32 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: MASS on Inside/Out”

  1. Sure wish the buses wouldn’t be kicked out of the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel until the frequency of Link picked up. But that’s me… as I use the first available vehicle (bus or Link) to connect when going between the four stations. Frequency is freedom, right?

    1. Link can’t go to higher frequency until after the buses are kicked out of the tunnel. The buses are effectively holding Link back.

      Additionally, SDOT and the street config of the RV puts a cap on Central Link of 6 min frequency. The street/signal config will not allow frequencies higher than that through the RV.

      That said, inter-lining East Link or a turn-back line would allow frequencies shorter than 6 mins. That happens in ~2024, although they could theoretically add a turn-back line before that. And of course they can add capacity at constant frequency when the new rolling stock starts to enter service.

      Also, just kicking the buses out of the DSTT will have real, tangible benefits to Link. Transit times will go down by about 2 mins, and schedule reliability will improve.

      All good things to look forward to.

      1. Thanks Lazarus. I’m just worried about 2019-2023/4 time range. After that, ze downtown Transit Tunnel is going to be so awesome!

        Nice thing too is after that, now I can get on Link at Lynnwood and NOT Westlake. Yipee!

      2. I thought it was the lack of train cars and the cost of service that was holding Link back. Are you saying we could start running trains every three minutes if the buses were kicked out? What about midday and evening service — will frequency increase then as well? I mean 10 minutes in the middle of the day is fine, but not exactly stellar (there are buses that do that, and combination of buses, like the 3/4 that do better).

        There are always trade-offs. But in this case, it isn’t a matter of favoring train riders over bus riders, it is favoring the convention center over transit riders.

      3. The DSTT can handle 3-minute trains and there could be UW-Stadium shuttles but that’s not what ST plans to do. Link’s normal peak frequency is 7-8 minutes. It went up to 6 minutes temporarily to give adequate capacity for U-Link, because ST preferred to bump frequency rather than increase train length. But then U-Link needed even more capacity than that so it added 3-car trains. But Northgate Link will go back to 7-8 minute peaks I’ve heard, and it will remain that way until East Link adds a second line bringing the combined total to 4 minutes. (Or 3 minutes? But I think 4.)

      4. That’s what I thought. It has absolutely nothing to do with the buses, and everything to do with the cost of service, demand and the number of train cars they have.

      5. The buses are clearly slowing Link down right now. The sooner they go away the better.

        Currently there are ~28 cars per hour at peak which is failing to meet demand at times (10 trains/hour, mostly 3 cars with a few 2 cars). How are 8-9 4-car trains per hour (32 or 36 cars/hour) going to be enough to handle and influx of 30,000+ riders when Northgate link opens? It’s going to have to be 40 cars/hour with 6-min headways and even that will be crowded at times.

      6. The drama plays out in 2021 when the three Northgate Link Stations open. If riders at Capitol Hill or UW can’t squeeze onto trains, there will an outcry. ST will put up a PR defense that it’s a surprise and good problem to have. We will all call it BS!

        ST could seemingly ease the crowding problem by running a “short” blue line (Northgate to South of ID/C) that turns around on the not-yet-in-service East Link tracks to the crossover that appears to be around Airport Way (going live in 2022 for testing) — or it could use the SODO siding or the OMF yard. Another question will be whether the current yard can hold all the additional train cars.

        Of course, we’d be thrilled if a miracle happened and Judkins Park opened at the same time as Northgate. But that would take strategic action by many people and I just don’t see that happening. Given how the constraint period was essentially recent concern, I couldn’t imagine the speakers in the video having the vision to address this future challenge. We have a Seattle Channel report on train overcrowding in our future sometime in 2021, and we will be told to buck it up until 2023 in that nicest controlling and arrogant Seattle way of doing things.

      7. @Joe A 12,

        You are correct, you will see an improvement in Link as soon as the buses leave the tunnel. Transit times will decrease by approx 2 mins (a productivity improvement!), and schedule reliability will improve too. These will both be real, tangible benefits to Link for operating in a rail only DSTT.

        I wouldn’t worry about the 2019 to 2023 time frame. New rolling stock begins to arrive this year, and once they clear the demonstration period and enter service they will rapidly increase Link capacity.

        @Joe Z,

        I wouldn’t worry yet about capacity when NG Link opens. New rolling stock is on the way. Going from 10 to 6 min frequency at constant train length represents a 67% increase in capacity, and going from 3 to 4 car trains represents a 33% increase in capacity. That gives ST a lot of options, and a lot of capacity to absorb?

        And what is this “cost of service” thing anyhow? It is already cheaper to move a person on Link than on a bus. If cost of service was an issue we’d want to move people from buses to rail to save money, but so far Metro hasn’t gone there for purely cost reasons.

        And if cost of service was an issue then ST would just go to longer trains. Adding an LRV to a Link train costs hardly anything, but represents a significant capacity increase. You can’t do that with a bus.

        Of course ST needs more rolling stock, but that problem starts to go away this summer.

      8. Cost of service and relative demand is why trains don’t run more often in various places around the world. Pretty simple, really. It costs a lot of money to run a train. Each train carries lots of people. Therefore, if you aren’t carrying a lot of people on each train, then they run the trains less often.

        Of course there is a balance. Agencies know that as they run the trains more often, they pick up more riders. Some agencies are willing to spend more for service, even when it costs them more money, and the trains are full.

        The point being, that what you are saying is complete bullshit. As Mike pointed out, there will be no increase in headways after the buses are kicked out. None. Zero. Not at night, not in the middle of the day, not during rush hour. In fact, as Mike pointed out, headways could very well be worse.

        Yes, the trains will be marginally faster and marginally more reliable (while the buses will be slower and less reliable). But that has nothing to do with this thread. Joe brought up the issue of frequency, otherwise known has headways. You made the claim that this would improve once the buses got kicked out, and that is simply not true. Joe’s concern is a valid one, and there will be nothing done to address it, other than asking riders to switch to surface buses and whatever improvements are made there.

      9. “Going from 10 to 6 min frequency”

        It’s not 10 to 6. 10 minutes is off-peak, which isn’t changing and has been constant since Link started. Peak service went from 7-8 minutes to 6 minutes, but as I said above it’s going back to 7-8. ST may make later decisions given the load, but that’s what it has said so far.

      10. Of course buses in the DSTT are holding Link back. As stated above, they are forcing increased Link travel times to transit the tunnel, and they are decreasing Link overall schedule reliability. These might seem like small things when viewed from a bus POV where things are often unreliable and transit times can be slow, but rail systems operate to a higher standard.

        Per frequencies, again as I stated above, Central Link has a floor of 6 min headways which is set by SDOT and the street config in the RV. With just this single line ST can’t go below that.

        But again, per my original post above, if ST wanted to, ST could add a turnback line running between Stadium and Husky Stations. Doing this would of course require the buses to be out of the tunnel. So again, buses in the DSTT are holding Link back.

        Will ST add a turnback line? Probably not, or at least not soon. With the new rolling stock coming on line they simply don’t have to. Just going from 3 to 4 car trains is a 33% increase in capacity, and they can always add still more capacity by going back to 6 min headways.

        But hey, buses have to get out of the DSTT anyhow for WSCC construction, so who really cares anyhow?

      11. ST has only 62 LRV, so their Link service pattern will not change in March. As Laz estimates, it will probably be more reliable. The midday headway of 10 minutes is longer than necessary.

      12. ST will start receiving 2-3 light rail cars starting in summer of this year. By the time Northgate Link opens, ST should have 40 new light rail cars. (https://www.progressiverailroading.com/mechanical/article/Sound-Transit-orders-30-light-rail-vehicles-from-Siemens–51485)

        That should enable four-car trains by the end of this year or next year. When Northgate Link opens, a second short line could operate using the newly available cars.

        I don’t think available light rail cars are the problem.

  2. Another unspecific, generalized rah-rah program. The only thing I’ve learned is how much certain people like their egos stroked as on-camera “experts” — and anyone watching several of these programs already know that. The mere fact that no numerical charts are featured or presented (Surveyed mode shares? Budgets? Numbers of users? Travel time changes for any mode? Accident reductions by more?) is the ultimate indication of the program’s uselessness.

    1. What work have you done that would justify you being on that stage instead of any of those four guests?

      1. I don’t think I should be on that stage. I merely don’t think the program itself has value. The problem here is in the decision to produce a program at this time — without showing data. Without data, the panel cannot say that bicycling doubled as fact, for example.

    2. How about basic numerical facts?

      1. What percent of AVW users were going somewhere Downtown? What percent we’re going to work Downtown? That directly informs what kinds of solutions should be employed.

      2. If bicycling mode share doubled, what does that mean? For example, going from 300 to 600 or from 1 to 2 percent isn’t really significant.

      3. What else besides the buses leaving the tunnel is causing the problem, and why does it end in 2023? The obvious impacts are clearly Link related — although there is no discussion for ST to add short-turning trains before East Link in 2023. There wasn’t even a mention of the Connect 2020 period or the ability to soon have four car trains.

      4. Where is the data on time of day? They repeatedly mention times of day, but there are no data presented. If it’s happening , there is data to prove it.

      Perhaps I am mistaken in thinking that a TV program is PR and not journalism. Still, watching it doesn’t tell anyone anything — and a watcher is probably asking more questions about data conclusions rather than less.

      1. 1. Half I think.

        2. Things bog down quickly when it reaches a tipping point, like supermarket checkout lines or lifting heavier weights, or the global oil supply/demand which is right at the margin. They said a small number of people switching to bikes is having a significant effect on congestion because it’s hear the tipping point. I have no reason to disbelieve that.

        3, Viaduct demolition, waterfront park construction, downtown building construction, convention center construction, Madison RapidRide construction, streetcar construction (although I guess that won’t happen until it’s fully funded).

        It’s a public-affairs TV show, a discussion with a panel of insiders, not a news report.

      2. See Mike. You can give some credible answers! It shouldn’t take much research to answer them specifically or quantitatively.

        Nowhere in this program are those clearly specified or quantified. The entire program was generalities. That’s at the core of my comment. The program is useless!

  3. Unsung Heroes of the Snowpocalypse.

    During one of the snow days, I was walking to the store and noticed an elderly woman clearing snow off her porch and a couple of steps with a broom. I went out of my way and asked her if she wouldn’t mind also clearing the snow from the bus stop in front of her neighbor’s house. And, yes, it was an operational snow route bus stop. Anyway, on my return home, she was clearing snow from the bus stop, so I felt good about making a small difference in the lives of transit users during one of the worst snow weeks this region has seen in a long time.

  4. I noticed that Sound Transit updated their website and to me the updated site is not user friendly.

    On Monday Light Rail will be on their Saturday schedule so I wanted to see that schedule but it took 5 attempts to finally get to that schedule. It used to be easy and user friendly but this new updates one seems it was designed by an IT Tech person so it may be tech friendly but not user or customer friendly.

    I can never understand when companies or in this case Sound Transit update their websites and make it more difficult for their customers to use while their old websites were user friendly.

    1. Reminds of a complaint Bill Gates sent to staff in 2003 about certain parts of Windows not being user friendly,

      “In fact it is more like a puzzle that you get to solve.”

  5. The sidewalks in Bridal Trails look like the Khumbu Icefall. The snowplows buried them. As of today, the route 245 still has to make middle-of-the-lane stops and people have to walk in the street!

    The Eastside deserves better.

  6. With trains like the Schwebebahn, no wonder Germans love public transit (Citylab). With a video in German about the history of the suspended train with wheels on top. I rode it in 1998. There’s a direct transfer from the S-Bahn and it comes every few minutes. But it seemed pretty slow, and it runs along the middle of the river, which I thought might be tiresome to residents to have this big metal thing over their river. The views from it were interesting.

  7. If you spend any time at all in the tunnel you can tell it is not the buses that are messing with link. it’s crappy ST operations. Multi minute dwell times even with no buses in the station. Until ST learns how to run its toy train this will be an issue with or without the buses. Removing the buses will result in a poorer rider experience for bus patrons period.

    1. Usually when a Link train holds at a station it is because the bus ahead of it has not cleared the next station. Link has to hold until it does.

      This is exactly the type of thing that will improve once the buses are out of the tunnel.

  8. If anything, buses are currently more likely to be delayed in the tunnel by trains not having cleared the station ahead not the other way around. Link fanboys clearly do not use the tunnel as it is currently configured. March23rd will be a great day…unless you are a bus rider.

    1. There is no evidence to support what you claim. And, in fact, the very example you cite is an example of buses delaying Link. So thank you very much for making my case for me.

      March 23rd will in fact be a very interesting day. I will be in the Andes on that day, but I’m sure I will be able to hear the Seattle wailing and gnashing of teeth even from there.

      I’m sure even this will pass. This city will be better off with a Link only DSTT. The future is upon us. O looking back now.

    2. yes the modal friction in the DSTT is reciprocal. The U Link extension reduced the Link delay to bus. The agencies did not do much to speed bus fare collection.

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