ST 132 at Pioneer Square Station - Seattle, WA
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At a press conference yesterday, Metro, Sound Transit, and SDOT released their initial plans for the post-bus tunnel era. On March 23, Sound Transit will be the sole operator of transit service in the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel (DSTT), and will run only Link light rail trains through it.

Metro and Sound Transit buses that ran through the tunnel will now run on surface streets. According to Metro, 830 daily trips will move from the tunnel to the streets. Those trips will still enjoy their own right of way through most of downtown, though the impact to reliability remains to be seen.

Some Metro routes, including workhorses like the 40 and 120, will add additional trips thanks to funds from the Seattle Transportation Benefit District (STBD). We’ll cover the changes to those routes, and a systemwide service restructure, in a later post.

Link riders will experience several major changes. Link will become more reliable and frequent, with consistent, six-minute headways. Seven routes, including Sound Transit’s high-ridership Route 550, will move from the tunnel to the surface.

The move will eliminate persistent delays in the tunnel caused by bus boarding. It will also open up capacity for Link extensions opening in 2021 and 2023, and the renovations that opening the extensions will require.

Offboard fare collection and all-door boarding on all 3rd Avenue routes should enable shorter idle times in the bus mall. All bus stops on Westlake Avenue between 3rd and Mercer will also feature offboard fare collection and all-door boarding. Metro’s service planning head, Bill Bryant, says that all-door boarding will allow Metro to move 30 more buses per hour through the 3rd Avenue corridor during peak hours.

New transit-only lanes on 5th and 6th Avenues, between Cherry Street and Olive Way, will make up for some of the lost bus capacity. SDOT’s downtown mobility chief, Heather Marx, says that restriping work and signals changes on 5th and 6th will start next week. Other signals will be upgraded as well.

Meanwhile, Metro will install offboard ORCA readers at all 3rd Avenue and Westlake stops. Bryant, says that 21 of an eventual 31 3rd Avenue and Westlake stops will have offboard fare equipment ready on March 23. The remainder of the stops will be equipped by the end of 2019. In the interim, Metro employees equipped with ORCA readers will staff stops without offboard readers during peak hours.

The Metro Customer Service Office located in Westlake station will close as part of the changes. Its final day of operation will be on March 6. As part of the rollout of the service changes, Metro will release an updated Downtown Seattle Accessibility Map for riders with disabilities. The agency will also inform riders, via the usual Rider Alert channels, about the service restructure.

128 Replies to “Getting ready for the all-train tunnel”

  1. Does anyone know if Metro will open another customer service office elsewhere to replace the Westlake station one?

    1. I didn’t use it, but it seems like the optimum location for getting a bus pass. In a San Francisco example, the bus passes are sold at the Visitor’s Center office located on the mezzanine level/ sunken plaza at Powell Street BART.

      Because it’s so close to many routes on Third Avenue, open to the public and protected from the elements, it seems like the optimal location. It also provides a limited security function for the station by putting eyes on that section of the mezzanine.

      I’m curious why some better inter-agency arrangement to keep it was set up. It seems very territorial on its face — but there could be other reasons.

  2. I also recall reading somewhere that Metro originally paid for the tunnel with 30-year bonds, issued in 1989, which finally mature in 2019. In theory, the money that was previously spent on debt payments for the downtown tunnel can now be re-directed into more bus service. Does anyone know how much money this is, and how much additional service it would buy?

    1. I’m going to guess that inflation has eaten up the value of those payments– if it was a flat line 30 year amortization at a fixed rate, then the payments were nominally flat (and declined in real terms).

      Liken it to a typical home buyer’s 30 year fixed rate mortgage; by the time they’re done paying off their mortgage, the monthly payments (principal + interest) seem like a pittance.

    1. Security office, I’m betting, with an employees-only restroom in the back.

      Pass sales can be handled by vending machines and nearby pharmacies.

      Those wanting to get reduced-fare ORCA cards will have to walk a little to the Jackson St Public Health office, but there, they get a one-stop shop for the other major public benefits that weren’t offered at Westlake.

    2. Everyone knows that those mezzanines must be as empty as possible. Aren’t those the rules at Sound Transit station? Useless mezzanine always required?

      1. ha ha – in the original EIS for the tunnel one of the comments (by me!) is about “activating” the mezzanines with various small kiosk-type things such as you mention or even small shops built in around the perimeter. I had seen these sort of things in other systems and thought they were far more vibrant (and more “eyes on the street” for public safety). Silly me, I was still in high school at the time and clearly those were not good ideas as far as Metro was concerned! I seem to recall they were concerned about trash/trash receptacles and the like, but probably just wanted to avoid dealing with anything other than operations. There was also an undercurrent of the thing being Public Space and no advertising or any other forms of private anything were ever to be seen in the tunnels (or bus shelters, or ill-fated public restrooms, etc.). I can understand it to a point, but on the other hand most of the world’s rapid transit systems have such things and they can be very useful.

        Should a lengthy pedestrian tunnel be built from the new Madison Station to First Hill, I’d hope they would provide little storefront shops like I’ve seen in similar long passageways in Rio stations – they are quite shallow but can be closed up at night and seem to have all sorts of interesting things for sale. Art and good lighting do much to promote a sense of security, but having people always around is the best way to do so.

      2. The point of mezzanines is to allow people from both platforms to access both sides of the street above. They also provide a location for ticket vending and information kiosks.

        Some cities have retail outlets in their mezzanines. Seattle does not, presumably because the stations are thought to be — and, truly, are — aesthetic showpieces.

      3. There are plenty of “aesthetic showpieces” with vibrant retail economies. For example, Grand Central Station.

        I think the dead end of Westlake’s mezzanine would be absolutely perfect for a small cafe and cocktail bar.

      4. Kyle, I didn’t say I agree with keeping the mezzanines retail free is a good idea, just that some people think that it is to preserve the architectural symmetry. They’re nearly universal in Underground stations in London, but the stations aren’t a mess, so it can be done well.

        If there are such kiosks allowed they should be required to be open throughout the span of operation, though, like at Airports.

      5. The mezzanines do provide access to both platforms and both sides of the street without going to the surface and waiting at a traffic light. The Westlake mezzanine gives access to all the major department stores, and it originally had a northeast entrance to the old Nordstrom’s building that’s now gone. If it had been built later it might have an entrance to Pacific Place. There’s a similar underground network between One Union Square, Two Union Square, the Rainier building, 5th and 6th Avenues, and the Fifth Avenue Theater, although it’s not connected to the the Westlake network. I wish some transit fans would recognize the importance of entrances on both sides of a street and sometimes all four corners of an intersection, and to all the transfer bus stops (viz. the gap between the DSTT and the eastbound Pike Street buses), and not be so negative on mezzanines. Those multiple entrances are one of the things that makes London’s, Russia’s, and other cities’ stations more convenient and useful than ours.

      6. Mezzanines are good things at side platform stations, generally speaking (the only exceptions I can think of is where it’s obvious and close to get to either platform from grade, which would mean above grade in an open space such as South Bellevue). For center platforms under a street they are required of course. If I recall correctly, Buenos Aires has several side platform stations with multiple entrances where you have no real idea if you will come out on the right platform or not. It’s a very old system however, and much like many stations in NYC or the Tube they are shallow walk-right-down-to-the-platform stations. Those are much cheaper stations to construct and can often be directly ventilated, so small or no headhouse, but you have to cross the street if you’re on the “wrong” side, and if you get off by mistake you cannot change directions without leaving the station entirely.

        Pretty much all of downtown Montreal is a station mezzanine!

        Generally speaking I prefer center platform with mezzanines but there are clearly some situations where side platforms are okay, typically in smaller volume outlying stations. Most people using those stations would inherently know where to enter.

    3. I don’t know what ST has in mind. But regular passes are in the TVMs and they take cash. The only reason to go to the desk is for a special pass, and the Jackson Street office has a more comprehensive range and more tellers. The Westlake kiosk was only staffed around the end of the month so it was closed most of the time you wanted to use it. They might as well just admit they don’t want to staff it full-time and close it.

  3. Important to note that Link frequency isn’t increasing until 2023, just reliability. 99% reliable 6-minute headways will also reduce crowding, as bunched trains will become a thing of the past unless there are disruptions of some sort. I’m so looking forward to never hearing “The train is being held due to traffic ahead. We apologize for the delay” ever again.

    1. I was wondering that, “Is off-peak frequency really increasing?” ST has never said it would.

      1. They also haven’t said anything about reducing travel time. In particular, they haven’t said whether the speed limits in the DSTT tubes go away. I suppose that might have to wait for approval from the proper federal authority, if the proper office is open at that time.

        The wait for cross traffic coming from Capitol Hill to Westlake should definitely be gone, though. The severe-tire-damage device at the ID/CS guard gate might have to stay, for construction and regular staff.

        As I witnessed last night, even non-drunk idiots continue to cross the track at Stadium Station if they don’t see the train coming too fast, so the train is forced to crawl into the station and to crawl going north. Maybe we need a pedestrian traffic cam there that can issue fines.

        Whatever the plan, I suppose Metro scheduling staff have to be in on the details ST is being coy about, so transferring outside of downtown doesn’t suddenly become worse.

      2. I’ve timed trains in the tunnel, and gotten 12 minutes southbound in the afternoon (departing Westlake to departing Intl Dist), and 2 minutes northbound at 8:30pm (arriving Intl Dist to arriving Westlake), not counting “the train is being held” delays. That suggests to me that dayime travel time will go down 2-6 minutes when the buses leave. That will bring Westlake-SeaTac down from 37 minutes (“almost 45 minutes”) to the low 30s (“just over 30 minutes”), and Intl Dist-SeaTac down from 31 minutes down to below 30. That should make some people psychologically happier.

    2. Guess what? You are still going to hear that. The toy train is already a big part of the problem.

      1. “Toy train” makes no sense if you are referring to Link, because it’s literally one of the busiest light rail systems in the U.S (and was destined to be, because any frequent train with its own ROW serving the same destinations in Seattle would be busy because of the demand and density). There will also be nothing but Link trains in there, and they board much faster then buses, so there’s literally aren’t going to be any normal delays from the trains themselves. Your post honestly doesn’t make any sense if you’re referring to Link.

      2. “Toy train” implies something that’s fun to look at but not very useful…which is very fake news. The streetcar might be a toy train, but Link is a workhorse piece of infrastructure that is both cool and useful. Seriously, do you even know what Link is? I’m hoping you’re just confused.

  4. Is there a list of which former tunnel buses will be using which surface streets? The 255 will be coming into town on 5th, and going out of town on 6th.

    1. As a 255er didn’t realize the 6th Avenue change (thought it would be 4th like when the Tunnel is closed). That will be quite a hoof compared to getting the the tunnel.

      1. Yeah this is a silly change for the255. At least it’s not too steep up union to 6th. Just wait until September when the 255 gets screwed for the second time in 2019 by the UW truncation. Metro… Let them take Link!!

      2. Link is not faster than the 255 on I-5. But it is stupid for the 255 not to serve the same stops as 545, 268, 311, etc.

      1. A Link truncation is hardly getting screwed. Link is quite fast. The time it takes the 255 to get to Westlake Station from Stewart/Denny is enough time for a Link train to get to Westlake Station all the way from UW Station. The bus will be dropping people off right at the Link station, so at least for those with Orca cards, the overhead of the transfer should be minimal (absent unusual events, such as Husky football games or the Montlake bridge being up).

        Meanwhile, it is not uncommon during rush hour to find 520/I-5 bumper to bumper all the way from Montlake Freeway Station to Stewart/Denny, with more bumper to bumper traffic within downtown, itself before the bus lane finally begins. During bad traffic days, a Link transfer easily wins. Also, lost in the noise is the fact that the 255 is getting more frequency to compensate for the transfer, as all that money spent running buses from one end of downtown to the other (with schedule padding for worst-case traffic scenarios) gets re-invested into simply running the route between Kirkland the UW more often.

      2. This doesn’t affect my commute, but I’ve been wondering about the truncation of the 520 buses at Husky Stadium and the stop at Stewart and Yale… when I’ve been on a bus all the way in (rather than doing the Link transfer), I notice a lot of people disembarking at that stop and walking north towards REI/Eastlake. That stop is a long way from Westlake (3/4 mile maybe) and a long hill from Capitol Hill. How will eastsiders on 520 get to that part of town once the buses are truncated? Is there a bus from Husky Stadium that goes there?

      3. Yeah, I live along the 255, and the REI stop is the one thing I will miss. But, it’s not as useful as it seems because it’s only there in the westbound direction; eastbound, you have to walk several blocks to 9th/Pine. If you’re shopping, this is completely backwards from what you want; when you’re hands are empty, the bus drops you off one block away; when your hands are full with merchandise, you have to walk several blocks to get to the bus.

        Typically, I don’t make out-and-back trips from Kirkland to Seattle just to shop at REI, anyway, because it’s too much travel time, just for a shopping trip. Rather, I’ll try to wait until I’m going into Seattle for other things, then do the REI shopping on the way back. (If I really need to buy something that can’t wait, I’ll shop online). I’m guessing the new way back would be route 70 to the U-district, followed by the 255 to Kirkland, but the new 255 would be running every 15 minutes 7 days/week, so even with the bus->bus transfer, the wait time would be bounded. And, I don’t think this is a particularly common trip.

        When I do use the westbound Stewart/Denny stop, it’s usually to walk to either South Lake Union, or (when traffic is especially bad) the center of downtown. Post-truncation, both of these uses for the Stewart/Denny stop become obsolete. You would just ride Link to Westlake Station and (if headed to SLU), walk to SLU from Westlake Station, which is about the same distance as from Stewart/Denny, but a lot more pleasant.

      4. This is a completely myopic view regarding the new forced transfer for the 255. Leaving downtown there is almost no time of day when the forced use of Link will be an improvement vs just getting on the 255 on 4th or Olive. Even if the travel time on Link is faster to the UW station, you have to add the minutes it takes to get to the surface, you have to cross streets, etc. The 255 is faster leaving downtown, and it is particularly so evenings and weekends. Not to mention things like last weekend’s Montlake bridge closure. Knowing how Metro handles events like that, they will expect you to take Link to UW and then a re-routed 255 going via NE 45th St, I-5, etc. To say nothing of what they will do during Husky football games…

        If there were an argument for truncation it would be during peak commute hours. Why aren’t the 252, 257, 268, 311 being truncated? That is when there is a potential argument to be made about time saving

        This will badly harm route 255. And I don’t trust that the service hours will remain if the ridership plummets. It may well be a time savings to ride ST 545 to one of the SR-520 freeway stations and transfer to the 255 there.

  5. Given the current delays I observe with the 12 making it up Marion (and general traffic congestion there) I’m concerned about how they’ll ensure reliability for buses coming up Marion from 5th to 6th. Hoping some sort of transit priority treatment (bus only lane?) happens there. I haven’t seen any details about how that routing will happen.

    1. Once they finish the Rapid Ride G along Madison, uphill RR buses will be routed along spring street instead of Marion, with an exclusive bus lane. Not sure if the 12 will be going away or not though.

    2. The G will replace the 12. Metro has various ideas about the 19th Avenue East tail, but not connecting it to a Madison route. Metro’s LRP has a modified 43 on John-19th-Aloha-23rd-Boyer-Fuhrman-UBridge-CampusPkwy. David Lawson called it “a 43 on ADD”. Or you might call it “The Revenge of the 25”.

      1. Right, yes, it’s probably good that the G will be on Spring. But *this March* several buses are going to be in an extended contraflow lane on 5th and then turn up Marion to 6th. I think they will get stuck in traffic unless something on Marion changes.

  6. I know SDOT, Metro, and ST have much more experience now than they have at any point in the past, but I honestly wonder whether we have enough transit priority in this town.

    I know the general, reflexive answer here will be “NO!” But the devil is in the details. Where exactly can we pinpoint delays occurring and is there a SLIGHTLY more aggressive RoW dedication scheme that we can do now?

    1. I don’t think anything much will be done in the short term. In general, most of the significant changes — even small ones — take a long time to implement. A good example of this is Howell — They added a bus lane, back in 2011. This was a minor change that took forever to implement, and when they finally did it, there were problems. Basically, cars were forced to use the bus lane as a transition lane. Those who entered the street from the left wanting to get on the freeway to the right used that lane in the process. There was no sign, or barrier to discourage them from doing so. Folks who realized they were in the bus lane probably tried to get out of it as soon as possible, but traffic being traffic, that took a while.

      So, the whole thing is changing again. It will be better, but still not great. It won’t be an exclusive bus lane, it will be a BAT lane. Folks trying to turn left will use that lane, which means that when they are trying to turn left and encounter pedestrians (in downtown) the bus will have to wait.

      As I mentioned in that post, the obvious answer is contraflow lanes. They have their issues, but congestion isn’t one of them (bus bunching, lack of synchronized signals are the big ones). In short, a contraflow lane would mean that at worse a bus would have to wait for another bus — but never for dozens of cars.

      But that takes money, and vision. And time, apparently. We could pretty much solve the 3rd Avenue mess with a pair of contraflow lanes on 3rd and 4th (only buses go north on 3rd and south on 4th) but it would take a long time for Seattle to actually do that. We are far more likely to hem and haw and make significant but not exactly dramatic changes in the meantime (extend the bus only hours, all door boarding, etc.). As it turns out, that is actually going to happen very soon. But adding bus lanes on Madison, for example, will take a while.

  7. It will be interesting to see how ridership will change on some of the evicted lines where riders can choose to ride Link to get outside of Downtown before transferring. It could be considered a real-world test of rider presences for system design.

    What routes are best for making this trade off? Are any affected riders already contemplating a different transit path?

    1. It is time for Metro Routes 101, 102, and 150 to terminate at a south end light rail station. For simplicity, they can all take MLK to Rainier Beach Station. Ultimately, there will need to be a more extensive restructure, but getting folks off the bus and onto light rail at Rainier Beach makes sense, for now.

      1. Someone was supposed to construct a bus pullout transit center northeast of Rainier Beach Station under the power lines, similar to what’s at the Mt. Baker Station. If 101, 102 and 150 were to terminate there, something like that would be very useful, even if you’re likely to miss a train before you could cross one and a half streets to the station.

      2. Arthur, I think that was just a suggestion here at STB.

        However, in lieu of that capital expenditure, buses arriving from the south could stop just south of Henderson. There’s no bus stop there today because there are no buses that use Martin Luther King Jr Blvd south of Henderson.

        Then the buses would cross Henderson and turn right onto Trenton for layover. When time to leave came they’d turn onto Renton Avenue, right onto Henderson, left onto King Boulevard and stop between Henderson and Fairbanks.

        This would mean that transferring passengers would only have to cross 1/2 of King Boulevard each direction.

    2. Lots depends on getting a seat.

      Heading northbound, Renton riders may want to stay seated on a bus — especially if the weather is inclimate — rather than possibly have to stand on Link.

      Heading southbound, Renton riders may want to board Downtown to make sure that they have a seat — rather than ride to SODO on Link and maybe have to stand on the bus.

      Thus, route choices may vary by peak versus non-peak.

    3. I’m not sure there’s much overlap. The 41, 255, and other north end routes don’t cross Link anywhere else. The 101, 102, and 150 meet at Stadium and SODO but that’s not a change. The future network will allow more transfers outside downtown like Roosevelt to the 62 and 45, or Judkins Park to the 7, but it’s not really there yet. I wouldn’t be taking the E, 5, 26, 28, 62, or 150 from downtown if I had better transfer choices outside downtown. If the downtown congestion gets worse maybe maybe a few people will shift to the 36 at Beacon Hill and the 106 at Rainer Beach, and take a sudden interest in the 9 and 60 between Beacon/Rainier and Broadway.

      1. Uh… when Routes 191, 102 and 150 will no longer stop at the same DSTT platforms as Link does, that’s a pretty big change! Today, there is no real advantage to transfer but that could easily change for some riders.

      2. Yeah, but Al, SoDo is so close to downtown (and so unpleasant) that I doubt anyone will change to catch a six minute frequency train to downtown, even if it is the fastest thing around. The point that Mike is making is that if you wanted to get to Capitol Hill or the UW, nothing much has changed. You can still take the bus all the way to downtown and transfer, or transfer at SoDo. Of course some will take the option that involves the least amount of walking (SoDo) but others will go as far as they can on the vehicle they are riding (it is just human nature when it comes to transit).

      3. Yes, if you’re starting from elsewhere on Link. I usually go to Convention Place for the tunnel buses, so now I’ll have to go to Westlake, and from there it’s not really worth taking Link to SODO and transferring to the 101 or 102 (or 131 or 132, so I might as well take the bus directly from its closest Westlake stop.

    4. It would be great for some of these lines to have a good Link transfer but then continue inbound to serve secondary destinations like direct service to SLU and LQA… for example the 255, transfer opportunity at UW station for downtown while continuing on to Eastlake, thru SLU to LQA.

    5. I think the most likely change will be with downtown-only trips. Last time ST presented the data, a substantial number of Link trips involved trips from one part of downtown to the other. It is hard to imagine that anyone was specifically targeting Link, but simply took the first vehicle that arrived. It was a very reasonable thing to do, and it has been going on since the 1990s.

      Now things have changed. While a train running every six minutes is quite respectable, it is by no means special, and a clear degradation from what has existed since the tunnel opened. At the same time, buses along the surface have never been better. We are back to off board payment (without the mess of the ride free zone), there are lots of buses, and they run faster than ever. They still aren’t as fast as anything in the tunnel but when you consider the superior headways and the time spent getting to the platform, that seems like the obvious choice.

      As to whether people will actually prefer taking the first available bus on the surface or the consistent and fast train — I have no idea.

      1. Thanks RossB! I forgot about those trips. I expect to see higher Link ridership due to this.

        I am curious about how Orca cards work on a round trip. Does the ticket checker examine where the tap-on occurred or just whether it is active or not? For these very short inter-Downtown trips, I could see a rider could tap on and make a round trip on one tap if this is the case.

      2. Higher Link ridership? I think you missed my point. I am arguing that you could get lower Link ridership (although only for trips that are within downtown).

        Vehicle frequency *within the downtown tunnel* is about to be much worse. Right now you can walk into a station and expect to catch a vehicle without much waiting. Maybe you catch a bus, maybe you catch a train. Either way, there isn’t much of a wait. But in about a month, the trains will run every six minutes, at best. At the same time, surface travel may show an improvement. Dwell times will be reduced as more buses have all door boarding. More streets will have more buses. We may have too many buses — resulting in slow travel — but we probably won’t have too few (hopefully we have just the right amount). This means that wait time will be minimal on various streets. All of this could easily lead to people avoiding the tunnel for trips within downtown and taking a surface bus instead.

        There is a conflicting dynamic (which is probably what you are getting at). Someone who goes into the tunnel to take a downtown-only trip currently ends up taking a bus half the time. Now they will take a train 100% of the time. I’m just saying that enough riders may simply switch to riding buses on the surface, since it is likely to be much faster overall.

      3. Link will still be faster. However, the combined 7/14/36 will be more frequent, and they may have a stop closer to your destination.

      4. The trade-off between a bus or train option every 3-4 minutes but with the possible delay of 1-2 due to congestion ahead versus a reliable 6 minutes peak or even 10 minutes seems so negligible that I doubt riders will quit going down to platforms for that reason. It even takes extra time and walking down 50 steps now so that the incrementally longer wait is less significant to a rider’s journey! Keep in mind too that subway stations are not exposed to the elements and that also is a factor in choosing the DSTT.

      5. I think Ross was talking about intra-downtown trips, where there is usually a bus every minute or less on Third rather than every 3-4. I have many times had meetings on the opposite end of downtown from my office. Prior to the buses leaving, I’d always go into a station and catch the first vehicle that came along if walking weren’t a timely option, but won’t do that going forward simply because it makes little sense from one end of downtown to the other (the exception being trips that start or end east of Westlake/5th or south of Pioneer Square). By the time I go from street to platform, wait the average 3 minutes, then go back up to the street a bus – no appreciable wait, no changing levels from where you already are – would nearly always get me where I am going faster. The improvements to Third Avenue have made that possible – before the cars were removed it might still be a wash and I’d probably take the train.

  8. It would be nice if ST left the platform level ORCA readers in place, to avoid the mass confusion as hundreds of riders would otherwise find themselves trekking back up the stairs to pay their fare and hopefully not miss the train.

    1. Yes, especially since the only ORCA readers are outside of the TVMs (not between the TVMs and the train platforms)! It’s a seriously flawed layout!

      1. Well not every TVM is inside of the readers — but many are (like the ones next to Nordstrom).

        It’s also an issue at Seatac, where many TVM users are tourists or visitors and are unfamiliar with ORCA readers.

    2. What? Place the readers (in lieu of fare gates) around an area at the top of the stairs/escalators so that you have a visual reminder that you are entering a fare-paid area and you need to tap on/off. These are going to be train stations now and the platforms are to be fare-paid areas just as they are at every single other Link station outside of downtown. Do you see hordes of people rushing back down to the mezzanines at TIBS or Sea-Tac because people standing on the platform suddenly realized you have to pay? The only exceptions to this should be at elevator doors where the platform is served directly from the street or mezzanine, and then only at the street/mezzanine level if they can’t be included within the fare-paid area (even at Beacon Hill the readers could have been placed at each end of the cross-tunnel where the platforms are accessed).

      Doing this – that is, not making the entire mezzanines part of the fare-paid area, just the platforms and their immediate entrances – means the location of the TVMs are still outside the area in most cases (Sea-Tac being a notable exception, truly a poor design in that regard). Since we do not actually use fare gates, there is no real penalty in most cases to returning to the TVMs if necessary in that sort of situation. In most cases it will not be an issue.

      Randomly scattering readers is daft and not seen in any other system I’m aware of. A fare-paid area is determined and access to that area controlled with gates or at the least readers. The downtown stations did not have this because the platforms could not be considered fare-paid areas until the buses were removed, and they were very useful when you were transferring from bus to train or v.v. (and for short trips where either a bus or train would do, whichever came first). That will no longer be an option.

      Any confusion as to having paid or not should be very short lived because nobody will be on the platforms expecting to catch anything other than a train which you by definition must have pre-paid (tapped) to ride. Moving those readers to help delineate the point at which you enter the fare-paid area makes more sense than leaving them on the platform level.

    3. There used to be good reasons why buses didn’t have all-door ORCA readers, and as time has passed and improvements have been made, I would imagine most of them have been burned out.

      1. RFA — gone.
      2. Mixed tunnel ops — gone.
      3. Zone fares — gone.

      Have we truly removed all of the policy and fare structure roadblocks, leaving only the need for capital expenditure?

  9. Peter,
    is this sentence a typo: “Those trips will still enjoy their own right of way through most of downtown, though the impact to reliability remains to be seen.”? What is “their own ROW”? Route 41 will be on 3rd Avenue, Route 255 on 5th Avenue inbound and 5th/6th avenues outbound (and without a transit lane in off-peak periods), routes 101, 102, 150, and 550 on 2nd and 4th avenues, and, Route 74 on 2nd and 5th/6th avenues. the east-west pathways may be issues: Pike-Union, Stewart, Olive Way, etc.

    1. I would have to go look but I think there are transit lanes on at least parts of 2nd, 4th, 5th, and 6th, as well as transit-only 3rd.

      1. This is correct; there are BAT lanes (so cars can use these lanes to turn right) but I think it only applies during peak hours. 3rd Ave is bus only with certain exceptions (can’t remember off the top of my head, STB has some good articles about that).

    2. Not to sound too wonky, but ROW is usually a term for land ownership and not for pavement. Development plats and highway and light rail plans show ROW lines, for example. Downtown Seattle ROW includes the public part of the sidewalks as well as the street.

      Perhaps a better term would be “designated exclusive lanes”.

    3. To raise the pendanticity, the “most” refers to the space between the intersections, and it will be shared with users of other bus routes, and people who just hang around the bus stops with no intention of ever boarding.

      Sans more red paint, enforcement, disincentives to cash payment, and off-board payment on other streets, the pathways will continue to suck, to use the technical term.

  10. 830 daily trips seems like a lot. Or is it just a drop in the bucket? Does anyone know how many daily trips are currently running on downtown surface streets?

    1. 3rd Avenue has 3,500 or 35,000? In the video on Sunday one of the panelists pointed out that the issue is the 40-something peak trips. Off-peak there’s plenty of road and bus-stop capacity. 3rd Avenue is almost at capacity, which is why they’re not putting most the buses there. The panelist said the bottleneck on 3rd is not road space but bus-stop space.

      1. Don’t worry about Sam. He knows how transit works in five languages, including “No cash payment allowed”, “Cash payment will be more expensive than electronic payment”, “No paper transfers offered downtown”, Red, and “Cameras are recording every car that ventures onto these streets and you *will* be fined.” The bottleneck is in our politicians’ hearts and heads. In some unfortunate cases, the hearts override the heads.

      2. Ten languages. Or maybe twenty now. Who do you think writes those “Fare payment is required” and “We don’t discriminate” signs?

  11. Link is absolutely a toy train. It is pretend mass transit that can’t compare to BART MARTA and many others. We have cars that are too small. Trains that are too short. And lousy frequencies that won’t be getting better for many years. In spite of this all transit decisions defer to this pretend system we have been sold. The fanboys who love this joke are insufferable in their support so that is one thing it has going for it. Who or what will Sound Transit blame when the buses are gone?_

    1. BART cars can hold about 200 people, same as Link’s. They can run 10 car consists because they built 700 foot platforms as opposed to Link’s 400. That would be massive overkill for Seattle’s needs. (Note that the Canada Line in Vancouver was recently built with 120-150 foot long platforms!)

      I agree that ST should really reconsider their fetish for having every car be totally self-contained and get some open-gangway, single operator’s cab models, but overall Link is a proper light metro that provides as much of the functionality of an old school heavy rail system as this area needs.

    2. While it is easy to find flaws in ST (in many cases, it appears to me they didn’t bother observing successful systems and started from scratch, especially on user experience), it is hardly as bad as you describe it. Do you ride it? It makes the commute a lot shorter during traffic.

      If you want to rail against a toy train, we have the streetcars which are much more deserving of scorn for their complete pointlessness without exclusive right of way and poor routing.

      1. I ride it because I am now forced to in order to get from downtown to appts at UW medical center . Soon I will be forced to ride it to take the 255 to the east side. What a bad joke but Seattle is so proud of itself.

      2. If you enjoy being stuck in traffic on the surface, you could take the 49 or 70 or 74 instead. I certainly see no attraction to the mess on I-5 when I have been on a bus going through it.

      3. @Good Grief

        Because of the separate right of way, the train would literally be faster then a bus, and can hold more people. ST has made mistakes, but that does NOT make buses a superior mode to a train for this route.

    3. For toy train, see the SLU streetcar. For a toy-sized (but still useful) train, see the Glasgow Subway (aka “The Clockwork Orange”). Link is undersized and under-frequencied compared to the heavy rail we should have built, and ST has handicapped it further with interior cab ends and 2×2 seats, but it still runs a respectable load and brings the “high-capacity” into “high-capacity transit”. Look at Link on any game day or before/after a major parade or protest: it’s effective at getting tens of thousands of people to a site all at once, and a lot better than the spaghetti of buses that tried to do the job before Link. When ST2 Link is finished it will be the mode of choice for getting out of central Seattle to a north Seattle or Bellevue or Kent-Des Moines station and continuing from there on game days or peak hours or if you’re going to a non-downtown station.

      Link’s 10-minute off-peak frequency is less than full-sized subways that run every 2-5 minutes, but it’s better than MAX or several other American light rails where each branch runs every 15 minutes. BART does that too on the Richmond-Fremont line and I think all lines. And they sometimes drop to 30 minutes (VTA Mountain View line weekends;. MAX and BART during some historical budget-cut periods).

      1. MAX has 7-8 minute headways on the “main stem” between Beaverton Transit Center and Gateway. That is the Portland equivalent of Lynnwood to the Airport, though certainly not as long.

      2. Peak period that section of MAX is closer to 2-5 minutes, depending on which hour and which segment you are looking at.

      3. “MAX has 7-8 minute headways on the “main stem” between Beaverton Transit Center and “Gateway.”

        Yes, I said on each branch. That combined headway doesn’t help you if you’re east of Gateway, and there’s not a lot of places you can live between downtown and Gateway, and you may not be able to afford them either.

      4. Some of those center platforms on the Glasgow Subway make potential center platform(s) in the DSTT look positively gargantuan!

      5. Actually, during peak hours the headway on the Blue Line drops to about eight minutes itself. During midday, beyond Gateway and beyond Beaverton Transit Center, you are right; the Blue Line runs alone and every 15 minutes. But people seem to use it heavily, at least out in the Tech Corridor. I believe there is a plan under consideration to extend the Red Line to Orenco. That would extend the 7-8 minute headways most of the way to Hillsboro.

        And yes, between Gateway and the Rose Quarter the Green Line overlays additional service, but it runs “between” every other Red/Blue pair so it doesn’t help all that much. There’s a 4-4-7 minute pattern instead of 5-5-5.

      6. I’m using the base off-peak frequency. That’s what matters most of the day. 9-5 commuters are a subset of people, and commuting to work is only a minority of people’s trips. (It may look like a majority, but only for people who drive for their non-work trips.) And the additional peak frequency is more about ensuring adequate capacity than about frequency convenience.

      7. commuting to work is only a minority of people’s trips

        Of course they are. But they are the “minority” that matters. We wouldn’t have ANY rail transit on the West Coast except the Muni Metro which still exists because of topography were it not for commuter demand. People will not invest $54 billion to build “all-day” transit. That is the simple truth.

        Just because we choose to take transit certainly does not mean that the majority — heck, even a significant minority — of people do. They’d rather drive if they can, and if there were not some indirect benefit to them through the provision of an alternative when traffic is JUST. TOO. HORRID, many of them wouldn’t vote a dime for transit.

      8. “commuting to work [is] the “minority” that matters.”

        Yes, in some sense. But we need to recognize all the factors and keep them in their proper proportion. The reason trips to work get extra consideration is that’s how people make money to support their families, and their work is what makes the economy go round and generates the tax base so that the city can provide services and properly function. Peak hours get extra consideration because that’s when the most ridership is, the most difficulty of getting around due to congestion is, and the activists are loudest saying “Give us transit, this is what we’re paying taxes for.” A lot of those activists have a myopic view that if Link were peak-only it would be fine, because that’s when the freeways are congested and when People Like Them go to work.

        But there’s another reason for transit, an that’s to make it possible to not have a car and use transit for all your trips. For that you need full-time frequent transit. That’s why less than half the housholds in New York and London have cars, because most of them can walk to a subway station or bus stop at any time, a train or bus will invariably come in a few minutes, and it will take them in the direction they’re going. And their subways are so comprehensive that many residents and visitors can use them for almost all their trips and can ignore the bus network. Our subway will not be nearly as comprehensive so buses will play a greater role in the neighborhoods it doesn’t cover and the gaps between stations. But conceptually we can think of the buses as trackless streetcars. and expect them to be always frequent, ubiquidous, and to have lane/signal priority.

        In Moscow and St Petersburg all subways, streetcars, trolleybues, and autobuses run every five minutes; if it exists, it’s that frequent; so there are no generally-available schedules. Metro lines run every 2-3 minutes, and only get down to 5 minutes between 8pm and midnight. At the edges of the main city autobuses may run every 10-20 minutes, and routed taxis (vans) leave when full (around every fifteen minutes). And I went to a town an hour outside Moscow, on an hourly regional train, and the streetcar from the train seemed to leave every 15-20 minutes. So this is what fully uniquidous transit would look like, if we really wanted to minimize carbon emissions, reduce the space taken up by roads and parking spaces, and minimize the social ills of isolation and stress of driving in traffic (which doubtless leads to some of our chronic health problems), and oh air pollution. And you can’t do it with peak-only service, or frequent-only-peak service, or trips that take 30 minutes peak but an hour off-peak because there are no express buses.

      9. Oh, for God’s sake, Mike, I know the arguments for all-day transit. I’ve been an all-day transit user since the late 1960’s in San Francisco. But all-day transit won’t get you a new rail system in any city in which one doesn’t already exist.

        Moscow and St. Petersburg are each several million in size and have HUGE Soviet-era apartment blocks in which most people live. Ergo, they have high density and nowhere for people to park millions of cars. So they have well-patronized all-day transit, just as New York, London, Paris, Beijing, Tokyo and Hong Kong do. If you will notice, all those cities share one very obvious common attribute: they were already really big and relatively dense before the post-World War II worldwide baby boom.

        Everything you say about frequent transit reducing carbon emissions is true IN A DENSE CITY. Central Puget Sound is not that dense and doesn’t have terrible traffic in the middle of the day. People would not vote a cumulative $75 billion for a rail system serving mid-day transit. They just NEVER would do that.

    4. We have cars that are too small. Trains that are too short.

      Nonsense. Very few of our trips are crowded (look at the annual report). As we extend Link (to serve more of the city) we will run longer trains and we will run them more often. Comparing our trains to BART is silly. Might as well compare our trains to New York. BART needs really big trains because roughly half the city is on the other side of the bay. We have nothing like that. It is also a much bigger city with areas of much larger density.

      The only advantage to having bigger trains is that we could run them less often. As it is, we don’t exactly have great frequency. I have no idea why you want to run the trains less often.

      1. Many urban heavy rail transit lines run shorter cars and even shorter trains. CTA Red Line cars are very short, for example.

        Plus, most light rail vehicles are about the same length no matter if it’s San Francisco, LA or Portland. One major problem that plagues US light rail vehicles is the lack of gangways to walk between cars and the excessive square footage to have a driver cab at each end.

        As for the larger “toy train” comment, I think that riders see Link not as a toy. Its use already blows away most US light rail systems on a per mile basis (only Boston and San Francisco are higher)! it currently has the highest single line system light rail ridership in the US by far.

        I do think there are stakeholders and elected officials that still implicitly look at light rail as a “toy”. That includes those people who think it it’s something too noisy or ugly to view but have less interest in riding (the tunnel advocates in West Seattle and Ballard), those who want the train to run places even though there is no compelling productivity benefit by going there (Paine Field) and those that think that good station access and circulation are optional rather than essential. Those all are arguably driven by “toy” attitudes towards light rail.

      2. You’d have an excuse for even larger station mezzanines, I suppose.

        Seriously though, longer trains means more expensive stations. Chicago Transit Authority does just fine with trains really close to the length Link is running.

      3. I’ve lived in or commuted through the U-District for thirty years. Before Link there was the 71/72/73X, which always had reliability, crowding, and bus bunching problems.They used the express lanes peak direction, and northbound in the later morning they used I-5 in the regular lanes. The express lanes were best but not always congestion free at 7:30am. The regular lanes were hit-or-miss, but when you got to the 45th exit there was a line of cars starting from the exit ramp to at least Roosevelt. Southbound they used Eastlake when they couldn’t use the express lanes, and it usually took 20 minutes from Campus Parkway to Convention Place, but once or twice a week it took 30 minutes, and at least a couple times a month it took 45 minutes or longer because of congestion at the Stewart-Denny exit and on Stewart Street and in the DSTT. In the last couple years before U-Link started, I went to Convention Place in the AM peak, and 1-3 times a week I had to wait for the second because the first one was full, or it would be 10 minutes late and I’d miss my transfer in the U-District, and when it got to Campus Parkway it took several minutes to unload and load as all the people got out the back and went to the front to show the driver their pass, and people would have to get off and back on again in order to let others disembark.

        And when the Huskies played the Apple Cup at CLink, people from the frats and apartments were waiting at the 45th, 47th, and 50th Street stops as bus after bus passed them full, and some started walking to the stops at 55th and Ravenna. I wasn’t in a hurry to get home so I waited 45 minutes and then took the 49, where I also saw a few people who had been at my stop. So that was how well the buses handled big events and rush hour in the absence of transit lanes.

        Compare that to Link which takes 6 minutes from Westlake to UW Station, and will take 8 or 9 minutes from Westlake to U-District Station, and 12 minutes from Westlake to Roosevelt, and 15 minutes from Westlake to Northgate. Reliably, except when there’s a power outage or something blocks the Rainier Valley tracks. And those happen only 1% of the time as unpredictable road congestion.

  12. Route 41 is the busiest tunnel route, right? It’s great that the 41 won’t have to do the time-wasting loop by the Convention Center anymore. But it’s bad that the 41 won’t get to use the northbound express lanes anymore.

    Looking at some of the peak routes, it’s nice that the 74 and 76 are back together, since they both serve the NW part of the U District. A bit strange that the 308 is separated from the 312/522 since the both serve the SR522 corridor, but the 308 only runs like 3 times a day so no biggie.

    1. But it’s bad that the 41 won’t get to use the northbound express lanes anymore.

      Oh God, that’s terrible. Sorry for the swearing, but that is just awful. It is bad enough the buses will have to slog their way through downtown, but running the 41 on the regular I-5 lanes is a disaster. The main line is much slower than the express lanes, and there are no HOV lanes on it. To make matters worse it means that the 41 has to travel farther from the exit ramp to the transit center.

      Sometimes I think the plan for this city is to make bus service so terrible that we will all be overjoyed when they provide even halfway decent train service. They should try the same thing in Ballard. Run all the Ballard buses up and over Queen Anne Hill, then folks will be happy with a station at 14th, or 11th or anywhere within a mile or two of Ballard.

      (Anyway, thanks for the info — it is going to get a lot worse until it gets better).

    2. Larry, the “Service Change” notice on Metro’s website states: “Route 41 will operate to downtown Seattle on Stewart St and 3rd Ave, and to Northgate on 3rd Ave and Olive Way/Howell St.”. That sure sounds like they intend for the bus to use the express lanes in the peak directions. It is certainly possible for it to do so.

      Grant, the Stewart/Howell express lane ramp is the “general traffic” exit for downtown Seattle. It would be ideal for WSDOT to swap the Pike/Union HOV-only ramp for Stewart/Howell, but there may be some HOV destinations along Pike/Union that they think are important.

      Or maybe they just don’t want to change the signage and striping…..

      In any case, it sounds like the buses WILL still have access to the express lanes in the peak direction.

      1. The plan is to use the express lanes *to* downtown, but use the mainline *out of* downtown.

        If you look at the “Service and Alerts” page for the 41 ( you can see this document: In there, they have this for the northbound bus:

        L on NB Prefontaine Pl S
        C on NB 3 Av
        R on EB Stewart St
        C on EB Olive Way
        L on NB I-5
        C on regular route

        (I assume “C” stands for continue, and “L” for left). That sure looks to me like the plan is to use the Olive way on-ramp and get on the mainline. For the southbound bus they start out with “Regular route to SB I-5 & Stewart St” which I can only assume to mean using the express lanes when they are in your favor (as that is the current routing). So basically the bus should be reasonably fast getting to downtown, but very slow getting to Northgate.

      2. Well sure. In the morning southbound the buses will use the express lanes. Northbound they’ll travel on Olive across the freeway and then use the main lanes. In the afternoon it will be the reverse; northbound they’ll use Olive then Howell and enter the express lanes just south of Stewart. Both directions will be southbound on Stewart.

        They wouldn’t say “Howell/Olive” in the Service Change if that weren’t the way the buses will run. They did this for years before they went in the tunnel.

    3. I find it hard to believe it won’t use the express lanes. They save passengers a lot of time and Metro a lot of money.

      1. That sure doesn’t look like the plan (see my previous comment). They might change it after they improve Howell, but for now the plan is to use the Olive on-ramp (to the mainline). The only stop on Olive is on 6th, so the bus is basically in “do whatever it takes to get to Northgate” mode after that. That means that it probably will vary — just as it does today southbound when the express lanes are going northbound. Buses used to go up to Northgate and get on the mainline there, but now they tend to go down Roosevelt and get on the freeway close to Lake City. I’ve often seen the bus exit at 45th, then get back on (to take advantage of the HOV lanes).

        The more I think about this, the more I think this is Metro basically saying “we think this is the best way” but it is up to the bus driver to decide. Given the fact that the mainline is really slow, that can only mean that Metro thinks that Howell is even slower. In other words, it isn’t Metro proposing a slow route, it is simply that Metro thinks all routes are really slow (pick your poison).

      2. It’s not really “up to the driver to decide”. He or she isn’t riding in a helicopter over I-5. It’s up to dispatch to decide. They get informational updates from drivers all the time and have the situational awareness to issue “heads-up” notices to drivers for real-time deviations.

        I expect that your’re right that until the shoo-fly at 9th/Olive/Howell is fixed there may indeed be times that buses can’t simply take a left-fork onto Howell. But I bet that dispatch will re-route them up to Boren and left to Howell. The advantage of the express lanes is so great that they’ll put the buses in them whatever it takes.

  13. This train-only DSTT should have waited until Link to Northgate is open for service. That will allow truncation of many bus routes that will now clog surface streets. But unfortunately, wise transportation policy has never been a driver of downtown decision-making.

    1. The single-lining to happen when they install the East Link track improvements would have necessitated buses coming out of the tunnel anyways.

      1. Yes, but it could have happened a bit before Northgate Link opened. Instead of a couple years of really bad transit, we would have a couple months. This isn’t being driven by transit interests, or even transportation interests in general. It is being driven by a foolhardy belief that it is essential that Seattle immediately build a bigger convention center.

      2. ST also has to do things between installing the turn track and the start of East Link testing a year before opening. I think Overlake’s opening is 2023 now, so that gives three years to do all those other things, and you’re suggesting making it even shorter.

    2. The problem is and has always been the sale of Convention Center Station (for pennies on the dollar) to the Convention Center Trust — “Trust” in the Teddy Roosevelt meaning of the word. Once that give-away to the hotel industry and Convention Center bureaucracy was agreed, buses were going to be forced out of the tunnel “before time” as they say.

    3. Some wise transportation policy is happening as a result of this change. Transit is getting more dedicate paths downtown. TunnelDoom2 could be just another TunnelZoom.

      The really unwise decisions, it is turning out, were delaying protected bike pathways.

  14. As long as all the buses are now going to have their stops outside the transit tunnel, and Metro is installing ORCA readers at every downtown stop, how about installing an electronic or video bus status sign at 3rd & Pike northbound? I feel it’s appropriate for a stop that services so many busy routes.

    I’m guessing this might have been discussed here before, but I just haven’t been on this forum all that long.

    1. Don’t get me wrong, I love those things when I can find and use them, but for the life of me I can’t find any besides the one at 3rd & Spring, and only the north half of it is working. And the ones they used to have at 3rd & Seneca and 2nd & Columbia for the West Seattle buses broke and crashed a *lot*.

  15. This is really good news. With the majority of current DSTT users being on LR, this means the majority of people will get a faster, more reliable commute.

    And, if you believe Metro (and I often don’t), then some of the surface bus routes will improve too due to some of the other surface changes they will implement. A true win-win (again, if you believe Metro).

    Unfortunately I’ll miss the fun when this conversion is made, but I look forward to using it at a later date.

  16. this means the majority of people will get a faster, more reliable commute.

    That is Pollyanna bullshit. This isn’t being driven by transit concerns. No one — not the head of Metro, not the head of ST — wanted to kick the buses out this early. The plan was to kick them out as late as possible (as soon to the opening of Northgate Link). But Dow really wanted his convention center, and he wanted it immediately. That is the only reason this is happening this early.

    That is because the transit officials aren’t that stupid. They reject your ridiculous premise. The vast majority of people who travel to or through downtown do so *by bus*, not by train. Putting the tunnel buses on the surface *slows those other buses down*. Furthermore, the minor improvement in train service (and it will be minor) will result in major degradation of bus service. Even if there isn’t much crowding, you have major re-routes — buses traveling several blocks from their regular route. This means riders will have to walk farther. Meanwhile, delays will be major. Just the cost to the 41 will be huge. The bus won’t use the mainline heading out of Seattle. So not only will it take several extra minutes to get onto the freeway, it will take several extra minutes to use the freeway. This will be a major degradation, and the riders will have to just bend over and take it (not literally — the 41 is too crowded, you can’t bend over). This is a major blow to transit in the area, and leaders will pat themselves on the back if it is not a complete mess. As well they should. If it is merely *much worse than today* and not horrible, then the mayor and Metro should be proud. But you are fooling yourself if you think this will actually result in better overall transit.

    It is really simple. Things will get worse, until they get better. But that won’t happen until Northgate Link opens in a couple years.

    1. “The plan was to kick them out as late as possible (as soon to the opening of Northgate Link).”

      They were going to leave in 2019 anyway because ST will be installing a turn track at Intl Dist so Eastside trains can get to the SODO base, and this will somehow be incompatible with buses in the tunnel. That’s happening around September, so the Convention Center expansion simply advanced it six months earlier. There was never going to be buses in the tunnel in 2020 and 2021.

      1. in about 2013, ST asserted that incompatibility, but had to back away from it. the turn back track would have taken out the bus layover just south of the IDS platforms, but not necessitated the end of joint operations. STB covered the story.

    2. We’ll know whether most people have faster or slower transit commutes once the change happens, just like we didn’t know what the impact of closing the Alaskan Way Viaduct would be. Sure, if it were a total surprise to everyone, it would certainly get worse.

      At any rate, the question was never if, but when. If it takes something like this to finally get off-board ORCA readers all along 3rd Ave and Westlake, and get a bunch more red paint, then this could turn out to be an improvement we wish could have happened sooner. Kinda like the end of pay-after-you-shove-to-the-front-to-exit.

      Hopefully the schedule planners are paying enough attention to enact the SR 520 route restructure *after* the 10-week single-tracking bottleneck that will reduce capacity by up to 1/3 on Link.

    3. Ah , no. Metro says some of their routes will actually improve in speed after the service change. You can call it BS all you want, but if it is BS, it is Metro that is spreading it.

      My comment related to the tunnel. Link serves more riders in the tunnel than the buses do, so the average tunnel rider will certainly see an improvement. And with the improved speed and reliability of Link, and with the mode indifferent tunnel users now being presented with only the Link option, Link is sure to see a ridership boost.

      Regarding timing, the buses had to get out later this year anyhow. I’m not going to get too wound up over a couple of months either way. The future of the DSTT is rail only, its time to move on. The future is now.

    4. Dear Reader, as discusses above, the 41 WILL be using the express lanes in the peak direction, both before and after the reversal.

      Ross is right that running on Third Avenue and Stewart-Olive/Howell will take several minutes more than running through the tunnel. Sometimes more than several.

  17. As someone who lives on Capitol Hill, works at the UW, and frequently goes downtown, all I can say is Hallelujah. It’s ridiculous that a multi billion dollar investment gets stuck behind people who can’t efficiently board a bus. So, so many times I’ve seen the stalled headlights of a northbound Link train in the Westlake curve as buses crowd the platform, without any perceived sense of urgency. The sooner Link can become an (almost) real subway, the better – I’ll take a rock solid spine over all other concerns any day.

    Somewhere, earlier in this thread, someone said that Westlake to IDS time will drop from as much as 10-12 minutes to 3-ish….that’s friggin amazing. Just think, UWS – CHS efficiencies will be replicated all the way to the ID.

    1. I didn’t say that; I said it’s 12 minutes afternoons and 2 minutes after 8pm now, and estimated that the daytime period might drop to 10 minutes or 8 minutes.

      1. Two minutes from IDS to Westlake? That’s an average speed of 30+ mph, inclusive of the turn into Westlake, deceleration/acceleration into/out of each station, and dwell times. I’ve ridden one of the last runs from the airport to downtown on multiple occasions and have never experienced anything like that. It’s certainly notably faster than daytime runs with buses interspersed, but it’s not two minutes (or three).

      2. I was surprised too and double-checked my experience. But there’s only two stations in between; they’re close together; the dwell time at each station is only 20 seconds or less when there’s only one or two people; and the impact of buses ahead is negligible when there’s one bus every five or ten minutes. I may have timed it from leaving ID to arriving Westlake, so I may not have included ID’s dwell time, although I tried to make it comparable to my southbound trips.

      3. I’ll have to check that again next time; that’s curious to say the least. Even if you assume 20 seconds dwell at each station, that’s only 1:20 to travel 1.1 miles – rounding up 30 seconds still is under 2 minutes of travel time. (I’d not include the dwell at either IDS or Westlake either, since you’re discussing the time to travel between the two.) When I was connecting to the 11, by the time I got to Westlake I’d often miss one I thought I might make when coming into IDS.

        My guess is that actual time on a typical late (or early) non-peak run with little to no passengers at Pioneer Square or University will be around 4 minutes, and even that is somewhat operator-dependent.. It will be interesting to find out.

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