Although the north Eastside’s primary regional transit corridors are I-405 and SR 522, which have their own Stride bus rapid transit projects in the works, Metro identified several opportunities to optimize service in this area when the Link 2 Line to Redmond Technology (Overlake) opens in 2023 and extends to downtown Redmond in 2024.
Woodinville, Duvall, and Redmond Ridge will be one bus away all-day from Link. Peak-only service to Seattle will make stops in South Lake Union and no longer travel on local streets in Kingsgate. Peak-only service to Bellevue and Overlake is replaced by all-day service to Link.
With Northgate Link opening in less than a week, Community Transit will begin a fundamental, multi-year transformation from providing a blend of long-haul commuter and local service to a refreshed agency focused on fast and frequent transit operations primarily within Snohomish County. CT’s initial phase of reworking existing commuter routes will take advantage of Link Light Rail’s new Northgate terminus and large transit center to greatly enhance where Community Transit riders can travel. Starting Monday, October 4th, CT will truncate all University District-bound service, known as the 800-series routes, to end at Northgate Station. This resolves serious issues of speed and reliability caused by regional congestion and massively improves transit connectivity between Snohomish County and Link Light Rail.
Let’s acknowledge that riders transferring at Northgate Station will lose their one-seat ride to the University District. Many of us will be losing our one-seat ride on October 2nd, myself included. While inconvenient, that’s by design as we to move towards utilizing Link as an alternative to the redundant bus routes operating in heavy north-south regional congestion, and it’s important to recognize the greater benefits of this strategy.
Currently, congestion between Seattle and Lynnwood forces transit agencies to burn valuable service hours by padding revenue and non-revenue (deadheading) schedules to realistically schedule buses accounting for slow travel times. While buses sit in congestion, the total number of trips each bus can complete in a day is limited while riders have to deal with unreliable and unpredictable service, leading to an inefficient use of transit agency and taxpayer resources. Would people rather have an unpredictable one-seat ride with longer waits between buses, or a more predictable two-seat ride with frequent service? The agency has chosen the latter for us, and we’ll learn to appreciate it.
ST announced yesterday that CEO Peter Rogoff “did not foresee remaining in his role” and will step down in the middle of next year. PubliCola reports that Executive Constantine, Councilmember Balducci, and Mayor Durkan had all expressed concerns about his performance.
Important things can happen in the remaining months. However, friends of Sound Transit will likely remember his tenure, dating to 2015, as presenting high highs and low lows. Hired from the Federal Transit Administration, he was advertised as the key to winning Federal grants. It’s hard to measure that promise against the counterfactual of someone else running things.
On Oct 2nd, thousands of Seattlites will flood three new light rail stations as the Northgate Link extension opens. While Seattleites will be excited about the new stations, almost everyone in the city seems to agree that neither Northgate Link nor the West Seattle and Ballard Link extensions funded by Sound Transit 3 (ST3) are enough Link expansion for the City.
A recent Change Research poll of likely Seattle voters found overwhelming support for an expanded Link: 76% would support a new transit funding measure to expand Link light rail, including 48% who ‘Strongly Support’ the measure.The most confident supporters of Link expansion could almost carry the ballot box on their own.
The poll reveals that 18-34 year olds support expansion at a whopping 90% (with 66% indicating strong support). Their monumental 90% support speaks to a clear fact: despite Seattle’s increasingly pro-transit voting history, we’ll be even more pro-transit in the future. And it’s not just younger people who support Link expansion; voters ages 65 and over came in at 71% support. In fact, of the 20 demographic groups evaluated by Change Research, only Seattle’s very small population of Republican voters registered net opposition to a new funding measure for Link expansion.
The evidence confirms what many of us have known for years: Seattle needs a citywide plan for high quality rail expansion and, though ST3 is a start, the system we’ll have once ST3 is done is a long way from “done” for Seattle. Seattleites are on board for good reason: Post ST3 nearly 60% of the densest neighborhoods will remain outside the reach of light rail and neither the City nor Sound Transit currently have a plan to resolve that.
Those of you who have been riding Link Light Rail lately may have noticed some changes to the signage at each station, in preparation for the opening of University District, Roosevelt, and Northgate Stations on October 2. Among other changes, each station has a list of fares specific for trips from that station to each of the other stations, now including the three new stations, grouped by fare amount.
Two of the new trip pairings will charge a new top fare of $3.50:
Public transit is shortchanged. Where’s the news in that? If you follow this blog you know, and you have the numbers to back you up. Public transit in the United States is underfunded. And what’s with the folk band? Where’s the bus, the train, the ferry, the beautiful route map? The graph? Was the wrong image downloaded? Where’s transit?
Standing on the stage. In 2014, Poetry on Buses, a collaboration of King County Metro and 4Culture, was awarded the #2 spot in the Top 10 Collaborations of Art, Music and Local Businesses judged by DO206, the Seattle Chapter of DOSTUFF. This is an image from the Poetry on Buses kick-off event that year. I was there. That evening The Moore Theater rocked with music and the spoken word. It was the first year the annual project really reflected Metro’s riders with poems in English, Spanish, Vietnamese, Russian and Somali, the five most spoken languages in King County. Metro transit riders, some of whom had never written poetry before but coached in workshops put on all over the county, proudly read their poems with family and friends filling the theater to capacity. It was a brilliant, powerful night.
Now back in 2014 we could be forgiven if we didn’t believe in the power of poetry. But in 2021 a young woman with a glorious red headband and bright yellow coat believed otherwise. Amanda Gorman reminded us we are a storytelling people.
It’s been a few weeks since we’ve had real-time arrival for Link. ST’s John Gallagher says that it’s because Northgate testing doesn’t conform to the schedule, and the software isn’t flexible enough to accommodate that.
Next train times should be back on October 2nd — and more accurate, as the end-of-the-line problems move from Capitol Hill to Roosevelt.
With the East Link Connections project underway, Sound Transit and Metro have presented their first service proposals as part of the East Link Connections survey. The opening of East Link will be a huge event, and will transform what transit service looks like not just crossing Lake Washington, but how neighboring regions are connected. The south subarea of the East Link Connections study area includes Renton, Newcastle, Factoria, and Eastgate. Though not as significant as in other areas, the changes in this area nonetheless improves transit access overall, with brand new all-day coverage, more direct service to Bellevue College, and consolidation of peak-hour service.
The Fare Ambassador Pilot Program grew out of passenger feedback and community engagement that expressed discomfort with fare enforcement officers who resemble law enforcement. In response, Fare Ambassadors wear bright yellow caps, and carry yellow messenger bags that make them easy to recognize. Their focus is on passenger education and customer service rather than enforcement, with particular emphasis on how to purchase ORCA cards and passes and how income-eligible passengers can obtain ORCA LIFT cards.
“We want all passengers to feel comfortable asking Fare Ambassadors for assistance, whether they need help getting to their destination, or they’re having trouble purchasing fare,” said Sound Transit Chief Passenger Experience and Innovation Officer Russ Arnold. “Fare Ambassadors are here to provide help.”
Riders can expect to see the yellow caps starting this week. Read our previous coverage of fare enforcement here.
“Restructure” and “transfer” are hot transit words in the Pacific Northwest, with all eyes focused on Northgate Link opening October 2nd. A new Link extension comes with a significant restructure for transit services provided by Community Transit, Sound Transit, and King County Metro.
During these exciting times for regional transit, Sound Transit and Metro have begun their public-facing process of restructuring routes and creating new transfers between East Link and Redmond Link (E&R Link) when they come into service in 2023 and 2024, respectively. The very first public survey, available here, primes our communities in determining what our future transit network looks like for years to come.
Many of us have tried to forget the historic heat of Late June. Sadly, even Link trains had to reduce speeds. Areas south of the DSTT ran as slow as 20mph and caused delays of 3-10 minutes. This surprised me: elsewhere, Light Rail often operates in temperatures well in excess of Late June’s. ST’s John Gallagher explains:
There are basically two things going on. One is that extreme heat can cause the rails to expand and change shape. The other is that the turnbuckles that keep the overheard catenary wires taut can expand, causing the wires to sag a bit. Out of caution, we operate Link at lower speeds when it’s very hot to ensure that neither of these problems interfere with service should they occur.
Mr. Gallagher says that ST has already added air conditioning to substations to make them more resilient. New track extensions include a spring system on the overhead wires to replace the balance weights on the original track, which should improve heat resistance. He adds that ST will conduct a review to see if there are other changes necessary for a warming world.
Without overreacting to a single instance of record heat, all trends suggest that there are more and more extreme heat events coming, and ST should look to mimic systems like Phoenix that already deal with those conditions.
As you may have noticed, August was extra quiet here at STB. This is the result of combination of factors hitting all at once, including some of our contributors moving on to other priorities.
But September is here, Northgate Link is less than 30 days away, and we’re back, or at least we aim to be. But we need your help. If you have ever thought “hey, it might be interesting to write something for STB,” now is the time! Drop us an email, email@example.com.
PS: to clarify, we’re mostly interested right now in volunteer / unpaid submissions, although we are ramping up our ability to offer paid freelance assignments as well. More to say on that in the future!