The light rail system that runs through Seattle typically carries around 35,000 riders every weekday. Monday and Tuesday, Sound Transit says it saw half as many more get on the train following the weekend opening of University Link and Capitol Hill Station. And with spring break at UW and Seattle Central in finals mode, there might be even more demand to come.
Sound Transit said this Monday’s trains carried around 47,000 riders while Tuesday’s numbers hit a whopping 57,000. Saturday’s grand opening day of free rides, meanwhile, generated 67,000 boardings – “easily the system’s single biggest ridership day since we had about 71,000 during the Super Bowl parade celebration in February, 2014,” Sound Transit said.
Starting next week with the Monday morning rush, Sound Transit said it will introduce more three-car trains into the mix to better serve commuters:
These numbers are especially encouraging considering UW is on spring break and Seattle Central Community College is in exams week when there are many fewer students at the Capitol Hill campus. And King County Metro’s major NE Seattle bus restructure to provide frequent connections to and from University of Washington Station doesn’t begin until this coming Saturday.
With that in mind, Sound Transit has decided to add additional rail cars on the line during peak hours beginning next Monday. Starting on Monday, riders can expect to see a mix of two and three-car trains during the morning and evening rush hours. While the additional service will help alleviate crowding on some trains, riders should remember to move to the ends and center of light rail cars to make room for others getting on at the next station, put bags under seats and take off backpacks while on crowded trains.
The Metro update begins Saturday. CHS outlined the changes for Capitol Hill service here.
Though it only has a few days worth or ridership totals to work with, Sound Transit is moving quickly to keep the good vibes flowing around the extended system. Thursday, the agency is expected to announce details of the routes proposed for its next round of funding, Sound Transit 3.
The first weekday service at Capitol Hill Station definitely attracted explorers but it was also clearly a facility kicked into full work-day motion. CHS visited to talk with commuters on their first day using the new station and found a similar theme: the search for a lower-stress commute.
The Seattle Times also reports: “public-education ads and train announcements are coming. Put your backpack under your seat or between your legs. Don’t block the doorways. Move to the ends of the trains.”
By 2030, around 14,000 Capitol Hill riders are expected to board the light rail trains each day. However, Sound Transit tells CHS that a revised projection would show even more usage as the system improvements in Sound Transit 2 were not factored into the original estimates. Sound Transit says that from 2015-2017, light rail’s average weekday ridership is projected to increase by about 26,000 boardings.