Link LRV 202, the first of the Siemens S70 fleet

The long-awaited second generation of Link light rail trains has arrived at Sound Transit’s OMF in SoDo. The Siemens-built S70 car was put on display for local media on Wednesday, giving a small look into the future of our light rail system.

The display car, number 202, is the first of 152 Siemens light rail vehicles that were ordered by Sound Transit in 2016 for use on the ST2 extensions (including those that rolled over into ST3), covering Northgate Link, East Link, Lynnwood Link, and Federal Way Link. The $624.5 million contract covers all 152 vehicles, which are being manufactured and tested by Siemens in Sacramento, California. The ST3 extensions beyond 2025 will be served by a third generation that will require a new bidding process, and potentially more design changes if necessary.

Sound Transit expects to receive one to three vehicles per month through the end of the order in 2024, with many cars slated to also fill the under-construction OMF East in Bellevue. Following a few months of testing and commissioning, the first of the new Siemens cars will enter service in early 2020. Northgate Link will require 40 cars, while East Link will take up 112; both sets will be shared with the Lynnwood and Federal Way extensions.

The new Siemens cars will run in separate trainsets from the old Kinikisharyo cars, which will be pulled from service and trucked to Bellevue while undergoing minor software change to prepare them for East Link service, namely adding a new speed setting for the Bel-Red section’s 25 mph limit. Yes, this means that four-car train service will have to wait a bit longer, perhaps until the in-service testing for Northgate Link begins in late 2020.

The new articulated area, featuring the widened aisle

The Siemens car is the same length and seating capacity (74 seats) as the current Kinkisharyo cars, but slight adjustments to the seating areas will mark major improvements for riders on Link. The articulated joint between the two low-floor “bowls” features a wider aisle and an extra pair of seats, allowing for less knee-knocking when circulating around the car.

A quick walk-through video of the lower section of the Siemens car

The bicycle/luggage area now sports two hooks for bicycles, which are staggered to support different bike lengths. The pairs of seats that are adjacent to the luggage area have been turned to face the aisle, eliminating the cramped compartment between the door and joint. The partitions between seating areas have been slimmed down to a small glass panel from head to toe, instead of the half-glass, half-opaque version we have today. The fold-down seating in the wheelchair area is now only two seats rather than three, and the transverse (forward/backwards facing) seats in the low-floor area now face the wheelchair areas.

The new seats in the lower “bowl”

The seats themselves are also slightly thinner and have more leg (and knee) room, similar to the newer generation of Metro buses (albeit with cloth fabric). The number of seats that have underside room for stowed luggage has been increased, thanks to the elimination of some seat struts that are present on the Kinkisharyo cars. The Siemens cars also come with larger windows, which curve inwards at the top.

The four doors on each side of the car are equipped with LED light strips that change based on whether the door is opening soon/closing soon (red) or already opened/closed (blue). These visual cues are paired with the existing audio chimes and are highly effective at getting people to squeeze in and prevent unnecessary door blocking.

The new passenger information screen (click for full size)

Above the doors closest to the high-rise section (which still has sixteen transverse seats), a small screen displays the next three stations and can be customized for rider alerts. These screens are now becoming commonplace on newer North American trains (having been used effectively in Asia and Europe for almost 20 years), but Sound Transit’s current configuration is simple and could use more information, such as bus connections and station layout maps.

On the outside, the Siemens car looks sleeker and near identical to the newer-generation S70s that they have deployed for San Diego and other cities. The destination sign has colored LEDs that will be used for our multi-line system, and Sound Transit has seemingly dropped the redundant use of “station” in the scrolling signs on the train. One would hope that this is a permanent change that also gets applied to the Kinkisharyo cars as soon as possible.

New stations and new pictograms on the line map above the door

And speaking of much-needed retroactive fixes, ST CEO Peter Rogoff said offhandedly that the agency is considering a public outreach process to fix the dreaded University-University-University station naming problem that will rear its head in 2021. The on-board maps in the new car already display the three new Northgate Link stations, complete with their pictograms, and also highlight Westlake (as “Westlake/Seattle” to emphasize its place in downtown) and Sea-Tac Airport.

Overall, I was impressed with the Siemens car’s general comforts and am anxiously awaiting them to enter service. While it is unfortunate that the four-car trainsets that Sound Transit plans to run will have six intermediate operator cabs (which will largely remain unused), the additional standing space in these new cars should provide a tiny capacity increase.

The unveiling of the new car has generated a lot of interest on our Twitter feed, so we will be gathering questions there, in this comment section, and from random discussions online to ask Sound Transit about the new fleet. Just post a query below and we’ll try to get it answered in an upcoming post.

113 Replies to “Sound Transit shows off new Siemens light rail vehicles”

  1. These new cars look great! They feel so open compared to the Kinikisharyo cars, with all the little desinm changes adding up. I’m excited to ride in them, particularly when Northgate Link comes online.

    It’s also exciting that the triple University is going to be broken up. My vote is for UDistrict, Montlake, and Benaroya.

    1. I object in principle to calling anything north of the cut ‘Montlake.’ It grates on my ears when I hear national TV announcer do this during Husky games. No reason for people who know better to do so as well.

      1. Ummm, Montlake Boulevard goes all the way up to NE 45th St. Husky Stadium is definitely “on” Montlake.

      1. Agree with you Jim, plus Seneca is a uniquely Seattle street name, can’t think of too many other Seneca Streets elsewhere.

  2. Unfortunate waste of money and space to keep two driver cabs on each car. Other than that these cars look great.

    1. I’m guessing they did it to save money. Maybe it makes the order cheaper if the specs of every car is exactly the same. It may also make operations more efficient for them if they have the ability to swap cars around, so that any car can go at the front or rear of a train. There may also be efficiency in being able to drive cars individually around the maintenance facility, without needing to find a car with an operator cab to attach it to.

      I’m not going to argue that these slight efficiency gains outweigh the benefit the extra capacity of not having operator cabs in every car would provide – I don’t know if this is the case or not. But I can definitely see Sound Transit being focused primarily on their own operations, as opposed to crowding.

      It is also possible, of course, that when planning for crowding, Sound Transit can legally only assume bus truncations for routes under their direct control (e.g. 512/550/594), and must assume that every King County Metro or Community Transit-branded route that serves downtown Seattle today will continue to do so in 2100. I hope this isn’t the case – if it is, Sound Transit could be in for some trouble in the future.

      1. A few years out, nearly all trains will be 4-cars, which means 8 driver cabs in each and every trainset. Didn’t Portland order their Siemens cars with only one cab each? instead installing additional seating? If Trimet can do it, seems like ST could’ve also.

      1. I have seen nothing about Portland going back to 2-cabs. On which railcar order? We have no active fleet expansion efforts. If the Red line changes are made, they will order more cars. The extra seating space at the ends of the newer MAX cars is a great asset. The space works especially well for large groups.

    2. We could come up with some ideas for them. Can they fit a bicycle? Or luggage storage.

      ST’s stated reason for the interior cabs is to make maintenance easier because they can swap out any car rather than being limited to two kinds of cars and the right ends. This seems lame though given the compelling need for capacity. The purpose of transit is to move people comfortably, and the additional capacity of open gangways may be needed within the trains’ service life, especially in the UDistrict-Westlake bottleneck. We may have to replace the trains eventually because of this, and then they wouldn’t seem so cost-effective anymore, like the U-District Station escalators that are being replaced because they were inadequate. And open gangways would be less expensive than other ways to increase capacity (e.g., lengthening the platforms or running parallel express buses).

      “It is also possible, of course, that when planning for crowding, Sound Transit can legally only assume bus truncations for routes under their direct control (e.g. 512/550/594), and must assume that every King County Metro or Community Transit-branded route that serves downtown Seattle today will continue to do so in 2100.”

      I don’t think so. The rule for zoning is that ST can only consider committed zoning plans, not speculative ones. This is what dinged us in ST1 and 2 because the cities didn’t have their plans ready yet, so it couldn’t consider higher ridership on Aurora or at 130th, etc. Applying the same principle to bus truncations, it could only consider committed ones. But CT has committed to truncating all its express routes, and Metro has more or less committed to truncating its I-90 routes at Mercer Island or South Bellevue.

    3. On the Portland cars, for maintenance needs, there are fold-out controls at the end that doesn’t have a cab. They are virtually never actually used (look closely at a Portland car and notice how many leaves have accumulated on the windshield wipers on the non-cab end), but they are there if they are needed.

  3. Thanks for the article, photos, and video, Bruce! Vast, vast design improvements from the Kinkisharyos – much more open feeling, easier to spread out throughout the cars (and away from the doors), windows that feel much larger. Although I’d have loved “married pair” sets, fully low floor and with open gangways, I can’t wait to see these on the line!

  4. I think University Street should be ‘Financial District’, University of Washington should be ‘Husky Stadium’ and Brooklyn should be ‘University District’. Also it would help if the stations had entrances/exits numbered or lettered. That way you can tell out of town visitors to take the train to X, and exit B, turn right…

    1. I’ve never heard anyone refer to that area as the financial district. If anything, the new tunnel with a station on Madison would make more sense as Financial District instead of the “Midtown” name they’re calling it now. I’d rather see University Street station renamed to Seneca or Benaroya.

      I totally agree with numbering the exits. Wayfinding in general could use a lot of improvements.

      1. “the new tunnel with a station on Madison would make more sense as Financial District instead of the “Midtown” name they’re calling it now.”

        “Madison” would be the best name because it’s a very well-known corridor. You’re right that “Midtown” is ambiguous. Depending on whether you think downtown ends at Stewart Street or Denny Way you get different locations for “midtown”. Pike-Pine is sometimes called Midtown. ST’s choice is consistent with being halfway between Westlake and Intl Dist, and if the station is named Midtown then people will start to think of the neighborhood as that, and only one line will go north of Westlake so downtown must end there, or so it will appear to visitors. I’m not sure whether Midtown is a good connotation or not.

    2. Agree with you on Husky Stadium and U-District renaming (while Husky Stadium is technically U-District, I don’t think anyone in local vernacular would say “I’m going to the U-District” when referring to Husky Stadium).

      University Street is one of two active stops named after a street (TIB being the other), which is great if you know where that is and realize that UW hasn’t been near that street for 100 years.

      Financial District is not great, since the CBD ranges from Olive to James (per Seattle City Clerk’s Neighborhood Map Atlas). I would personally consider Pioneer Square to be the quintessential CBD stop.

      There’s just not really any great options and I realize this has been discussed to death:

      • Pike Place Market, which is a couple blocks away, but not very direct.
      • Benaroya Hall/Symphony, which is a limited/minor destination for light rail users.
      • Waterfront, since the Harbor Steps at 1st/University are the best access to the most popular part of the waterfront. Could also be Waterfront/Downtown.
      • Seattle Art Museum. Apparently Metro considered renaming the station this in the early 90s, but didn’t follow through with it. Cities naming stops after art museums is fairly common.

      1. Casually, I hear most people call the UW station “Husky Stadium”. This may be a case where a new name should simply be what the public already uses.

      2. It is the financial district because that’s where the banks and financial firms are concentrated. Pike-Pine is the retail district, University is the financial district, and further south is the government district.

        I’ve suggested “Symphony Station” because it sounds soothing, even without the symphony next door. “Downtown is a symphony” would make a good slogan. But I’ve heard ST prohibits private-entity names, and it may be afraid “Symphony Station” sounds too much like an advertisement for the symphony.

        “Financial District” is an accurate name now but it may not be in fifty years, whereas a name like Seneca is permanent. (Although it would raise questions like “Why do you have a station named after a Roman phopsopher?” or “What about the other Roman philosophers?” or “Was it named after the northeastern tribe?”)

      3. @MikeOrr “whereas a name like Seneca is permanent. (…“Was it named after the northeastern tribe?”)”

        Your comment above got me thinking. Maybe “Seneca” should be reserved for when ST grows up and actually plans a Link station for First Hill. The Seneca nation is known as O-non-dowa-gah in their native language, which translates to the “Great Hill People”. Seems fitting.

      4. “Benaroya Hall/Symphony” may be a limited/minor destination for light rail users, but it’s the most accurate name for where that station actually is.

        “University” somehow manages to be both accurate and incredibly misleading at the same time. Yes, it’s at “University Street” – but that’s a historic anomoly that only serves to potentially confuse out-of-towners heading to UW.

        Similarly, the station at the UW Stadium should be named “Husky Stadium” – it’s the defining feature of what’s located at that stop.

      5. I don’t think there is anything wrong with “slashed” names. The more information without going “overboard” is, in my opinion, is just the right way to go. Thus, I suggest Husky Stadium/UW Medical Center. It gives more information without the need for a taped announcement. The hospital complex is much more used than the stadium save for days when the latter is actually “in play” (pun intended), which is not very often, really. The Medical Center is a major destination and should be noted. It also lets those who don’t know that the station is at the UW. Some might not know what/where Husky Stadium is. I’d leave University Street alone or, again change it to University/Seneca Street[s]. Benaroya is a relatively minor destination and again, few even know what it is.

      6. Othello is also named after a street!

        D’oh! You’re absolutely right. Although it’s funny that ST didn’t name it Othello Street Station to match University Street Station.

      7. There is no obvious name for the Othello neighborhood so Othello became the name. Historically there was Hillman City and Brighton but they were so obliterated that few people know what was there or what their boundaries were so they can’t reconstruct them. But now there is a clear urban village centered at MLK & Othello that needed a name, so with the station being named Othello that kind of became it.

    3. Whenever I have suggested alternative station names for Link stations not yet open, the comment section has screamed at me that they are just placeholder names.

      Sam. Screaming victim.

      1. Come on Sam! It has been recommended that they name a station after you – Seattle Art Museum (SAM). Cheer up…

      2. They’re placeholder names before and during the public process where the board decides final names. It hasn’t done that yet for ST3, and won’t until much later in the process. Remember when we had the public input for Lynnwood Link and East Link names?

        The three Universities would normally be final but ST said around 2016 that it would engage with King County about possibly renaming University Street Station. Then it was silent for a few years and is now hinting it’s still pursuing it.

    4. +1 for numbering exits and good signage. Seoul does this and it makes wayfinding a snap (plus their Kakao map app is better than Google and shows you the station plans plus the numbered exits when you zoom in). Works great for transfers as well – “buses to X, use exit 3.” It’s cheap and universally understandable.

      As more and more people use the stations, local businesses will advertise that way – “use Westlake, exit 6, to visit us.” This was common in Seoul and made it easy to find places.

    5. Yeah, I’m with barman. The other two suggestions make sense. So basically, “U-District”, “Husky Stadium” and “Seneca”.

      1. The only alternative to UDistrict is Brooklyn, and nobody from the area would call it that. UDistrict is fixed.

        I’m hesitant to use “Husky Stadium” because then there’s two “Stadium” stations on the same line, and we’re back to square one. I prefer Montlake because that has associations with the whole surrounding area: stadium, hospital, bridge, and neighborhood.

        I thought about Financial District, but then there’s two “District” stations on the same line. Either Seneca or Benaroya works best there.

      2. “District” is a generic word like “Lake” or “Hill”, so it’s OK. The problem with “University” is that it’s associated with the University of Washington, which is much larger than the others and is widely known nationally and internationally and draws a lot of visitors who don’t know about the other universities, and they’d rightly expect that it would have a subway station and “University” station eould be it.

      3. ’m hesitant to use “Husky Stadium” because then there’s two “Stadium” stations on the same line, and we’re back to square one. I prefer Montlake

        I really doubt people will confuse “Husky Stadium” and “Stadium”. It would be worse to name it “Montlake”, since it isn’t even in Montlake.

    6. I think you could keep “University Street,” as long as the “Street” is always included. “Financial District” would be okay, and to those who never heard that term used for that area before, welcome to Seattle.

      The one by Husky Stadium should just be “Husky.” Leave off the Stadium part to prevent confusion with other Stadium stations.

      And then yes, “U District.”

    7. Untangling the three University stations will be difficult.

      “U-District” is fixed because ST’s original planning name was “Brooklyn” but the majority of the feedback was strongly to name it “U-District” and I don’t see ST reversing that.

      “University of Washington” could be changed to “Husky” or “Montlake”, although the university would probably object due to branding. “Husky” is the kind of name that a community would choose for its dear mascot and expect people to connote “Huskies -> UW”. So the UW might be persuaded if a lot of students support that, but the regents would probably argue that “University of Washington” makes it easiest to find. “Husky Stadium” is bad because it’s not just a station for the stadium. “Montlake” is OK although it can be argued it’s not Montlake proper and would conflict with a future 520 Montlake station (on either Central Link, 520 Link, or 520 BRT). Montlake Blvd and adjacent names north to 45th have been established for decades.

      “University Street” will always have the Street in it as long as it’s named University. For a rename I lean toward “Symphony” or “Seneca”, or with reservations “Financial District”. It is the financial district but that doesn’t have a strong neighborhood identity like Pioneer Square. You don’t hear people saying “I’m going to the financial district” or “I live in the financial district” like they do in Pioneer Square or the ID or Belltown. So it’s not a strong name for a station. Still, it wouldn’t be confused with another location, and “financial” has strong associations with downtown.

      1. Husky Stadium is a landmark. It’s a giant, noticeable structure whether or not there is a football game there. It’s been there for 99 years. It is actually even an air traffic control waypoint. There is some sentiment here for a “Benaroya” station, and my guess is that far fewer people know where or what that is than would recognize Husky Stadium – football fan or no. You argue with one breath for “Symphony” and with another against “Husky Stadium.” “Symphony?” I love the symphony but talk about a confusing name to anyone who does not attend the symphony. To be honest, I really don’t know why we go through these mental gyrations to avoid calling anything “Downtown.” Nearly anyone saying they are going “downtown” means downtown Seattle – you use a modifier (downtown Bellevue, downtown Tacoma) if you mean anything else. Call it Downtown – Seneca and be done with it. Far less confusing than “Symphony” or “Benaroya” to the vast majority.

        Husky Stadium/UW Medical Center would seem to be the appropriate name, in either order, for that station. One is the local landmark and the other is the major trip generator in the area.

  5. If Link riders are looking at their cell phones the whole trip, what does it matter how big the windows are?

    Sam. Transit Sociologist.

    1. Let’s just remove the windows. We could probably save a lot of money and I know how much you love to complain about taxes spent on frivolous things like windows.

    2. We could put cameras outside and then people could use an app on their phones to see where they are.

  6. Questions about rollouts could be asked:

    1. Will there be mixed cars on trains? I wouldn’t think so but I am asking anyway.

    2. When will ST start testing an occasional train with public use?

    3. When can two-car trains go away? Will it happen before the Connect 2020 two-month disruption?

    4. What’s the current operating plan for 2021-23, before East Link opens? Will the schedule be like today’s but with four-car trains?

    1. With no inside knowledge and pure speculation…

      1. I think ST said they would be separate. I would assume that they would wait until they have multiples of 3 of the new cars, and burn a current two-car train,though I’m not sure about that.

      2. They can’t be used for public use until they’ve done the right number of testing hours. I’m guessing all the testing will have to be at night or exclusively between the maintenance base and UW off-peak due to MLK frequency limits.

      3. Almost certainly not. These trains will be in service “as early as” early 2020, given how much testing is required, and that’s just for the first trains. Though during Connect/2020, that won’t matter anyway since we have enough trains in service today to run 4-car trains every 12 minutes.

      4. I think it’s all 4-car trains with same frequencies, and it will be necessary for Northgate. Last time I took the 41 during peak it was running every 4 minutes, and the bus was packed, so Northgate is going to be a very popular destination.

  7. Naming should be a public process! It is badly needed though. Without a public process, some billionaire or corporation will earn the naming rights (although I’d gladly sell a station name for more working down escalators). Maybe the thing to do is to name it after the escalator manufacturer — forever branding them as reputable or disreputable! Lol

    My favorite name for University Street from all the chatter over the years is Princess Angeline Station since her house was originally nearby. Another option is to call it Pike Place Market Station (consider that Northgate Station is not on Northgate Way for comparison — and the developer may even choose to change the name of the Northgate site).

  8. Not sure why “Westlake” is referred to as “Westlake/Seattle”. Is there a different Westlake in Tukwila or Federal Way or something? The train has already been in Seattle for quite some time before it reaches Westlake. In general the shorter the name, the better (so you can have bigger font). Of course with “International District/Chinatown” that is a challenge. Like “U-District” instead of “University District” the name could be shortened to “I. D./Chinatown”. I don’t think anyone (including tourists) would get confused. While we are at it, I would rename “Tukwila International Blvd” to “Tukwila”.

    1. The Westlake/Seattle name annoys me too. I’d rather see a demarkation on the map to show what city you’re in, similar to how other cities display fare zones. A faint line between Tukwila and Rainier Beach could show where the city limits are. But maybe even that is unnecessary.

      I’m sure the point is to make it obvious to tourists where the city center is but I don’t think this is as clear as ST thinks it is. Westlake also isn’t as important of a destination as it was when it was the end of the line. Just as many people will be going to Capitol Hill or the U District.

      1. It would be nice if Sound Transit would hire a consultant from another agency to do the wayfinding. It’s getting better but still is rather confusing. Other cities don’t have this problem.

        They should call it Westlake/City Center and change University St Station to Benaroya. I use the University station almost daily and I could see how someone would think it was UW.

    2. I’ve never seen another city with a station like “Westlake/Seattle”. The closest is the stations like “Wilshire/Vermont” in LA, but there they’re an intersection. “Westlake/City Center” would almost work except you have other major cities on Link (Bellevue and Tacoma, the latter related to SeaTac airport where they’re coming from). Maybe it’s not really necessary. BART doesn’t have “Powell/San Francisco”. (Or should it be “Montgomery/San Francisco” or “Embarcadero/San Francisco”?)

      1. Yeah, no kidding. Even New York doesn’t qualify their station by borough, even though it is a more dramatic change. When the train goes from NE 145th to NE 130th, it is nothing like entering Manhattan (or leaving it). If you miss your stop then things get weird (I would like to link to the Mindy Project episode, but unfortunately I can’t — folks who watched that show can only smile).

      2. How about Oakton-Skokie and Dempster-Skokie on the CTA Yellow Line?

        Additionally, Metra’s UP-N line has Evanston Main St, Evanston Davis St, and Evanston Central St. Granted, Metra is a different sort of system and I guess this sort of thing is more common on commuter rail systems.

      3. As an aside, this is making me extremely nostalgic for Chicago courtyard apartment buildings.

    3. “Of course with “International District/Chinatown” that is a challenge. Like “U-District” instead of “University District” the name could be shortened to “I. D./Chinatown”.”

      Just change it to “International District” or “Chinatown”. The name “International District” was a bout of political correctness when they were afraid the other ethnicities would be offended by “Chinatown”, but then they polled them and found out they weren’t. The clamor to bring back Chinatown led to Link using “International District/Chinatown”, but really they should just go to one or the other. “I.D./Chinatown” is worst. “Chinatown” would fit on signs the easiest, and avoid that awful scrolling.

    4. I like ID/Chinatown.

      Shorten University of Washington Station to Montlake/UW as well. No need to spell out the whole thing. There’s precedent for this – see Kendall/MIT, JFK/UMass, and 35th-Bronzeville-IIT, all of which use acronyms or abbreviations for nearby universities in their station signage.

    5. “Westlake/Seattle” made more sense when it was the end of the line and you had to tell tourists which direction to get on (either towards “airport” or “seattle”). I agree it should be removed.

      1. In Chicago, the Blue line stations always say “to airport” and “to Loop,” in addition the actual names of the terminus station.

      2. I’ll suggest that Westlake needs a label referring to its role as the major transfer point in the future. Westlake/Interchange? Westlake/ Central Crossing? Westlake/ Link Center? I can’t find the perfect term but the future role of Westlake will be heavily as a transfer point so recognizing that seems more appropriate? Even a Westlake/ Central Seattle name would suggest this role.

      3. Maybe we could borrow a page from several other systems and call it Westlake/Metro Center? Or Westlake/Downtown Crossing?

  9. There’s a 25mph section on a new Link line? Haven’t they learned anything from the RV debacle? I thought all future openings were fully grade separated…and it’s surprising people were fine with this during the review process. Unless all sections of any new requests from ST are fully metro grade (i.e. UWS to Westlake), then forget it. I don’t want my high capacity rapid transit to be streetcar+.


    1. It’s on Spring Blvd, which is closed right now where the light rail tracks are being built. All *ST3* lines are grade separated, but this is ST2. 25 is slow though. Does anyone know how this compares to operating speed on MLK and in SODO?

      1. Link along MLK is limited to a top speed of 35 mph, the speed limit on the adjoining street.

        Spring Blvd will be a smaller, slower street than MLK, so I can understand a 25 mph speed limit through there.

        However, the at-grade section is less than a mile. If it were one mile, running at 25 mph versus 35 mph adds 40 seconds to travel time. But the difference will actually be less, since the 130th St Station is in this segment, so for a lot of that at-grade mile the train will be accelerating/decelerating.

    2. Does anyone know how this compares to operating speed on MLK and in SODO?

      You mean average speed or top speed? I believe the top speed is 35 MPH on MLK, while the trains hit 55 MPH south of there. Minimum speed, is of course 0. Average speed depends a lot on where you are going. My guess is Beacon Hill to Tukwila is one of the fastest sections, despite the surface running (simply because of the distance between stations).

      Anyhow, surface running isn’t bad as long as you avoid traffic. Speeding up dwell time would probably have a bigger effect on system wide speed than burying (or elevating) the line in Rainier Valley. If it saves a lot of money, then surface running is a reasonable trade-off. Put it this way, what five stations would you remove so that we can afford to bury the line in Rainier Valley? Is it worth it?

    3. ST2 was completely grade-separated at one point in planning. (The Shoreline segment is technically at-grade because it’s on the ground along the freeway, but the overpasses make it functionally grade-separated.) But then Bellevue demanded a downtown tunnel and asked ST to economize elsewhere in East King to pay for half of it, and this was one of the economizations.

    4. It was economizing to pay for the Bellevue tunnel. It’s a short distance only between two stations, so it shouldn’t impact the end-to-end speed significantly. Running at grade through Spring Blvd allowed for the Spring District & Bel-Red stations to be pulled away from the 405/522 ROW. Sacrificing speed for a greatly improved station walkshed seems like a reasonable trade-off.

      1. I believe there are a number of inaccurate statements in that comment. #1, It’s not at grade through the Spring District. Crosses under 120th to a deeply excavated station. #2, the routing through Bel-Red had nothing to do with “paying” for the tunnelette through DT Bellevue. The alignment along Spring Blvd was all about TOD; which when all this went down was a return on political investment. #3, the 130th P&R (closest to the Spring Dist.) would have been hard to grade separate, but the at grade crossing of NE 20th/Northup would have been easy since it’s already going “max climb” right after that to allow the overpass of 148th Ave NE. Of course the original “no fly” design was crossing 148th at grade and then crossing NE 20th at grade after turning a 90 degree turn. And the only possibly explanation for that stupid idea was the “stupid” idea they were going to buy the FM property to locate the OMF facility. Which was a loss leader from the get go (not even close to large enough) so that the EIS would validate the boards preferred location…. The ST board structure needs to change.

  10. Anyone know what all the symbols are underneath the red line in the map ( Some of them are pretty obvious (ferry, Amtrak, Sounder, and Greyhound). I think the symbol under Capitol Hill, Westlake and I. D. is a streetcar. But I have no idea what the first symbol is under Westlake.

    In general, I think these are pretty helpful. Pointing to long distance locations (like Greyhound, a ferry or a train) makes a lot of sense. But I don’t understand why you would bother to mention the streetcar. It is essentially a bus, and not a very special one at that. You might as well start mentioning RapidRide routes if you are going to do that. Either way it seems silly to focus on something that is so short.

  11. All I’m hoping for with these new trains that they finally address fixing the PA Stop Anncounment System, because it’s awful in its current iteration. I would ditch, hire an actual human to do new clips (Like Vancouver Skytrain) or suggest they find a new text to speech program that isnt so terrible sounding or prone to glitching out (like the current one does)

    1. It’s massively better with a generated voice. Having an actual human speaking would be a significant downgrade.

      1. To clarify and I probably should’ve been more clearer on this. I meant pre recorded announcements done by a n actor or actress similar to how it’s done with Skytrain and on the intial Central Link line between Seatac and Westlake

  12. That “cramped compartment between the door and joint” was the single best seat on the Kinikisharyo cars. Front facing. Adjacent to the doors that open closest to the escalator at most stops. A pane of glass to protect you against the pressed flesh of a crushloaded car (a daily occurrence most weekdays and sports/parade/”Festival” weekends).

    The liberal use of side facing seats is an odd choice. NYC and other major metro subways are finding lower dwell times with more front facing seating. They pack them in and strategically maximize standing loops around them.

    Ah well. This sleepy little logging town can still pretend they have big boy transit. That’s all anyone seems to care about.

  13. Why is the pictogram for Roosevelt a moose? Looks like the wrong animal if Sound Transit meant it to be a Roosevelt Elk.

    1. I think the pictograms are really useless and add clutter. ST should nail the basics first.

      1. I tend to agree. If their inclusion is intended for some kind of lame station “branding” idea, then I say just skip it. If, on the other hand, the intent is to assist non-English reading riders to easily identify their desired stops then I guess I can see some purpose in their inclusion. It would be kind of interesting to hear from ST on this, particularly what their process has been to determine which pictogram to utilize for each station.

      2. Tlsgwm, it’s actually a state law:

        The state requires all light rail stations to “use distinguishing symbols or pictograms developed by the authority as a means to identify stations”. I’ve reached out to Sound Transit about why Tacoma Link (and the Seattle Streetcar) don’t have pictograms and they haven’t given me a clear answer. They did say Tacoma Link will get them with the expansion though.

      3. @barman Thanks for the clarification! It would still be interesting to me to learn how they are selected.

    2. If I recall, the pictograms are required by state law? I know these pictograms are supposed to help non-English speakers or illiterate people, but I’m an English speaker and I’m not sure I know how I would explain some of them to another English speaker. “Get off at the opera glasses/binoculars” for University Street. (If they name it Benaroya – maybe a violin would make more sense).

      Or my favorite – get off at the Pride flag for Capitol Hill. You know, the black and white pride flag. Maybe spend less time being clever and simplify these for usability.

      1. I ran across a reddit discussion of the issue, and that is basically the reasoning. While the folks who came up with the flag realized it was silly to have a black and white version of the pride flag, the symbols can largely be arbitrary. The point is, you can tell someone *in their language* to take the exit that looks like a flag. They don’t need to know why it looks like a flag.

        This actually makes sense. I really doubt there are people getting on the train thinking “OK, I want to go downtown, which of these symbols looks like downtown”. On the other hand, there are going to be people who read guide books telling them that they should take a station that has a dragon. Imagine if you were told that you should take the 唐人街 station. You would want that dragon.

      2. Amusingly enough, a Black and White Pride Flag is known as a Straight Pride Flag. Homophobes and transphobes use it all the time. Given the rise in LGBTQIA+ hate crimes on the Hill and the disproportionate levels of LGBTQIA+ homeless throughout the city, it is rather apt.

  14. What about changing University Street Station to 3rd Avenue Station?

    I realize Pioneer Square station is on 3rd Avenue as well but University Street station is more in the “center” of what most people think of as the downtown 3rd avenue area.

    “Seattle Art Museum” would be make sense too as it’s the closest station to SAM. Also makes sense to put “Art” in the name because it’s the closest stop to lots of performing arts venues like Benaroya Hall, 5th Ave Theatre, Showbox, and Triple Door.

    “University of Washington” station I think is probably the most poorly-named station on the line. It should be named “Husky Stadium” or “Husky Stadium/UW Hospital”

      1. There is no need to invent new terms and language that are not used by anyone today. Arts district?! I have never heard anyone say that in reference to that area. Furthermore there are lots of art galleries down in Pioneer Square.

      2. Yeah, I’ve worked near Benaroya for years and I have never heard anyone use the term Arts District. Must be a made up Chamber of Commerce thing like “West Edge” or “Metronatural”.

      3. I was thinking “Arts District” might be confusing for residents. Most Seattleites would probably consider Pioneer Square the arts district.

  15. Is the parking garage at Northgate not “official” parking? I noticed they didn’t put the Parking symbol under Northgate like they did at Tukwila International Boulevard and Angle Lake.

    1. Some of the parking is for mall shoppers. I think ST is trying to de-emphasize that lot, and it’s replacing only the parking that the mall has guaranteed to its tenants, to avoid being sued by the mall. During planning Metro surveyed the P&R use and found that most of the cars came from west and east of the station. Then ST asked the community whether it wanted more parking spaces or better bus/bike/ped access, and 3/4 of the respondents said they wanted better bus/bike/ped access rather than more parking spaces, and they were only driving because bus feeders were so minimal.

  16. It’s unfortunate given all the funding going into the new vehicles that a rethink of the goofy-looking livery scheme couldn’t have been included as well.

    1. Personally I really like ST’s livery. It’s unique, on brand, and clean looking. Maybe I’m in the minority though.

    2. I like the style, but I had hoped they wouldn’t pick cloth seats again… gross. Even BART finally replaced them. The germs…

      1. Cloth seats are comfy and fine……if you can keep them clean.

        And of course that’s impossible. Puke on the seat gets steam cleaned a month later… Wonderbar. Cloth seats are great for an automobile that sits in the sun. It would work if there was an expectation people using public services were respectful of others. Unfortunately, that’s not politically correct in Seattle. If a homeless person urinates on a seat we must help them. If an ORCA card holder forgets to tap out… off with their head.

    3. I personally hope we get a few more customized train liveries that aren’t just ad wraps. Chrome trains, trains that look like a Boeing 777/787, trains with the ST Express bus seat patterns (which are, in fact, scrambled versions of the 1999 ST maps), trains with designs from indigenous and minority communities…there’s a lot of room for creativity.

      1. ST Express bus seat patterns (which are, in fact, scrambled versions of the 1999 ST maps)

        Those seat patterns are pretty cool. Does the volume of material ordered justify the “cool”? Maybe, airlines do it. The other question is how hard does it make it to do repairs. Overall I think it’s a good idea. Like the airlines ST was trying to establish a brand loyalty. And part of that is determining what market you are playing to; which in the case of ST Express was an “upper class” commuter (hence the laptop plug-ins and overhead luggage storage).

  17. I’m excited to see how they use the new display screen. Hopefully they don’t just put the nearest 5 stations on it and leave it at that.

    This article discusses some good and bad design for these signs (but our screens are going to be smaller so they can’t fit all the nice stuff on there all the time like Japan does)

    1. Fascinating article – Singapore’s new displays are truly horrible. Show me where I am, where I’m going, and how many stops away that is (no “nearest 5 stations” thing unless there are also enough system diagrams so that you can see one from wherever you are). The station layout diagram is great and the “you are here” car location in reference to the station in the Japanese example is useful as well. I recently used another system that did this but can’t recall exactly where now.

      Along those lines, let’s also not make that mistake when the new platform reader signs are designed – in Rio most of the screen was used to show TV shows and ads and it was difficult to find useful information. Frankly a lot of this is another example of technology run amok – just because we can show a bunch of extraneous crap doesn’t mean we have to.

  18. I hope that the noise of the ventilation system is greatly reduced. It really makes the Kinkisharyo cars unpleasant how loud the ventilation is.

    I also hope that we can get rid of the incessant scrolling and drop the word “station” from the station names. Everyone knows it’s a station.

    1. YES THIS!!!! It is insane how loud they are today – all the time no matter the weather.

    2. The 1980s trolleybuses were practically silent. Just a slight whine when they were moving and a quiet chugging when they were charging. I really miss that and I’ve long been annoyed at the introduction of full-time fans and air conditioning that are always loud.

    3. I really like the “loud” ventilation. It’s basically just white noise that washes out human chatter. I also like the bus better when the driver has the fan on high so I don’t here loud conversations/music/phone from sociopathic riders.

  19. For when there isn’t someone who needs the wheelchair/handicap area on the train, the seats facing the wheelchair area should be a nice improvement for parents with strollers and jet-lagged and confused tourists (and everyone who’s on the train with them).

  20. the old Kinikisharyo cars, which will be pulled from service and trucked to Bellevue

    What is the time frame on when they plan to “truck” LRVs to the OMF in Bellevue? IIRC, this “getting things way before we need them” was why the OMF ended up in the the “Spring District” when other much cheaper alternatives were available; albeit perhaps “months down the road”.

  21. Know what’s really funny? While Metro, Community Transit, Sound Transit and TransLink are obviously embracing the 4ONE Aries seats, TriMet is doing away with them. ʔu, but the 4ONE Aries seats still feel so new to me…

  22. These new cars look great, and the only problem I can see with them is the loss (I think) of the shelf space behind the seats in the middle portion of the car. I frequently fly with a duffel bag or small roller bag, so put my bag there and sit in front of it, rather than eat up valuable luggage space in the existing cars.

    On a related note, has ST said whether these cars will shake as much as the existing cars when they’re in the 55mph segment between Rainier and Tukwila? The existing luggage space is almost useless in that segment because the train shakes so much that luggage just falls/rolls out.

    1. I put my bag on the shelf behind me once and at one point the train stopped and a security guy got on to ask me if that was my bag. I guess they don’t expect people to use that space and someone called it in as a suspicious package. Super weird experience.

    2. That may be a wheel profile – rail profile problem. TriMet’s Bombardier cars were terrible when they first started operating, but after several passes with the rail grinder (about 20 years worth of wear) they are much better.

  23. My Qs:

    1) Can we have a chance to sit inside the cabs at some launch event please?

    2) Can we please have some public outreach to name some stations? I so badly wanna play and dance to “PARTY LIKE IT’S 2016”!

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