New Siemens S700 railcar alongside older Kinkisharyo model at the OMF-E in Bellevue (image: Sound Transit)

{Sound Transit contacted us to clarify that they will be able to support 8 minute peak headways with 30+ qualified vehicles in Fall 2021 if the recovery schedule proceeds as planned. Clarifications in text below with new commentary in bold.}

Sound Transit has contracted to acquire 152 new light rail vehicles to support network expansions through 2024. Of those, 40 were to have been available ahead of the opening of Northgate Link in Fall 2021. must be available to enable the planned 8-minute headways to Northgate opening Fall 2021. Just 12 are mainline-ready at this time. That number is expected to rise to over 30 before Northgate opens, less than planned but enough to operate 8 minute service if no further delays are encountered. ,still 10 vehicles short of what is needed.

There’s no single reason for the schedule slippage, more a cascading series of holdups each of which delayed the next step in getting vehicles ready for service. 68 new vehicles have been assembled by Siemens to date, and manufacturing is now on schedule and on budget. But there were earlier delays that rippled downstream. Those challenges included supply chain holdups and re-work on some cars due to unacceptable quality. A handful of vehicles received in Seattle were returned to Sacramento for repairs to exterior panels and those are now back in Seattle. 26 vehicles are now on-site in Seattle.

The more recent issues are mostly in Seattle where a considerable amount of work is necessary to prepare and test each vehicle so they are ready for service. Early on, there were problems in recruiting enough technicians and inspectors. Fifteen months ago, the testing and commission process got underway, with tests offsite before shipping and at the OMF. Burn-in reliability tests take place on the mainline track during non-revenue hours. There have been COVID-related delays to all of this work at Sound Transit and at Siemens in addition to other partners further up the supply chain.

LRVs at the Siemens plant in Sacramento await shipping to Seattle. (image: Sound Transit)

A recent signals interference issue between on-board subsystems has probably been resolved, with a resolution currently being reviewed before deployment.

The project was baselined with the expectation that 40 LRVs would be delivered by the end of 2020, with the first of the new LRVs in revenue service early in 2020. Sound Transit now expects revenue service with the new vehicles to begin early in 2021. The need for spares means six cars are necessary to schedule a train into regular service.

Sound Transit’s goal is to commission four cars per month until the last go into service in 2024. That seems unlikely this year. With two months float, staff expect 30+ vehicles to be ready before Northgate opens. There are identifiable risks to this schedule. The top risk is of more delays to qualifying the on-board systems. But staff also point out that COVID could slow work more, or the competing workload of maintaining the current fleet may draw too many resources.

Staff intend to bring recommendations to the Board in February 2021. At that time, there should be more visibility on risks to qualifying vehicles, to just how great the shortfall is, and perhaps some more visibility to whether ridership is recovering. There were few clues to what any mitigation would look like if the recovery plan fell short. The working assumption seems to be that trains would operate at four cars, making reduced headways the more probable outcome.

Sound Transit’s schedule recovery plan aims for 30 cars ahead of Northgate service (slide: Sound Transit)

68 Replies to “Link service levels at risk when Northgate opens as LRVs delayed”

  1. Couldn’t they just run some three car trains for now to achieve the same headway/frequency? Especially since ridership isn’t that high right now.

    1. I was thinking the same thing. They should be running the trains every 6 minutes peak, even if that means three-car trains. But if they don’t have enough drivers, then they should at least run it every 8 minutes peak.

      1. Yes, the risk is to the promised 4-car/7.5-minutes. There would be enough capacity to do 3-car/7.5 minutes, which would also be equivalent in capacity (but not operating cost) to 2-car/5 minutes. There will be a few options out there, but it seems like they’re just daylighting the risk to the max promised capacity of 32 vehicles per peak hour per direction.

      2. So that means they could run the train every 6 minutes, with two or three car trains, just as they did before the pandemic.

        I get it. You want bigger trains. But it is crazy to argue that you need bigger trains at the same time you are pushing for reducing the frequency from 6 (before the pandemic) to 8. It would make sense to just run it every 6 minutes with as many cars as they have and then add them on as time goes on (presumably as ridership increases, following the post-pandemic recovery (that I hope occurs)).

      3. I have a feeling (aka 30% chance?) the move to 8 minute frequency has more to do sound transit doesn’t want to hire that many train drivers, rather than lacking train cars.

      4. 8 minute headways also likely has to do with future optics…since the East Link plan is probably going to be 8 minute peak as well, with 4-minute interlining between the ID and Northgate, then they can start with 8-minute precedent during COVID and keep it that way, rather than having 5 or 6 minute peak service from 2021-2023 and then face the equity blowback of “cutting” peak frequency from 6 to 8 for all stations south of the ID by virtue of bringing trains to wealthy Bellevue. You could solve that by running 6 on both lines, but I digress…

      5. they can start with 8-minute precedent during COVID and keep it that way, rather than having 5 or 6 minute peak service from 2021-2023 and then face the equity blowback of “cutting” peak frequency from 6 to 8 for all stations south of the ID by virtue of bringing trains to wealthy Bellevue.

        Except that the trains used to run every six minutes. If they go to eight minutes and keep it that way, then folks in the south end would see a degradation from what they saw before the pandemic.

        You could solve that by running 6 on both lines

        Yes, that is the obvious choice. It is what I assumed they were going to do from the beginning. Just run each line every six minutes during peak, and ten minutes outside of peak. That is what I would consider to be “normal”, or standard. (Ideally they would just run both every six minutes all day). The line to Bellevue will likely be just as strong as the southern line in terms of ridership per service hour (especially during peak). The bus used to run every five minutes during peak, so I would consider running every six to be standard.

      6. I have a feeling (aka 30% chance?) the move to 8 minute frequency has more to do sound transit doesn’t want to hire that many train drivers, rather than lacking train cars.

        I agree, but what bothers me is the lack of transparency, and discussion. No one has done an analysis as to how much is saved by reducing service compared to how much fare revenue is lost. Or if they have, they haven’t reported it. I realize the pandemic has clouded everything, but it looks like this was the plan all along.

        Various agencies are chipping away at the system. Between Metro *reducing* connections to new Link stations, and Sound Transit *reducing* service on Link, it is frustrating. There is way too much focus on new construction, and not enough on making the pieces that already exist (or about to built) work well.

      7. Really should be looking in to automating Link in the future. Though this would require significant $$$ especially in the Rainier Valley, it may be more realistic than a full blown ST4 package?

      8. Given autonomous shuttles already operate in the US, Link can be automatic with little change to the ROW; most of the expense is retrofitting the cars and building out the central system. Right now, the primary hurdle is the political will to say no to the union, as that is what has been holding up BART for decades.

  2. What’s the logistics process like for unloading a train car from a delivery truck and placing it on the tracks? Do they use cranes, or do they have some kind of ramp setup, allowing the train to roll off the truck under the force of gravity?

  3. Sources I deeply trust on this tell me I don’t know what I’m talking about- as if that was news. But since I can’t help it, let me put it this way:

    IF we COULD use the factory space that Boeing MIGHT have come available because Carolina labor is so CHEAP, isn’t there a CHANCE that a necessary part might only have to travel across the ROOM instead of all the way from Sacramento?

    Well, since the only thing worse than an ill-wind is dead calm, which often births a tornado, COVIDIA is doing us a favor by making it impossible for anything to happen at all. So there’s a good chance our gloom-tanks will be empty in time for Recovery to dump them all at the nearest Toxic site.

    You didn’t hear it from me, but gloom also renders nuclear waste benevolent by eating it.

    Mark Dublin

    1. Um, er, ah, I don’t think you want Boeing any closer to the LRV fleet than their plants are to the tracks. If you meditate on San Francisco’s and Boston’s experience, you’ll agree.

      1. Not worried about aggression from Boeing, Tom. Though even though it was a low bar, their “Vertols” were superior to what Breda replaced them with in San Francisco. And also both Gothenburg and Oslo, neither of which has any excuse for not knowing better.

        One way or another, The Low Bid probably caused The Black Death.

        What I want is the intact factory space they’re vacating for the land of Confederate wages. Lifetime Amtrak ticket, here I come. And while Adages really do get Old, if you want anything built right starting with LRV’s…your first hire’s right in your bathroom mirror!

        Mark Dublin

      2. OK, you mean Siemens using the space in some vacated Boeing factory. Sure, that wpuld be nice, but it’s likely to take a year yo get up and running. So it’s not likely to help with the deployment delays.

  4. Link headway is more important than train length. Capacity is the result of both. Waiting is the result of only headway, unless capacity is reached. Before Covid, ST planned six-minute headway and four-car trains with Northgate in the peaks. The key is that ST should also provide six or seven minute headway at off-peak times to make the network work well. Short waits are key.

    1. I agree completely. Link should run every six minutes, all day long, just like the Madison BRT (when it is finally finished).

  5. “The working assumption seems to be that trains would operate at four cars, making reduced headways the more probable outcome.”
    The second phrase may be backward, where longer headways, not reduced ones, would result from sticking to four-car trains with a shortage.

    STB might suggest that short waits is more important than train length.

    1. short waits is more important than train length

      Exactly. No one cares how long the train is — they care how long they have to wait. It also makes it easy to scale up. Run as frequently as you can, with as many cars as you can. You don’t need to change the schedule as you get more cars, you just have bigger trains.

      Northgate Link represents a major improvement in the system. At that point the segment with the most demand will be complete. Run the trains as often as you can — every six minutes, to get the best return on the investment. Yes, it costs a bit more, but nothing like the capital cost of actually building the thing.

      Running the trains infrequently is like buying a Ferrari and then putting cheap tires on it.

    2. “…making reduced headways…”

      I think it’s just a case of less than ideal phrasing by the OP. I interpreted it to mean exactly what you explained in your comment, i.e., lower frequencies and longer waits.

      But, yes, I agree with your (and RossB’s) larger point: run the trains at the promised frequency at whatever length the increased fleet size permits.

  6. Am I reading the schedule correctly, that 6 Siemens LRVs will be in service early next year? I am excited to try them out but I am surprised how long it takes to get through testing.

    1. The long delay created by months of vehicle testing seems excessive to me. How can it take what appears to be 9 months to test a vehicle for revenue service? I would think that the communications and safety system testing for the track and stations would govern the schedule.

      1. In order to keep the 2023 opening deadline for East Link due to delays from post tensioning and the bridge joints ST reduced testing time from the original 9 months to a much lower testing time period, and that testing will include running rail over a floating bridge, which has never been done before. So I agree 9 months for vehicle testing seems excessive.

      2. There is a considerable amount of work that goes on that isn’t published.

        In short, there is the 1000-mile burn in for EACH vehicle. Not sure if that means operator controlled or can be MU’ed in a consist.

        HVAC has its own set of tests that needs to be done.

        Lack of available crews due to COVID is the other potential issue.

        Operator and maintenance training. Not all LRV’s are the same. Getting training done without disrupting available operators and maintenance and how to conduct that maintenance.

      3. “How can it take what appears to be 9 months to test a vehicle for revenue service?”

        Federal regulations. Link’s initial segment took 9 months to test. I think U-Link took only three months that they emptied trains at Westlake and continued empty to UW. That might be because it was so short or so few new cars.

      4. I assume the doors are in the same place as the Kinkisharyos, otherwise they’d have trouble with the yellow platform barriers. Are they able to connect the Siemens/Kinkys together into one consist? If so, could they start burning in the Siemens LRVs behind the Kinkys?

      5. Siemens and Kinkisharyos can be mechanically linked but not electronically linked. So one could tow the other if disabled/out of service, but they cannot run in-service in a mixed train set. I don’t know but I’d wager they cannot do burn-in with a mixed train set.

  7. 1) I don’t want to see safety short-cut in any way in prepping the LRVs.

    2) Having trains of different lengths just leaves riders waiting where they know there will be a vehicle. The extra vehicle on the longer trains don’t tend to fill up as well as the ones in the regular platform footprint. There’s also a minor safety issue for sight-challenged riders when a vehicle is there sometimes and sometimes not there.

    3) Even if the pandemic is over, I’m not expecting a mass rush away from work-from-home, at least for all work days. I just don’t see ridership being what was projected for opening day before the pandemic hit.

    4) Six-minute headway is not the plan. Fuggetaboutit. The plan is for 8-minute headway (or maybe really 7.5-minute headway). If the headway has to be a little longer in order to standardize train length, I’d rather see that than the random train length that left half-empty third cars while the front two were crushloaded. Making full use of the space, including platform space, will be particularly important if the virus hasn’t been wiped out yet.

    5) I hope ST isn’t trying to float the idea of delaying Northgate Link’s opening over fleet size. I’d opt for opening with the smaller fleet. Just because I want it open, like, yesterday.

    6) I will still be wearing a mask on transit during flu season even after this particularly nasty one is gone. I’m not really germaphobic, just more educated now about how respiratory viruses like the common flu spread. Living with the flu is a lifestyle choice. We can collectively choose not to.

    1. The extra vehicle on the longer trains don’t tend to fill up as well as the ones in the regular platform footprint.

      So what? At worse some people will stand on the train, as opposed to standing, waiting for the train.

    2. If the headway has to be a little longer in order to standardize train length, I’d rather see that than the random train length that left half-empty third cars while the front two were crushloaded.

      Look at page 47 of the service implementation plan. Our trains were never crush loaded. Our trains will never be crush loaded.

      Running them less often will not result in less crowding — unless you are hoping that a lot of people just abandon Link. It really isn’t that hard to walk to the third train if you are concerned about crowding. Since our trains never get that crowded, it doesn’t really matter.

      If you really want comfort and you really don’t care about how often the train runs, and don’t want to bother standing near the tail end of the two car train, then I suggest the following: Stand next to where a three car train would be. Wait for the two car-train to pass. When you finally get your chance, you will have plenty of space on the car, which apparently is more important to you than getting to your destination sooner. The rest of us will be on the two-car train, living with more space than the average bus rider.

      1. I suggest the following: Stand next to where a three car train would be. Wait for the two car-train to pass. When you finally get your chance, you will have plenty of space on the car, which apparently is more important to you than getting to your destination sooner.

        The snark is strong with you today, Grasshopper!

    3. “Our trains were never crush loaded.”

      What? They were certainly full around ballgames, and almost full peak hours in south Seattle. “Crush loaded” is a slippery definition. Pugetopolans chose to wait for the next train rather than packing it to the planning maximum, in keeping with Americans’ avoidance of crowding. That may mean they’re not technically crushloaded, but the net result is the same, people having to wait for the second or third train to get on.

      And now with covid, we can’t be sure social distancing will be gone by next September. Four-car trains allow people to spread out. And lower frequency lowers ridership, so that would allow it to cope more if only every other seat can be used.

      Of course, many people in North Seattle won’t have a non-Link alternative with the 41, 522, and 74-79 being truncated.

      Hmm, how would people in northeast Seattle get to downtown if Link is unusable and the Northgate Link restructure is in place? It’s worth thinking about because Link was 30 minutes for several months. The U-District will still have the 49 and 70. The 67 connects to those, as do all the other northeast local routes. The 26 will be truncated. So the nearest non-Link alternative north of 45th will be the 62.

      1. Assuming social distancing is still an issue by then, there will be no crush-loaded events like ballgames anyway. Also the longer people are waiting on the platform, the more people will have to board the train, negating the advantage of having an extra car. More frequency will mean less people standing and waiting for the next train.

      2. Sound Transit specifically defines “crush loaded”, and of course, the trains were never that full. Only twice, and only in the southbound direction was there a train that exceeded the “target max load”.

        To quote the report:

        Link loads continue to be high, with several trips sometimes exceeding the Link light rail loading standard of 2.0. However, only one trip consistently exceeds the loading standard three days a week, as defined in our service standards. This is currently a two-car train leaving University of Washington Station around 5 pm. This trip is heavily loaded due to the two car train configuration as well as passengers traveling through the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel to connect to the 5:20 pm Sounder South Line train. Sound Transit continues to monitor this trip and may make changes in 2019 to better accommodate passengers, especially after the conversion of the DSTT to a rail-only configuration.

        In contrast, there were buses that were routinely full, as defined by the driver. They just cruised right past the bus stop.

        Assuming that we will have social distancing when Link gets to Northgate misses the point. If Covid is still a problem, then ridership will still be suppressed. Running the trains as often as possible won’t result in the usual increase in ridership. Making service worse in hopes of discouraging ridership more is perverted (and not in a good way).

        All of my statements about frequency are based on the pandemic waning by then, if not being largely eliminated.

      3. “…in keeping with Americans’ avoidance of crowding.”

        As a former NYer who grew up using transit in the city and having ridden countless crush-loaded trains there (as well as in Chicago and Boston), I’m a bit perplexed by your assertion. Perhaps your (pre-Covid) observation is limited to just Pugetropolis? Of course, the pandemic and the requisite social distancing is indeed a game changer.

        “The 26 will be truncated.”
        Ugh. So that’s official now, eh? I’d comment more but it’s off topic.

      4. “…in keeping with Americans’ avoidance of crowding.”

        As long as we’re wedded to the idea that no road widening project shall ever, EVER be questioned, (or heaven forbid, put up to a vote,) then YES, Tlsgwm, Americans avoid crowding, unless the whole crowd is drunk!

      5. I’ve only been in New York a handful of times and haven’t commuted there, but I gather the trains are less packed than in Japan where they have pushers to squeeze people in, and probably other Asian countries are in between.

    4. Brent point four: yes, ST changed its plan to eight minute headway from six-minute headway with Covid. We assert that was in error. The decision seems in play. Suppose the vaccine is widely available.

      1. Well, according to our Mercer Island reporter, people aren’t going back to work in office buildings ever again. So it’s a non-issue. Why are they running trains at all?


      2. I don’t remember when exactly 6-minute peaks started and ended, but I remember ST saying it was a temporary expediency between two stages, not a permanent frequency increase. I don’t remember whether the stages were between U-Link and Northgate Link, or between the ending of the Ride Free Area and U-Link. but it was something like that. I thought the frequency had already revered to 7.5 or 8 minutes before covid, because I remember thinking how it would degrade my experience at UW Station and I thought it had done so for a while. At least I think I remember going into UW Station and seeing the monitor say 7 or 8 minutes and wishing we had 6-minute peaks again. Maybe I’m imagining that, but the idea of 6-minute peaks up to covid or up to Connect 2020, just doesn’t seem right; it feels like they reverted to 7 or 8 minute peaks earlier.

        ST should run it at 6 minutes for transit-best-practices reasons, but it has never said it would do that before East Link.

        Maybe we need another email campaign like the one that got ST to return to 10-minute off-peak service next March. If we send a consistent message that frequency is the most important thing during different service decisions, it may eventually get ST’s attention that this is the way to make an effective light rail network.

  8. Can somebody in Operations tell us this: How much problem is it to add cars as the need arises? I seem to remember seeing SF Muni supervisors do that with trolleybuses all the time.

    Including turning the buses back at “loops” wired specifically for that purpose, when that’s indicated. Routes 7 and 9 used to have turnback switches at both Graham and Rose Streets respectively. Route 44 could also have used one far-side of Stone Way. No harm ordering it now.

    But for bus, rail, or both, it seems to me that for heavy duty operations, “hands-on” creates a lot better service than “planned in advance”.

    eddiew, what do you think?

    Mark Dublin

    1. Rather than run the peak trains every eight minutes instead of ten, could ST run the extra trains at five minutes but only between ID or SODO or Stadium and Northgate?

      I would think that ST should have at least one operating scenario available to relieve demand created by terminating buses at Northgate that doesn’t require serving the whole route. An added bonus is that this overlay peak service could then be called “Line 2” and be used for East Link service testing when that begins in 2022.

      1. I doubt they have a good way to turn them around. More to the point, Sound Transit seems oblivious to the importance of frequency. Of course it would make sense to maximize ridership on the section that will soon have most of the riders (Northgate to I.D.). Study after study has shown that ridership goes up with frequency. Yet Sound Transit doesn’t seem to care, focusing instead on capacity.

        What bothers me most is that they are silent about the issue. I understand we are in a pandemic, and it clouds the issue, but here they are, worried about the size of the trains while ignoring the far more important issue of frequency. If it is too expensive to run the trains often, then say so. Go ahead and explain why the increase in fare revenue (that comes from the increase in frequency) isn’t enough to cover the extra cost. But as of now, ST officials aren’t saying anything.

      2. The irony is ST chose to have two operator cabs per train precisely because they wanted the flexibility to run smaller consists and turn them around more easily. They could’ve opened up a lot more capacity (and potentially saved money) by putting seats there instead like Portland does. Instead we’ll have 8 operator cabs per train, most of which will rarely if ever get used.

      3. I disagree with Ross. There is a great opportunity for in-direction turnback at SoDo by running through the MF outer loop. The driver does not need to leave her or his workstation, and the outer loop is signaled. I grant that this would certainly be unconventional, but it should be relatively easy to implement. A guesstimate would be that it would take about five minutes from SoDo southbound to return to SoDo northbound. Since trains will run every six minutes south of there, the “on-ramp” track from the outer loop to the northbound track could be used as a brief holding location.

      4. Oh, and if someone does not depart the train they’ll just ride around the MF loop and be a fare-paying passenger when the train returns to service at SoDo. I expect that “forgetting” will be fairly common for the first few weeks. Jes’ sayin’.

      5. I think the big complementary point is that some sort of service change will be needed when East Link begins testing sometime in 2022 or early 2023 at the latest. There will need to be testing of five-minute service or even four-minute service before East Link opens. At some point, ST needs to test operating two lines between ID and Northgate stations and that has to begin by late 2022.

        This is why I think this operating scenario needs to be seriously examined. If it doesn’t happen when Northgate Link opens in 2021, ST will have to set up something for testing East Link in 2022 and a different operating plan will have to be introduced.

      6. Also, it’s at least theoretically possible to “double-cab” using the tail track just south of Stadium. That is, a northbound driver would board the trailing car at Stadium, the train would run into the tail track, the northbound driver would activate control from the tail car and then, on signal re-enter Stadium station northbound. The southbound driver would have exited and locked the southbound cab and would then deboard at Stadium, to become the next northbound driver.

        Because of the crossings at Holgate and Lander, this may be preferable to the City, though it means that one extra driver is required to do the double-cabbing or, conceivably, two.

      7. ST will specifically need to hone the process of reversing trains at Northgate for both Lines 1 and 2 before East Link opens.

      8. There’s a turnback at Stadium so it’s physically possible. One of ST2’s earlier operating scenarios was a third daytime-only line between Stadium and Northgate. That got dropped when ST decided on a 2-line operation, and later extended all trains to Lynnwood. (Previously East Link off-peak trains were going to turn around at Northgate, but ST decided it needed more capacity north of Northgate.)

  9. “A handful of vehicles received in Seattle were returned to Sacramento for repairs to exterior panels…”

    Question for the OP: Was this due to damage sustained during shipping or was this related to a quality control issue at the manufacturer? In other words, were the exterior panels simply dented, dimpled, scratched, etc. or were there more serious issues like gaps in joints, broken seals, etc.?

    Thanks in advance for any info you can provide.

    1. My inference listening to the meeting was this is a manufacturer defect. But it wasn’t explicitly described. Perhaps they didn’t know – if the defect was only observed in Seattle, it could have happened at many places along the chain. But it was serious enough to warrant round trips to Sacramento, so surely more than the normal wear and tear one might observe in typical use.

    2. Didn’t someone on this blog (maybe the editor) question me when I predicted East Link will not open in 2023 despite the truncated testing time to make up for post tensioning and bridge joint engineering across a floating bridge? The good news is there doesn’t seem to much anticipation on the eastside for East Link.

      1. There’s nine months of unused float in the schedule right now. East Link would be on track to open in 2022 were it not for dependencies on ORCA 2 and maybe on these trains being delivered.

  10. Can anybody help me out with the “mechanics” of adding and de-coupling train-cars as needed? I’d of got the feeling that this was what “tail-track” was for.

    Stadium? Sea-Tac? Angle Lake? Am I right? Let alone the whole LCC yard itself. But The Devil also made me use this for a slashing “Cut” to the real “Chase. Namely some necessary hands-on-handling of the agency called Sound Transit itself.

    Like everything with wheels on its roster, Sound Transit’s never going to run itself. At a lot of different levels, from voters to Board members to supervisors to drivers, with hands on steering wheels and controller-levers….it’s not going to fix itself either. So…..

    Anybody reading this gonna run for a position that’ll include Board membership? Whatever your politics, I suspect a lot of incumbents will help fund your campaign out of sheer gratitude for finally getting rescued.

    Mark Dublin

    1. Tail tracks are for reversing, not storage. However, since the cars aren’t ganged with a through path, the operator has to step off the train, walk to the other end, reboard and enter the other end control cab. He then has to “boot it up” and run some tests to be certain that it it functioning.

      Most tail tracks have a little walking room on one side, but it’s tight if a train passes while the operator is “walking the train”.

      It’s quicker and safer to drive around a loop.

      1. As I’ve seen more than one veteran system prove, Tom. Put a nice little park in the middle of it, preferably with a fountain, and neighborhoods might start competing for them.

        Mark Dublin

      2. Also, as mentioned above one can double-cab at a tail track “outbound” from the last station to be served with higher capacity.

        However, there are no tail tracks south of Rainier Beach at this time. I believe there will be one at South Federal Way.

        The terminals at TIBS, Sea-Tac and now Angle Lake were/are all served by the double cross-overs “inbound” from the stations. Southbound trains enter whichever platform track is empty and the next northbound train departs from the other platform track. One or the other uses the cross-over to get to or from the proper running track to the platform.

      1. Agency Progress Reports have the most detail. On page 53 of the most recent, you’ll see East Link currently tracking to 10/1/22.

        At a ST meeting maybe two-three months ago, Claudia Balducci asked the obvious question, why not open in 2022? Rogoff’s response wasn’t a definitive no, but it was long on concerns about readiness outside of the East Link project itself, specifically citing ORCA2 which is directed to work toward a 2023 start.

  11. About Mercer Island, Tom, what’s not being factored in is all the local kids storming the first possible train to become runaways in Ballard. Suspect the Island’s really jealous because NOBODY runs away to warm a single square of THEIR sidewalk anywhere. And any fare problem?

    I’ve got my own little green and white plastic rectangle in my coat pocket, like me a little cracked and worn, but “BEEP’s” on key every time. Let me keep mine, but make sure everybody else gets a new one.

    Beauty of the setup is that there can be as many funding arrangements as there are passengers. And since inspection-wise just having the card should be enough, enough ST accountants will be off the furlough rolls to Apportion the Hell out of every single cent.

    And any Enforcement still necessary, put out a “call” for every eight year old girl from Everett to Angle Lake, and ditto for Ballard/Island/Bellevue. Violations- through the core of the Earth and picking up speed.

    Extra police for inter-twin combat? Bet nobody’d want to Defund THAT!

    Mark Dublin

  12. About headways-have we got any stats about how much operating time we lose along MLK to things like random traffic lights? And I’m also curious about how much time Tri-Met saves by undercutting street crossings?

    I’m not anti-pedestrian. Reason I favor both undercuts and pedestrian bridges. But I don’t think regional light rail, especially on an airport run, should have to stop for me when I’m on foot.

    And as to efficient passenger boarding, I think a few Japanese-transit Sumo wrestlers in traditional garb might add a cultural touch to DSTT. Though could be delays if passengers start demanding to personally get “pressure packed” while their friends put them viral on their flip-phones.

    Alternating, maybe, with border-collies and other sheep dogs, whose forte is keeping disoriented creatures moving in an efficient orderly manner. And like is common in herding country, where you can rent out your sheep to train dogs, passengers could get a break on our ORCA cards by helping train ST’s own canines.

    And if allegation that masks are for sheep is true, maybe if a dog is wagging his tail while he nips at you, you won’t feel so tyrannized by being barked-at instead of ordered by Jay Inslee. Though his aides are hesitating about suggesting he wag his tail.

    Mark Dublin

  13. And since it’s now November 18, tell me something, RossB:

    If under the most competent operations possible, including assisted passenger loading, if Link really does go to eight minute headways instead of six, in the real world, who’s going to lose?

    Mark Dublin

  14. And for the transparency-and-discussion deficiency, I’d suggest we put forth some effort toward its cure. Across the board, it does nobody good to take it for a “given.”

    If we treat Sound Transit like we are its owners, which we are, since as its customer’s we’ve so little we can ride on, we might be working on remedies. Like election campaigns in the War on Non-Transparency.

    As is being done by transit and many other employers right now, we might solve a lot by allowing its practitioners to trade N-T for ER, meaning Early Retirement. Replaced by?

    Very likely, Education’s worst CORONA-curse right now is how bored so many high school kids must be with the average ZOOM session. Which we might cure by, online, connecting them with kindly volunteers who’ve still got some affection for their lifetime line of work, if not its management.

    And if all those trade schools can already teach kids to fix elevators and escalators, which, Lord Knows We NEEDNEEDNEED! they can surely do the same for creating budding transit managers and politicians.

    Nothing to lose but our chairs, gang, nothing to lose but our…. like happened to Joe Hill in Salt Lake City…. (BANG!)

    Mark Dublin

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