Trains are running every 15-20 minutes. All trains terminate at Pioneer Square Station and require transferring to the other platform continue further north or south. ST has a useful chart of bus alternatives for various station pairs, and urges people to use them if feasible to avoid the downtown tunnel. ST’s alert page has the latest official status. Here’s our previous coverage of the reduction.
To recap, a sidewalk project on Pine Street broke the ceiling of underground Westlake Station above the northbound platform. The platform is closed for two weeks maybe. All trains in both directions are using the southbound platforms at Westlake and University Street, and the northbound platforms at Chinatown/International District and Stadium.
I went down this afternoon to confirm the situation.
Westlake, 3:15pm, Saturday April 29, southbound trip
Westlake Station: Soutbound platform only (single-track).30 people were on the platform, some going north, some going south. An official on the platform was explaining the situation to people. A southbound train came as I was arriving and I got on it. There were a few seats available. The entrance escalators at 5th & Pine were working yesterday, but today one was closed, two were stopped, and only one was running (upward).
University Street: Southbound platform only (single-track). A few on/offs.
Pioneer Square: North-end trains terminate at the southbound platform. Passengers continuing must go up to the mezzanine, across, and down to the other platform. There are escalators up but only stairs down. It’s been harder for me to use stairs for the past year, so I used the elevator. The elevators in the downtown tunnel are slow so I was afraid of missing the transfer. The platform elevators are located next to the balcony fence overlooking the platforms. When I got into the elevator, the train hadn’t arrived. When I got out of the elevator to the northbound platform, the had arrived and was deboarding. Then it started boarding but the display still said “Northgate”. I got on. The driver announced the rain would go south. Then the display changed to “Angle Lake”, and the automated announcement confirmed this. But the next-station display was off: it thought the starting station was Northgate, the second Roosevelt, etc. The train departed southward.
Chinatown/International: Northbound platform only (single-track). A few on/offs.
Stadium: Northbound platform only (single-track). No on/offs in my car. This is unusual: normally every station has at least one on/off, although sometimes Stadium doesn’t.
SODO: Southbound platform (normal pattern). I turned around to go back north on the other platform.
SODO, 3:37pm, northbound trip
SODO: Northbound platform (normal pattern). 19 people were on the platform. I waited 9 minutes for a train. There were repeated automated announcements saying that people would have to transfer at Pioneer Square to continue north, and go up to the mezzanine and back down. The train arrived and displayed “Northgate”. I got on the train. The train remained stopped at the station for 7 minutes. After 5 minutes the driver announced, “The reason for the delay is the train in front has not cleared the track yet.” After 2 more minutes the train started moving. I saw the track crossovers south of Stadium.
Stadium: Northbound platform (single-track)
Pioneer Square: The display had already switched to “Angle Lake” when it approached the station. I did the platform do-si-do in reverse. When I got into the elevator, the next train was already boarding, so I was even more concerned about missing it. When I got out of the elevator, it was still boarding. Maybe an official was watching me and holding the train for me. A lot of people were getting off and on the trains, but it wasn’t overcrowded. There was a short line for the escalator, nothing unusual. After I got on the train, I saw there were a lot of standees and it was standing room only. The train waited 25 more seconds and then departed.
University Street: Southbound platform (single-track). Two people got on in my car. Two others asked me which direction the rain was going. I said “Northbound”. They didn’t understand, so I repeated, “Northbound. To Northgate.” They stepped back and didn’t board the train. An announcement said the train was going north. Then it departed.
Westlake: Southbound platform (single-track). Many people got on. There were still a lot of standees. North end ridership strikes again!
Capitol Hill: Northbound platform (normal pattern). The station was busy as usual. I took the southeast elevator up the surface and walked through Cal Anderson Park. It was 75 degrees and people were all over the lawns, playing basketball, or in a group at the waterfall.
This all feels like an unprecedented Link disruption. Connect 2020 was planned, and had a temporary center platform at Pioneer Square to transfer without going up to the mezzanine. When Connect 2020 ended, we transit fans urged ST to leave the platform in place, in case it could be used later. It did for several months, but then removed it. It wasn’t there today: there was just the usual unused center lane. There have been downtown Link shutdowns for maintenance, but there was a replacement bus to fill the gap. That caused a little confusion for visitors, but not nearly as much as now. Now there’s widespread confusion about which direction a train is going in, or which platform to wait at in Pioneer Square. There are announcements every few minutes at all stations near downtown, and on trains, and there are staff at the downtown stations announcing things or explaining things to people. The announcements are usually clear but not always, and there’s still widespread confusion in spite of them. So it will be an ordeal as long as the single-tracking continues.
87 Replies to “Link Reduction Day 3”
The up and over transfer situation at psst sounds like a real cluster especially since there are no down escalators. I’ll readily admit that I don’t know the ins and outs of pss like u do other stations…this will be even worse for those of us who can’t really go down those stairs. We’re stuck with the crappy elevators that all seem to reek of urine even if they are operating. Oh well this too will eventually pass.
Great narrative, Mike. Thank you very much.
If you think an up and over transfer is bad, wait until it requires 9 escalator trips.
ST: Ride the wave — but not the missing or out of service escalators. It’s all about the PR spin!
LOL! A few years ago, a study was released about which agencies spent the most on PR, and ST was #1 followed by CT at #2. All of the others – including behemoth KC Metro – spent *considerably* less on PR, choosing to spend more on…wait for it…service!!! Someone has to find the guts to rein in these two mammoth spin machines.
ST has to spend more on public outreach. They have 3 different services spread across 3 different counties. They are the only agency that serves such a wide geographic area or has such a wide range of services. It is only natural.
Additionally, ST is the only local agency that is tasked with doing large scale infrastructure development.
“Additionally, ST is the only local agency that is tasked with doing large scale infrastructure development.”
Escalators and elevators are infrastructure. Like I said “Ride the wave — not the escalators ( or broken or biohazard elevators)!
ST inherited the broken escalators and elevators from Metro when ST took over the tunnel a year ago.
It will take ST several years to repair all the damage in the tunnel. But they have already made solid progress.
And remember, escalator availability at PSS was only 26% under Metro! Things are already much, much better.
If a change of ownership is what we need, let’s hope that Metro will take over the UW and Roosevelt stations, then. The escalators will work much better then!
@Lazarus How about the non-tunnel escalators?
Northgate, Roosevelt, and U-District are out all the time. When I had to de-train at Capitol Hill last week because of the re-routes, all of the up escalators coming out of the station were out of order.
Metro doesn’t have anything to do with the broken/out-of-service escalators at the relatively brand new Link stations.
Ya, having that center platform at PSS sure would be useful right now. Errr…
We would be a lot better off in general if Metro had just built the bus tunnel with center platforms only, no side platforms needed. Lower construction cost, lower maintenance costs, and more utility. Oh well…
Did Lazarus just admit that ST made a mistake? (removing the center platform it had installed at Pioneer Square Station)
If you think I’m not critical of ST when they make mistakes, then you haven’t been paying attention. I am extremely critical of ST when they make mistakes, it’s just thrust they don’t make that many.
Removing the center platform at PSS was a mistake.
Building the 130th St Station was a mistake. A $250 million mistake.
Ditto for the BAR station
And Rogoff and Durkan not engaging with the ID community to get a better transfer station at CID was a mistake. And simply turning your back on the community won’t solve their problems.
“ it’s just *that* they don’t make that many.”
Fat fingers today, I’m out walking.
The Center Platform Was Just Temporary When 2020 Was Done had to remove it Per Fire Marshall but when the Tie in for i-90 Happens will have to Put one Back.
They had to remove it due to a lack of egress. That’s not an impossible problem to solve.
Center platforms for the bus tunnel would have either required buses with doors on both sides, or buses that crossed over (so that buses ran on the left side, like in England). The former would probably have cost a lot, given that they were hybrid trolleys. The latter could have worked, but at some point there would have been a spot where buses crossed. That could have caused delays, given how many buses used to run in the tunnel. It probably would have lessened the total potential capacity, although we never got to that point anyway.
What probably would have made the most sense is to refurbish CID station as part of East Link. It would have cost more, and probably would have resulted in a longer delay, but a center platform there would be great. Not only for unusual problems like this, but for day-to-day operations. For example, SoDo to Bellevue. A center platform there would have been really nice.
The center lane was originally for bus breakdowns. Center platforms don’t require left-side doors if the buses go the opposite direction, as at the Bellevue Transit Center.
You are correct. Left side running buses don’t require any special buses, and they don’t necessarily require any crossing over either.
Case in point- the old Northgate Transit Center. There the buses are left side running, but pull into the facility directly into the correct lane. No crossing over required.
But you are correct. Metro could have gone with a center platform, or they could have chosen a center breakdown lane. They choose the breakdown lane.
Because nobody knows the reliability issues of buses better than Metro, and buses were especially unreliable in the 70’s and 80’s. I think Metro was really worried about the prospect of having to shutdown the tunnel while they extracted one broken down bus the entire length of the facility.
Hence the breakdown lane. Just park the thing until after hours and pull it out later.
So we are stuck living with the artifacts of Metro’s concerns about about bus reliability in the 80’s. Hopefully someday center platforms can be installed and ST can have all-door boarding in the DSLRT, but I think the chances are pretty close to zero.
Getting center platforms would certainly need an agency with a different philosophy.
It’s difficult to imagine the current ST incarnation doing something of this magnitude, as an example:
@Glenn in that other city,
There currently isn’t any pedestrian egress or ingress to the center platform area in any of these old Metro stations. Adding it would be hugely expensive and would only provide very limited benefit.
I like the idea, but it is highly unlikely to ever happen.
Note: IDS is a little different. At that station you could remove the lid and relocate the east wall further to the east under 5th Ave. Doing so would provide enough level space to build a 4 track/3 center platform station with cross platform transfers throughout. Then re-lid.
Doing something like the above would be vastly superior, and vastly cheaper, than any of the deep subterranean options, or non-CID options, being considered. And it would have a shorter construction timeframe. But it would take working WITH the ID community, and there is no indication that any of our political entities are willing to do that at this time.
Do please look at the video.
They dropped an entire station platform overnight, and had trains using it in the morning. This would have involved all the related modifications to vertical conveyances as well.
Each station in the Metro tunnel has a mezzanine above the tracks. There is more than enough space to add access points to a center platform.
I watched it, it is sort of meaningless because it doesn’t show all the prep that went into it before the final night.
Such overnight events are pretty common in construction, but the video is equivalent to showing only the last 10 seconds of the Indy 500.
And I didn’t say center platforms couldn’t be retrofitted into the old Metro bus tunnel, just that it would be expensive and deemed of “minimal value”.
But it would still be nice. It’s just that “nice” isn’t a very compelling reason for ST to spend that amount of money on something that isn’t absolutely required.
How much do you think adding center platforms to the three underground stations in DSTT1 would cost? The main “use case” for them is to facilitate Line 1 to Line 2 or vice-versa reversing transfers, so in actuality only one, at Pioneer Square, is needed, at least until ridership grows enormously.
Obviously, having it at CID would be better, but the reversing tail is already occupying the space there.
So, how much would it cost to put an elevator at one end and a tri-folded staircase at the other in order to meet FTA and ADA access rules? I really can’t imagine it would exceed $50 million, including the platform itself.
Even if one assumes that the dream of DSTT2 comes to pass, having the quick reversal for fifteen years is worth that.
The reversing tail at CID is phenomenally wasteful on several different fronts, including the inability to have good transfers there. It should be eliminated.
If there is an actual need for dozens of out of service trains to make that move, then in the long run a straight connection should be made to save money in the long run.
If these are occasional maintenance moves, then have a timetable slot that moves the required number of cars from one maintenance base to the other.
TriMet never has huge numbers of out of service trains moving from the Ruby Junction shops to the Orenco shops, even though Ruby Junction is the only one with a wheel lathe. The timetables are just written so that cars are rotated through each.
Glenn, very well said. The last two trains south out of Lynnwood each evening could each originate from one of the MF’s and terminate at the other. Each would be composed of cars previously operating from the originating MF scheduled for the specific heavy maintenance provided by the destination MF.
It might mean holding a train in the tail track for twenty minutes in order to fill the “Last train to Clarksville” slot, but whoop-te-doo.
This is going to kill any further discussion on keeping a single tunnel unfortunately.
Or show how important good transfers are.
A self-defeating prophesy, if ever I read one. We all have self-owns.
One structural semi-closure in 34 years is not that bad.
With ST, we’ve had to redo platforms within little more than a decade after they were first built. Metro seems to have done a better job with the tunnel on that score.
To the prophesy, if ST can make the tunnel work without a bus bridge during the emergency, I fail to see how that helps the case for the need for a second DSLRT.
There is only one line operating at 8 min headways in the DSLRT right now. This same approach would not work with three lines operating at interlined headways of less than 3 mins.
Bring on DSLRT2! But provide good transfers at CID and WLS. And, yes, that will take working WITH the ID community, instead of just taking the easy route of turning your back on them.
I agree with your goals, Lazarus, and was just poking fun at someone’s failure to provide an antecedent for the pronoun “this”. But this thread is orthagonal to the topic at hand.
If you have any pull with the ST planners in charge of this emergency situation, I hope you can point them to my comment below, on how to handle the emergency even more safely, while improving the experience for everyone.
Please and thank you.
So long as “working with the community” does not mean turning your backs on those in the community, including the business owners, who actually want the station to be on 4th Ave. AFAIK the opponents to 4th Ave. have never put forward a reason why there should NOT be a station at 4th Ave.. It’s mainly that there would be construction impacts that would need to be addressed, and likely could be if people would sit down and talk about this aspect.
I was down there today and ST is definitely operating the split-line system so trains arrive at PSS from their respective line segments at exactly the same time. In fact, on my first trip today (SB to PSS) they actually held the train at USS and waited such that we arrived at PSS at exactly the same time as the NB train.
Why is ST doing this? And why is ST apparently reducing frequency to make it happen?
Well, ask an ops guy and you’d probably get the same old answer you always get, “SCADA! Blah blah blah.” I’m sure their current SCADA system isn’t too flexible and is causing them issues now, but I don’t think that is it.
Over time ST has developed a bit of a bunker mentality regarding service delivery. ST gets criticized from all corners and for all sorts of issues, many not of their doing or even under their control. So when it comes to a situation like this, I think their recovery response is also considering how to avoid undue criticism from riders. Hence the current operation plan.
Despite what most of the people on this blog think about frequency, the truth of the matter is that most travelers prioritize reliability over frequency. So an unreliable system and transfer at PSS is likely to garner more complaints and opposition than simply reducing frequency to increase reliability.
Think of the poor sod going from Northgate to the airport. Frequency is every 12 mins but the system is unreliable. He arrives on time but just misses his departing train, then he just misses his transfer train at PSS. He is now 24 mins in the hole, and he arrives late at the airport to find a 1 hr wait to clear TSA. He complains up a storm and has his lawyer contact ST because he missed his flight.
Contrast that with a 15 min frequency system that is reliable. The rider knows when the train will depart Northgate so he arrives on time. The train departs on time, the transfer occurs on time, and he arrives at the airport on time. Ya, he had to adjust his arrival time for the 15 min frequency, but he added the extra 3 mins and everything worked as advertised. No complaints.
So I think what ST is doing here is prioritizing reliability over frequency, which is pretty much how the traveling public would want it.
Let’s just hope they get this taken care of soon.
My understanding is the CID opposed a station for DSTT2 on 5th Ave., but wanted the city or someone else to put up the extra $850 million for a shallow station on 4th Ave. S., PLUS cash mitigation for the CID from construction of a 4th Ave. station.
The four other subareas said they would not contribute to a station on 4th Ave., and Harrell made it pretty clear neither would/could Seattle. In fact, Constantine had to use the fiction that “capturing” development value from vacant and closed city and county buildings near CID N would fund the additional $160 million a station at CID N would cost.
And this all assumes DSTT2 will cost $2.2 billion, its 2016 estimated cost, although some pretty experienced engineers put the cost today at closer to $4.2 billion, and based on the fact WSBLE has ballooned from $6 billion in 2016 to $15 billion today I have a hard time believing a very deep tunnel under 5th Ave. has the same project cost today as in 2016. Just look at the cost overruns for the station on 130th, and that was estimated just a year or two ago and isn’t underground.
While I have my doubts all four subareas will have their $275 million contribution for DSTT2 I am certain they won’t have more, and that was crystal clear during the DEIS hearing. Seattle won’t make up the difference for a station on 4th and is facing huge budget deficits in its operations fund, and neither can N KC if WSBLE is going to cost $15 billion, and I think that is low.
I think the reality is Constantine and Harrell prioritize DSTT2 number one in WSBLE, so the real question is where the cuts come from in WSBLE to complete DSTT2 if the project cost is more than $2.2 billion, either due to a station on 4th S. or because DSTT2 is actually going to cost $2 billion more than past and current estimates.
If the CID wants to fund an $850 million community improvement district to build a station at 4th S. since it is the community that will benefit the most then go for it, but so far the CID had been as quick to pull out its wallet as Scrooge, because the CID thinks it is always someone else’s money.
I think the CID will look back and realize it made one of the greatest mistakes in its history not bargaining for mitigation for a station on 5th when it had the chance. But once the CID went nuclear with the racism card — because ST never reached out and has always been a bully so the CID could see the white stakeholders uptown and in WS and Ballard had been invited to the party, but they had not — there is no revisiting that.
I think if done well the CID could have walked away with a mitigation package at around $250 million including more zoning control, a station on 5th, a fixed construction schedule. Instead, it has a station at Pioneer Square, hard feelings with Constantine and the and Board, and zero in mitigation. You can blame the CID for being a bunch of amateur Seattle activists, but ST and the Board knew that. What doomed this, and forced the CID to go nuclear, is ST’s long history of dishonesty and being a bully, and the CID knew it could never trust ST in any negotiations.
“ST never reached out”
What else could ST have done? The CID activists are the ones being unreasonable here. “Reaching out” sounds like schmoozing and currying favor with some self-appointed factions, who would only be satisfied if ST did everything their way. They’ve had the ability to give feedback and dialog with ST staff like everybody else. Why should ST give the “CID community” more outreach and deference than other station areas? There’s also the rest of the CID neighborhood, other transit riders, and the rest of North King, who also have a say in where the station is located.
Mike, you know ST was schmoozing with the DSA and Chamber, which is why the midtown station got cut (quietly), and citizen groups in Ballard and WS, and Amazon and stakeholders in SLU. ST just took the CID for granted and made a very common mistake in not understanding the inferiority complex the CID feels. Plus Durkan sited every homeless camp and social service building in the CID during the pandemic, and Seattle freezes out the CID when it comes to zoning in the CID. It didn’t help that Seattle is so incredibly white in its politics and activism.
The first goal is to form a rational group to represent the CID in negotiations. You don’t leave a vacuum for the crazies to organize first because in Seattle you know the crazies will come out of the wood work, and tend to be anarchists. So you begin to meet quietly at first. ST should have known the CID would see them as white and arrogant and bullies, so it was critical that CID groups explain mitigation to the CID.
Second you publicize the mitigation. Name me one mitigation ST was offering the CID for 6 years of construction on 5th? They offered nothing, and the city of Seattle has treated the CID very poorly over the decades. So the CID had nothing to lose, and since they felt they had been treated so disrespectfully compared to all the other wealthier white neighborhoods and uptown they naturally assumed it was due to racism, which maybe it was.
I think it is a shame for both parties, but it is what it is. Stations on CID N/S are not the end of the world but probably not as good as transfers at 5th Ave. We know at least $160 million could have been on the table for the CID because that is the extra cost of the station at CID N. If ST and the Board were going to spend an extra $160 million for a station at CID N why not spend that money for a station at 5th Ave.? But no one offered the CID that, or explained what $160 million can do, along with other things like a better police presence, and more control over zoning of their own neighborhood when Seattle sells out every neighborhood to developers, especially neighborhoods of color. Meanwhile the crazies had become the de facto representatives of the CID and those folks are just stupid when it comes to money.
> What else could ST have done? The CID activists are the ones being unreasonable here. “Reaching out” sounds like schmoozing and currying favor with some self-appointed factions, who would only be satisfied if ST did everything their way. They’ve had the ability to give feedback and dialog with ST staff like everybody else.
Sound Transit has not seriously been trying. All the DEIS and other outreach documents talk about is about the bus base impacts and parking spots. The diagonal alternative documents is even more hilarious — it cites the potential for more TOD as positive, really not getting the audience. Perhaps it is partly on Chinatown for not knowing what to ask, but Sound Transit could also have much better outreach or say some vision beyond just citing which building will be demolished.
I haven’t really seen Sound Transit really outline what they are going to do for business mitigations — sure perhaps it’s the same policies as in the other neighborhoods, but they need to then really cite and say it in their pamphlets too rather than just having it be in some 200 page pdf to read. Like “sound transit will do it’s best to find accommodations for businesses’ new locations to move to” or could have even said “the new tod will have retail space for them to move into”. Instead it’s like paragraphs about the station plaza reactivation.
For example look at Toronto’s documents https://www.metrolinx.com/en/projects-and-programs/ontario-line/what-were-building/queen-spadina-station. Or even for that matter Dow Constantine’s Pioneer Square 2 station has a rendering. I cannot find a rendering of what Chinatown will look like after the 5th ave station construction beyond just square markings of what businesses will be demolished.
Or say a Seattle example, the 12th and jackson project in Little Saigon cited
“The project will be built in phases and existing, longtime retail tenants will be able to stay in business during Phase 1 construction with the potential to relocate.” The developers also more recently talked about how to improve safety with more lighting etc.. https://seattle.curbed.com/2016/5/12/11661792/international-district-12th-jackson-asian-plaza-redevelopment
Or for the 5th avenue traffic impacts, perhaps talk about changing 4th avenue signals/lanes to make it easier to use it as an alternative to 5th while construction is going on etc…
Lazarus, Link is not a refinery. The proper term is “TCS” or “Traffic Control System”. “SCADA” means “Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition” which, yes, a TCS system does do. But if you bought a “SCADA System” from one of the large software vendors, running Link with it would leave at least 90% of the functionality unused.
Trains are managed best by a system designed to manage trains.
SCADA is a generic term that is used across a wide range of industries to refer to an assortment of different systems providing a variety of roles and functions. The term does not belong to any one industry or type of system
ST refers to their system as a SCADA. They always have. I see no need to nitpick ST’s choice of terminology when they are referring to their own system.
Incidentally, I believe Metro also uses he term “SCADA” to refer to the ST system. I see no need to nitpick Metro’s choice of terminology either.
ST — and Metro — may have “SCADA” systems to manage the larger enterprise, Metro probably including the wastewater. Believe me though, there is a “TCS” running the trains, because no other industry needs to run trains. Well, freight railroads of course and maybe warehouses. It’s not a skill the IBM or Oracle or HP or any other enterprise software company providing SCADA packages understands or cares to understand. The market is too small.
SCADA can collect information from on-board sensors in the running gear to help plan maintenance. And I expect that if it identifies an imminent failure it somehow notifies the TCS operators to hole that train as quickly as possible.
“CTC” — the “analog” predecessor to modern TCS systems — was one of the very earliest forms of remote industrial control, invented by Union Switch and Signal in the 1930’s. CTC used a crude version of internet addresses called “coded carrier control” wherein each control point was given a unique code which preceded (and terminated) the transmission of a command. All control points would receive the command, but only the control point whose coded matched that wrapping the command packet would execute the command.
It’s the direct antecedent of the industrial monitoring systems we call SCADA originally developed in the 1950’s to make refineries and mills safer and more productive. It is also clearly the intellectual ancestor of the internet packet.
“This is going to kill any further discussion on keeping a single tunnel unfortunately.”
It shouldn’t. The case for spending umpty-billions on a second tunnel, or not, hinges on more than whether somebody can remove a clock without breaking stuff.
There is a simple way to add a bus bridge to PM peak service without needing more operators …
Just ask Community Transit to add a stop on northbound ST Express 510 runs, at Northgate Station, for the duration of the emergency, and charge the City of Seattle for the little bit of overtime pay. The 510 runs every 15 minutes northbound during PM peak, all double-deckers, I believe.
Do any of those drivers deadhead back to Seattle for a second trip? The time spent getting off the freeway and back on could make that schedule tight or impact reliability later in the day.
I do think ST would be wise to have plans of putting a bus bridge into place – the entire idea of Link is it’s the spine of our transit network, so it needs to be as robust as possible, both for current riders, and to justify more bus truncations at Link stations.
A few of the early-trip operators could conceivably double-back to do the latest trips. But they could also double-back to Northgate to do a different route.
If the double-trippers all follow the same pattern, they’d have to slide to the next-later trip on their second run, and there would be one trip in the middle that needs a spare operator and bus.
So, it is very feasible to do. But ST might have decided it wasn’t necessary, or CT’s Union might have said no to that bit of mandatory extra time for all the PM operators on the 510.
Three major Eastrail projects are supposed to open in 2023. Totem Lake Connector. Northup Connector. NE 8th Street/Wilburton Station Overcrossing.
Personally, I am overwhelmed by the greenery.
Look at how that railing swooshes up and down like a wave.
Oops, I meant to make the Eastrail comment on OT4.
I’m typically hyper critical of st but i have to say that removing the need to transfer at stadium and chs on balance seems like a very positive move in spite of the terrible transfer experience at pss. There, i said something nice about Sount Transit…
I don’t think the accident happened while removing a clock. I’m pretty sure the clock was removed months ago.
How much could these single tracking frequencies increase if we didn’t have the slow zones at Stadium and between Pioneer Square and International District?
The timetable shows trains running Westlake to International District in 8 minutes. Without adding additional crossovers, it seems to me the best you can do is 15 minute service (7.5 minutes each direction).
What is needed is a restoration of the 30 mph speed limit in the tunnel that existed when it was a bus only tunnel.
The slow zone between Stadium and ID/CS is partially a permanent necessity of at-grade operation. Lots of people, many of them inebriated, play chicken with the train to cross one or both of the tracks. Pedestrians who don’t understand that the train will always win have to be expected at all hours. Everyone has to cross at least one track in order to enter Stadium Station.
But the extra wait time right now before entering Pioneer Square Station seems to be that someone in charge of this operation has a fetish for having both trains enter Pioneer Square simultaneously. That bit of the Ops algorithm is Weasley Twins comical, though not particularly entertaining for the riders.
What I don’t understand is if it’s only Westlake northbound platform, why not just close that and run trains through none stop? Wouldn’t that be much less disruptive.
Seems a design mistake not to build crossovers in the downtown tunnel. And building a permanent centre platform at pioneer for times when one tunnel running is required seems a good investment.
I live in Ballard and work & play in Cap Hill. I rely on Link at U-Dist for the quickest trip. But I don’t wanna deal with the delays and overcrowding. so I’m using the 49 until this fiasco is over. My commutes have been an extra 15 min longer, which isn’t bad.
As for the handy alternative service chart, I wish ST would put the 101 & 150 for service between downtown and SODO.
It’s somewhat ironic that ST didn’t list any of their own Express bus routes in the chart, even though several traverse downtown. Of course, the fare is higher. CT 400-series commuter routes are also not listed. In general, only routes that serve stations outside of the Central Business District and SODO are listed.
I can understand if ST/Metro are trying to avoid filling up seats on expresses like 101, 150, and 594 (which is drop-off only northbound in Seattle), that happen to cover the SODO-to-Westlake path of Link, though my personal preference would be to list 101, 131, 132, and 150 on the chart, for those who are trying to get from SODO to north downtown or vice versa. Most of the buses these days are not that full, so if they aren’t, put them in the chart, including listing buses that tend to have plenty of room during PM peak both ways. Give us tips for which buses are emptiest to get from Chinatown to Westlake.
Also, the latest map of protected bike lanes and the downtown accessibility map would be nice to link to on the alternatives chart.
They’re all in the “SODO” row; see the footnote.
Trains will hold 3 to 5 minutes for passengers to complete the transfer.
This algorithm seems like it was pulled out of the mothballs from when there was a center platform in Pioneer Square Station. ST decided the center platform needed to be cleared before the trains going each direction took off. That was also pre-pandemic and pre-Northgate-Link, when most of the ridership was going or coming from downtown.
I don’t see why the trains need to hold for each others’ transferring passengers when they are all on the regular side platforms this time. Just drop off who they have, pick up who is waiting there, and move. And then the headway could be reduced on both ends, shrinking the size of the crowd waiting on every platform.
Indeed, there is no particular reason for the headways on the temporary north and south lines to match, except for schedule legibility, the unnecessary and possibly dangerous waiting for each others’ transferring passengers, or offsetting the trains so only one is there at a time at PSS. If the headways do match, then have the trains offset from each other by roughly half the headway, so the transferring passengers can take their time crossing over above, and the train will come along pretty soon after everyone has calmly made it to the other side. The offset would have the two different directions of crossers crossing at different times from each other.
The overwhelming majority of the ridership will not be transferring at Pioneer Square. They will be boarding somewhere along the temporary north line and alighting somewhere along the temporary north line. Another chunk will be boarding somewhere along the temporary south line and alighting along the temporary south line. Getting both headways reduced is what will make the train most tolerable for the largest number of riders during this emergency. Offsetting the trains at Pioneer Square is what would maximize the safety of the minority of train riders who have to transfer at PSS.
Replying to Lazarus’ upthread:
Trains are running every 15 to 20 minutes at all stations.
Without a publicly-available schedule, the concept of “reliability” seems pretty meaningless.
It strikes me as goofy to hold the train at USS so that it arrives at PSS at the same time as the train from the south, instead of giving riders a head start getting over to the other PSS platform. This seems like further evidence they dusted off the Connect2020 Ops plan.
If the trains are offset so that they arrive six minutes apart, the transferring passengers wait 3-4 minutes for the other train to arrive (assuming 12-minute headway) after calmly crossing above. Riders with mobility issues or too much luggage can wait a couple more minutes patiently for elevators. Nobody misses the connection. That’s reliability.
A train could get behind getting to Northgate or Angle Lake, but recovery time is built in at the termini. If one train ends up a couple minutes late to the terminus, the next train can still depart on time.
With offset times at PSS, the time each train spends at the platform would be reduced 1-2 minutes, as the boarding passengers are already there.
The loop from north of the Westlake switch to PSS back to north of the Westlake switch should take about 11 minutes. The switch should already be pre-set so the southbound trains don’t switch tracks and the northbound trains do. There shouldn’t be a wait for human intervention on the switch.
The loop from south of the Stadium Station switch to PSS back to south of the Stadium switch should likewise take about 11 minutes.
So, you are right that 12-minute headway should be achievable on paper, and a schedule could be made available to the public. But even if ST decides on 15-minute headway (perhaps to hold the southbound train at CHS instead of just north of the switch), it ought to be able to publicize the schedule. All it needs to do is exorcise the outdated rule about the trains waiting for each others’ transferring passengers from the Ops plan.
Brent, I don’t think that what you want at the “north of Westlake switch” is very likely. What you’re describing is a “spring switch” which is actually a thing, and used in a few places on freight railroads. They allow a train running through the switch from the frog side “against the set of the switch” to do so without stopping to change the set of the switch.
The “points” of the switch have springs on the actuators that allow the point rails to move over the two inches that they normally move when the switch is “thrown” but the displacement of the points occurs automatically from the pressure of the wheels moving against them. These are low-speed turnouts.
However, a “normal” switch machine would be badly broken if a train tried to do that, or the train would be derailed.
To get what you want — a switch automatically aligned for a northbound train to take the diverging path but also allowing a southbound train to pass through the interlocking without “human intervention” — would require replacing the switch machine or “programming” the TCS system to throw the switches automatically every time. That may be possible if the system is new enough.
Otherwise, the TCS operator would have to “line” the switch manually for every move. Now if the system is not programmable that already has to happen at both terminals, because an arriving train is sent into the empty track at the terminal station, so the TCS almost certainly has such a “terminal selector” capability. Whether it can be applied to a mid-line interlocking would depend how fully programmable it is.
Spring switches were once extremely common on interurban and street railways.
Today, what TriMet uses a more sophisticated switch also designed in the early years of street railways: the current controlled switch. Eg, if you were to visit Gateway and look at the track signs, you’d see a few marked “reverser in neutral”. If a train approaches that switch drawing current, it aligns one direction. If not drawing current and coasting, it aligns the other way.
Glenn, what you describe is exactly how the “switches” in ETB overhead are usually controlled. At each switch a little placard hangs and reminds the driver whether to apply power through the junction or drift, in order that the poles follow the correct patch. Sometimes they don’t, with humorous results and some colorful language!
So that might work, but again, it requires changing the system unless every set of cross-overs are equipped with the capability.
In this case, what would happen if the operator of a southbound train happened to apply power somewhere around Eighth Avenue when half the train would be past the points but some of it wouldn’t be? Would the turnout then move under the rear of the train? Result: broken turnout or derailed car.
It really only works in a low-speed facing-point situation where routes divide.
If TCS systems don’t provide a programmable “single-tracking” automation — which wouldn’t be hard to do — the operator is going to have to line those turnouts by hand.
Occupancy detection using various means prevents (or at least should prevent) any cases where they would be switched while occupied.
For a while, there was also a “manual” switch at Gateway, so that an operator could change the switch alignment when stopped at the 82nd Ave station. I think train frequencies got too high for that to work well when the Red Line was added. The description I read of it made it sound like a pedestrian “beg” button located on the first catenary pole past the station. To operate it, the operator would reach out the cab window and press it before accelerating the train beyond walking speed, but it might have been badly described in the documentation.
Anyway, there are multiple different methods that have been used for this type of thing.
While searching online about the locations of all the crossovers (does anyone know where all of them are?) found a different document about good repair and maintenance the meeting was on March 3rd 2023, apologies if it was already discussed.
But basically there a 7 repair and maintenance projects that some of them will require single tracking later this year Q2/Q3 2023. Rail replacement near Westlake, Bond box replacements throughout the entire tunnel, high voltage system assessment, royal brougham grade crossing repairs, Othello and Rainier Beach platform fixes.
Sound Transit really needs to have a better plan than just continually single tracking with such low frequencies. Or at least have a bus bridge with high frequency during the duration, rather than having low frequencies throughout the entire light rail.
If ST modifies its single-track algorithm to not involve having trains sit at Pioneer Square for a few minutes so riders from both sides can push past each other, cross over above, and all get on board the other sitting train, then the headway could certainly be reduced. Why they are doing the long sit-and-wait at Pioneer Square is a head-scratcher.
If they figure out they can then run 12-minute headway with a reliable publishable schedule, or at worst 15-minute headway with a reliable publishable schedule, that would work pretty well except for PM peak on weekdays, and right before and after large sportsball events or concerts.
I hope they hurry up and do all these planned maintenance projects before the pandemic fizzles (please, oh, please), while many of us are riding the train a lot less anyway, and without the pointless having trains sit and wait at Pioneer Square for an indefinite period of time until the slowest passenger from the other side gets on board.
Those of us traveling in Central Seattle can switch between train-preference and bus-preference, so that can lighten the load when Link is constrained. Traveling between Capitol Hill and North Seattle avoids the pinch point. Most coming from Snohomish County probably get off before Pioneer Square. Going from Westlake to Intl Dist or SODO can be done by bus to avoid crowding the pinch point. If you’re closer to Broadway, the First Hill Streetcar provides a way to get to Intl Dist or transfers to the 7 and 36. All this is not ideal — Link was supposed to avoid having to do this — but it’s OK for a couple weeks when Link is constrained.
Amazon is back, traffic actually not so bad, although more people at bus stops.
Question for those of you who have used light rail recently.. I plan on using it tonight between Roosevelt and the U-District (concert at the Neptune). Should I expect 15-20 (in both directions) between trains due to the single tracking at Westlake and south? Thanks
Should work fine. Just plan on 15 to 20 mins between trains. Other than that, shouldn’t be a problem.
That’s what ST says. Nobody here has mentioned timing multiple trains to verify it. My wait time was 8 minutes three times. If you must be somewhere at a certain time, give yourself at least a 20-minute buffer just in case.
Trains have one end at Northgate; the other end at Pioneer Square. So the downtown frequency gets transmitted across the entire northern line.
Great, thanks Lazarus and Mike! I’ll give myself a little buffer
This is going to end all discussion about having a switch installed in the middle of University Street Station.
Why do you think so? If there were cross-overs there Link could single-track between USSS and the cross-overs at Ninth and Pine. While it wouldn’t be possible to have less than ten minute headways, it’s likely that ten could be successful. It’s not that far and one station-stop (USSS) would be eliminated.
What’s needed is for ST to have a contingency plan for anytime one track and platform has to be closed at each station. Platforms get closed periodically for all sorts of reasons. Last year, ST closed one platform for over a week in Columbia City to replace tiles, for example. Injury accident scenes, active crime scenes and possibly derailments can close platforms for extended periods of time. It’s not a matter of if but of when and how often.
Then the operations requirements can be assessed for where ST might need additional switches and when/how to add them.
There are other strategies that can work too. Bus bridges. Trains platooned in pairs maybe eith express and local segments. Then all the system operator has to do is consult the contingency plan on file.
It’s been a week of rhis chaos now. When can we expect some sort of status communication from st or are they still “looking at yhe hole”?
Yeah it looks bad to screw up transit service for tens of thousands of riders every day and appear not to have work crews on correcting it. If a street segment carrying over 50,000 cars a day was reduced in capacity this drastically there would be a huge outcry!
I see the most basic of development projects open up streets and even sometimes punch holes in bridges every day — and lie metal plates across the pavement when no work is occurring. Why isn’t there a temporary plate put over this until a solution is ready for implementation?
I’ve been walking by every day just see if anything is happening, and I have yet to see any change.
I was also down there today checking out the scene. I was on the mezzanine level and actually got called over for a conversation by this guy in a ST safety vest who turned out to be the engineer (or engineering manager?) in charge of the repair.
He says that they are waiting for the safety plan to be approved before they install the scaffolding and debris shield. But he says they are ready to go when they get the OK.
He also indicated that there is some inaccurate info out there related to the exact details of the clock vs plinth vs foundation removal. And he was also very sympathetic regarding the guy who was actually doing the removal that damaged the station box.
I also asked him about the prospect of ending single lining using 3-car trains once the temporary scaffolding and debris shield is in place. He was unsure as he was more focused on repairs.
Concept would be this: the damage is on the north end of the NB platform, basically in position 1. So a 3-car train which stops in positions 2, 3, and 4 would not be in the construction zone. So such a train *might* be safe to operate.
He was unsure. But overall I liked the guy. Very approachable, knowledgeable, and confident. I suspect things will work out just fine.
And the single lining seemed to be working well today.
“He says that they are waiting for the safety plan to be approved before they install the scaffolding and debris shield. ”
What a classic tale of a dysfunctional bureaucracy. This is a situation where any approval by any jurisdiction should be fast-tracked.
1. A “safety plan” sounds like just one part of the fix. How long does that take? At its core, it’s just a hole and not a huge section of roof. Given the urgency, why should this take days? If the concern is live catenary wire near the scaffolding, isn’t there a way to shield that too?
2. It’s good to know that there are anticipated arrangements for scaffolding and shielding. But since the platform is closed, wouldn’t it save time to get the supplies on-site now? Disrupting tens of thousands of people is pretty serious and every hour matters. Losing probably well over $10K in fares merely from depressed ridership each day should be enough of a motivator to start the prep now even if the inconvenience is ignored. (Of course, ST will bill the lost revenue to the construction company’s insurance so they probably don’t think it’s that important.)
I do like the “three car” idea. Could they just lock up the first car between Angle Lake and CH Stations northbound only and leave the trains at four cars?
How removing a clock foundation busted the ceiling ($).
“The top of the station begins only 3 feet deep. Not only that, but the clock’s foundation was integrated into the cut-and-cover station’s own structure, attached by steel rebar, when tunnel builders poured a huge slab of concrete in 1988 forming the lid.”
My favorite part of that article is when Jack Mackie says, “Everybody in Metro didn’t want us putting clocks up, because everyone would say the bus came late.”
So basically Metro came out against both art and the accurate telling of time, just so people wouldn’t recognize that their bus was late. Hilarious.
And I still don’t understand why Metro built the foundation directly into the roof structure. Seems like you wouldn’t want to tie the two together that way.
Great update piece in the Times. Thanks.
I have to wonder if Mr. Lindblom is a regular reader of this blog. I guess I beat him on a part of his scoop….
“A seven-page Landmarks Preservation Board approval contains a diagram of how the 1928 Ben Bridge clock would be anchored to a 48-inch-deep footing. A footnote tells builders to avoid damaging public utilities, and the ornamental brick sidewalk, but it doesn’t mention the station roof.
“The clock foundation work occurred under a city street-use permit, listed by the Seattle Department of Transportation online. SDOT told The Seattle Times to file a public-records request to obtain further technical documents. Ben Bridge’s project director hasn’t replied to interview requests.”
Just kidding of course. Obviously we were just on the same train of thought (pun intended). :)
Oh, and he’s absolutely correct about clocks adorning our fine streets aplenty in the early 20th century. Just check out the photos in those LPB documents. I remember when Bill Whipple’s clock went up and seeing people’s reactions about it at the time. I got it immediately and over the years whenever a coworker, friend or relative was visiting and we walked by that clock I was more than happy to point it out and offer them the artist’s take. Still, I had no idea until this recent incident that the clock column’s footing was integrated into the original concrete pour. Those Ben Bridge LPB documents clearly show the assumption that the footing was to have the clearance to go down four feet. Ooops.
It only took a week but what’s the hurry anyway, eh?
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