and imminent.

    4. Are there other fatal flaw design issues that would exist?

    Like others, I have wished for a center platform as the only platform here. However, I see no project or funding to create any solution to this issue. We’ve passed the time for big ticket solutions and can realistically only do something low-cost and quick.

    I think we should raise this issue up again with the goal of having a solution in place on opening day. That will only happen if ST initiates and develops a design and budgets a project in roughly the next 2 years.

    Do others here feel this way? Is there an advocate on the ST Board that would take this up?

    1. Just to be clear: I’m talking about pouring a center platform for pedestrians as an additional platform (not moving or removing the existing platforms or tracks), and adding pedestrian track crossings (just one track for a crossing) to reach a side platform behind or in front of where trains stop for pedestrian access to get off the platform if needed.

    2. I don’t know about the Kinki-Sharyo cars currently in use, but the Siemens cars in use on MAX open the doors on both sides regularly at several stations. For some reason they can’t close simultaneously but it is only several seconds difference.

      Not sure why you need the end crossings? As close as ID is to the surface just adding two elevators and staircases to the surface shouldn’t be that difficult or expensive.

      1. I suggest the pedestrian track crossing because it would give a rider multiple access points (easing emergency exiting issues), and would avoid the costs and design challenges of installing an elevator and stairs. If they can be added, it’s even better!

        I’m mainly interested in reactivating a discussion to finding a solution to the major upcoming hassle in 2023 if nothing is done.

    3. The step down from the platform to roadway would mean that the crossing would not be ada accessible, unless you build ramps. But, with 4 car trains taking up the entire platform, there is nowhere to put the ramps without messing up the level boarding.

      Fortunately, the ID station is not that deep, and it’s not going to be that big of a climb.

      Nor is it clear how many people will really be making that transfer. For many trips, switching to the 7 or 106 at Judkins Park station, or I-405 BRT at Bellevue Transit Center may be faster.

      1. I am talking about pouring a center platform to be level with trains, and pouring a track crossing that is ADA compatible like the one at a East Msin station in Bellevue.

        The appears to be some room on the north end to create a crossing beyond the platform’s end point. I’m more sure that there is room at the south end. I think that the train stop position in one direction could probably be moved a few feet to open up enough crossing distance.

        I still think there are at least 49 steps. That’s the equivalent of going down 2.5 house or office building floors. That’s not inconsequential for many if not most people — especially with a Seatac luggage or little kids going to ball games.

    4. >> Nor is it clear how many people will really be making that transfer.

      That is what I wonder about as well. There are a lot of possible combinations, but here are some:

      Bellevue to Stadium — Not sure if it is worth the hassle. My guess is most would rather just walk to the ballpark (even for a baseball game) rather than wait to take the train one stop, especially since the train would likely be full. It is one thing to wait one more stop (while you are already on) — it is another to transfer.

      Bellevue to SoDo — Definitely. But a small market.

      Bellevue to Beacon Hill — Definitely. But as you go north of the station, it probably makes more sense to take the 36 to I. D. and save yourself one transfer.

      Bellevue to Mount Baker — Probably a lot faster to just catch a bus from Judkins Park.

      Bellevue to Rainier Valley — Maybe if you are headed somewhere close to a Link stop, but otherwise the 7 is a better bet. If the 106 (or something similar) gets more frequent, then the bus would be better for all of Rainier Valley.

      Bellevue to SeaTac — Isn’t that what I-405 BRT is for?

      Judkins Park, Mercer Island or South Bellevue to SeaTac — Definitely. these places don’t have a lot of people, though — they are places which connect well with buses (or in the case of the last two, have big parking lots).

      Other Bellevue/Redmond stops to other places. Same sort of dynamic.

      All in all, I just don’t see a lot of people making a transfer. Some, just not lots. I do think it makes sense to design a station (any station) so that transfers are easy, but I’m just not sure it is worth spending a lot of money in this case.

      I think the dynamic is different for West Seattle to Bellevue (where I could see more transfers) and Ballard Link to the north end (where we will have the most).

      1. Microsoft to Seatac and Beacon Hill, Spring District to Seatac, anywhere south of Seatac until Federal Way (or Tacoma after 2030) to anywhere on a East Link east of 405 until Redmond. Don’t forget that this will be the place to transfer until the second tunnel opens in 2035.

      2. Yeah, there will be people who do that, but I’m saying not that many. Beacon Hill is only one stop. About 2,000 people a day go from there towards downtown and the U-District. I think far less will head to the East Side. There are several Rainier Valley stops, but it isn’t clear whether this will be the fastest way to get there (it is now, but that could change overnight if they ran the 106 more often). Likewise, trips like Redmond to SeaTac are very long in general, and very long via Link. From Overlake to SeaTac is 53 minutes (if my calculations are correct) and that doesn’t count waiting for the trains (neither one of which will ever be more frequent than every six minutes). I just don’t see that many people doing that. Likewise, something like Federal Way to Microsoft is well over an hour, and that is likely a three seat ride (get to the Federal Way station, transfer to the other train, etc.). More likely it is a four seat ride.

        The only connection that clearly couldn’t be beat by a bus (now or in the future) is the one to Beacon Hill. Most of the other connections are extremely far. In general, not that many people commute for over an hour every day (and most of those trips are about an hour and a half each way when you factor in getting to the station and getting to work). If there were, then more buses on 405 would make sense. If it turns out I’m wrong — if lots of people really are headed from the south end to the east side, then building in a shortcut version of the 405 BRT (e. g. SeaTac to Bellevue express) would make a lot of sense. As it is, I think people would be better off just taking that bus, even though it might add another transfer.

      3. I see your point, but I don’t think these are going to be super-popular trips. The airport station, today, is just not that big in terms of overall ridership. Also, these are long trips you’re talking about, so the minute or two saved by not having to up and down again is tiny compared to the overall length of the trip.

      4. With RapidRide F and 405 BRT happening, something like extending the 560 to Redmond and skipping Renton and one of the Bellevue stops might be in order.

        There were numerous announcements at SeaTac for flights to Redmond when I was there a couple of weeks ago. There seems to be a lot of demand for SeaTac – Redmond but not from the segment of the population that is going to want to use transit to do it.

        In any event, relative to everything else, adding a middle platform there seems like it would be fairly cheap, even with staircases and elevators.

      5. @Glenn, if you were hearing announcements for airplane flights, they were to Redmond, Oregon. Redmond, Washington doesn’t have an airport.

        I like the idea of a faster 560, but I’m not convinced that skipping Renton is the right way to do it.

      6. You are all missing another point: frequency. ST 560 runs every 30 minutes today. East Link will run every 8. Central Link will run every 8. Won’t that be a powerful draw?

        405 BRT is proposed to be every 10 minutes according to ST3. But East Link and Central Link will be every 6! 405 BRT will not go to Seatac; it will go to Burien. SeaTac travelers will have to transfer at TIBS as now planned.

        In fact, many of the East Link materials that list travel time present SeaTac as a destination, mentioning an IDC transfer! Go look at the document archives!

        We will drop millions more of dollars on a 130th station that will get less use than any low-cost transfer built here. It’s too bad that ST hasn’t disclosed what the forecast for use is.

      7. The 560 serves SeaTac airport, but 405 BRT will not. I’d imagine the 560 will go away, and Link-Link will be the primary option for Eastsiders heading to the airport.

        Putting aside speed & frequency, the higher dependability of a Link ride verses a bus on 405 is a huge improvement for someone trying to catch a flight.

      8. You are all missing another point: frequency. ST 560 runs every 30 minutes today. East Link will run every 8. Central Link will run every 8. Won’t that be a powerful draw?

        Yes, definitely. That is why I mentioned the caveat — frequency matters a lot. Trips to Columbia City, Othello and Rainier Beach are better by train right now because the 106 is so infrequent. But as I said, that could change.

        The same is true for I-405 service. I could easily see a bus that goes directly from SeaTac to Bellevue. Even if it didn’t, I could see lots of people making a two seat ride to SeaTac from the East Side. Either take the 405 BRT and ride the train, or take a train or bus to Bellevue TC and then catch the express bus to SeaTac. That is way better than the two seat ride involving a train transfer in downtown Seattle. Meanwhile, the biggest set of riders from the East Side to SeaTac (those from downtown Bellevue) would have a much faster one seat ride.

        This also works for commuters. Folks from Federal Way to downtown Bellevue will transfer there. Even people headed to Redmond would take that bus, as the time savings are substantial. Not counting the transfer, the trip from SeaTac to Bellevue is 48 minutes. A bus can do that in around 20 (or at least it will be able to, once the BAT lanes are done). That is close to a half hour faster — worth dealing with the extra hassle of transfers, and unless the bus is really infrequent (every half hour) worth dealing with as well. Even if it isn’t — even if it does run every half hour, it would still be preferable as a timed transfer (which seems fairly easy given the reliability of Link).

        The point is, running a bus like that adds a lot more to the system than adding platforms. Which is cheaper? I have no idea. Can you justify a bus like that — in other words, will lots of people ride it? Again, I have no idea. But if you can’t — if there simply aren’t that many people making that sort of commute, then it is hard to see how you could justify building the platform. Oh, and it is quite possible a bus like that makes sense *only* during rush hour, as what asdf2 said is true — there really aren’t that many people headed to the airport via transit.

        We will drop millions more of dollars on a 130th station that will get less use than any low-cost transfer built here.

        Sorry, but I think that is ridiculous. Ridership depends a lot on bus restructures. But assuming that Metro runs a bus connecting Lake City with Bitter Lake, that alone is worth about 10,000 riders a day. That seems high, obviously, but the 41 carries that. Not all the riders of the 41 are headed downtown, but most are. It carries so many because it enables various parts of the north end to get to downtown quickly. A Link stop at NE 130th would not only do the same, but also provide quick access to the UW and Capitol Hill. The time improvement for a lot of those rides are dramatic over just taking buses.

        You just aren’t going to get a lot of riders making that transfer at I. D. — my guess you will be lucky to get 1,000 a day. That would be one third the ridership of Beacon Hill right now, which is the only connection that can’t be improved with bus service. If there really are lots of people from MLK Way headed to Bellevue, then Metro will improve bus service from there to Judkins Park (and that wouldn’t take much). If there really are a lot of people from the south end headed to the East Side, then ST will add an express as suggested. Either improvement sounds like a solid investment that would add a lot more value for the folks your improvement is trying to serve.

      9. You are all missing another point: frequency. ST 560 runs every 30 minutes today. East Link will run every 8. Central Link will run every 8. Won’t that be a powerful draw?

        Frequency is a powerful draw for some types of trips. Airport trips are somewhat different. Heathrow Express trains run every half hour or so, while the Piccadilly Line runs every few minutes. Quite a few people pay extra for the infrequent faster trip rather than take the Underground.

        Of course, a lot of people take the Piccadilly line since the London Underground serves a vast area and connections from various areas are better using that method.

        Either way, transfers at International District shouldn’t suck.

  2. Why not have this one decided by a vote by entire list of LINK train operators and supervisors? My guess is that results r will start with an “H” and end with an “O!!!!” Often with “F” replacing the “H”.

    No offense meant, Glenn, but how many four-car trains does MAX run, at what headways? Every second a LINK train is delayed starts a back-up that’ll reverberate the whole length of the line at least convenient time.. Platform boarding and exit are trouble enough.

    For 28 years, buses have wasted lost operating money because stopping for runners is not an infraction, let alone the termination it deserves. Check mirrors, then eyes and controller forward. Period. Not a single Tunnel station permits crossing trackway. Risk Management has low threshold of panic.

    Stadium, SODO, Columbia City, Othello, Rainier Beach and MAX? Doubt LINK or MAX drivers would complain about cost of future undercuts. But main difference between IDS and the rest is how compacted platform space is. None of the rest have, what is it, twelve feet of platform space between trackway edge and a ceiling-high polished stone wall?

    The plaza over IDS was specifically intended for International District events, including an outdoor market. For platform access, could use current patio space of Union Station for access to southbound platform, similar space dug out from under Fifth Avenue. Origami wall-sculpture can be unbolted and moved. Could be part of modifications for new ST lines added by ST-3.

    Also be worth its cost to get rid of “Low Bid” stipulation for elevators and escalators. Is that required by law, or just gentlemen’s agreement so Gothenburg and Oslo won’t get ridiculed for ending up with Breda streetcar fleets? LINK drivers and supervisors, floor’s yours.

    Mark Dublin

    1. There are periods where MAX is scheduled to be two minutes apart. They probably couldn’t do this if Gateway didn’t have three tracks and one track with a platform on both sides. One or two timetable slots have them a minute apart but it’s not normal.

      I’m not convinced that having a track crossing in a low visibility area like the tunnel stations. I can’t think of anywhere where this is done.

      I was thinking more of a mini-“Spanish Solution” where the middle platform would mostly be for transfers, but most passengers would probably continue to use the side platforms. You’d need enough staircase capacity to meet whatever the fire code requires, plus elevators for maintenance access and the event someone in a wheelchair gets off on that side.

      Considering much of the station area between tracks is already open to the outside, I don’t see how a few center platform structures would interfere with the market. It’s already not being used.

      1. Even a system like San Diego’s Trolley (which uses tons of track crossings at stations, at-grade and elevated) doesn’t bother with its lone underground station. It’s just too hard to make foolproof.

      2. Glenn, the plaza I”m talking about is basically the roof over International District staging. Its whole purpose was to be open area, really a park.

        The plaza was definitely intended to host things with an Asiatic theme- like a permanent outdoor market. I don’t remember the area got much use for anything large and public. And I think it would definitely bring IDS to life, as designers intended.

        The bus phase of DSTT required that the center lane be a passing lane, both for going around buses disabled or operating lift and parking tow vehicles. When tunnel is only for trains, center platforms really are best.

        I don’t think we’ve ever done it, but University Street Station had cross track, to get trains around a stoppage. If this is still a consideration, center platform could still have a switch for that purpose. Would mean two un-connected platforms with escalators and elevators.

        For the plaza at IDS designed for a market and other outdoor public uses, problem is that since the elevators and escalators serve side platforms now, center platform will require new ones be located a few yards away.

        Looking forward to massive festival with giant gold lions and dragons chasing after the dumpster trucks hauling the old cursed machines to the fiery electric underworld at the west end of the Spokane Street Bridge. Maybe ceremony will include re-attaching the fantastic Origami designs on the wall of the Northbound platform now.

      3. I think a middle platform for only transfers – i.e. it’s not the intended platform for people heading to the surface – is a good idea, it’s just a question of how can it be done in compliance with ADA and Fire code. The center platform would certainly need an emergency exit stairway, but will it also need an elevator?

      4. Mark, I don’t think the plaza would have to be changed – there is a large opening above the station just to the north of it that extends partially over where the center platform would go. I’m not sure if a stair or elevator would work there without knowing the actual available width for the platform, but it’s potentially possible (as it would be on the north side of the same opening). An elevator could also be placed south of the plaza between the two existing stair/escalator openings.

        I’m not too familiar with the codes as they pertain to transit station design; my guess is that an elevator would be required at the center platform as ADA frowns on “separate but equal” reasoning and crossing the tracks would definitely fall into that category as the only means of egress for people with mobility issues. Whether or not one elevator is sufficient for that purpose I wouldn’t know without some code review.

        For life safety purposes I think you could make the argument that egress could also be over the trackway (controlled) to the north and south platforms in addition to stairs and an elevator in the center platform. For this to work a sufficient compliant curb cut/ramp would likely be required at each end of the platform. It is probably possible to do this as a ramp at the platform ends would not interfere with a car door location.

        I’m in favor of a center platform as a means of transfer if it can be made to work within the parameters of the existing station – it is always superior design to not force people to change levels unless absolutely necessary.

      5. If the cost of adding an elevator and stairs is included, it’s not far from just adding new stairs in the middle of the current side platforms (probably a switchback to squeeze in between the bracing, or outside of the bracing, and adding down escalators where the current stairs are). That would not only help the east-south transfers but would benefit every rider transferring or using the station. These are all reasonable design concepts and we have no idea of the costs or how many riders would benefit.

        I’ll add that a Judkins Park at-grade pedestrian track crossing is being built right now. Although not fully covered, it’s happening at the next station away inside a freeway median on East Link.

        Most importantly, can this be explored by ST? I’ve never seen ST mention this in a report, but the history of supporting documents is long. Our armchair architecture and discussion is good — but the time for action is here!

  3. Even Tokyo is not without its own confusing station name overlaps.

    Try looking for “Tama station”

    1. Hmm, Tama Center monorail and the adjacent Keio (as in the Keio line) Tama Center, Seems very straightforward. Did I miss something there?

      1. Various tama stations:
        Tama Center
        Tama Plaza
        Tama
        Minami Tama
        Tamagawa
        Futago Tamagawa
        (plus others)

        Granted, the names are all technically different, but so are:
        University District,
        University of Washington and
        University Street

        Equally confusing to those who don’t know the lines and just look for “University” or “Tama” on a map. Tourists have trouble with this kind of thing all of the time, especially if they only half heard the name from someone in a language they barely speak.

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