Shoulda hired these guys

A few weeks into Connect2020, riders are enduring the result of some failures of foresight. Planning any train trip requires a 15-minute buffer that makes it nearly unusable for short-haul trips, where the train’s speed advantages matter less.

Long-term failures

The Central Link line is neither futureproof nor robust. The intention to build rails on I-90, though not voter-approved for most of the period of tunnel retrofit for Link, was well-established. A trivial amount of additional track, where it intersects the track in use, could have avoided the current pain entirely.

Furthermore, more liberal placement of switchovers would not only have allowed much lower headways today, but would also have made the system more resilient in the event of car crashes and other incidents on the track (like train maintenance issues).

At this point it is customary to write off all poor pre-2009 decisions as the bad old days. But ST is still poised to make the same mistakes. Already facing unavoidable huge disruptions for Graham St. and Boeing Access Road, it may do so avoidably at the firmly planned 130th St Station, to say nothing of unapproved but likely extensions.

Short-term failures

There are numerous neglected opportunities to make this period just a little bit less painful for riders.

Bikes are banned at Pioneer Square station due to crowding concerns on trains and on the station platform. But there’s no good rationale for banning them at off-peak times, particularly evenings and weekends, except to make the rules less complicated. Forcing riders to use 2 elevators, bike down second avenue, and then use a third elevator is not a sufficient substitute. Sound Transit says they did this “out of abundance of concern for safety.”

The holidays would have been a wonderful time to “soft launch” the service disruption, when ridership was lower, and would have allowed them to finish a couple of weeks earlier. Instead, they waited for the big return-from-vacation weekend and the first big day back at work. ST says simply that “Q1 is our lowest ridership time of year,” which is both true and oddly inconsequent.

The segment of the line that must be single-tracked is between Westlake and Stadium, so the headways are limited there. But it would be plausible to run the trains at higher frequencies between Stadium and Angle Lake, and Westlake and UW,. These segments would serve plenty of trips, and provide excellent bus transfers to continue further downtown. ST says there would be “some real train bunching” thanks to turnaround times if they did this. This is a very complicated discussion for another time, but suffice it to say I find this argument unconvincing and would like to revisit it at a later date.

But overwhelming all of these annoyances is the total lack of any indication of when any train will arrive, reminiscent of living by an isolated 1980s bus stop with no posted schedule, rather than a 21st century rapid transit system. It is the single biggest obstacle to making useful trips on the train today.

The one good idea here was to publish a schedule for the train, but there was insufficient testing to verify that schedule was realizable. There was no backup schedule or backup set of entries in the real-time data system that would at least allow easy access to the next scheduled arrival. There is not even a manual attempt to post next train times at heavily manned stations, which would at least make the perceived wait shorter and tell people if they should just go catch a bus. ST says they have no plans to publish an updated schedule.

This system is 10 years old, and Sound Transit still either doesn’t always know where its trains are, and/or has no means of sharing that info beyond a system that has days-long outages and is not flexible enough to react to operational incidents.

A few good ideas

Any constructive criticism should mention what’s going right as well, besides the 12-minute schedule that was overcome by events. Absolutely flooding the system with staff has helped to clear up confusion. The transfer at Pioneer Square is as seamless as possible, partly thanks to extraordinary staff effort.

The choice to run trains in their degraded state, rather than a total shutdown, was a wise one.

Finally, it would have been much worse if construction was not running 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. At least this will just complicate a season of rapid transit, rather than the better part of a year.

Thanks to coming “infill stations”, this is not the last time Sound Transit will need a big service disruption. Hopefully they record the lessons from this one.

69 Replies to “Disappointments with the Connect2020 plan”

  1. The transfer at Pioneer Square is far from seamless. The decision to prevent commuters from standing on the center platform adds time to every transfer as passengers push past each other swapping both trains. Allowing passengers to stand on the platform would cut that traffic jam literally in half, as one train would be empty. Instead passengers are effectively trapped on their train until the connecting train arrives.

    1. But the trains have been arriving within 5 seconds of each other, unless service is disrupted for some reason like the shooting.

      1. Is it the plan for outbound trains to wait for the inbound trains to arrive before departing or is it solely dependent on the trains being on time?

        Is it possible to just miss the train at Westlake, wait 15 minutes, get off at the Pioneer Square temporary platform, just missing the train, and get hit with another 15 minute wait, meaning an very unlucky rider could get hit with a 30 minute delay during Connect 2020?

      2. I would assume they’d wait. If nothing else, they wouldn’t want people trapped on the platform without a way to exit.

        But, I haven’t actually ridden Link since Connect 2020 started, so don’t hold me to it.

      3. They’ve been timing the transfer exceptionally, in my experience. They don’t open the doors until both trains are stopped and waiting, but the lag has been at most a few seconds.

      4. I have waited minutes on a Link train waiting for the connecting train. I have also seen connecting trains waiting for mine. I haven’t seen an arrival timed in seconds. Everybody is waiting sometimes.

      5. So it sounds like ST is attempting, within reason, to time the Pioneer Square transfer to minimize wait times on the center platform. I couldn’t find any mention of that in ST’s Connect 2020 pages.

      6. No. There is no wait time time on the center platform. They are not permitting waiting on the center platform. One waits on the train. Only when both trains are present do they open access to the center platform

    2. transit cannot be seamless; it has seams. the seams can be of time, distance, and information. the best an agency can do is minimize the seams subject to the constraints of budget and rights of way. when headways are long, that is a seam of time. where stations have long walks for transfers, that is a seam of distance. when the fare structure or route structure is overly complex, that is a seam of information.

      in this case, I expect safety and clarity were very important.

      1. The next-arrival signs are off, not because of any safety or clarity strategy but because they can’t get accurate times to the signs. The lack of accurate times may be because the schedule broke down, and they’re either running without a schedule or there’s a hidden schedule for the drivers that passengers don’t get to hear about. None of this was planned or inevitable, and we have suggested low-tech, low-cost, foolproof ways to mitigate it, such as having a dry-erase board on each platform where a guard or passenger can write down the time the last train arrived.

      2. The guards also have radios, don’t they, so a public-relations person in the control room could tell them where the trains are.

    3. This observation is key. Requiring the orchestrated transfer at Pioneer Sq hobbles the line north of PSQ with decreased frequency and increased dwell times just to make the transfer. I’d like to know if this was the only possible option.

      The new 15 minute frequency is also more like 18.

    4. I don’t think Sound Transit can allow people to wait on the center platform because there are no fire stairs or other emergency means of egress from the temporary center platform.

      1. All they’d have to do is keep both sides of the train’s doors open. They do that during train transfers anyways. That’s 16 paths of egress.

  2. How many times have we talked about real time arrival? How many different excuses have we heard from ST as to why we don’t have it? Are we even really sure we’ll have it when Northgate opens, or even East Link? Can we even trust anything they say on this subject?

    1. Next-arrival times were added to all displays some months ago. They show the next three trains. It’s not working during Connect 2020 but it will be back.

      1. It’s not always accurate but at least half the time it’s within three minutes of the train’s arrival. That’s better than nothing.

      2. No Mike, the LCD displays go according to the schedule. They are not real-time arrival at all. I’ve seen them so out of sync as to be completely useless.

      3. That’s been my experience as well, barman – often a train will “disappear” or you will see something like “3 min/19 min/23 min” when they are really all still on normal headways.

        More egregious even than that has been at the time of the last trains from Sea-Tac – I’ve noticed it on several Sunday nights when I fly in – all the train times say “University of Washington” including the two that only go as far as Beacon Hill. I can only imagine the frustration should any visitor hop on the train – yes, the train itself will say “Beacon Hill Station” but that’s fairly meaningless to a visitor who is “told” on the platform that the next train goes to “University of Washington” and doesn’t know anything from “Beacon Hill.” I (and others) have made it a point to tell people if they are going downtown or to the UW not to get on that train!

        (note – the rendering on the cover of the Environmental Impact Statement for the BUS tunnel – think mid-80s – showed “real time arrival signs.” That tech isn’t really all that new.)

      4. It happens the other way too. Sometimes it says “20 min” during 10-minute headways and then switches to “3 min” and the train arrives in 3 minutes. Or it says “6 min/23 min/33 min”, which doesn’t correspond to any schedule time. I assume the signs are right and the second two trains are delayed.

      5. Lol no, it doesn’t work at all Mike. There is nothing real time about the signs at Capitol Hill or UW stations. And it’s during the times you need it most, like service disruptions, where the signs have zero connection with reality.

    2. It’s so depressing. We put a man on the moon in 1969. It’s 2020 and we still don’t know where our trains are at all times (or our planes for that matter).

      1. I love it Mike Orr you have a excuse for everything and complain about everything, please stop, use your job as a way to get to the base and stop using ST along with asdf2

      2. I just assume Mike works at ST or a friend on the inside – he has so many answers and inside information.

      3. I’m just an amateur who has long been passionate about transit and remembers some of what I see along the way.

        I don’t understand what Daryl is saying.

  3. As far as I am concerned it is a total shutdown. I have switched to the bus for all of my transit trips. Yes, it may take longer (or it may not!) but baking in an extra half an hour round trip because no one can tell me when the train is coming is just not acceptable.

    It is another example of how Sound Transit is run by people who care about how something looks in a Powerpoint and not by people who actually use the system.

    1. +1. I’ve rearranged my schedule to never set foot on a train since this started, and I’m planning to keep it up till it ends.

      I expect I’ll be driving into Seattle tonight, just to avoid Connect 2020.

      1. I suspect that many people at ST would consider it a success that many people with attractive alternatives are taking them while Link has reduced capacity. Indeed it is, in a narrow demand-management mindset.

        The video at the top is the product of a different mindset, that centers rider experience above everything else.

        The real victims are people that lack those alternatives, or suffer enormous inconvenience when they continue to use the train.

    2. I’m sorry but that’s just seems like an overreaction to me. Link is still so much faster than bus options. If you’re going from Chinatown to Capitol Hill, say, I defy you to get there faster via whatever on 3rd Ave plus a 10/49. You’d rather transfer outdoors by walking a couple blocks instead of a well-timed transfer underground where you have to walk only 12 feet? Or Pioneer Square to Othello, you really think a 7/106 or a 36 would be faster? Or Westlake-UW, you’re going to take a 70 to a whatever on Pacific?

      Link is only a minute or two slower right now, and the median wait time is 7 minutes instead of the usual 3-5 minutes. Capacity is more than usual off peak, and down by like a quarter during peak. It’s not the apocalypse.

      I’ve commuted on Link every day since this started, except for the one day I took the bus and it took twice as long. The only trips I’ve replaced with buses are intra-downtown trips off-peak, where the river of buses on 3rd is genuinely faster.

      1. It’s largely a function of how far you were walking to take advantage of the train. For me, 49-to-random-bus is substantially reducing the walk so that the total travel time is about a wash.

        Saying it’s a 7-minute mean wait is understating the problem, because it used to be possible to time your arrival at the station based on the schedule and/or real time data. Moreover, it was possible to have reasonable timed transfers. Now, if there’s any transfer you have to build in 15 minutes of buffer. For bus-train-bus trips, the time penalties are onerous.

      2. There’s also the First Hill Streetcar.

        Link’s only advantage now is if you’re going more than a few stops, like UW to SODO or Westlake to the airport. In cities with comprehensive subways like Moscow, you don’t need a schedule because the trains come every 3-5 minutes (in the evening they drop down to 10 minutes), so you include that buffer in your itinerary. That breaks down when the headways are 12-15 minutes in daytime and sometimes stretch to 30 minutes.

        So no, Link is not necessarily worthwhile now for U-District to Capitol Hill, U-District to Westlake, Westlake to Intl Dist, Westlake to Beacon Hill, or Westlake to Rainier Valley. The bus alternatives are frequent, and even the lowliest bus route has a schedule.

      3. The streetcar is slow, but, I think, still faster than waiting 15 minutes for a link train. Assuming, of course, you don’t have to wait for the streetcar.

    3. That’s because ST is, unfortunately, not a transit entity. ST is a political entity in charge of transit.

      1. While true, this comment also implies that some transit agencies are not “political entities in charge of transit”, which would be false.

      2. just like Rogoff has never run an operational transit agency. he’s a political hire as well (which for the purpose of getting grants, is not a terrible idea)

      3. Except it turned out he is kinda terrible at getting grants and dealing with the feds since the election didn’t go the way it was expected, and he’s basically shit at everything else.

        He really needs to be fired.

    4. I’ve been using Link to get from the Capitol Hill to the airport during Connect 2020, and while not ideal, I just add 30 minutes to my travel time. I’m airline crew, so I need to be at the airport at a set time and I haven’t had a problem. It seems like a bigger problem for me going north, once we hit PS station things get really congested, but it’s only 3 further stops for me and I can cope.

  4. Amount of staff dedicated to the Tunnel, very good sign.

    I also seem to remember Sound Transit having a standing citizens’ advisory committee. And I know that for several years during DSTT planning and construction, a dozen ATU Local 587 members sat on a joint union-management employee advisory committee.

    Time to reactivate a couple resources that really did help out in a period of stress? And another one: through all the years the DSTT was being built, on their own time, interested union members regularly spoke at Metro Council meetings, in addition to maintaining contact with our elected representatives.

    I’ve always thought that the Employee Advisory Committee on the Downtown Seattle Project was disbanded years too soon. Also that its rejuvenation would count in the black column of the balance sheet. But more important, re-incorporate the knowledge and experience of the professionals who’ve literally got the operation in their hands.

    Really a little sad to read so little in these “pages” from this quarter. But a lot sorrier to see my successors throw away a well-earned source of some real power and authority. Bike permission and platform use- you understand cause and effect firsthand.

    To me, “flood of staff” looks like real opportunity for you. Officially and publicly put in to join it.

    Mark Dublin

  5. On the timing thing, the Seahawks still had home games in December and for better or worse lots of decisions seem to center on the needs of occasional but sought-after riders, like airport or sports riders.

    Totally agree on the wisdom of running extra UW-Westlake trips, where there is slack capacity, you’re not passing through the construction zone, only a third of riders actually need to make the Pioneer Square transfer, and ~half of ridership is solely between UW and Westlake.

    But Angle Lake-Stadium trips would carry a much smaller share of overall trips, and for those who caught every other train and wanted to go downtown you’d be dumping them on the busway to continue on the 101/150/594. ST’s blog post said the main reason for the longer headways was extra time to get through the work zone and through the switch south of Stadium, complicating the idea of running extra trains that would also have to use that switch. And ST would be flamed on equity grounds for running extra service in the north but not in the south.

  6. Thanks for mentioning the crossover problem. I don’t think the challenge of operating light rail at three minutes in each direction through the DSTT and carrying 148K riders on a segment in 2040 is fully understood by ST staff. Look at how disruptive Connect 2020 is — and there are a mere 70K riders in the tunnel.

    The same problem of inadequate design happened on Muni Metro (before the expensive turnaround was finished in the 1990s) and BART (still missing a crossover between Montgomery and 24th St). Similar operational horror stories exist in many systems. It’s only now that Chicago is fixing the Red/ Brown crossover problem north of Belmont Station after over 100 years of disfunctionality.

    The other thing that’s entirely missing from the system thus far is how to move riders when train service freezes and riders suddenly crowd station platforms and vertical conveyances.

    I find it poor planning to add more and more riders to the DSTT by adding extensions yet not doing the systems planning (and subsequent funding of projects) that should be identified to the core system. For example, adding riders from Everett burdens operations and station use in the DSTT because trains go from four to three minutes in the DSTT to accommodate more riders on the train and platform; extensions should pay for adding escalators at DSTT stations.

    There seems to be a mindset that Link projects only affect the new section of track and associated maintenance yards when it actually can affect the entire system. It’s wrong, and core system impacts needs to be a line item in the plans and budgets of every Link extension project.

  7. The last trains and first trains in that video are actually quite similar to the last and first trains on Link! Do it on a Sunday night (when Link stops an hour earlier) and those guys would have enough time.

    1. Connect 2020 includes three full weekend closures in addition to early closures last fall. That’s lots more time than these Japanese engineers had. Granted that it appears that the change was not involving pouring concrete — but pre-assembly of switches and concrete underneath off-site seems like one way to have gotten this done much quicker.

      I think the difference is that in Tokyo, disrupting transit is fraught with political peril. Here, I don’t think the leaders and senior staff care so much — because they still perceive us transit riders as relatively unimportant and gullible.

      Frankly, the recent Red Line label saga and the University St renaming saga combined with poor Connect 2020 planning would be enough to get senior staff fired and Board members losing elections if they happened elsewhere.

      1. Car drivers had to endure something similar when the Alaskan Way viaduct closed a month before the new highway 99 tunnel opened. Even less dramatic, highway construction routinely comes with lane closures that can last years. It’s not just transit riders.

      2. I think asdf2 is mostly right, though decisions at the margins can certainly be more biased (not apples to apples, but I think of how long it took them to reduce the speed limit of I-5 in Tacoma to 50, vs bikes were banned from PSS from the very beginning of Connect 2020).

        One other thing is that light rail is inherently more complex than a freeway, because the agency operates all the vehicles. If it weren’t, then every line would be able to open almost a year earlier, since it takes a year of testing of vehicles to be considered safe, whereas highways can open before all systems are even operational (SR 99 tunnel opened without tolls and ramp meters).

  8. I mostly take Link when heading to/from SeaTac. But when I was downtown yesterday afternoon, I decided to pop in Westlake station to simply look around. I didn’t realize Connect2020 affected Westlake as well as only one platform is open. As someone who works in the transit industry, I was amazed by how signage was clear and abundant. Additionally, staff was on hand to guide riders.

    Disruptions are unavoidable during large scale projects. How transit agencies communicate those disruptions to customers makes a difference in the customer experience. Though I haven’t ridden Link during Connect 2020, I’m definitely impressed by customer communication.

  9. I’ve actually been pleasantly surprised at how well the disruption has been handled. I’ve ridden Link 5-10 times during Connect2020 operations including a couple of evening rush hour commutes. I was expecting crush loads and full platforms, potentially having to wait for the next train because we can’t all physically squeeze in, etc. It really hasn’t been like that; I think a lot of people are just avoiding entirely which is probably just as well.

    However, I echo the many comments here that the lack of real time arrival information is a major PITA and source of stress as the penalty for just missing the train is so much higher with 15 minute headways. I haven’t delved into the technical issues but I fail to understand why the existing system can’t handle Connect2020 operations. Is the current system true real time or not? Why wouldn’t that continue to function regardless of the current headways? Why can’t we buy 100 burner phones and duct tape them to the front of each train and use a ‘Find my Friends’ style app to track the trains? This should not be so hard.

  10. Excellent article Martin. You made a lot of interesting points, and I think I agree with every single one (except maybe the future-proof, Seattle Subway, we’ll-soon- have-a-rail-system-larger-than-London idea).

    1. +1. Very well presented, Martin.

      My potential “long term failures” are the two major interchange stations and how they are designed for transfers. I am quite afraid that – particularly at ID Station – decisions will be made that will kneecap the system’s efficiency for decades. (See Matt‘s comment above “ST is a political entity in charge of transit” for why that is a fear.)

      1. I agree that the interchange stations are very important! Tens of thousands of riders will move inside them! Instead we obsess more about property owners with adjacent self interests because that’s who is applying political pressure.

        There are also interchange stations planned at SODO and Tacoma Done in 2030 and East Main and Wilburton in 2041. These four are all at or above ground so good transfers are easier and much cheaper to design — yet I’ve yet to see much importance expressed about easy transfers at any of these either.

        In sum, ST is indeed a political entity that happens to be in charge of transit as Matt said above.

    2. Since stacking the station at Gates Foundation and including bellmouths just to the east or west of it to accommodate an Aurora Line would actually make it cheaper than a center platform with Mezzanine model, it seems only prudent to do it.

      Similarly, though stacking the curve from the busway to Spokane would cost more than not, it’s not a great deal more and the visual intrusion of having a fourth level (the West Seattle Freeway is the second already) is really no big deal in that location.

      The Big Kahuna, though, is stacking Midtown and including bellmouths for the pink line heading up to First Hill. In the first place, Midtown Station is already going to be deep, deep, deep, especially since the Green Line is going to have to under-run Westlake which is already two pretty tall levels beneath Pine Street. Swinging east just to the south would put the lower track very little above sea level. The station around Boren/Broadway would probably be deeper than Beacon Hill.

      One good thing is that stacking would narrow the station east-west footprint by 1/3 which has GOTTA be a good thing with all those giant tower foundations all around it.

  11. It’s just 10 weeks.

    It’s not a personal insult, it is not even cause for weeping and gnashing of teeth. It is what it is – construction. Everyone should just put on their big boy pants and deal with it.

    And I know a lot of people weren’t here in the 90’s, but we came very close to completely losing LR, if not even all of ST. Suggesting that ST should have been expanding its focus to “future proof” a LR line that was very close to not even having a future is ludicrous. ST needed a very narrow focus on just delivering the starter line, and that is what they did.

    As per having all the construction workers work over the Christmas holidays so the rest of us can maybe be a bit less inconvenienced, I say “no”. Construction workers have families too. None of us are so important that we should put our own convenience above other people’s Christmas family time.

    1. It’s not a personal insult, it is not even cause for weeping and gnashing of teeth. It is what it is – construction. Everyone should just put on their big boy pants and deal with it.

      We are dealing with it — we have no choice. But what you are articulating is a “oh well” mentality towards customer experience that is the root of virtually every problem that transit users have with ST. In Japan, for instance, this kind of thing is unacceptable and they are fanatical about finding ways to avoid it.

      And I know a lot of people weren’t here in the 90’s, but we came very close to completely losing LR, if not even all of ST. Suggesting that ST should have been expanding its focus to “future proof” a LR line that was very close to not even having a future is ludicrous. ST needed a very narrow focus on just delivering the starter line, and that is what they did.

      If ST is incapable of installing a track switch and focusing on a starter line simultaneously, they really are incompetent.

      But OK, back then was the bad old days. Do you think ST should avoid this problem in the future where possible, or not? There are decision processes going on right now with similar implications.

      As per having all the construction workers work over the Christmas holidays so the rest of us can maybe be a bit less inconvenienced, I say “no”. Construction workers have families too. None of us are so important that we should put our own convenience above other people’s Christmas family time.

      Screw it, let’s just have them work 8 hours a day and run like this for a year — workers have families too.

      Seriously, when you inconvenience workers,you make it up to them by paying them more. Some might not take that deal, but others will be happy to make the trade.

      1. Ah, no. Even in Japan there is no such thing as a perfect transit system, just like there is no such thing as a perfect phone call. The difference is that in Japan when commuters need to be inconvenienced for things like this the commuters generally understand that it is for the long term good of the system and the community, so they accept it.

        Specifically, regarding ST’s decision not to imbed switches in concrete way back in the early 2000’s, it was absolutely the right call at the time. ST was fighting for Link’s survival, and throwing money at a problem that didn’t exist yet, was not planned to exist, had no design, and had not received voter approval nor funding was out of the question. It was he reality of the time, which is way different than today’s reality.

        And, yes, there will be planned service disruptions in the future, but not all of those are ST’s fault. Things like 130th St and BAR Stations will drive short term disruptions, it the decision to include these stations was a political decision that was forced in ST and is not supported by technical data.

        Regarding making workers work over Christmas break, again you can throw money at the problem and get volunteers, but the best and most senior workers are more established and less likely to be incentivized this way. You end up with lower skilled workers that you pay hugely for. Trust me, way back in the day I spent thanksgiving once doing exactly that. I got paid triple for shoddy work. It’s the way the contract worked.

        ST is hiring now, maybe you should apply. What you will find is that working in the public sector is not the same as working in the private sector. And working in brick and mortar is not the same as working in software. It’s just the way it is.


      2. East Link is being built by the private sector. ST appears to have hired Kiewit and Hoffman Construction to build this segment. I’d assume that the switches are part of this contract but I’m not completely sure.

        As far as switch installation goes, had it been done before the buses were kicked out, a bus bridge would have worked great! Had it been done before U-Link opened, half as many riders could have been inconvenienced. Only IDS would have been a challenge.

  12. Thank you Lazarus for adding some adult historical perspective to this conversation. There was a time that STB did the hard work of gathering information and asking questions of Sound Transit to try and understand and explain complex operational and construction decisions. Lately it seems more like a fanboy site that’s more interested in complaining about the tune of the day.

    Trains are running through an active construction zone while crews work 24/7. The end result will be less disruption for thousands of commuters from the north and trains running every 3-4 minutes through the city core when East Link opens.

    This isn’t a software patch, this is major work on an active railroad. The lack of understanding of what it takes to make that a success are astounding.

    1. There was a time that STB did the hard work of gathering information and asking questions of Sound Transit to try and understand and explain complex operational and construction decisions.

      If you read the post, you’d see that I actually did ask questions of Sound Transit.

      Lately it seems more like a fanboy site that’s more interested in complaining about the tune of the day.

      One of us assumes that every decision by Sound Transit is the best possible one. Another is accusing them of inertia and misplaced priorities. So, who’s the fanboy?

      Trains are running through an active construction zone while crews work 24/7.

      In the post you will find zero critiques of trains moving in the work zone.

      This isn’t a software patch, this is major work on an active railroad.

      Getting real time information — the core complaint in the post, if you bothered to read it — is literally a software patch.

    2. I’m actually more concerned that hard questions and issues that get raised by STB seem to have less and less traction. ST in particular seems to answer to no one but board members and entities with specific personal interests. ST is increasingly not providing current or forecasting data to the general public for STB posters to discuss; since STB exists to express concerns of riders and has no profit motive, it relies on agency data to do any analysis. The recent forecasting data was from pre-ST3 adoption and the most recent ridership report was from the Third Quarter of 2019, which ended in September.

      1. Strictly speaking, ST does only answer to the Board. That’s sorta the point of the current structure.

  13. Why does there need to be a service disruption for the Graham St station? If they are side stations there should be no light rail service disruption as the only construction impact would be to flare the roadway.

  14. Going back to the intent of the original post: I wonder if it would make sense to install the concrete for “possible future switching zones” of a few blocks but not install the switches. That way, pre-assembled switches can be installed over a single weekend when time cones to do that and the exact placement is known.

    Maybe I’m completely out of my element since I’m not a structural engineer for rail, but I would think that prep work contributes greatly to the installation schedule and that could be shortened considerable at a relatively low cost.

  15. Is there a line on the mezzanine level of Westlake Station just to get on the central platform that will have a Link Rail train going southbound to SeaTac? I have a flight at 12:38 (international) this morning.

    1. Not sure I fully understand the question, but if you are boarding the train at Westlake you will need to change trains via the center platform at Pioneer Square. There is no center platform at Westlake.

      If you can, either continue via bus down 3rd to Pioneer Square station instead or have your cab/Uber/Lyft/friend drop you off there. You won’t have to change trains at all if you board the southbound train at Pioneer Square (or any station south of there). Give yourself an extra 15 minutes padding due to the longer headways than normal.

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