Connect 2020‘s first full closure of the downtown transit tunnel is behind us. Now, we settle in for 10 weeks of tighter, more crushloaded trains during peak periods, longer waiting time especially during peak, a mid-line forced transfer across a temporary center platform at Pioneer Square Station, and a ban on bikes on the train between University Street Station and International District / Chinatown Station.
For the duration of Connect 2020, all trains will be four cars, and will come roughly every 12 minutes (and hopefully less “roughly” as the days progress). This means there will be an increase in off-peak capacity, and a significant decrease in peak-hour capacity. Passengers in the downtown tunnel may also have to use a different platform than they are used to, and it may switch from time to time. Signage and staff will be on hand to point the way, along with automated announcements. Please spread out along the entire length of the platform to fill the four train cars evenly, and stay out of the priority seating area, so wheelchairs users, riders in scooters, and others who need it can board quickly.
Everyone on the train traveling from north of Pioneer Square Station to south of that station will have to change trains across a temporary center platform that has been installed in the station. Those trying to enter or exit that station will do so by the normal exits, except that their train may be at the opposite platform from usual. Paying attention to signage, announcements, and staff directions will help you avoid hanging out at the wrong platform.
The bike ban and the protected-bike-lane detour
Passengers bringing their bikes on the train face the largest shifts in commuting behavior, as they will not be allowed to bring their bikes on the train between University Street Station and International District / Chinatown Station.
Sound Transit, with help from the Cascade Bicycle Club, has put together a guide specifically for bikers trying to traverse downtown during the ten-week Connect 2020 period. The Seattle Bike Blog also put together a handy reference. The Seattle Department of Transportation has also put together a neat interactive map of bike routes.
The bike detour, thankfully, features two-way protected bike lanes all the way from University Street Station to ID/C Station.
- Exit University St Station via the western tunnel from the north mezzanine. When you come out of the tunnel, you will be in the Garden of Remembrance, adjacent to which are the 2nd Ave two-way protected bike lanes.
- Ride south on 2nd Ave ten blocks until Main St.
- Turn left (east) on Main St into the new Main St two-way protected bike lanes, on the south side of the street.
- Ride two blocks, and then turn right (south) into the new 5th Ave two-way protected bike lanes, on the west side of the street.
- Ride one block, crossing the streetcar tracks perpendicularly, and you are at ID/C Station.
For those willing to stow their bikes before boarding the train and not wanting to use the various existing storage options, ST has deployed new on-demand bike lockers at Stadium, SODO, and Rainier Beach Stations. These lockers are first-come-first-serve, and require a $20 BikeLink card, which comes with $20 credit toward the 5-cents-per-hour lockers.
Check out ST’s bike storage page for full how-to, where, and available-options-by-station information.
Newly-public stairwell at Capitol Hill Station, for more efficient egress
Sound Transit has heard the calls for more capacity for getting out of Capitol Hill Station. One of the formerly emergency stairwells from the CHS platform is now a public stairwell. Please use it for egress only, as that is why it is being opened up. With crowded platforms a distinct possibility in the coming days and weeks, allowing departing passengers to have the stairs is a good idea. You don’t want to be coming down those stairs when the departing crowds are coming up.
Bruce Engelhardt assisted with this post.