Update 4/28/2023 11pm: Trains are running every 15-20 minutes. All trains terminate at Pioneer Square Station and require transferring to continue further north or south. ST urges people to use other alternatives if feasible. (The link has a very nice chart of bus alternatives.) Westlake, University Street, and International District/Chinatown are using only one platform for both directions, so make sure the train is going the direction you want.

Link is reduced to 30-minute service [see above] downtown between Capitol Hill and Stadium Stations due to a leak in Westlake Station’s ceiling over the northbound platform. Mike Lindblom in the Seattle Times writes that the disruption will last two weeks ($), and that “the concrete lid was punctured while a crew was working on the city’s Pine Street renovation project”. (We covered the Pike/Pine rechannelization project in the second item here.)

All southbound passengers will transfer at Capitol Hill, and all northbound passengers at Stadium. Downtown trains will travel both directions on the southbound (Angle Lake) track. North of Capitol Hill and south of Stadium, trains will run every 10 minutes according to ST’s website.

People traveling from Westlake to International District can take buses 7, 14, or 36 at 3rd & Pine or 5th & Jackson, running every 5 minutes or so. Other routes like the D, E, 40, and 62 also stop close to there. If you’re going further south to Stadium Station or the Greyhound terminal, routes 101, 124, 150, and ST Express 594 go there, and routes 131 and 132 stop nearby on 4th Avenue South. If you’re transferring at Capitol Hill station, you can take bus 10 on John Street to Westlake, bus 49 on Broadway to Westlake, or the First Hill Streetcar to International District (but not downtown).

This disruption was announced right when the RapidRide G restructure article was posted, so don’t miss that article. Comments on other topics belong in the Open Thread 3 article before that.

122 Replies to “Link Reduction Downtown”

  1. It’s actually much worse than what is reported now. I’m being told sound transit will issue an emergency press conference, but damage to the station may be far worse than what was first known. This will necessitate a much longer closure. The team is in panic mode now.

    1. From komonews.com:

      “Sound Transit said the closure is necessary so the agency can investigate damage caused last Tuesday when a construction crew attempting to remove a clock at street level broke through the roof of the transit tunnel. No one was injured but the agency said further investigation of the damage showed that it was worse than they originally thought.”

      1. @Tlsgwm,

        Exactly. Right now ST IS erring on the side of safety, which I totally get. Hopefully, once they get a better assessment of the situation, they can also develop a better recovery plan.

        But it is interesting to compare and contrast what happened at WLS with what is currently occurring at UDS in the U-Dist.

        At WLS just removing a sidewalk clock resulted in puncturing the station roof, while at UDS there are currently track hoes on the station roof removing concrete with a hydraulic ram.

        It is not a problem at UDS, you can’t even hear it on the station mezzanine. But at WLS? Complete disaster.

        The difference? Ya, one was designed by Metro and the other by ST, but the real difference is cut-and-cover.

        Cut-and-cover puts station infrastructure closer to the surface where an entire range of events can cause damage to critical station infrastructure.

        So, ya, in addition to cut-and-cover tunnels being more expensive to build and more disruptive during construction, they are also more prone to damage during operation like we are seeing today.

      2. Lazarus, Westlake Center Station is at the same depth below the street as are University-Seneca and Pioneer Square Stations. That is, at the BORED TUNNEL depth. Sure, the east end of the Pine Street tunnel is at normal cut-and-cover depth, but the west end, at Westlake Center, is at the same depth as the west end of WC, where it curves into the bored section under Third Avenue. Even HSS itself was actually cut and covered/. The station box I mean.

        The reason that the platform level at HSS is so far below the surface is that the tunnel underruns the Ship Canal two blocks to the south. The fricking track is deep there, because it HAD to be bored. Even if the entire rest of the tunnel from The Paramount to Northgate had been cut-and-covered [a stupid idea, for sure] the crossing of the Ship Canal would have had to have been bored and a “shield” [e.g. a “TBM”] used.

        You are just using this as a prop for your hatred of Metro.

        (Yes, Mike, go ahead and [ah] the previous paragraph.)

      3. @Tom Terrific,

        Metro actually dug their tunnels using shield excavators. The TEMs they used were modern for their day, but the approach is actually centuries old. And it actually caused Metro a lot of trouble because it caused surface subsidence in places, which resulted in utility disruption and the need for additional jet grouting from the surface.

        Modern tunnels are usually dug using EPB TBMs, which, if properly operated, almost never have the problems characteristic of shield excavators.

        As per WLS, that entire stretch of tunnel and station was built using cut and cover – from the turn at Third Ave all the way to the Convention Center Station. It was highly disruptive.

        The North end of the WLS station box is actually the shallowest part of the station relative to the surface. It is not surprising that this is where they had the problem.

      4. Tom corrected Lazarus on the Westlake Station. I will only correct Lazarus on one piece:

        So, ya, in addition to cut-and-cover tunnels being more expensive to build and more disruptive during construction,

        Cut-and-cover tunnels tend to be more disruptive, but they also tend to be a lot cheaper, which is why they build them that way. Reference: https://pedestrianobservations.com/2021/02/25/cut-and-cover-is-underrated/.

        So, ya, Lazarus, if your sole goal in life is to criticize Metro (and praise ST) then at least try and get your facts straight.

      5. Lazarus, it doesn’t matter one bit what particular generation of TBM was used on Third Avenue so far as the depth of the tunnel goes. It had to duck under BNSF at Fourth and Washington and tiptoe over it at Third and University, but the point is, “it was bored” and therefore the platform levels at PSS, USSS, and Westlake Center are fairly deep. They probably could have been built without the Mezzanines if the stretches between the stations had been cut and covered, but they weren’t.

        My point was to remind you that the underground stations all have been cut and covered, at least until now. ST might have decided to “mine” Midtown because of the depth and crowded conditions, but it hasn’t happened yet, and Midtown is likely lost anyway.

        The sound level at HSS is a result of its depth, not anything intrinsic in the station.

        P.S. I do know that Pine Street east of Westlake Center was cut and covered its entire length, including the stub at Ninth for the tail tracks and the connections to Convention Center Station and the TBM vault.

      6. @Tom T,

        My comment pertained just to the tunneling itself, not to the stations.

        Almost all underground Link stations have been cut-and-cover. The only exception is Beacon Hill Station, which was deep mined.

        However, the entire stretch of the old bus tunnel from the curves on third to the final station at Convention Place was cut-and-cover. And, if you look at the street topography it is clear that the station is actually located at the low spot on Pine. It’s actually uphill to Third and uphill to the north.

        So, since they weren’t going to use their shield excavators for the short approach from the curves on Third, or for any of Pine north of the station, that meant that the cut-and-cover station in the middle could be very shallow.

        Apparently so shallow that even a piece of artwork on the sidewalk is essentially attached directly to the station ceiling.

      7. @Ross,

        I wouldn’t put any weight on that blog post. It’s basically an overview piece that appears to not correct for any of specifics of the tunnels he is commenting on. Not even for station type. As such, his conclusions are a bit suspect.

        Such non-technical writings are useful for the layperson who is unfamiliar with terminology or basic concepts, but they aren’t the type of thing a policymaker or an engineer would rely on to make actual design decisions. They need better, more technical data.

        Cut-and-cover (for tunnels) is hugely expensive and disruptive. It’s why you don’t see it used much in the real world. In fact, the cut-and-cover section of our old bus tunnel was so disruptive that the merchants actually forced Metro to cover it up with a temporary cover once just so they could have a “normal” Christmas shopping season. After the holiday season they ripped it all out again and resumed work. So much for the Metro budget!

        And there is one more major drawback of cut-and-cover which is a huge negative – that being that cut-and-cover tunnels are almost always constrained to follow the street grid.

        Metro followed the street grid with their tunnel, ST has not with any of theirs. Being free to directly connect stations without following the street grid is a huge advantage of TBM bored tunnels.

      8. Mike, “HSS” = “Husky Stadium Station”. Yes, its official name is now “University of Washington Station”, but it was “Husky Stadium Station” in general usage for a long time. I will try to remember that and not use HSS.

        Lazarus, of course being able to cross the street grid is an advantage for bored tunnels. But it comes at the cost of depths which make the system less useful.

      9. Such non-technical writings

        You obviously aren’t familiar with the author. I have my various issues with Alon, but lack of technical merit is not one of them. If anything, the author goes overboard. Look at the article on stop spacing: https://pedestrianobservations.com/2019/04/21/stop-spacing-and-route-spacing/. Almost immediately it gets into some hairy math. Now look at what Jarrett Walker has to say about it: https://humantransit.org/2010/11/san-francisco-a-rational-stop-spacing-plan.html. Walker can get just as technical, but doesn’t.

        The point is, cut and cover is generally accepted to be cheaper, while also being very disruptive. You keep conflating these very different ideas. The main reason cut and cover isn’t used is because of the disruption — not the cost. It the usually the fundamental trade-off. You can do cut and cover and save money, but it means tearing up your street for a long time. So agencies spend extra, and run tunnels. Or they run on the surface, and save even more money (like ST did when running in Rainier Valley).

      10. “HSS” = “Husky Stadium Station”

        I actually like that better. UW Station is a misnomer, since “U-District” station gets riders close to campus, just at a different spot. But then again, “U-District” definitely has to include the UW itself (and the stadium) making that a poor name as well. Not that it matters. People get used to the names

      11. Right now ST IS erring on the side of safety,

        Is anyone even a little nervous that trains continue to run through Westlake Station right now?

      12. @TT,

        The underground stations that ST has built so far using cut-and-cover are only slightly deeper than those in the old bus tunnel, and I know of no data that indicates that there is any measurable retarding influence on ridership due to the slight increase in depth.

        However, I wouldn’t attribute the increased depth of the ST stations to ST’s use of EPB TBM’s. Rather, it is more a result of station placement.

        ST has placed all their cut-and-cover stations so far in property adjacent to the streets and not in the streets themselves. This means that the depth of the station platform isn’t dictated by the min running depth of the TBM relative to the surface, but rather it is dictated by the min TBM clearance relative to the structures the TBM needs to pass under on the approaches to the station.

        UWS depth is set by the min clearance to the bottom of the Montlake Cut.

        The depth of the CHS and UDS stations are both set by older masonry apartment buildings they pass under directly north and south of the platform.

        Roosevelt Station is a bit different. No old masonry buildings, but the TBM still had to pass under the underground parking garage of Whole Foods, and the entrance to that garage is on 64th. Since the terrain slopes up as you go north, both the garage and the north side of Whole Foods are BELOW the street level on 65th. The platform depth is set by clearance to the north wall of that structure, and it adds about 2 stories to overall station depth.

        Why doesn’t ST go with cut-and-cover stations directly under the street? Because in-street cut-and-cover is hugely disruptive.

      13. Speaking of confusing station names, you have to include University Street.

        On the newest trains there is the announcement “to stay on the train for the University of Washington Campus when you enter the station north bound.

        In the past this has been discussion on here to change the name of that station but since at ST the right hand doesn’t talk to the left hand and visa versa instead they have to make the announcement on the trains so that passengers not familiar with the city don’t get confused and get off at the University street station thinking that they are on or near the campus.

        So we have University Street Station, University of Washington Station and U District Station and I am sure that there are people at ST that make probable 6 figure salaries and could not figure that there could be confusion with too many similar station names.

        ST has got to be one of more dysfunctional government agencies in the country in their operations. Look at the fiasco with the hole at Westlake Station and how they responded to that.

      14. Lazarus, “decking” a cut and cover tunnel while it’s under construction is standard practice. I don’t know why Metro did not deck the Pine Street tunnel construction process, but that was certainly a mistake.

        The first “story” of excavation always has to be open to the sky as the soil surrounding utilities is removed and hangars for the tubes added. But once excavation passes the lowest level of utilities, the street can be decked while the rest of excavation and then the construction of the tunnel box proceeds. Getting down that story often takes a while because of the complexity of the underground environment, but rarely more than a year. One two-block stretch in Market Street in SF — the long SoMa blocks on the south side of the street — were usually open with only trestle-style streetcar passage for about six months before it was decked.

        Of course, when the tunnel box is complete, the decking has to be removed, fill returned to the volume between the tunnel and the street level, and the street removed. That can usually be done one half at a time, preserving some traffic capacity on the street.

      15. @Lazarus

        > Why doesn’t ST go with cut-and-cover stations directly under the street? Because in-street cut-and-cover is hugely disruptive.

        While cut-and-cover is disruptive — it’s a bit more complicated than just saying cut-and-cover is more disruptive than deep mined stations. I think people somewhat forget how fast cut-and-cover construction can be. Also I’d say a larger problem is just the route alignment and the depth of these stations, I am not sure if these ST3 stations can actually be cut-and-covered excavated top down considering their great depth and if the station box is wider than the street.

        > On April 27, 1987, Pine Street was closed to non-bus traffic, and construction of Westlake station’s 400 pilings and outer walls began… Pine Street was re-opened to traffic on November 1, 1988, coinciding with the opening of Westlake Center and Westlake Park.


        I mean compared to the past cut-and-cover stations which only closed streets for 1~2 years, the current deep mined stations call for closing the streets completely for 4 years.

        > Full closure of 4th Avenue (Pine Street to Olive Way) (2 years), the Interstate 5 high occupancy-vehicle express lanes reversible ramp (9 months), Madison Street (1 to 3 years), Pine Street (6 years), Westlake Avenue (7th Avenue to Denny Way) (4 years), Harrison Street (6th Avenue North to Dexter Avenue North) (4 years), and Republican Street (5 years).

        > Partial closure of 5th Avenue (6 years), 4th Avenue (James Street to Columbia Street and Marion Street to Madison Street) (6 years), Madison Street/4th Avenue intersection (4 years), Pike Street (6 years), Westlake Avenue (at intersections at 8th Avenue and 9th Avenue/ Blanchard Street) (9 months) and Harrison Street (Dexter Avenue North to 8th Avenue North) (1.5 years).

        For the Preferred 5th Avenue/Harrison Street Alternative.
        https://www.soundtransit.org/sites/default/files/documents/0-wsble-drafteis-executivesummary-202201.pdf (Page 44)

      16. @WL,

        it remains to be seen what eventually happens with DSLRT2, and whether or not deep mined stations are included. I still hope that there can be a reset on the current plans, because I view them as pretty dumb. There are ways to build the new tunnel using shallower, cut-and-cover stations, but I think our local political leaders are currently unable to engage with the CID community (on any issue). It’s unfortunate.

        That said, you illustrate another problem with cut-and-cover tunnels. In addition to being very disruptive and expensive, they are also very slow to construct.

        One year to cut-and-cover from 3rd Ave to CPS? Give me a break. That is slow. An EPB TBM typically covers about 60 ft per day, meaning a TBM would cover that same distance in less than a month and a half. And do it all without any significant surface disruption..

        But there are a few caveats on that month and a half figure. First, rail tunnels typically are twin bore and are built using two TBM’s. For soil stability reasons one TBM typically trails the other, so maybe add another 1.5 months. And with a TBM tunnel you still need to add an invert and potentially hand mine cross passages between the tunnels. But again, still faster and no surface disruption.

        And the disruption with cut-and-cover tunnels is immense. Metro actually had to cover the tunnel twice, once with a temporary cover so the retailers could have a Christmas shopping season, and latter with the permanent cover. I believe the one year figure you quote is only to the temporary cover.

        In addition, the surface disruption from the Metro bus tunnel cut-and-cover was so disruptive that it actually led to the passage of one of the most anti-urban initiatives in Seattle history – the Citizen’s Alternative Plan, or “CAP”.

        CAP placed various limits in construction height and aggregate floor area in DT Seattle. For example, purely retail buildings were limited to just 85 ft tall, about as high as the apartment buildings being built in Roosevelt today.

        CAP limits are mainly gone today, but while in place they had the effect of limiting density and pushing growth out into the suburbs. I believe we would never have had CAP if Metro and not used cut-and-cover. People were that PO’d by it.

      17. @Lazarus

        > That said, you illustrate another problem with cut-and-cover tunnels. In addition to being very disruptive and expensive, they are also very slow to construct

        I mean I think you’re a bit misled. It can be a lot faster since you can dig them all in parallel versus how a TBM can only work on one section at at time.

        > One year to cut-and-cover from 3rd Ave to CPS? Give me a break. That is slow. An EPB TBM typically covers about 60 ft per day, meaning a TBM would cover that same distance in less than a month and a half. And do it all without any significant surface disruption..

        They needed to dig the Westlake station anyways and the tunnel had to exit to the ground at Convention Center station so needed to move utilities that were in the way. Even with a TBM you’d have to dig up the street to move the utilities for an exit portal. It’s essentially the same work for that section.

        But anyways I don’t think cut and cover tunnels are really needed but cut-and-cover stations since that really saves a lot of money.

        > I believe the one year figure you quote is only to the temporary cover.

        No that’s from end to end. The temporary cover was in November 1 1987 until Jan 4 1988

      18. @WL,

        If the timing of the temporary cover over the Metro tunnel is as you say, then that is closer to 2 years of large scale surface disruption due to cut-and-cover. An EPB TBM would take nowhere near that long to complete the tunnel, particularly since they often bore in pairs.

        Additionally, every time the TBM’s pass through a station there is an opportunity to move various functions forward on the system and start the next phase of work on the just bored tunnels. So even with a TBM it is possible to do various functions in parallel.

        As per relocating utilities at a portal, it is much cheaper and faster to relocate 100 ft of utilities at a portal than to relocate 2000 ft of utilities all along the line.

        And ST tries to locate their portals outside of street ROW’s anyhow to further minimize their interaction with utilities.

      19. What do cut-and-cover tunnels have to do with the height of buildings? I always thought CAP was an anti-density measure, brought to you by the same people who opposed upzoning in the neighborhoods, and who got highrises in the neighborhoods blocked after the two in Madison Park and the one on Beacon Hill.

  2. This reminds me of the guy who unknowingly live-tweeted the bin Laden raid …

    ” Tim Willis
    APRIL 26, 2023 AT 8:35 PM
    Anyone notice the unbearable jackhammering going on at Westlake beginning last Friday 4/21? It was so loud it sounded as if it were in the station, but it was actually above the north platform in the former GAP building that is now becoming Ben Bridge. Fast forward to Tuesday afternoon and the jackhammering has stopped, but there is now a trash can on the north end of the north bound platform where water dripping from the ceiling of the station is collected. “

  3. You guys, right here, the comments section of Seattle transit blog, is where live transit news breaks!

    Curious how many other readers of the blog ride the light rail daily from westlake?

  4. Let the finger pointing begin! I begin by pointing at the City.

    I’ve noticed many construction projects have really damaged our infrastructure. I have to wonder if the City has been monitoring contractors well enough. There are many streets and sidewalks where builders have ruined things, blocked sidewalks seemingly way too long and let construction signage disappear or be confusing.

    I actually saw an intersection last year with a temporary yield sign next to a temporary stop sign for two months! Which one is out of place?

    I have heard the city permit inspectors are tough. However, inspection is different than monitoring. Monitoring requires constant attention. Even though it isn’t their “job”, even the police department has a stake in monitoring as an aspect of public safety.

  5. The city, or whoever is responsible, should pay for a temporary restoration of the 41 and 194. That is, if Metro has the drivers to accomodate that.

    1. If fewer trains are running, that means some drivers have been freed up.

      Does the City still have that dedicated sales tax for transit? They might have to redirect from other plans.

      I would actually run the temporary service to the U-District on the north end, and to TIBs on the south end.

      1. @Brent White,

        One 4-car Link train can carry as many passengers as about 10 buses. And can carry those passengers much faster over a given distance.

        Effectively that means that Metro would need to provide 10 times the number of operators as required by Link to provide the same service levels – best case scenario. And that is assuming Metro could match Link speed, which they just can’t. Not even close.

        So the reality is that Metro would need to provide something like 15 to 30 times the number of operators to operate a bus bridge as ST needs to operate their rail bridge. And Metro doesn’t even have enough operates to run their daily routes.

        So, ya, ain’t going to happen.

      2. ST’s downtown bus bridge is normally two articulated buses running together. It only needs to circulate 2.5 miles between Stadium and Capitol Hill Station. So it wouldn’t be a ton of drivers. And I’d think there would be some standby drivers even if the full normal bus schedule isn’t running, because breakdowns can occur at any time on any route.

      3. Existing bus service is actually pretty decent through that section. If you are going from Capitol Hill to CID, for example, this isn’t the end of the world. The problem is it annoying to get off the bus at Capitol Hill, when you used to get off at Westlake. That would be like taking Link from West Seattle, and then being asked to transfer at SoDo if you want to go downtown.

        Thus the idea of resurrecting buses like the 41. Capacity isn’t the biggest issue — the trains aren’t that full. The problem is that you have all of the different combinations. Not only the 41 (Northgate to downtown) but also the 71/72/73 from the U-District to downtown as well as Roosevelt to downtown. All of this adds up. There is a driver shortage right now — there is no way they can run all of the extra buses. The only thing to do is just muddle along, like they are doing now.

      4. “Existing bus service is actually pretty decent through that section. If you are going from Capitol Hill to CID, for example, this isn’t the end of the world.”

        A lot of this area has 2-15 minute bus service. The problem is different origin/destination pairs imply different routes, and visitors and occasional riders don’t know them or where the bus stops are. If you’re going one station it’s one route, two stations another route, three stations maybe a transfer, etc.

  6. On one hand, interlining fans (or non-fans of CID N/S) may look at the transfers during the closure and think the highlight the flaw in requiring everyone coming from the south to transfer onto DSTT1 if they want to go north, and same for those coming from the north going south, just from the time to transfer alone let alone a long walk or descent.

    On the other hand, supporters of a second tunnel will argue redundancy is needed, and may argue the crowded platforms (due to 32-minute frequencies) are a harbinger of the future when commuters return to Seattle offices and another 1 million residents move to this area by 2042.

    More likely this will be forgotten in two weeks.

    1. Exactly. Imagine how bad an event like this would be if we stuffed all lines into one fragile little tunnel. Horrible.

      Likewise, imagine how bad this would be if the tunnel was actually configured to run short trains at high frequency. Going from short train at 2 min headways to a short train at 35 min headways would be a total disaster.

      Thank gawd for 4 car trains and long platforms.

      1. > Exactly. Imagine how bad an event like this would be if we stuffed all lines into one fragile little tunnel. Horrible.

        I mean Vancouver’s sky train work fine.

        > Going from short train at 2 min headways to a short train at 35 min headways would be a total disaster.

        One could just run two trains and then switch direction. This event really isn’t for or against shorter trains with higher frequency.

      2. The nuisance of long waits during this episode will be relatively brief, and not experienced by the temporary WfH crowd.

        The nuisance of horrible transfers involving the second tunnel will be forever cursed by many.

      3. Imagine how bad an event like this would be if we stuffed all lines into one fragile little tunnel.

        It would be remarkably similar to how it is today. The problem is the station, not the trains. If I wanted to get from Capitol Hill to SoDo it would be the same.

        Likewise, imagine how bad this would be if the tunnel was actually configured to run short trains at high frequency.

        You mean a new tunnel from Ballard? In this case, it would continue to run frequently (every two minutes).

        This begs the question though — would it be much better if we had two tunnels? Not really. The problem is at Westlake. This means that trains from the north (serving most of the riders) can’t serve those riders. Or at least they can’t serve them very well. It does mean trains from the south would continue to serve a couple downtown stations and Ballard. That is one of the many flaws with the two-tunnel approach. The only place that it provides redundancy is from end of downtown to the other (more or less Westlake to Sodo) but very few people ride Link for those trips anymore. They just ride the buses (probably because they are so much more frequent, and because they are on the surface).

        To provide more redundancy, you need to bypass a bigger area. For example, imagine a Metro 8 subway. At a minimum, it would have stations at Mount Baker, Judkins Park and Capitol Hill Stations. This bypasses the whole mess, while being very useful even when it isn’t used as a bypass.

      4. Second tunnel, sure. But it MUST have direct, efficient transfers to the first tunnel, otherwise people cannot actually take advantage of it during a disruption like this.

    2. Some comments about this:

      1. The SODO tracks for DSTT2 are not being designed for easy line switching or platform switching. The party line is that it will be redundant — but operationally it won’t be . Look at the diagrams!

      2. ST could look into how to remedy the missing switching tracks between Westlake and CID. The topic is never raised. For example, emergency switching tracks could be installed inside a station vault so that when a problem happens, ST merely has to close that station and activate the switching to keep reasonable train frequencies.

      3. The lack of an east-to-south direct tracks would offer additional redundancy when East Link opens. ST does not have any interest in pushing for this.

      4. ST removed the temporary Pioneer Square transfer platforms after Connect 2020. The 30 minute service scheme would not be required if they still existed.

      5. ST never makes public what happens if a station or track closes. I have yet to see a “contingency plan” prepared for emergencies.

      6. Although this situation is different, more likely disruptions will come from train accidents inside stations in years to come. ST does not propose how to minimize that, like installing platform screen doors

      My conclusion: There is no operational redundancy being planned for emergencies and ST as an agency does not actively plan for redundancy. It’s merely a PR line.

      1. Al, you can’t have cross-over tracks AND a center platform at one station. Now there could be scissors installed in each station now with the understanding that one or more pair might be removed in the future, but almost everyone advocates for adding them to increase capacity for the future. I do think that a pair of scissors in the basement of the apartment across Jackson from CID and a pair where the tunnel levels out under Pine would be great additions — there may already be a pair at the Paramount — but those wouldn’t help the three stations between them.

      2. “adding center platforms to increase capacity”….

        “them” was indefinite.

      3. That’s true. You might put cross-overs at USSS and center platforms at WC and PSS. Westlake would be (primarily) for capacity and Pioneer Square for East-to-South transfers as many folks have suggested. Cross-overs at USSS and east (railroad north) of Westlake would certainly allow MUCH better operations for this outage.

  7. I don’t understand why a hole in the ceiling requires shutting the tracks for any significant length of time.

    Link functions without a ceiling at many stations!

    If the problem is falling debris, construct a temporary awning (which should not take two weeks) and keep operating.

    They would never accept this kind of disruption in, say, Japan, for something so trivial

    1. I don’t think the hole is even above the tracks and is at the station area?

      Potentially they could just continue running trains on both tracks just skipping Westlake station while they fix it.

      1. So, I hope ST answers the questions of Martin Duke and WL above. Why so much disruption?

        For the mid term, the Pike Pine Renaissance contractors should be put on notice of the station membrane. When Seattle considers the DSA 3rd Avenue Vision (from 2019), they should consider the weight and risk of the civil work atop USS and PSS.

      2. So, I hope ST answers the questions of Martin Duke and WL above. Why so much disruption?

        For the mid term, the Pike Pine Renaissance contractors should be put on notice of the station membrane. When Seattle considers the DSA 3rd Avenue Vision (from 2019), they should consider the weight and risk of the civil work atop USS and PSS.

        This could be an opportunity to thoroughly clean one side of Westlake Station.

    2. While we don’t know the details, I agree that the service reduction seems over reacting.

      Maybe it’s posturing by ST to make things look really terrible so that any progress comes off as a “win” … or maybe ST is angling for $$ to compensate for the effect on ST?

    3. Agreed. It seems like they should have started with closing down the platform, letting trains continue at a safe speed through the station without stopping, and serving the other stations as normal.

      Whatever repair work needs to happen that can’t occur next to an active track: do it overnight when the system is shut down anyway, whatever it costs, and send the clock contractor’s insurance company a bill.

  8. Why is there no bus bridge for this calamity? for me I have at least three trips to work and doctors that will be impacted…and that’s if it is only 2 weeks. The problem is clearly not the fault of st but rhis is another piss pass poor “soluion”. the 194 would be super useful right about now.

  9. There should be a second shuttle operating on the northbound track as far as University-Seneca Street to help with downtown distribution. Yes, it would have to share the northbound platform with the south-end trains, but they should be able to clear the platform in about four minutes with a double-seated operator who boards at SoDo, rides north while booting up, and then becomes the operator for the train at Stadium. The previous operator would shut down the now- trailing cab and deboard at SoDo for a break.

    The shuttle trains both must be double-seated for rapid turn-around.

    However, this does seem like a giant CYA action by ST. Unless there is a genuine possibility that the station lid will collapse, in which case a giant error in engineering was committed in the 1980’s, just run the damn trains and cordon off the east end of the northbound Westlake platform. A few people headed there from the South End who unwisely or unluckily get in the first car won’t be able to exit and have to double back at Capitol Hill, but that’s a tiny minority of riders.

    1. @Tom T
      I agree with this whole post. My goodness, is ST really this operationally-challenged? (RQ) Unless this is some twisted, rather devious way to add fuel to the agency’s weak argument about the need for the second tunnel in ST3, then ST really needs to hand over the reins to some other entity to actually operate the expanding LR system and simply be the funding and planning arm.

      1. ST is not a transit organization. Sound Transit is a political organization and a construction company. Sadly, incidents like this one just re-enforce that truth.

  10. How long will it be until Google Maps and other transit apps have this programmed in? I have a friend asking for advice on how to get from Kenmore to Chinatown and I have no idea what to advise them. 522–>Link–>Link Shuttle, vs 522–>Link–>FHSC, vs 522–>62, vs 372–>70 vs not bothering to go to Chinatown for the next few weeks.

    1. The 522 only goes to Roosevelt now so they’ll have to switch to Link. If at Capitol Hill it looks like it’ll be a long time until the next train south, go up the southeast elevator and take the streetcar to Chinatown. There’s a sign saying Streetcar pointing to the right elevator.

    2. The combination of routes 522 and 62 seem reasonable, though slow. At a recent service change, ST made the transfer worse by deleting the inbound Route 522 stop at the Green Lake P&R that provided a common stop transfer between Route 522 and routes 62 and 45.

      Route 522, Link, and the FHSC also would work, but the streetcar leg is slow.

    3. If they are traveling during peak times (5 am to 8 am in bound to Seattle and 4pm to 8 pm outbound hourly) there are some peak service alternatives such as the 322 that go straight from Kenmore to First Hill, and then walk the remainder from James Street. (around 50 minutes) https://kingcounty.gov/en/dept/metro/routes-and-service/schedules-and-maps/322#route-map

      > How long will it be until Google Maps and other transit apps have this programmed in?

      I’d just manually go to options and remove “Tram” to see the bus only alternatives. Though most of them do take around 1 hour and 30 minutes outside of peak time. Unfortunately the 522 -> 62 is probably the most consistent.

    4. “How long will it be until Google Maps and other transit apps have this programmed in?”

      I don’t think they ever do for short-term exceptions. They don’t do for holidays. ST/Metro can’t even get the data feed accurate for normal times. All the transit apps have their own algorithms to try to compensate for errors in the data. Some apps are better than others at it, but none are fully right.

      1. Unfortunately Google maps only seems to be capable of referencing the regular schedule.

        Right now, TriMet has their Banfield line closure showing correctly on the web site and is feeding the schedule information for MAX trains and shuttle buses to PDXBus TriMet’s OneBusAway equivalent) and the TriMet web site is showing everything in the GPS location. Google maps, however, is only showing the regular schedule.

        Maybe they have to hit a button somewhere to push the new timetable to Google maps?

        I would have thought Google Maps and TriMet’s web site /arrival info/ trip planner would both be referencing the same data set, but apparently not.

    5. If they have a car and just want to avoid parking downtown, driving to Mercer Island and riding the 550 ought to be quite a bit faster than any of the above. SR522->I-405->I-90. But don’t tell Daniel I said that.

    6. Larry,

      What part of the ID are they trying to get to? One option would be to go to Capitol Hill station, and then catch the 60 southbound on Broadway. During the week, it’s running every 12-15 minutes and will get them to the ID on 12th.

      For folks just wanting to bypass downtown, we’ve used the 48 as a bus bridge between the U-District and Mount Baker station. It runs every 15 minutes and on weekends without traffic is about as fast as the train, ignoring the not-great transfer at Mount Baker.

      1. Around Uwajimaya. With ST’s revised plan, I’m suggesting that they just take the train to Pioneer Square and walk the rest of the way.

  11. Let’s assume for a moment rhat single tracking during this period is really the right thing tobdo…is 30 minute service really rhe best those geniuses can manage?? It’s all too true about the loss of the temp transfer platform at pioneer Square. This is devolving into a real mess and nobody at st will be held accountable. They seem to be able to dodge answering for their own messes. Keep in mind too that later this year the track between Westlake and university st. Is slated to be replaced. This will make the third set of tracks installed on that section of the tunnel since it was built. Is rhis a fiasco yet?

    1. > is 30 minute service really rhe best those geniuses can manage?

      Considering it takes a train around 12 minutes to get from Capitol Hill to Stadium Station, the minimum time would be 24 minutes (12 * 2).

      Or if there are cross-over tracks between Westlake station/University Street Station/ or Pioneer Square station then that could bring the time down.

      Alternatively they could have the train skip Westlake and Pioneer Square station only stopping at University Street Station and Chinatown. That could potentially cut down the travel time a bit to 9 minutes? so perhaps could run it ever 18 minutes at best.

    2. The first thing I thought was ST should have a 10-minute shuttle bus like it does during Link closures. It probably won’t do it because that would cannibalize riders from the train. But then why not just shut Link down downtown? 30-minute service and transfers is unusable, especially when you don’t know when the next train is coming. This is like the lockdowns when Link was gskf-hourly weekends, and again you didn’t know when the next train was coming. Metro’s TBD-boosted frequency turned out to be a better way to get around during that. I listed the routes in the article. Or if anyone is curious about a specific origin/destination, just ask

      1. That’s a good point. If the train is running every 30 minutes, especially without a schedule, anyone who knows what they’re doing is going to be non-Link alternatives anyway, such as a bus down 3rd Ave., the First Hill Streetcar, or simply walking.

        But, really, ST should just install more crossover tracks downtown so when service disruptions happen, the impact can be minimized.

  12. Oh. How did it take 48 hours to decide this was such a big problem?
    Sound Transit is not fit for purpose plain and simple.but at least we have fare ambassadors and station agents!

    1. At least the oversized bureaucracy isn’t breathing at everyone on the train.

      ST is clueless on day-to-day safety for the passengers.

  13. This is actually even worse. I live in Belltown and need to go to uvillagewhere my dentist is. I have to:
    1. Take a bus from Belltown to westlake.
    2. Wait for a northbound shuttle at Westlake for up to 30 minutes.
    3. Get off at chs and wait for a”nirmal” northbound train.
    4. Get off at u. District.
    5. Catch the 372 to the d3ntist office.
    6 thru 10. Do it all in reverse to get home. Granted there is one less step on the other direction.so much for rider experience…

    1. It depends on where in Belltown/your dentist is exactly, but it might make more sense to take the 70 north to U district and then take the 31/32 to U village.

    2. How about walking to Denny and taking the 8 to Capitol Hill Station? At least it’s more frequent than the Link shuttle.

    3. Thanks, WL. good grief, so there are two bus-oriented solutions: Denny if you live in north Belltown and Virginia if you’re farther south. I hope one or the other works for you. WL’s suggestion is best if it works, because you have only one transfer.

    4. We’ll have to start looking at these alternatives. The 70 is best if you”re near it because it goes to the U-District the shortest way, and from there you can take the 31/32 or other routes like the 65, 75, 372, etc, or even walk a half-mile down the NE 45th Street viaduct. Other possibilities:

      * 40 or 62 north to 34th & Fremont Ave N, transfer to the 31/32 to U-Village. (All these run at least every 15 minutes.)
      * The 32’s western terminus is at Seattle Center (1st Ave N & Republican Street). (Caution: the 32 alone is half-hourly.)

    5. The weather is warming up fast, so this seems like the perfect excuse to just ride a bike.

      Otherwise, I think walking to the 32 at Seattle Center and riding one bus all the way to the U-Village may be the next best option. It’s a long, slow ride, but it works.

  14. I’m not sure if twitter links are permitted on this forum but CEO Julie Timm has been tweeting about the situation on her account. No real details to add so far. Just fyi.

  15. I guess the biggest question is why aren’t they running Link shuttle busses (as mike noted) ?

    It seems a bit odd that they don’t have an emergency plan for this. DC when it has an outage at a station will start running busses. Or say London will have train replacement bus service.

  16. Oh, wow. Just walked into UDS. Every single escalator is out of service and barricaded. EVERY SINGLE ONE.

    Security is saying it is because of a power outage. And they are saying it is a 30 wait for a train.

    And they are saying Roosevelt has similar power issues.

    1. Just confirmed. All escalators at Roosevelt Station are also out. EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM.

      Elevators still function

      No security or ST personnel on site to help riders. Audio messages are few and unclear.

      Is it too early to say Timm’s tenure as CEO is a flop?

      1. From yesterday’s ST meeting:

        Proposed action
        Authorizes the chief executive officer to execute a contract modification with Schindler Elevator
        Corporation for elevator and escalator maintenance and repairs for the entire portfolio of vertical
        conveyance assets in the amount of $20,938,971 with a 10 percent contingency of $2,093,897 totaling
        $23,032,868, for a new total authorized contract amount not to exceed $53,233,170 plus applicable

        We shall see if more money = more reliable escalators.

      2. @ Cam,

        This is not a typical maintenance type failure. This is some sort of single point failure, or at least a single fault failure.

        But, if they have enough time to put up barricades at all the escalators, why don’t they have enough time to hit “reset”? Or did the supposed power surge fry all the little escalator brains?

        This is strange.

        Note: there is some sort of a high powered lawyer event going on at the UW Law School today. Coincidence? I don’t believe in coincidence.

    2. I was on UW campus. Around 1pm there was a short power outage, apparently caused by a power surge. I got an alert that the entire campus was impacted. It wouldn’t surprise me if it affected much of the greater U-District area and means the escalators need to be manually reset.

      Why they haven’t been reset an hour later is a separate question.

  17. The uds escalators being out are not listed on the st dashboard at all. Shocking.

    1. That shuttle train that’s supposed to show up every 32 minutes is showing up every 60 mins. We can no longer trust sound transit to deal with issues. It’s time to recall ST3

      1. We can’t recall it. There’s no mechanism for an initiative on the Sound Transit district. A city or county initiative is too small. A statewide initiative may not have the authority to override a local tax vote, and even if it did, you don’t want people in Clark County and Eastern Washington voting on Pugetopolis transit, because then they’d start gutting other forms of transit, or redirecting the money to their rural freeways.

  18. Link Investigation Foot Soldier report.

    Westlake Station, 4:13pm, Friday April 26

    A shuttle train is running back and forth between Stadium and Capitol Hill.
    158 people were on the platform, around 60% full.
    I waited 8 minutes for a northbound train.
    A guy I talked to said he’d waited more than 30 minutes.
    A man with a megaphone gave announcements like, “Next train is northbound in 5 minutes.”
    He was intelligible only if you were near him. Not at the ends of the platform or on the mezzanine.
    The alcove with the escalator to the northbound platform is fenced off.
    The most surreal thing is that the normal announcements are still going on: “Elevator closed at University Street Station….”
    The megaphone guy said the reduction will last two weeks, and urged people to travel an alternate way if they can.
    When I got on the northbound train, there were a lot of standees but it wasn’t packed.

    Capitol Hill Station, 4:30pm
    The train let northbound passengers out and told them to cross the platform to continue north.
    The train switched immediately to southbound and let people on.
    I guess 200 people boarded, although I couldn’t do a proper estimate in 15 seconds.
    As I got off, a train from the north arrived. Everybody got off and a new crowd got on to go north.
    The crowd boarding the northbound train seemed larger than the crowd boarding the southbound train, so maybe 250-300 people.
    The platform was busy but not at capacity.

    1. ST must be using the cross-overs south of Huskey Stadium to single-track to the northbound platform at CHS. That’s a pretty tight schedule: that two miles of track, including the platform, is occupied by one train for however long it takes to get from the scissors to the platform, swap passengers and make it back to clear the cross-over.

    2. “ST must be using the cross-overs south of Huskey Stadium to single-track to the northbound platform at CHS.”

      Yes, that’s how they did it on one game day I was on. I was at Roosevelt and four northbound trains came 90 seconds apart but no southbound trains. The last one stopped on the tracks and took a siesta for several minutes. Then an announcement said it would go southbound and I got on. It went south on the northbound track through UW, and when I got to Capitol Hill I got out and turned right assuming it was still on the wrong track, but it was on the right track so I had to turn around, so it must have switched south of UW. On the northbound track a train was already boarding, and by the time I went into the southern elevator, another northbound train had come and was boarding.

    1. Is there a middle platform facilitating the transfer or does everyone have to go up to a mezzanine and cross over to outside platforms?

    2. Thanks. I added an update paragraph at the beginning of the article.

      Can somebody confirm what transfers at Pioneer Square are like, and which platform Intl Dist is using (I assume northbound)?

    3. Excellent. This is a better plan. Easier to follow and faster. Too bad they removed that center platform!

      But why are they holding trains for 3 to 5 minutes so passengers can “complete the transfer”? Is it ST’s intent to have the two lines be synchronized so both trains are in PSS at the same time?

      Because if they are not synchronized, then I’d rather have those 3 to 5 minutes back as reduced headways and increased capacity.


  19. This new operating solution is much better than the separate shuttle. Kudos to ST for seeing a better way to do this.

    1. It echoes the earlier trajectory of the Rainier Valley tiles issue, when it had to single-track one segment. ST first made the entire line half-frequent. That raised outcries that North/Central Seattle has too high ridership and density for that, and it would lead to crowding there. After a few days ST switched to running north of Stadium at regular frequency, and south of Stadium at half frequency. This is a similar thing.

      And remember, it’s only been forty-eight hours since ST realized the extent of the ceiling damage. So the ultra-bad operations was only in effect for one day.

      With all trains terminating at Pioneer Square, and an up-to-the-mezzanine transfer to continue, this ironically turns Link into the old express buses to downtown. Because for some trip pairs it makes more sense to transfer to a local bus than to a continuing train — which is the same situation the downtown expresses are in. So this shows what Link would be like if all lines terminated downtown.

  20. I applaud ST thinking creatively to bring in the Pioneer Square transfer option. But it seems this makes things strictly worse for people not travelling through downtown. For example someone going from Northgate to UW or Mount Baker to the Airport. So why not take this new approach a step further.

    Would it be logistically possible for ST to run their full number of trains. From Northgate, half the trains would run to Pioneer Square, single-tracking between Westlake and Pioneer Square. The other half would run to Capitol Hill and then immediately reverse back north. Same idea from Angle Lake, with half the trains running to Pioneer Square and the other half reversing at Stadium.

    I seem to recall that ST did something similar during their “Future” construction last summer.

    1. It basically depends on where the crossover tracks are.

      > Would it be logistically possible for ST to run their full number of trains. From Northgate, half the trains would run to Pioneer Square, single-tracking between Westlake and Pioneer Square.

      The other problem is when you split the frequency you need to choose whether it’s every other train. Aka 12 minute frequency halved becomes 24 minutes.

      I guess they could try running 8 minute trains with every other being 16 minute frequencies.

    2. Answering that would require engineers who can calculate train logistics given the Stadium/UW/DSTT capacity limits better than I or most of us can.

      What this does show is how, when two tracks can support trains running every 3 minutes each direction, one track lowers that dramatically to every 15-30 minutes.

  21. Actually on that note does anyone know why they single track the sodo and international district stations?

    It seems if they could run double track and just use the crossover tracks north of CID station this would lower the single track portion (and allow for higher frequency)

    1. Is there a crossover between CID and Pioneer Square? I haven’t heard of it. Nor have I heard about single-tracking at SODO station.

  22. How do you transfer at pss without the center platform? Right idea poor execution…

    1. The same way people do now if they miss their stop or change their mind on their destination. Take an escalator up to the mezzanine, walk to the other stairwell (escalator?) and go down to the other platform.

      It’s what we tried to eliminate at CID for Eastside-to-airport trips. Except there the next level up is the surface since there is no mezznine.

    2. From what I understand, both north and southbound trains at PSS are using the same (“southbound” “Angle Lake”) platform and transferring consists of getting off the train you were on (which from PSS will reverse and go back in the opposite direction), staying put, and then waiting for the train continuing in your preferred direction. Much easier than the “transfer twice at CHS and then at Stadium” business on Friday. I travel daily from Northgate to Downtown and back daily and this will be much better for folks who are just headed downtown.

      1. Or am I wrong and they’re doing it some other way? I guess I’ll find out Monday morning.

    1. No it doesn’t. It changed yesterday evening. Home page: “1 Line trains are single tracking between Westlake Station and Stadium Station until further notice due to emergency maintenance. Transfer required at Pioneer Square Station.”

      Linked page: “All trains from Angle Lake and Northgate are currently terminating at Pioneer Square…. All trains at Westlake, University Street, and International District/Chinatown are boarding at a single platform. updated: Apr 28 – 6:49 p.m. ”

      Your browser may be caching an old version of the page.

  23. From the ST website it appears rhe single tracking at Cid is using the Northgate platform instead of the Angle Lake platform like at the other stations? This is truly turning ridiculous. Just when they get one arrangement operatuing they change it all around.

    1. It makes sense if Pioneer Square is using the southbound platform for Northgate trains and the northbound platform for Angle Lake trains. Then they would have to use the northbound platform in CID. I’ll go down and check.

  24. Is the 15-20 minute 1 Line service just for downtown, with standard 10-minute (or better) service outside of downtown; or is it 15-20 minute service for all of the 1 Line? It’s unclear, because the Sound Transit announcement is for “Westlake Station to Stadium Station” but then goes on to say “Trains are running every 15 to 20 minutes at all stations”. They’ve also turned off the OBA feed for Link so there’s no way to know where trains are or how late they might be.

    1. It sounds to me like all of the 1 line. If normal trains are going into downtown to Pioneer Square, the frequency is transmitted across the entire line.

      1. Thanks, that makes sense now that I think about it. Hopefully ST is able to stick to this new schedule.

  25. The way that BART would handle single tracking would be to push through multiple trains (say 2 to 4) in one direction before doing trains the same way in the opposite direction. The first train would be held until a few more are stacked behind it (with plenty of announcements). Once the train has directional tracking again, the latter trains can be held at stations to return the downstream arrrivals to a more even headway. I even witnessed a CTA train once that suddenly became “express” after a delay and the operator announced for any riders getting off on the next four stops to get off at the next station and wait for the following local train — but that was done to ease the overcrowding because an overcrowded train must hold doors open longer for people to get in and out..

    Another time saving technique some other operators do is to simply temporarily close a station. That gets riders through the single track section faster.

  26. on Friday, the Seattle Times story was updated to say that a crew working on a sidewalk clock caused the damage to the station membrame.

  27. on Friday, the Seattle Times story was updated to say that a crew working on a sidewalk clock caused the damage to the station membrane.

  28. It’s gotten to be pretty standard to have scaffolding with steel sheeting over sidewalks to protect pedestrians from falling objects in construction zones. It seems like a similar set of measures might be feasible here, but obviously the temporary roof would need to be much wider.

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