Sound Transit to spend $1.8M on Seattle Times, TV/radio, CHS advertising

Sound Transit blew out the stops with a weekend of parties celebrating the launch of its new $1.9 billion — under budget, ahead of schedule — light rail extension and UW and Capitol Hill stations. There was the giant party for VIPs and dignitaries. And a giant party on Capitol Hill and at Husky Stadium to celebrate the first passengers on the new line.

Now, at the prodding of an anti-Sound Transit group, the Seattle Times is making a big stink about the $858,379 price tag for the Capitol Hill party and the launch festivities:

In all, taxpayers spent $858,379 for Sound Transit’s March 19 grand-opening party for the Capitol Hill and UW stations. It was a big celebration. Some 30,000 people boarded trains there, to see how the UW connection could help them beat gridlock. Most of the money went to planning or logistics: crowd management ($209,436); police overtime ($29,520); and event management ($260,200), which included planning over the course of a year. An additional $130,198 was spent for an ad campaign on radio, the Web, print, billboards, movie screens and gas pumps.

Later in the article, the Times includes a nod to the huge early success for the new line. But it also tries to compare the Sound Transit parties to the WSDOT grand opening of the new 520 which, according to the Times, used corporate sponsorships to fund much of its celebrations. The Times ignores any costs involved in pitching, signing, and executing those sponsorship deals.

The newspaper also ignores its own part in the promotional costs of Sound Transit. According to the agency’s approved 2016 budget, the Times and all the TV and radio stations jumping on the party story will collect $1.8 million from Sound Transit this year. CHS will get a puny — but well-spent! — chunk of that.

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Later this year, voters will decide on the $50 billion Sound Transit package. It’s a critical moment for Sound Transit — and, maybe, “the most important decision our generation will be asked to make.” Given the circumstances and the opportunity to showcase its achievements and win tons of free press, maybe Sound Transit should have spent even more on the party.

Central Co-op wants to be center of Capitol Hill Station development

New development will rise to 85 feet along Broadway -- a grocery store will be at the center of the mixed-use project. Will Central Co-op fill the space? (Image: CHS)

New development will rise to 85 feet along Broadway — a grocery store will be at the center of the mixed-use project. Will Central Co-op fill the space? (Image: CHS)

Capitol Hill’s homegrown food cooperative wants to return to its roots by doubling down in the the neighborhood with a new store in Capitol Hill’s future gateway development on Broadway.

Central Co-op announced Sunday night it is pursuing the anchor tenant space in the Capitol Hill Station “transit orientated development” — the four-site, mixed-use project that will surround the recently opened subway station. The yet-to-be-built building it could call home along Broadway between John and Denny is just two blocks from where the grocer got its start on 12th Ave in 1978.

“We are the only grocer that was born and raised in this neighborhood, and that means something,” said Central Co-op chief Dan Arnett.

Arnett tells CHS he has already pitched the idea to developer Gerding Edlen. The co-op says it has no plans to close its 16th and E Madison location, where it recently signed a longterm lease.

Central Co-op’s expansion aspirations were announced after it came out that Portland-based New Seasons Market was an early frontrunner to take over the anchor space. A Gerding representative told CHS they were in talks with New Seasons, but the company has not made any final decisions on a tenant. Continue reading

‘High 50s’ — First ridership estimates show light rail boosted to new level by UW, Capitol Hill Stations

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(Image: Sound Transit)

(Image: Sound Transit)

By our count, the anecdotes of excitement around the opening of Capitol Hill Station and the U-Link light rail extension are off the charts. By the first solid ridership counts, that excitement is fully justified.

Sound Transit announced this week that its first estimates for U-Link ridership have set new records for Seattle subway traffic:

Average weekday Link ridership is settling into the high 50s range in the few weeks since UW returned from spring break and our partners at King County Metro implemented a major restructure of their Northeast Seattle bus service to integrate with U Link. That’s a roughly 66% increase over the 35,000 average weekday ridership before U Link opened. Sound Transit estimated average weekday ridership of 51,800 for the year.

Sound Transit said Friday, April 8th marked a new highpoint for its light rail service with more than 72,000 estimated riders. An estimated 71,500 rode the train on February 5, 2014 to be part of the Seahawks Super Bowl victory parade. You can credit the Mariners home opener and Emerald City Comicon for the new record, by the way. Continue reading

Plans for safer 10th/John crossing to Capitol Hill Station, Melrose enhancements make street fund cut

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Some of the crosswalk design concepts being kicked around by the Melrose Promenade group

Two important pedestrian areas of Capitol Hill should be on a faster track to safer streets after proposals for Neighborhood Park and Street Fund projects to build a raised intersection at 10th and John and new curb bulbs and colorful crosswalks on Melrose between Pike and Pine came out on top of a 2016 community ranking process, it was announced this week.

The East District Council in a meeting Monday ranked the proposals as the top choices for funding in the area. The $90,000 continuation of improvements from the group organizing the Melrose Promenade project and the Central Greenways-championed 10th and John project must be approved by the Seattle Department of Transportation before implementation. SDOT will also provide a more complete estimate on what the department expects the cost of implementation will be.

10th and John has long been a challenging crossing for pedestrians and drivers and the situation is even more critical with the increased activity in the area with the opening of Capitol Hill Station. The raised intersection could help make it easier to cross and help make the intersection safer for travelers of all types. Another project to create a safer approach to the station from the streets around 12th and Denny is also in the works. The group working on the 10th/John crossing say raised intersections in other cities “have costs ranging from $12,500 to $114,150” — expectations are this one would come in on the higher end of that range.

10th and John as it appears today (Image: Central Area Greenways)

10th and John as it appears today (Image: Central Area Greenways)

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Petition calls for extending light rail service after bars close  

UW Station (Image: CHS)

UW Station (Image: CHS)

Seattle’s appetite for light rail is virtually insatiable at the moment. Sound Transit announced its plans for a $50 billion light rail expansion over 25 years and more rush-hour trains starting next week. Still, transit riders want more.

As the light rail line heads into its first full weekend serving the nightlife hubs of around Capitol Hill and University of Washington, a campaign is underway to get Sound Transit to extend its late night hours to safely shuttle crowds back home.

A MoveOn.org petition is calling on the Sound Transit board to extend Link light rail service by nine hours a week to 2:30 AM on Fridays and Saturdays and to 1:30 AM on other days. More than 2,000 people have signed the petition in three days. Currently, the last southbound Link train leaves Capitol Hill Station at 12:38 AM. The last northbound train leaves Capitol Hill at 12:46 AM.

Matthew Powell, who created the petition, said light rail’s current closing times rob bar crowds and late night workers from a safe and easy option of getting home. “There were a lot of people who expected to be open later,” Powell said. “It has really limited the ability to maximize the benefit.”

It’s not the first time Sound Transit has been approached about extending late night service. The regional transit agency has a page to explain how crews have a small window to do required daily maintenance on the tracks. Still, late night service is not completely out of the question. Continue reading

Capitol Hill Station’s 57K start: Sound Transit to add more trains

(Image: CHS)

(Image: CHS)

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.

Bus Stop | Planning Ahead — The 3/26 Metro realignment

(Image: Ryan Packer)

(Image: Ryan Packer)

After enjoying our first week of light rail service to Capitol Hill Station, on Saturday it’s King County Metro’s turn to undergo a big reorientation to better serve the station. Here’s a user’s guide to the new schedules and route changes on all of the routes affected by the biggest service change for Capitol Hill buses in quite some time. With this change should come a network that quickly allows riders to transfer to Link, even if the bus does go downtown on its own anyway after it drops you off.

  • Route 10: On March 26, this bus will start serving Olive Way instead of Pine Street. Departure times for all stops will remain the same, except for the last bus of the night leaving Volunteer Park for downtown, which will leave 5 minutes earlier. Moving the 10 to Olive will provide more service between those areas and downtown than the 43 currently does, including 15-minute service until midnight where there is currently 30-minute service.
  • Route 43: Enjoy your last few days of full 43 service. When King County Counci lmember Rod Dembowski added service back to this route as the changes to bus service were being passed by the King County Council, it was peak-only service he was preserving. The trips that are sticking around between downtown and the U-District via Montlake are pretty scant. The frequency is approximately every 30 minutes during peak hours. Caveat: these times are subject to change and are only intended to give an idea of the span of service levels that are coming to the route 43. 

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Now open: Capitol Hill Station

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With hundreds lined up to watch — or queued up for their first rides — Capitol Hill Station opened Saturday morning with a slice of a giant pair of scissors and a few booms of confetti.

“We’re building neighborhoods you can walk in. We’re building neighborhoods with great transit,” Mayor Ed Murray said before doing the honors with King County Exec Dow Constantine. “And right where we are, there will be affordable housing and open space. That’s the future.”

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‘A monument to confidence,’ VIPs and officials take ride to Capitol Hill as U-Link set for grand opening

(Image: Alex Garland for CHS)

(Image: Alex Garland for CHS)

“This is a statewide asset. It is a monument to confidence.”

Friday’s VIP University-Link ride was all about the public officials who helped make Saturday’s launch happen through years of planning, negotiations, budget deals, and lobbying. Stretching from the first ever U.S. Transportation Secretary appointed in 1967 to the current one, the roster of officials attending Friday’s event stretched across multiple State of Washington, City of Seattle and King County administrations.

After christening UW Station, the VIP crowd took the ride to Capitol Hill Station. With a yank of a rope, Mayor Ed Murray, Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff, and former Sound Transit CEO Joni Earl  “turned on” the station along with a light show and music.

“For me, a 32-year resident of Capitol Hill, this is about light rail coming to Capitol Hill,” Murray said. “The densest residential neighborhood north of San Francisco and west of Chicago is about to have rapid transit.”

Light Rail Launch VIP - 2 of 9Saturday, the station at Broadway and Denny and the 3.1-mile U-Link extension from downtown to UW via Broadway will begin its official service carrying thousands of riders every day.

Capitol Hill Station Grand Opening
Saturday, March 19th — 9 AM to 5 PM

Friday, officials toured the Broadway facility, where the first Capitol Hill Station busker played an ode to trains on the accordion.

Prior to the ride, the VIP crowd gathered in the entrance to Husky Stadium for a ceremony lead by Sound Transit CEO Rogoff.

Former CEO Earl, recovering from a serious brain surgery, got an ovation for her work on the project.

U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Fox said the Obama administration was incredibly supportive of the project.

“Keep going,” he said. “Don’t wait for growth to choke your traffic and your daily lives.”

“This is a statewide asset,” said Governor Jay Inslee. “It is a monument to confidence.”

When outgoing Rep. Jim McDermott moved to Seattle in 1966, I-5 was still getting constructed. He said he never thought he would live to see the day light rail opened from UW to the airport.

“This is proof that the people through their government can get the things done that they need,” he said.

CHS Pics | This week in… Capitol Hill Station pictures

ULink_Countdown2Most weeks, we bring you a set of some of the best shots from the CHS Flickr pool. With Saturday’s celebration of the grand opening of Capitol Hill Station, we looked through the pool to find the best shots of the demolition, construction, and more from around Broadway and John. It’s another amazing look at an amazing project. By the way, here are our favorite photos of light rail coming to Capitol Hill from the CHS archives. Make sure to stop by Saturday’s party, take a free ride, and take some great pictures.

Capitol Hill Station Grand Opening
Saturday, March 19th — 9 AM to 5 PM
Capitol Hill Station: Light Rail and Heavy Construction
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