At a press conference his morning, NHL Seattle, Seattle Monorail Services, and several public- and private-sector partners will announce a major package of upgrades to the Seattle monorail, along with a program to provide subsidized public transit access to NHL events. These improvements will dramatically improve the peak capacity of the monorail system, and improve the rider experience at all times. Along with other local media, STB was given a preview of these improvements.
The big ticket item in this package is a major upgrade to the Westlake terminal. Perhaps the best way to introduce this upgrade is to discuss what once was. As pictured above, the original 1962 downtown station was built over public right of way, and included a platform area that amounted to maybe half a city block. This capacious facility, plus the fact that people in 1960 were less capacious than today, allowed the cars to approach their design capacity of 450 persons on each trip, and in turn to carry about 45,000 riders daily during the World’s Fair.
In the 1980s, the Monorail was saved from likely demolition by Councilmember George Benson, who arranged for today’s station to be shoehorned into the side of the redevelopment we now call Westlake Center. This station suffers from a number of compromises: it’s cramped, access is poor, ticketing is slow, only one train can operate from the station at once, and only four of each train’s eight doors can be used for loading. Barely adequate for today’s tourist traffic on a busy summer day, the Westlake terminal was identified by Via in a 2018 study as the primary obstacle to the Monorail once again serving as a true high capacity transit service.Continue reading “Major Monorail upgrades to open alongside new Arena”