If you are a (responsible, of course) user of public transportation, there’s a good chance that you’re eagerly awaiting the day that Link will once again run at frequent service levels. In the meantime, you might (perhaps after missing a train one day) have made sure to download the massive PDF Link schedule to your phone to make sure you aren’t left waiting on an platform with other people for up to 30 minutes longer than necessary. In any case, even a less-frequently-running Link Light Rail has a schedule that stretches on and on, despite mostly repeating at 20 and 30 minute intervals. Disappointingly, you won’t find the right schedule on OneBusAway either, so you settle for the endless grid of numbers.

Since an endless grid of numbers is hard to navigate (especially when you’re in a hurry), I’ve put together a more compact schedule. Arrival times are shown for six stops (both termini, and both the start and end of the downtown and Rainier Valley parts of Link). The arrival times of the first and last few trains are shown in detail. In between, it just shows what minute of every hour you need to be there to catch the train (with a +1 to indicate a trip extending into the next hour):

20 Replies to “Link coronavirus cheat sheet”

  1. Special thanks for the mask message, Alex. Especially pertinent this morning, considering the office held by the person who just said he wasn’t going to write mask-wearing into Federal law because “People do have a certain freedom.”

    Summing himself and his followers up in a nutshell: like their slave-holding predecessors, (last Civil War or next one, mentality that’s our Nation’s same existential enemy, no matter how much you want to name Army bases after them. )

    The freedom they value most is their own freedom to take away somebody else’s. In this case, our freedom not to be infected with a fatal disease we can pass on to deprive countless others of their freedom to breathe.

    But since I’ve been thinking about a visit to Seattle, though with a lot of reservation, can anyone tell me what the general experience is with Link and ST buses? Usable or really more advisable to Just Stay Home? Many thanks.

    Mark Dublin

    1. it depends on the route and time. The biggest problem is a bus being at its 16-person limit and passing you up. It helps to travel during the light times, when there might be only one or two other people on the bus. I aim for around 9 or 10am, 2pm, or after 7pm. Some routes are sparse weekends, while others are not. Since we have a lot of experience with these routes we can predict the sparse periods to a large extent. It’s like turning the coverage period into an advantage. I haven’t been passed up but I was once on a 131/132 that got full partway. As I’ve said, those routes are suprisingly busy both weekdays and weekends, and now the 124 is getting busy and I think I saw it with a full sign an hour ago.

      Link is 20 minutes weekdays, 30 minutes evenings/weekends, and charges full fare now. Metro is free, the parallel routes are often more frequent than Link, and traffic isn’t as bad as usual. So it may be just as convenient to take a bus. Link hasn’t been full the handlful of times I’ve ridden it.

      ST Express is a flat $3.25 on all routes. I rode the 550 today, for the first time since March. Fare payment was normal. There was no plexiglass divider for the driver. The front section was open. There were around five other passengers. All passengers except one had masks. One had it hanging down as. Eastbound the bus skipped South Bellevue and went up 405 to SE 8th Street, then back on 112th to Bellevue Way. The Surrey Downs track area looks like a dirt field. The elevated track south of there is in place. Westbound it took its usual route. The eastbound detour may have only been for part of the day.

      Some Metro bus displays now say “Mask required”; others still say “Essential trips only”. I’ve seen “Mask required” on a 10, three 49s, a 21, and the 550s. Another 49 said “Essential trips only”, and another 21 said nothing. It looks like Metro is gradually changing the sign to “Mask required” on all buses but it’s happening one by one over time.

      Link is still half-hourly weekends so that’s annoying. It wasn’t full the handful of times I’ve taken it.

      1. Mike, thanks very much. “Mask-Required” sign and policy, strongly support. Assault-prevention is an understatement. Neither drivers’ nor police officers’ work. But willing to increase my fare to have uniformed Army nurses from JBLM make people either mask up or get off.

        Mark Dublin

  2. Poll question. Who would trade 15 min service from 5-9am and 4-9pm weekdays for suspension of all Sunday service. That’s a simple 1:1 replacement of trips. The cost savings is actually greater than that.

    1. Absolutely not. I’d rather more of the opposite. Regular runs on all days cutting into peak weekday runs.

    2. I don’t think any such trade is needed. We’ve been told Link frequency had to suffer in part due to operator availability. Now, Metro just announced layoffs.

      If Link is still a spread limo, why not reduce capacity to save on maintenance to fund more operators to improve frequency? Do so before Metro makes the same mistake it made before the last STBD election. They downsized the workforce by freezing hiring, the STBD passed, and then Metro found itself in an operator coverage hole it never climbed out of until the pandemic. Does Metro’s HR department not know its own history?

      Halve the train lengths and upgrade the frequency. Invest in staffing now to avoid overtime in perpetuity. Save on using up the useful life of the LRVs while we can. Improve the rider per vehicle mile metric so the anti-transit lobbyists have one less talking point to defund Link.

      Has Metro actually gotten rid of overtime? Can we invest in Link staffing rather than supersizing to help ease Metro’s employment bridge to the next decade?

      And then, if ridership starts coming back because of the improved frequency, there will be no shortage of livery to improve capacity while waiting for Metro to make more operators available.

      Granted, lack of international travel has done a number on demand for riding Link to the airport. But Link is really a safer mode than the bus, and we aren’t taking advantage of that advantage.

      BTW, I suspect Metro still has operators who would like to stay home for the duration of the pandemic rather than work because they’ve used up their sick/safety leave. For the love of our fellow human beings, let them, and reduce the number of operators Metro is laying off.

      BTW2, if we have extra operators, deploy some on mask give-away duty, hitting the hot spots at the hot times until we get to essentially-100% mask compliance.

      1. I largely agree. Setting aside travel volumes at the airport, Link should just be frequent. If we are in such a reduced state that nothing is frequent, that’s one thing, but right now the 550 and 512 are frequent throughout the day 6 days/week (and many routes are frequent at peak), while Link is still not frequent ever. I think this is damaging to Link’s perception, and is something that will make it (even more) difficult to do things like truncating the 255.

    3. Absolutely not. Working from home, the Link schedule at rush hour doesn’t matter much to me, by I so sometimes take it places on Sundays.

      We also have several bus routes designed to feed into Link at UW Station and having Link not run at all on Sundays would totally screw the connection.

    4. For Metro I’d say definitely keep the Sundays. Community Transit dropped Sunday service during the 2008 recession for the same reason, and Metro’s 164 (Kent-132nd-GRCC) has never had Sunday service. That means a whole day it’s much harder to go shopping or other activities. Most people have only Saturday and Sunday off work, so that gives only one day a week to go out in the daytime. And if you go to church on Sundays, it hinders your religious practice.

      For instance, I attended Orthodox churches for several years. There were two on Capitol Hill, one in SLU, and one in north Lynnwood. Each differed in how much English was used, musical style, the personality of the priest and classes offered. So I attended different ones as my goals evolved. CT had Sunday service then so I could get to the one in Lynnwood, but if it didn’t I couldn’t.

      With Link’s current extent it’s less of an issue, because buses go everywhere Link does, and are in some cases better for the reasons I listed above. With Northgate Link and the future deletion of the 41 and 550, that will no longer be the case. Getting from Northgate or Roosevelt to downtown without Link or the 41 will be significantly worse relative to buses than taking the 7 or 36 to southeast Seattle or 124 to SeaTac.

      The worst truncation now is the 255. Northeast Seattle has also been cited, but all the northeast buses wrap around to Campus Parkway where you can get the 49. And people forget the 255 goes up to 15th & Pacific, about four blocks from the 49. So there is a way to get from the 255 to downtown without the 48+11 or 45+49. But a 4-minute walk to the 49 plus a 15-minute wait plus 40-minute travel time is much worse than a 5-minute walk to Link plus 10-minute wait plus 6-minute travel time. But when Link is half-hourly it gets awful. Still, given Link’s current extent, I would rather have Metro on Sundays than Link.

      But, 15-minute peak hours is so little benefit I wouldn’t sacrifice Sundays for it. 15-minute peaks only helps if you travel peak hours. Fewer people are commuting 9-5 so that justification is gone. At the same time there are many trips off-peak, evenings, and Sundays, which don’t benefit by peak-hour frequency at all. It’s not just people shopping and recreating but people going to swing-shift, retail-shift, and other shift jobs. What I want is all-day frequency, and a return to full-time frequency. Just peak frequency is, meh, and the idea of dropping Sundays or evenings to boost peak frequency is double-meh. Maybe when the peak crowds return.

  3. Why do the final 2 northbound runs end at Mt Baker during the week but Beacon Hill on the weekends? I assumed maybe it was a connecting service issue but one would presume there would be more service that late at night on a weekday v a weekend.

    (Also, the final northbound Sunday run needs a couple red “+1” unless it is taking over 60 minutes to get from Angle Lake to Rainier Beach/Mt Baker.)

    1. The Beacon Hill underground station closes before the last train because ST doesn’t want to pay the security costs of keeping it open later. Link service nominally ends at 1am weekdays/Saturdays and 12am Sundays, and ST doesn’t feel obliged to keep Beacon Hill Station open after that.

      The Sunday schedule above is wrong. The last train northbound leaves Angle Lake at 11:45pm and arrives at Beacon Hill at 12:13am. Sunday has always ended an hour earlier than other days, and it still does.

      1. Thanks, it’s fixed now. I switched to using the full time for the final trips each day.

  4. As long as you have an integer number of trains arriving per hour at any given station then the arrival times won’t “walk”.

    No schedule necessary, just learn the arrival times for your station and your time of day.

  5. As frequency drops, schedules become more important. Thanks!

    I really think 15 minutes would be best. Metro Route 7 is already passing up lots of riders throughout the day, and a more frequent Link would help.

    1. Treating Metro and ST as the same set of taxpayers, bumping up frequency on Link is cheaper than bumping up frequency on route 7, probably more useful for the grid, and probably safer for the riders who shift back to Link. (See my suggestion in an earlier thread for sacrificing some capacity on Link.)

      I get a bad feeling the ST Board leadership is more disconnected from its ridership and its inter-agency relationships than ever.

      We may miss the opportunity to improve Link frequency and ridership and save some jobs if we don’t speak up before the layoffs take effect in a couple weeks.

    2. “I get a bad feeling the ST Board leadership is more disconnected from its ridership and its inter-agency relationships than ever.”

      I’m bewildered by ST’s procrastination in returning to at least 15 minutes. Especially now that it’s charging full fare. The board must know that many people are deterred by the 20-30 minute schedule. If they’re trying to drive people away for social distancing, why are they doing it more on Link than ST Express? As others have said, Link is safer because of its more open design and more doors, and it can absorb more people at the same distance.

      I don’t think this is related to Link being infrequent in the future. (RossB has speculated Link might drop to 20-30 minutes in Everett and Tacoma due to low ridership.) This seems like a pandemic-specific reaction. At least I hope it’s not a permanent change of mind by the board. Link has always stuck to 10-minute minimum before 10pm, unlike MAX and BART which are 15 minutes on each line. That 10-minute minimum made Link higher quality than most American light rails, and I’d hate to see Link lose it. When light rails drop to 30 minutes, it defeats some of the reasons for building it in the first place.

      1. Last sentence, my sentiments exactly, Mike. Tempting comparison from the recent past: Advocating using fares as a means of deciding who-all doesn’t get to ride.

        But since I don’t have the balance sheet in front of me, I’d give them enough benefit of the doubt at least long enough to show me how much extra it’d cost to put Link service at 15 minutes and be done.

        Would also like to know how many trips on the average a Link train gets held at a red light on MLK. Been told it’s a worsening problem. Time, after all, is money, isn’t it?

        Mark Dublin

      2. I went to Pritchard Park off Rainier Beach Station a week ago. The train was stopped by a light around Orcas Street — not Graham where I would have expected. I’ve rarely seen Link stop outside a station for years. I haven’t ridden Link enough to say whether it’s getting more common, but it did stop me on that day.

        P.S. Pritchard Island Park is the one I was looking for last month and couldn’t find. From Rainier Beach Station if you go straight east to the water, that’s Beer Shiva Park, and it runs continuously north to the Rainier Beach Urban Farm (fenced off), and on the map it stops only at Cloverdale Street and immediately on the other site of Cloverdale is Pritchard Island Park. But when I went north I ran into houses and had to go north and east a few blocks to get to Pritchard Island Park. It’s not really an island. (It may have been an island before Lake Washington’s height was changed.) It has woods and a trail through the middle, and a itty bitty tiny little beach. It didn’t have the lagoons I remembered; that may have been Twin Ponds Park in Shoreline, or another one.

  6. My whole time connected with STB, anything I either wanted or needed to know about any question regarding transit, first move has always been to go check it out in person. Trouble is that since late March, the only thing I can do to shorten a deadly epidemic is to avoid situations where I can spread or catch it.

    After my coffee at Olympia Roasters this morning, came very close to taking my pretty “two-lanes” to Tacoma Dome to see if I could get my August pass put onto my ORCA card. And maybe board a 574 ride to Sea-Tac Link by the rear door. Intercity Transit has been running some scheduled service, but none across county lines.

    But though my mask is my own proud little banner of freedom to neither contract nor infect….more of them should be US flags…reading this morning’s numbers, just no. So every so often, would appreciate a favor. A few words from operating personnel on this general subject:

    Is there anything I can pass along to a few officials with whom I’ve been in contact over the years, as to what you need from your superiors to stay at your own most effective? To me, the one way to improve service without imposing sacrifice on anybody else, whether your company, your colleagues or your passengers.

    Many thanks.

    Mark Dublin

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