In Friday’s post, we quoted Metro’s slide indicating more Link trains after 2021. Sound Transit says Metro did not check with them when announcing new train headways. It will remain every 6 minutes peak and 10 otherwise, with no trains turning around at Stadium. In 2023, it will be every 4 minutes peak and 5 off peak through downtown, with the South King and East King branches each getting 8 and 10. We regret the error.

13 Replies to “Correction: future Link headways”

  1. Does “through downtown” mean trains from Bellevue turn back at Westlake, or do they continue onward to Northgate? I always assumed it would be the latter. Five minute headways all day would put waiting for a Link train on par with waiting for a traffic light to cross Mercer St. It would be a game changer.

    1. It was always going to and actually has to be Northgate. Long trains can’t turn around at Westlake anymore. Furthermore, it’s very likely to extend to Lynnwood when Lynnwood Link opens the year after.

      1. I’m curious… Why can’t longer trains turn around at Westlake like the shorter ones could?

      2. I believe it’s because they had to shorten the turnback track when they started building U-Link. Hence why they were able to run 4-car trains on opening day in 2009, but in 2016 they couldn’t have longer than 2-car trains prior to U-Link.

      3. The train length restriction was due to the shortened length of the stub tracks while U-Link was under construction. Now that U-Link is open, the former stub tracks are the mainline tracks that continue up to Capitol Hill and then UW. The switch north of Westlake remains, so they can turn or switch trains there, but they’d be blocking active tracks to do it and it would reduce headways on the entire line. To do mid-line train turns you need a siding or pocket track.

      4. Thank you for clarifying that. I didn’t think the original poster was correct, so I wanted some type of evidence. Thanks again!

  2. I read the PowerPoint and the slide said “4-6 minutes”. The mistake is understandable.

    The issue does raise an interesting side question: Does ST have to capacity to store the extra train sets for all four-car trains in SODO from 2021 until the East OMF opens?

    1. As long as it limits itself to 10 trains per hour per direction, with a two-hour cycle for any one train (e.g. 20 operating trains), it appears they do — barely.

      But 40 cars per hour will be insufficient to truncate CT buses at Northgate, except the 800’s headed to to UW.

      1. Addendum. It’s a harder call on the all-day ST expresses to Snohomish County. Mid-day the buses can travel between Northgate and downtown in about the same time — or even less sometimes — than Link will take with its four intermediate stops and mile longer route. But clearly one can’t have a 9-3 and after 7 route that goes from downtown making all stops and another route with the same stops in Snohomish County forcing a transfer at Northgate during the peak hours.

        So on balance it makes sense to add peak-hour service to the 512 terminating at Northgate. That would eliminate the 855 which is peak only.

      2. My gut feeling is that CT/ST will do very little truncation until 2024, when Lynnwood TC/LINK is open for business. The routing to get off and on I-5 to/from Northgage LINK/TC is problematic for buses, mainly to traffic. Lynnwood has the big advantage of the HOV ramp already there.

      3. That depends what you mean by “downtown”. Assuming the goal is to get to 5th/Pine, not the Stewart St. exit ramp, you’ve got to add an additional 10 minutes or so waiting for stoplights and stopping at bus stops. The 45th St. freeway station also adds about 3 minutes or so, including waiting for the light to change. At the same time, I-5 is very often congested even outside the traditional rush hour. Even on weekends, I-5 slowdowns around the ship canal bridge are now commonplace, and often back up all the way to Northgate.

        Even if, when all is said and done, the average time from Lynnwood to 5th/Pine remains the same with or without the truncation, there are still other factors that favor the truncation:
        – Link travels through downtown much faster than a bus, so if 5th/Pine is a wash, 5th/Jackson is a win for the train.
        – Those headed to the airport will have to transfer to Link anyway; doing so at the earliest opportunity means fewer opportunities for bad traffic to cause them to miss their plane.
        – Not everybody is going downtown, and a truncated 512 serves other parts of Seattle much better than the current 512. Not only can you get off the train in Capital Hill, the U-district, or Roosevelt stations, but you also have access to all the bus connections from Northgate. And, of course, Northgate itself, you can just walk. The current 512 does provide some access to other parts of Seattle via the 45th St. freeway station, but it doesn’t serve the U-district as well as the Link Station, and the only good bus connection it provides is the 44. Between Northgate, Roosevelt, U-district, and Capital Hill, you’ll be able to get to almost anywhere in North Seattle with just one additional bus, without out-of-the-way detouring.
        – Truncating saves a ton of service hours, which could be used to boost the 512’s frequency. The saved money could also be used to add more peak-hour runs to the 510 and 511 if they are overcrowded.

        The 510 and 511, the calculations are different because exiting at Northgate precludes the use of the HOV lanes or I-5 express lanes. The 512 doesn’t have this restriction because, in order to serve the 45th St. freeway station, it can’t use the express lanes, anyway.

  3. My gut feeling is that CT/ST will do very little truncation until 2024, when Lynnwood TC/LINK is open for business. The routing to get off and on I-5 to/from Northgage LINK/TC is problematic for buses, mainly to traffic. Lynnwood has the big advantage of the HOV ramp already there.

    1. My guess is they only reroute the express buses headed to the U-District. Getting to Northgate is easier than getting to (and serving) the U-District and UW. That would result in a big service savings, which they could then “bank”. If they find those buses popular, they could add more service to them.

      Four car trains running every six minutes can still handle a lot of people, but they may wait until they drop the frequency to four minutes (when East Link gets here) or until Lynnwood Link.

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