Carpocalypse comes Monday, January 14, as the Alaskan Way Viaduct will shut down forever at 10 pm on the evening of Friday, January 11. That will leave up to 90,000 daily car trips trying to find other ways to get into and out of downtown for at least the following three weeks until SR 99 is connected to the new tollway tunnel under downtown.
King County and SDoT have invested heavily into enabling more trips on the King County Water Taxi and more transportation to the water taxi, as West Seattle will be the area most impacted by the shutdown.
Rideshare companies are offering improved deals to get more people to the train stations, as well as select transit centers. However, per Sound Transit spokesperson Kimberly Reason, there will be no extra trains or capacity. The Link fleet is maxed out. The BNSF tracks are also maxed out on usage, so there is no space to add any extra Sounder runs. For those who would like a cheat sheet on when to expect 2-car Link trains, sorry that can’t be done. The only tip I can offer is wait close to the end of the second car, and be prepared to board the rear car, whether it be the second or third. Or if you are travelling between 9 am and 3 pm or on weekends, expect all the trains to be 3 cars.
Sound Transit posted tips to commuters to get through Carpocalypse on The Platform Tuesday. The post skips over one of ST’s previous points of advice: Work from home, if you can. The sage advice remains valid for the small percentage of the workforce that has the option to telecommute. For those who can’t, try working with your employer to flex your schedule so you don’t have to travel during peak commute hours. Commute Seattle also encourages employers to work with their employees to thusly flex schedules.
The post provides charts showing that, yes, there are still seats available on Sounder. (And, yes, standing has always been allowed.) However, for Link, peak trains are nearly at capacity. If you can flex your work schedule so you don’t have to travel 6:30-8:30 am or 4:00-5:30 pm Monday-Friday, you’ll have an easier time getting on Link, and much more likelihood of finding a seat.
King County Metro has published a map showing the West Seattle and Burien bus paths while SR 99 is disconnected, after SR 99 is reconnected to the new tunnel, and once the rest of the road network is done. Additional alterations to Aurora bus routes during the SR 99 transition were unveiled Thursday, with maps forthcoming.
SDoT now has a website dedicated to helping people navigate Seattle traffic, including a car traffic map and a bike route map. Bike routes should be busier during Carpocalypse, though certainly not gridlocked the way car traffic will be if you make the unfortunate decision of attempting to drive downtown.
For those hoping more light rail vehicles are available soon, there is more bad news. The new Siemens LRVs are not expected to start being put into revenue service until the latter half of 2019. That leaves us hoping the faster loop when the buses get kicked out of the transit tunnel on March 23 will enable at least one train to be removed from the peak loop, with its cars added to a couple other trains, and maybe, possibly, being able to run with only one train, at most, sitting at each terminal station (Angle Lake Station and UW Station) at a time, so that the two saved trains can have their cars added to other trains, getting the fleet to all 3-car trains. For the time being, ST is still telling us to keep expecting some peak 2-car trains.
ST used The Platform to announce a somewhat-related service improvement that has arrived just in time for the Solstice: a unique sound for Link and Sounder ORCA tap-offs: two beeps instead of one. Merry Christmas, Mark Dublin!