Sound Transit begins pilot allowing buskers at Capitol Hill Station

A busker at Capitol Hill Station's grand opening earlier this year

A busker at Capitol Hill Station’s grand opening earlier this year

Just like a real big city neighborhood, Capitol Hill now has a subway station. And like a big city of the future, you can use your phone in the subway tunnels. Starting today, our subway will get another important feature — station buskers.

Sound Transit began a six-month trial Thursday allowing busking on Capitol Hill Station and University of Washington Station property:

Sound Transit believes that allowing buskers to perform at the University of Washington and Capitol Hill light rail stations will help retain existing users, as well as attract new users, and is consistent with promoting transit-related activities. Accordingly, Sound Transit is adopting this pilot program for a 6 month period to assess the feasibility of adopting a permanent policy regarding performances by buskers.

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The six-month Pilot Busking Program runs through February and comes with a strict set of policy requirements including busking areas — “designated with a silver star” — and restrictions on everything from how long a performer can stay at a location (two hours) to amplification (don’t do it.) The full guidelines are below.

The silver star locations can be found in two areas of each station:

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Sound Transit is leaving the spaces to be managed by the buskers as far as who plays where and when. “Access to these performance sites is on a first-come, first-served basis. Any Fare Paid Zone requirements are waived while performing,” the agency’s documentation reads.

The music and performance will join stations already notable for their art including Capitol Hill Station’s Walking Fingers and Crossed Pinkies enamel panel murals by artist Ellen Forney and the giant Jet Kiss sculpture made from A4 fighter jet parts hanging above the station platform. Riders who attended the opening ceremonies at Capitol Hill Station also enjoyed buskers deployed throughout the facility including these folks:

Sound Transit says it will be evaluating the program throughout the trial and will assess whether to continue or expand the busking zones after February.

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19 thoughts on “Sound Transit begins pilot allowing buskers at Capitol Hill Station

  1. I like this. Are the buskers allowed to burn incense because frankly the place does not smell too good right now (legacy of the cat bookstore)? But sorry, no tips for anyone with canned bass or rhythm tracks.

  2. This is an excellent and welcome idea. The naysayers probably hate the buskers at Pike Place Market as well – the horror they will experience when some high school jazz or classical quartet will most likely qualify them for disability from the PTSD they will experience from being forced to listen to street music. The horror! The horror!

  3. I like it, and I also like that initially it is just a “pilot program” so see how well it works. I can imagine that there are going to be some conflicts among the buskers as to who gets to perform when, and for how long…..who is going to time the performer to assure the maximum 2 hours? Will it be an “honor system?”

  4. I’m surprised people are getting all upset about this. How long does your avg person spend in the station? About 1 minute leaving and maybe 10 minutes while waiting? What’s the worst potential downside if you don’t like a performer– 10 minutes? If that ruins your day, you’ve got some other issues brewing.

    • It’s almost like, bear with me here, it’s almost like you live and/or work in a large city! You want silence, wear earplugs or stay at home.

  5. People, seriously? You’re complaining about music in the subway?

    Just google “new york city subway buskers” and you’ll find an incredibly diverse array of musicians (including members of U2 a few years ago) filling subway stations with music to entertain folks as they walk in and out of the station. This is awesome and, in my opinion, should be a mandatory element of all subway stations, just as important as escalators and garbage cans.

  6. Hey at least buskers are performing a service for their money. Unlike the crust punks who think we should give them cash for their ability to scowl.

  7. It’s only a matter of time until the ubiquitous Peruvian flute bands show up…

    I’m not anti-busker, but in my experience as a person who appreciates individual creativity and has spent lots of time around them as a NYC resident, I find that buskers usually worsen the atmosphere rather than enhance it. The vast majority are really quite terrible. But at the end of the day, I don’t have a problem with them being there doing their thing. It’s no skin off my back in the greater scheme of things.

  8. Next Sound Transit and alternative media can officially embrace buskers and groups of drummers getting on subway cars and shaking down riders for donations until the next stop. Oh we are become just like all the other Big Cities now!